Saturday, November 29, 2014

11/29/14 White Sands

My boondocking spot near White Sands looked waaaay better in the daylight, as they always do. I need to stop getting there in the dark as I'm terrified getting there then uncomfortable the whole night because I'm unsure of my surroundings.  The "lake" was more like a pond, but it was clear and reflected the sky beautifully. The bad thing was, the entire area was carpeted with those awful stickerbushes. Ah well.

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Living room view this AM Alamogordo NM
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View out the front window. Alamogordo NM
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I took some pics, had coffee, and headed to White Sands.  What an astounding place! Even though it was in the 60's I felt cold, probably because it looked like I was driving through huge snowdrifts.

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White Sands Nat'l Mon.
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White Sands Nat'l Mon.
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Sledding at White Sands
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Even the roads look wintry
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The only problem was, it was a Saturday on a holiday weekend and the park was full of people. It was very difficult to find dunes without footprints. And I got there a little late, the sun was too high. But I'll be back for sure. I enjoyed a lox sandwich in the picnic area & then headed to Alamogordo for gas. I had sorta planned to go east through Cloudcroft & then down through Carlsbad again. I was having second thoughts after a guy at the gas station said he thought it had snowed up there. Not sure if that was true, but after spending 10 minutes getting through 3 traffic lights and seeing lots more ahead, I said screw this, turned around & headed south towards El Paso. I'm not sure what was going in Alamogordo but I had had enough traffic.

I thought I might stop in El Paso, but I wasn't that tired and and it was still a bit early. I figured I'd find somewhere east of El Paso. Turns out there's about 200 miles of nothing east of El Paso. Now I was doing the mental math on the gas vs the miles to go to Ft. Stockton and I thought it might be close. I was tempted to fill up in Van Horn, but they have a rep as the most anti-RV town in Texas so I really didn't care to give them any of my money. I was pretty sure I could make Fort Stockton, and if not, I had my 5 gal gas can I bought after my last brush with fuel exhaustion in Texas. I made it with no problem and settled in for the night at the Fort Stockton Walmart, which is a popular spot. I parked near a nice Born Free that looked to be about 22' as well, but they were towing a car too. I ended up doing over 300 miles, which was way more than planned. I was tired but was still up till midnight. I guess I'm just a night owl.

Friday, November 28, 2014

11/28/14 Puerto Palomas Mexico to White Sands.

I had a really nice time at the fire with the LOWs (Loners on Wheels) folks, and after some thought, decided to join. They're not as "busy" as the WINs, and the Solos don't seem to be mostly Solos, so I thought it might be a better fit for me.  While I joined the group, I just couldn't bring myself to sit there very long. I guess I'm just not much of a 'parker' as of yet. One thing they told me about was that every Tues they carpooled to the border 30 miles south & walked across for lunch, shopping, meds, etc. That sounded great to me but I wasn't waiting till Tues. So off I went to the little town of Columbus, NM and walked across the border to Puerto Palomas MX.

Parked near the Duty Free store on the US side of the border. I walked across to Puerto Palomas, Mx

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Apparently the golf cart is to pick up the lazy gringos who won;t walk the half block from the border to the store.
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The LOWs show up Tuesdays, I guess the SKPs show up some other day, and so on. Me, I went by myself. I'm just not that into the herd mentality.
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Gorgeous door!
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In the Pink Store
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Ok, these were weird
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Gorgeous glass. Stuff here was pricey though. Palomas Mx
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$135! This place was not cheap. I guess since most folks going here have never strayed far from the border towns, they don't know how overpriced stuff is.

You know you're in the wrong place when you try to pay with pesos and everyone is all stymied by that and no one has change. It took at least five minutes for the gal at the Pink Store to come up with change.  The guy at the liquor store blinked when I asked for the total in pesos, then told me, "That's Mexican money" as he wrote down the new total. I smiled and pulled the exact amount out of my wallet, and everyone around sighed, "Ahhhhhhh!" like I was David Copperfield and pulled a rabbit out of my bag instead of some pesos. LOL!!!

I made it back across the border with no problem, then did something dumb. I went into that duty free store I had parked by and saw they had Sheridan's. It's not available in the US. Well I had to have it. Problem was, I now had to go back into Mexico. They made sure you did, escorted you to the border.  I didn't want to go back through & talk to the same surly guy again so I walked around a little more thinking shift change might not be that far off.  Problem was, I was losing daylight, but I reasoned that I could always stay in Deming again if I wanted.

Eh....that's kind of a creepy painting. :-) Palomas, Mx
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Ok, a peeing dog statue. Not high on my wish list LOL Palomas, Mx
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I finally had enough and went back across the border and got a different surly guy. These were the crankiest border guys I've ever seen. Not sure why, it certainly didn't appear to be a busy post. I guess when he swiped my passport it showed I'd been through earlier so I got my backpack and jacket searched, down to kneading the padding in the straps. He didn't like my SPOT locator, not sure why. If he'd looked in the front pocket he'd have found my ACR beacon and probably been even more cranky.  Ah well.

It was my turn to be cranky when I had to go through another border patrol checkpoint north of Columbus.  These things make no sense to me. They're permanent, everyone knows where they are, and there's a million roads through the desert that would get you around them. I just don't get what they're meant to accomplish.

Things that make you got WTF?? A dust storm beginning. One reason why I decided not to stay another night in Deming.
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The wind put the kibosh on stopping in Deming. I decided to head towards Alamogordo & see where I ended up. I knew of a cool boondocking site a couple miles from White Sands but I had promised myself no more off-roading in the dark. I went through Las Cruces, where I should have gassed up. then through White Sands Missile Range. And another stupid checkpoint. It just makes me bristle. Anyway.......I decided to try for the boondocking spot. I had checked it out on Google Maps, and thought it looked easy enough to get to. And there was nothing else so close to the Monument. Sigh........ Holy smokes....nothing is quite so terrifying to me as turning onto a dirt track in the pitch dark. Especially when it starts out with a blind curve. And when the dirt road you're looking for is in a little strip of no-mans-land between a missile range and air force base, so a turn down the wrong road could be...bad. Yeah, I know....get there in daylight. :-( Obviously I'm a slow learner. I believe I'm set up in the legal camping area. People who camp here say they often get a visit from Border Patrol or other gov't peeps. If they're going to show I hope it's soon...I'm tired and don't need someone waking me up.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

11/27/14 Thanksgiving on the Road

It was a quiet night at Hot Well Dunes. While there were a bunch of ATVers, by and large they were pretty respectful, not roaring through the campsites and really not doing much after 9pm. Someone started blasting a stereo at 9:15am, but I think a few other folks told them to turn it down as it went away quickly. I made a big breakfast of eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, and fried Alaskan lox.  I'm not thrilled by the texture of raw lox though I do like it on a bagel with cream cheese & onion, but I find dropping it in the frying pan for just a few seconds on each side makes it a great side dish, almost like ham with my omelet. I hit the hot tub one last time, got changed and hit the road around noon. I neglected to ask about the state of the road south from the dunes when I talked to BLM. It turned out to be paved most of the way. But the last 7 or 8 miles were utter torture, all washboard with some sections that were just awful. I hate that. I wonder if the road to Tanque is as miserable.

Anyway, I got on I-10 and headed east. I got to Deming around 4pm and looked up the LOWs (Loners on Wheels) RV Park. I had planned to spend Thanksgiving alone.  It was my dad's big holiday, so it's the day I grieve for him the most, but the 4 hours on the road had worn me out and I did feel like maybe I wanted to be around people. Especially people I didn't know, where I could walk away at any point and be sad if that's what I wanted to do.

Of course the park office was closed, but one of the staff talked me through the self check-in. I chose an electric site which would be $15 with the Passport America discount. They were pretty close to full. If they had been full there's about a dozen other parks in Deming but I would have just boondocked somewhere. I was a little intrigued by the idea of a Loners RV park so that's why I chose it. :-)

As I was walking back from the bathrooms, my next door neighbor flagged me down to tell me about the card games and bonfire tonight, and that Monday was potluck and Tues was a trip to Mexico, etc. Apparently there's a lot of scheduled stuff here. The trip to Mex sounded good tho I don't plan on spending a week here. I may drive down tomorrow though.

I made my Thanksgiving dinner of posole with mashed potatoes and a pumpkin pie parfait. Oh, and eggnog with black rum. Good stuff. Of course when I was done all I wanted to do was curl up with a book but I dragged myself out to the fire. It was nice. About 10 people hanging out & chatting. Now I've got my little fake fireplace going and am thinking about some more eggnog. Life is good.

For my friend Cathy Butterfield :-)
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Parked at LOW-HI ranch in Deming
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

11/26/14 Hot Well Dunes

I spent a quiet and uneventful night at the Safford Walmart. It got chilly but never bad enough to have to put any heat on. I was able to get the wifi from Home Depot so that was nice.

Looking at the map at one point I saw a little place called Hot Well Dunes Rec. Area. Reading about it made think it was a definite must-stop. There are 2 hot tubs filled with 106 degree water that is pumped up almost 2000' by solar powered pumps. The road was supposed to be bad, and it's an ATV recreation area. I called the local BLM office to ask about the road and it had been paved! Even better! So off I went. Even paved the road was rough. I got there, paid my $3, and set off in search of the tubs. The roads inside the area are sandy and that terrifies me. I consoled myself by thinking, if you get stuck there's no shortage of folks who could pull you out. :=) I found the tubs, parked, changed and bolted for the nearest one.  Ah, bliss. A couple local folks joined me and they were pretty interesting to talk to. They had the primo spot right next to the tubs and told me to pull over there as they were leaving. It was funny, as they told me you never see a ranger there, and as they said it, he rolled by. While I was making lunch he came by again and knocked on the door, looking to see my fee envelope. First time that's ever happened. And of course it was the first time I'd not filled out the receipt portion. Ah well.

I had my lunch and got one last dip in before sundown. I actually waited a bit too long as the pump had stopped but the water was still warm and the tub pretty full. The other one was draining pretty quickly though.  Right after sundown people started rolling up who hadn't read the signs. :-) They left disappointed as the water level was dropping rapidly.  I got a decent sunburn today. Oops. There was some ATV noise for a while but it's pretty quiet now.  Hoping for a quiet night

Thursday, November 13, 2014

11/13/14 Page and Glen Canyon Dam

I spent a reasonably quiet night at the Page WM. I grabbed a Subway egg sandwich and headed to one of my favorite spots, the scenic view behind Denny's. It's one of the few places you can get a good view of the dam, and there's nice views down the canyon as well. I parked and walked down and couldn't believe my eyes. Water was shooting out of the base of the dam at a high rate. I'd never seen that before! I quickly googled it and found that it was a water release designed to mimic a flood in the canyon and would end that afternoon. I grabbed a few shots, gobbled down my sandwich, and headed to the dam.

I walked across the bridge & checked out the visitors center. I noticed they had dam tours and thought that might be a fun thing to do on a less crowded day. Then I noticed the exhibits down on top of the dam and realized, "Hey dummy, take the tour TODAY so you can get shots of the water closer up!!" So that's what I did. The guy who did the tour was a font of knowledge, said he'd been there 45 years. It was a cool tour, and best of all, he got permission to let us out on the platform as close to water level as we could get. It was incredible to hear the roar of the water & stare 600 feet up the face of the dam. Just amazing. After the tour I headed to Horseshoe Bend for the sunset. I considered staying in that lot overnight as there's no signs against it, but in the end I went back to the WM.

Glen Canyon dam during water release.
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Glen canyon Dam after the sun came out
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The Colorado River raging with water released from the dam
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Water release at the Glen Canyon Dam
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Dam & bridge, shot with fisheye lens
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Concrete bucket used in building the dam.
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One of the turbine wheels.
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Walking along the top of the dam
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Moss growing on the walls of the canyon where water seeps through
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Looking up at the visitors center above
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Water release from Glen Canyon Dam. Olympus OMD
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Glen Canyon Dam water release. Olympus OMD with fisheye lens
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The bathtub ring
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Horseshoe bend, Nikon D810
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Horseshoe Bend at sunset, shot with Olympus OMD M1
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