New Mexico Campgrounds (Neat Public Sites) - Fiberglass RV

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Old 10-09-2008, 10:59 PM   #1
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If you get to New Mexico this is a listing of some nice places to camp and see (if you click on the underlined words or addresses it will take you to a web site):

Aguirre Spring BLM Campground near Las Cruces is a very nice campground. The high wall, needle-like spires of the Organ Mountains curve dramatically around a semicircle of Chihuahuan Desert habitat at the Aguirre Spring Campground. The campground, nestled at the base of spectacular cliffs, overlooks the Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Monument. Alligator juniper, gray oak, mountain mahogany and sotol are a few of the abundant plant species here. Seasonal springs and streams occur in the canyon bottoms, with a few perennial springs that support riparian habitats.

City of Rocks State Park

Oliver Lee State Park

Pancho Villa State Park

Other State Parks
I believe most people would enjoy any of the NM State Parks such as these:

Bottomless Lakes not made it to it yet, on my to do list

Brantley Lake on my list to do

Caballo Lake nice place

Cimarron Canyon very nice camping area

Clayton Lake need to try this sometime

<a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color:#8b4513">Conchas Lake ditto
</span></a><a href="" target="_blank">
</a>Coyote Creek to do list

Eagle Nest Lake not a camping site but very neat, close to Cimarron Canyon

Elephant Butte Lake nice place, did a lot of camping there when we had a boat

El Vado Lake near Heron Lake, but with fast boats, been by it not camped there

Hyde Memorial near Santa Fe, nice place

Leasburg Dam near Las Cruces, nice desert camping by the Rio Gande

Manzano Mountains very nice camping, higher country

Oasis on to do list

Percha Dam nice place on Rio Grande, near Caballo Lake

Rockhound not a pretty site but if into rockhounding a neat place

Santa Rosa Lake on my to do list

Storrie Lake nice place near Las Vegas, NM

Sugarite Canyon

Sumner Lake on my to do list

Ute Lake on my to do list

Vietnam Veterans Memorial not a camping site, very moving place to visit.

Villanueva a neat out of the way camping site on the Pecos River.

Valley of Fires Recreation Area & BLM Campground

The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site & BLM Campground

Datil Wells BLM Campground

I had listed only sites (except for the State Park List) in the southern part of the state. Here are some for up north:

Blue Water Lake State Park

El Morro National Monument is neat to see & has a small campground (no showers or water in Dec but free then); there is a private campgound near by

Bandelier National Monument would be a nice place to visit near Los Alamos and not far from Santa Fe. It was a pleasent campground when we stayed there.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a great place to visit with a nice campground in remote area.

Red Rock Campground - We used to stay at Red Rock State Park near Gallup, but it seems not to be a State Park now. I have not been to it in years, some bad reviews in ?? but I have seen some good ones as well in other places. East of Gallop off I-40 not too far from Gallop. We used to stay at Red Rocks State Park but it has been dropped as a state park. However, besides the neat red cliffs there, behind the campground is a white formation called Church Rock .
Church Rock is also the name of the Navajo village. Red Rock is the site of a Pow Wow each year and Indian Rodeo...there used to be a very nice museum by the Rodeo grounds on Navajos. Red Rock Museum offers visitors a glimpse of the past. Through exhibits on the prehistoric Anasazi and the present-day Zuni, Hopi and Navajo, the Museum interprets the unique cultures of the Native Americans of the region. The annual Lions Club Rodeo is ranked with the best in the state of New Mexico. In addition, the non-profit Community Concerts organization host a variety of concerts during the year at Red Rock State Park. Red Rock State Park hosts the world famous Intertribal Indian Ceremonial held in August. Among the festivities are the colorful Indian Dances, the display of Indian jewelry and crafts, and Indian food booths. Gallup's most notable special event is the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial held every August. Native Americans converge on the town for a parade, dances, and an all-Indian rodeo east of town, at Red Rock.
another photo of Church Rock

Ooooh, yes, another rock formation in Northern NM would be Shiprock or Tsé Bit'a'í, "rock with wings" or "winged rock". It is up in the Four Corners Country, Navajo Country north of Gallop.
I am not sure of any campgrounds near Shiprock, New Mexico. I found this one on the net.

Somewhat near, but to the east of Shiprock is Navajo Lake State Park (we have stayed there, once); it is not close. We stayed at Pine River, the most developed area along the lake, includes a visitor center with interpretive exhibits, developed campgrounds, a day use area and a full service marina. Sims Mesa is across the lake, accessible by NM 527, and includes a visitor center with interpretive exhibits, developed campgrounds and a full service marina. The San Juan River area below the dam is world renowned for excellent trout fishing and includes wheelchair-accessible fishing facilities on the river, Cottonwood Campground, seven day use areas and several hiking trails.

Bisti Badlands & De-na-zin wilderness, I have read about them in New Mexico Magazine (simular to Arizona Hwys), but have not gone there. Little visited and largely unknown, the Bisti Badlands is an amazingly scenic and colorful expanse of undulating mounds and unusual eroded rocks covering 4,000 acres, hidden away in the high desert that covers the distant northwest corner of New Mexico. The Badlands are administered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and are known officially, but less evocatively as the Bisti Wilderness Area. There are no signposts pointing the way to the Badlands from any nearby towns, but the usual approach route is along NM 371 from Farmington, the largest town in the Four Corners region - this heads due south through wide open prairie land at the east edge of the great Navajo Indian Reservation, which extends for 200 miles across into Arizona. After 36 miles, a gravel track exits east, opposite an historical marker recording the history of this area and of the nearby Bisti trading post, now derelict.
Approach Roads: Five miles along the entrance track, the grassy plain is replaced quite abruptly by a multi-colored eroded landscape of small clayish hills, shallow ravines, and strange rock formations. The scene is a vivid mixture of red, grey, orange and brown that stretches for many miles. The track passes a large area suitable for parking, then crosses a dry sandy wash and continues alongside the badlands for ca 3 miles before rejoining NM 371. However, the road was fenced off shortly after the wash when I visited, a barrier which looked quite permanent. The far end of the track is actually the official entrance to the badlands, not that there is much difference in scenery or facilities. Several similar un-signposted tracks cross the sandy hills at the south edge of the formations, around a seasonal drainage known as the De-na-zin Wash. A ten mile drive along one such bumpy track leads to the much larger De-na-zin wilderness - equally colorful and even more remote, although partially covered with vegetation. The nearest towns with hotels close to the Bisti Badlands are Bloomfield, Farmington and Gallup. Scenery: After a few minutes walk into the wilderness, the road is out of sight and the surreal landscape is all around. The clayish hills are composed of layers of coal, silt, shale and mudstone with varying hardness and colouration, and are mixed with more resistant sandstone which has eroded into weird formations similar to those of Goblin Valley or Bryce Canyon in Utah. Many small ravines created by rainwater erosion cross through the hills, and there are also occasional mini caves and fissures several meters deep. Much of the surface is unstable - the layers are often loose, rocks are crumbling and some of the formations are quite delicate. Hikers should take care not to damage the features; there are no established trails, but walking along the ravines is the usual way to explore. Petrified wood is scattered across the surface - sometimes entire tree stumps, with the bark still clearly recognisable. Fossils may also be found - the teeth and bones of a variety of species including dinosaurs are embedded in the earthy layers. Abandoned Buildings: The loneliness of this strange and deserted land is emphasised by a cluster of abandoned and semi-derelict buildings nearby. These are the remnants of the old Bisti trading post, and include a large warehouse, a gas station, several storage sheds and most poignantly, a childrens' playground, now overgrown and rusty. One building is still in use - a sparsely furnished church used for services on several occasions a week, and left open for the casual visitor to enter at other times. Walking around this sandy, wind-swept location, which has the appearance of being deserted for many years, is a moving experience, made all the more memorable by the mysterious landscape.

I have seen photos and read about Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks located 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe and 55 miles northeast of Albuquerque, with the most direct access from Interstate 25. From Albuquerque, take the exit for Santo Domingo/Cochiti Lake Recreation Area (Exit 259) off I-25 onto NM 22. Follow the signs on NM 22 to Cochiti Pueblo and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Turn right off NM 22 at the pueblo water tower (painted like a drum) onto Tribal Route 92, which connects to Forest Service Road 266. From the fee station, travel five miles on a gravel road to the national monument's designated parking/picnic area and trailhead.From Santa Fe, take the Cochiti Pueblo Exit 264 off I-25 onto NM 16. Turn right off NM 16 onto NM 22, and follow the signs to Cochiti Pueblo and the national monument. Portions of the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument have reopened following extensive flood damage. The Cave Loop Trail and part of the Slot Canyon Trail are open. The upper Slot Canyon and Overlook trails remain closed until further notice.
Short videos:
Other BLM sites in this area:

Cochiti Lake Recreation Area (Westside of Lake) with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds is a place we have not been, but would like to. Cochiti Lake is within the boundaries of the Pueblo de Cochiti Nation (Cochiti Pueblo) on the Rio Grande about 50 miles upstream from Albuquerque. From Santa Fe, south on I-25 to exit 264, west on Highway 16 and north on Cochiti Highway (Hwy 22). From Albuquerque, north on I-25 to exit 259, northwest on Highway 22.

Heron Lake State Park has been designated a "quiet lake" where boats operate at no-wake speeds only. This park is known for its excellent sailing, fishing, cross-country skiing, and hiking. We spent many summers camping here.

Fenton Lake State Park is a small out to the way Park surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pine forests. We camped there once, a very nice place.

Angel Peak Scenic Area a BLM site 19-20 miles north of Nageezi on Highway 44 (US-550) on right side. 6 miles east on gravel road to campground loop (0.6 miles around loop). 3 picnic areas along the way. Go slow. Seriously, over 15 mph and your vehicle will shake immensely. Pit toilets. No toilet paper - bring your own. No utilities. Fire pits - bring your own firewood. Be sure fire is out completely before departure. Metal canopies over some of the picnic tables. Wonderful views of surrounding landscape. Can see lights of Bloomfield 20 miles to the north at night. Stars terrific if not cloudy. Many oil wells in the area. We found it kind of lonely area, on your own type of place. The angel of Angel Peak formation has fallen down however.

Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area also a BLM site with campgrounds is 30 miles north of Santa Fe ( We have stayed there, a nice area. Other BLM site in this area:

Abiquiu Lake -US Army Corps of Engineers campground, we have driven by but not stopped, they say it has excellent facilities surrounded by red sandstone cliffs and mesas of "O´Keefe Country."
Echo Amphitheater - Natural rock formation is nearby with a campground as well. Close to Ghost Ranch & the Ghost Ranch Piedra Lumbre Education and Visitor Center, located on U.S. Highway 84 just one mile north of the main Ghost Ranch entrance, has exhibits and a gift shop. A very nice museum in "O´Keefe Country." Ghost Ranch also has camping.

New Mexico National Forest Service Campgrounds and/or Dispersed Camping:
Carson National Forest - only personsal experience has been camping up by Taos on the Hwy going to Eagle Nest ( such as La Sombra 8 miles east of Taos along US Highway 64 at 7,800 ft. elevation or Capulin & Las Petacas. One of these can serve as a base to visiting Taos.

Cibola National Forest - from personal experience we have visited Springtime Campground ( and dispersed camped along the road toward it. Springtime is a very out of the way campsite, remote area. We visited it while wood cutting and hunting. It is a long ways on a dirt road to it. We have visited Red Cloud Campground over by Corona, NM also a remote area while hunting and dispersed camped near Corona on US 54( To find other campgrounds check this site:

Gila National Forest - from personal experience, Lake Roberts Area is nice and we have dispersed in the Wall Lake area and Snow Lake area. Also by the Bridge over Gila River on the way to the Cliff Dwellings called Grapevine Campground ( & the near by Forks Campground ( Mesa Campground is walking distance from Lake Roberts (
Iron Creek Campground is in the middle of a recreational corridor spanning from the Mimbres Valley to Hillsboro, along NM Hwy 152 ( a great drive, very scenic. The Quemado Ranger District is the northern most district on the Gila National Forest. It is actually a part of the Apache National Forest that is located in New Mexico and that is administered by the Gila NF. Elevations range from 6600 feet to 9700 feet in the 600,600 acres managed by the Quemado Ranger District. The area covered by the District includes grassland, piñon-juniper woodland, ponderosa pine, and mixed conifer with aspen and fir. There are also riparian areas with cottonwood, willow, and other riparian vegetation. Very nice camping areas by Quemado Lake. See a listing of other campgrounds in the Gila at:

Kiowa National Grassland - have not gotten to use this area.

Lincoln National Forest - from personal experience the camping around Cloudcroft is very good. We have mainly used the campgrounds or dispersed camping area by the Silver, Apache & Saddle Campgrounds on the Hwy going to Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation on NM 244. Sacramento Ranger District. Blanca National Grassland - not gotten to visit.

Santa Fe National Forest - we have camped up above Santa Fe at Black Canyon, I think, and over by Las Vegas, we dispersed camped. We have heard good things about camping over by Pecos 16 to 23 miles north of Pecos on Highway 63 and Forest Road 122 at Holy Ghost, Iron Gate & Jack's Creek. We visited Jemez Falls a very nice area. Here is a listing of campgrounds:

Other site on these Nat'l Forests:
Carson <LI>Santa Fe <LI>Cibola <LI>Apache-Sitgreaves <LI>Gila <LI>Lincoln

If you have a favorite site to visit in New Mexico and wouldn't mind sharing it, do so.

DesertHawk- Las Cruces, NM USA
2015 Lance 1985 ~ Casita de Campo ~23' 4"
~Previously ~ 2005 16' Scamp
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Old 10-10-2008, 07:25 PM   #2
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Dang, Adrian.

You took them all.

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Old 10-10-2008, 10:49 PM   #3
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I agree with you completely about Hyde being a nice park. I stayed there one summer night in 2006. Hiked to the top of the ridge, where one can look down into the valley and see Santa Fe. Really pretty! Got some great photos at that park.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... --Ecclesiastes 3
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:41 AM   #4
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Adrian, thanks for such an informative compilation. The southwest is one of our favorite areas and you've certainly given us a number of new places to consider. This past Easter we added a day or two at Carlsbad Caverns to our annual Big Bend excursion plans and, as we'd heard some good things about Guadalupe Mountains NP, decided to use their Dog Canyon campground as a base for our time in that area.

GUMO NP is actually in TX and about fifty miles from the Caverns with the TX/NM state line being right at the entrance to the campground and the Lincoln NF on the northern border. Gary Carver is the resident ranger in that section of the Park and a wealth of knowledge about trails, hikes, drives, wildlife, geology and most anything else in the area including the NF.

We particularly enjoyed Sitting Bull Falls - what an oasis out in the desert! Also found a number of great dispersed camping spots in the NF. Our plans for a couple of days turned into a week and we might have stayed longer if not for our reservations at Big Bend. We're already planning a return visit.

Thanks again for the report and links. If you ever get back east in the NC area, let us know and I'll try to offer some suggestions for this part of the country,

Al & Cindy

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Old 10-11-2008, 10:06 AM   #5
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Yes, Guadalupe Mountains NP is a neat area, we have not camped there but have stopped at the visitor center on the way to Carlsbad Caverns a few times. You are correct, it is a little bit of New Mexico which has spilled over into Texas (I am a Native Texian, y'all). Therefore, I did not add it to this list. Sitting Bull Falls is great and is in New Mexico. We stopped there for a visit in 1978. I remember the great cave behind the falls with the cavern-like stalactites and formations. It would be a good day trip from Brantley Lake State Park. We had spent the night at the Carlsbad KOA , Brantley not yet a park at the time. We were tent camping at the time having sold our pick-up with its camper shell. Sometime later, I was talking about Sitting Bull Falls with cowboy from Carlsbad, he told me about being there when tourist were drinking the water from the falls. He laughted, because he had just rode by a dead cow laying in the stream which falls off the cliff up steam from the falls.
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Old 10-12-2008, 04:18 PM   #6
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I just thought of a couple more places which we liked seeing, several are Ghost Towns: We used to use the Hwy passing by Lake Valley (no lake around, but it was the site of a huge gold mine way back when, a ghost town, except for a cartaker, at the old school they used to hold dances, still may?) to get to Hillsboro (pretty much a Ghost town as well, but with some people living there) and the Black Range. The whole area is one huge western history site, a neat area & not just by Lake Valley. We had stopped by when you could just drive into it and look around, not sure if this is possible now or not. It was still owned by a mining company at the time, perhaps part was behind a fence. I took some photos back in the '70s sometime. I did a painting later using different photos and a friend who was into Street Rods and auto stuff had some old gas pumps in his living room at the time. So I added a gas pump to the painting I did of the old Lake Valley Conaco Station. I just put it where it would seem to go. Later I found a photo of the Station with a pump and it was in the some location or almost.
Lake Valley link
This link shows the Conaco station, but when I took my slide it did not have a pump.
More history of Lake Valley
Hillsboro ghost town....Ted Turner owns a huge ranch just outside of Hillsboro now

Another ghost town with people moving back to it is Kingston, which is up the mountain toward Silver City from Hillsboro. It was a rusler hang out back in the day. They have some neat straw bail homes build there now. I do not remember any campgrounds by Hillsboro or Kingston. There are disperse sites around, some nice ones off a good sized road off on the right as you drive up to Kingston from Hillsboro Forest Service Road FS 57. There should be a sign with it listed but the turn off is before you get into the Gila National Forest. It is a very senic drive from Hillsboro to Silver City. There are forest service campgrounds, as well as disperse camp sites, on the other side of Emory Pass just beyond Kingston but with a good climb. Views are worth the effort. Be sure to pull off the at the pass to check the view. One could perhaps stay a night there, a day camp for sure. There is a nice trail on the opposite side of the road at the pass with some parking. I would suggest going on down a bit lower for it is not far to a FS campground off the road with a modest price on the left. The first one on the right is day use only I believe. This is the Devil's Backbone Area, very nice rock formations. Just before pulling out of this sections, there will be a couple of disperse camping areas. But one must pull down speep grades to get into them. Very nice sites. We camped in them using the back of a Scout II in the late '70s. Not sure if I'd try it with the Scamp or not, I would have to see how rough the trail is.

Gila Nat'l Forest camping in the area
This is the disperse camp site we used, it might work for a small trailer
This may be the campground we used the last time we were there Railroad but it could have been Wright's Cabin I am not sure, might be neither. They are all in the same area.

White Oaks in Lincoln County is another neat ghost town it is close to the Valley of Fires BLM Campground

Find your own ghost towns

At Sitting Bull Falls, when we visited it, you could just take a short walk up to it and enter the cave system behind the falls. But we (New Mexico's population) have gotten larger and more regulated since then. Also No camping at the Falls, day use only. the following are links to Sitting Bull Falls.

Of course, Sitting Bull of the Dakotas fame was never near New Mexico, not sure were the name came from, wishful thinking I assume.

The photo is of my painting of the Lake Valley Conaco Station....Title Lake Valley Conaco Acrylic on Canvas 1983
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:58 PM   #7
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Villanueva State Park recieved a "highly recommended" report by DulcimerPlayer over on Casita Club which can be seen on this link:

Villanueva State Park:

Photo tour:
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:45 PM   #8
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Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, near Mountainair, New Mexico, are three different sites, the Quarai, Abó, and Gran Quivira ruins. Very interesting early Spanish in New Mexico history mixed with Pueblo Indian towns. Neat places to see.

No camping at the monuments, we stayed at Manzano Mountains State Park near Mountainair.
There is also a Nat'l Forest Service campground near the state park.

I found this post in another forum by Andy101 from Las Cruces:

We just got back from a nice trip through N.E.New Mexico.
Here are the state parks we stayed at.

<a href="" target="_blank"></a> Bottomless Lakes
Nice park. very clean, the road in has a few rough dips but overall it is excellent. The lakes are nice and it was quiet this time of year. Santa Rosa
Beautiful lake. Campsites were OK.Not the cleaniset park but could be worse. It is very quiet this time of year but is very busy from mid may thru end of Sept. Storrie Lake
Nice pull thru campsites. Clean park. Nice lake. The problem with this park is it is close to the Hwy. so there is quite a bit of road noise. Electric sites are limited. Sugarite Canyon
Really nice park. very clean, Beautiful lake,quiet. Sites are small and reservations are needed from may thru mid Oct.

We also drove up to Morphy lake. This one is not reccomended at all! The road is very steep and winding. The park has no water or elect. and the NM state park site says up to 18 ft RVs but I would say no to any RV's. The road is just too steep for safety and the campsites are poor.

Thanks, Andy.

Desert Hawk
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:38 PM   #9
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We stayed 4 days at Cochiti in October of last year and found it to be well run by great, friendly folks. It's mostly on a barren hill of scrubby growth, but it's a true bargain for sure! Maybe a little out of the way for some.

Here's a picture....
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:11 PM   #10
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Villanueva State Park recieved a "highly recommended" report by DulcimerPlayer over on Casita Club which can be seen on this link:

Villanueva State Park:

Photo tour:
A few years back, stayed at Villanueva two nights - wonderful place - WAYYYYYYY off the beaten path - very fast running river a few yards from campsite. When walking, had my large dog on a leash and he saw water and jumped in - so glad he had on a harness so could drag him out - he immediately was being swept away. The water too deep for him to touch bottom.

Nice adobe-style 3-sided shelter with table and benches, privacy, view of massive cliff wall, cool weather when rest of world was hot, facilities. Narrow roadway in camping area. Long drive off highway if need just one night stop but hard-topped winding road with a quick run though tiny town deep in a small valley. Very scenic, very unusual, not your average dozens of campsites in a row place - worthwhile. Have a cup of coffee, listen to the wind in the trees, and think of the history of the place and the conquistadores who rode through here.
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:09 PM   #11
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I've been working my way through some NM state parks from Heron down to Brantley since November and have been really enjoying it. Only one more to go before heading over to Bisbee for a few weeks. Some of you might find a few entries helpful. Keep in mind that I have this blog to keep my friends and acquaintances informed of what I'm doing so each entry is not just about the park. If you are going to spend a few days at any of the parks covered, I tried to cover hikes, biking trails, local laundromats, wi-fi access, libraries, and what not.

Here's the most recent entry and you can work back from there:

Hope some of you get something out of it.



Meadow, Mesa, and Sebastian
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