Should we stay or should we go….
It’s not too far a drive from Rockhound State Park in New Mexico to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, 132 miles, two hours and a bit from the I 10 to the base of the Sacramento Mountains via the 70. Past the White Sands Missile Range, we have our area 51 parking permit we should be OK;) and past White Sands National Monument. It wasn’t the nicest day, clouds, rain and an occasional sun shower. We couldn’t secure a reservation at the park, but decided to go anyway, there might be something. The park is South of Alamogordo by about 8 miles. We circled around the two loops once we got there, everything with electric and water was gone, there are only 15 of those but found site 19, one of the 23 budget sites (as I call them, just dirt, nothing else) and squeezed Myrtle in for the night, or two we thought, depending on the weather.
Cats had a great walk in the drizzle, lots to sniff, more pokey stuff they said, these darn desert landscapes:) After we had the generator set up we sat deciding what we were going to do, go for a walk (in the rain), go diesel up, nap(?) when a knock came at the door from a nice lady saying she was the park manager, and they were closing down as of 2 pm the following day due to the corona virus fears…sigh…really? We later found out the parks are open for day use, but not camping. So bunches of people walking the paths are less of a contamination than solitary campers, like us;) no arguing, just threw a monkey wrench into my carefully laid out State Parks plans across Texas and Louisiana….
What to do, what to do. So, I recoiled at the idea of any of the RV parks in Alamogordo, read the reviews…not the best. Got online and started to replan what we had already decided on, what we had to cancel, who to call…Weather was not going to co-operate so we decided, “F@#k this, lets get the hell out of Dodge”:) Hiking here in severe thunderstorms wasn’t what we had in mind, so this park, as well as White Sands National Monument will have to wait for exploration other than a few shots of wildflowers for another day!
We were told we had until 2 pm the next day to leave so we took advantage of that to wait out some of the thunderstorms by going to town to diesel up, get some breakfast and a quick bit of shopping (no super hysteria here yet, but very busy for early morning!) On a sad note, one of the park pair hosts was circling in their golf cart (this pair should have been walking!) checking to see when folks were leaving, I said “Yeah, yeah! We’ll be on our way soon!” Not to worry he commented, we’re not throwing you out!… and somehow he started on how good it was they were closing, did you know there were people from ENGLAND! and Germany camped here!!! Lepers they must be…we couldn’t keep our mouths shut. When I hear xenophobic comments from assholes like this it just makes my blood boil. Mike had spoken to the Germans, they’d been in the US and Canada for half a year! I feel sorry for the Europeans now, Mexicans are getting a break, but the racism is strong here in this country and very very sad. He left in a huff after we told him no one was immune, and no one would be safe, even in a small town and that the orange vomit was a disaster:)
So after hooking up we were heading to Carlsbad, New Mexico to get East and South. The 85 wasn’t a road we have ever driven so thought, why not:) Mike was a bit worried about the elevation change from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft. The park is at 4400′, Cloudcroft is 8675’…it pine time! We read the road reviews and said, “Vamanos!”
It was steady climb up, no switch backs or drop offs, poor Hagrid had to really work but it was steady. Lovely small villages among the pines, a ski run, no snow except in the shade and then a high mountain plateau following the 82 as it gradually descended towards the 385. The landscape was quite beautiful, but sparse. Heavily eroded arroyos followed the road down show casing some wicked weather in the past until we were on a high plain, all the way to Artesia, then South to guess what…Happy Valley, the KOA North of Carlsbad. We had to kill a few days due to our other reservations in Texas. As we checked in, “tornado warning” said the guy at the desk, “batten down!” A few days couldn’t hurt here;)
But that, will be another story;) Thankfully the tornado watch was dropped, the sun came out for one little moment and we got a quiet nights sleep! Saludos amigos, stay tuned for the craziness that is America!