Friday, June 2, 2017

Ridiculous Road Trip #1, Part 7 - Lincoln National Forest, Petroglyphs, White Sands, Hot Wells.

Back to Part 6.

May 8
There were all manner of interesting sites and attractions to visit on our way west, but they weren't really laid out in a linear way for this section of our trip. We decided to basecamp near Cloudcroft, NM, up in the mountains, in Lincoln National Forest. This was our first test of for hauling the camper up a real mountain since our transmission issues in Arkansas. And it purred (chugged, really) along just fine up to 9000 feet without any scary temperature readings for the transmission. Thank you, Danny the transmission guy!

We pulled into Deerhead Campground around lunchtime, set up camp, and then headed to the ranger station that was nearby and open! And they had a passport stamp! And they had useful information about good trails nearby. We were pleased and headed out for a hike. The Osha Trailhead was just a few miles away. Osha, in this instance, is a wildflower, not the workplace safety kind of OSHA. Now, let us discuss the trail rating system for this particular region. This trail was listed as easy. HA! It should be moderate, at least for those of us who normally live at 715 feet above sea level. I'll admit that it eventually got easier after the initial three-quarter of a mile of 30 degree climb up to where the trail leveled out, but I'm a certified flatlander. Regardless, it was a lovely hike. Pines galore, a meadow, almost no one else to meet on the trail. And Doug being Doug, was bored of my slow pace pretty early on, and decided to speedily do the loop trail twice while I did it once.  And he almost made it. I double-backed a bit to meet him, and we were both happily tired.

We headed back to camp, where Doug dragged some huge logs over and chopped up a new store of wood to get us through the next two nights--or next two winters, as he really enjoys chopping. I lounged in the hammock and read. Seems fair, eh? Since there was no water available at our site (other than the drinking water we had with us), we minimized dishes by using the dutch oven to fry quesadillas and roasted corn over the fire. Yum. Then we sat back and enjoyed the clear night and the fire. And I am fairly certain that I heard a big animal moving through the woods at the top of the hill above our campsite. Maybe a bear. :)

May 9
We headed out early to drive out to some National sites. The morning started with a fantastic roadside attraction, a giant pistachio.

We were also highly amused by the selfie of the guys who took the photo for us.

The samples of flavoured pistachios and nut brittles at Pistachio Land were super tasty.

Anyway, on to the real first destination of the day, Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. The petroglyphs were, well, glyphy? Daring the rattlesnakes to get us, we clambered over rocks, and hiked out and over a few hills. It was a glorious morning to be outside. We also did a quick tour of the excavated Native American village on the site.

Fiona on one hill
Doug on the next hill
The next destination for the day was White Sands National Park. As we were hiking along the trail at the Petroglyph site, Doug wondered if the dusty white mirage we could see in the distance was really White Sands. I was doubtful, but it was!

White Sands NP is just a wacky place. First of all, they encourage sledding on the dunes. Seriously. They sell sleds in the gift shop. We had to try it, of course. With our trusty green saucer sled and a cube of wax, we headed out to drive the big loop into the dunes.

 And climbed. 

 And sledded. And climbed. 

And sledded. And climbed. And sledded.

And climbed....and got really sun burned. It was fantastic. And exhausting. And very very very sandy.

And who needs a go-pro? Surely an iPhone shoved down the front of my shirt will work just as well. Or not. But still, it's kind of an awesome the sense that it's terrible. I'd are recommend turning on the volume, because the laughing at the end is great.

Since the running up dunes had taken care of our desire to ever move again, we opted out of another hike in the Lincoln National Forest on the way home, but we did stop for the gorgeous view at the Mexican Canyon Trestle.

We headed back home to the campground, and shockingly, Doug chopped wood again.

May 10
We managed to head out crazy early, which of course meant that we thought we had lots of time to waste, and we got distracted along the road. Roadside America had the "White Sands Missile Museum and Rocket Garden" along our route, how could we resist? We didn't.

It turns out that the museum is actually inside the active military base. And as you drive in, you shouldn't accidentally miss the sign directing visitors to the registrations building. Because the guards at the checkpoint will be forcefully stern with you. After a nice U-turn, while Doug anxiously notices the automated barricades that could pop out of the road at any moment, and all the nice men with really big guns, we found the correct parking lot and headed to the visitor center. Then we had a lovely background check done.

And finally we were allowed onto the base with our temporary passes, and made it into the museum. First of all, there was a Darth Vader helmet. It was a gift from the Star Wars sound guy for help with sound effects including missiles being fired and sound waves travelling on a guy wire.

They also had a full patriot missile setup displayed out in their rocket garden with a bazillions other armaments.

Please note, the "Do Not" warnings. There was also a family of birds nesting in there.

Two hours later, we are finally back on the road,  and hungry for lunch. Lured into Las Cruces by a billboard for "Best Steaks in New Mexico. Haunted Restaurant", we headed to the Double Eagle for some tasty food. The steak was delish. The mansion was believably haunted with creepy old paintings of the poor dead (now ghostly) lovers.

Dust Devils
We made our way to the final destination for the day, actually the only real destination planned, Hot Well Dunes Recreation Site. That's right, hot springs at our campsite. It was a lovely way to end a long day on the road.

As we were looking for a spot in the campground, we startled a covey of quail as they were crossing the road. We giggled maniacally as they froze, then circled, then ran in different directions.

Up next, Part 8.


Fiona Becker said...
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Anshu said...

Awesome going guys... enjoying reading your blog. Stay safe and have a great time 👍🏻