Campsite Breakdown – Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, Alamogordo, NM

Where we stayed:  Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

Why we went there:  We needed a base of operations for our time at White Sands.  The only camping they allow is back-country.  Oliver Lee is about a 25-30 minute drive to the Dunes.

How accessible for RV’s: You can fit about any sized rig in any site.  There are 44 total sites.  About 7 are reservable.  A lot of tilt to most of the sites because it’s in the foothills.  One note, if you have GPS, DO NOT turn on Taylor Ranch Rd like our Garmin and Google Maps told us to.  It becomes a dirt road that gets fairly rough.  If you follow the signs it will take you in on Dog Canyon Rd.  (We had to disconnect so I could turn the rig around and take Dog Canyon.)

Are there hookups:  There is a dump station/water on the left upon entering the park.  16 sites in loop A have 30amp and water hookups.  We stayed in loop B which has a few water spigots between sites and no electrical.  Love our solar panels!

How much does it cost:  For someone staying long-term in New Mexico, they have a great camping pass program.  As an out-of-state resident we could buy a pass for $225 which would allow us to camp every night for a year in a state park, with a 14 night limit per stay.  If we were going to be staying in the state for a while, it would be a heck of a deal.  As it was, we paid $10/ night for our site.  To get electrical it’s $14 ($4 with the annual pass).

Quiet Hours: 10pm-6am.  Wasn’t too big of an issue as most everyone was staying in loop A with electrical.  There was a generator running a few sites down, but it could really only be heard when we were outside.

Why we loved it:  Pretty cheap, with the option to be unbelievably cheap.  Sites were nice and spread out.  Right at the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains.   Dog Canyon hike leaves from the visitor center.  Free warm showers.  Close proximity to White Sands National Monument.  Lots of rabbits.  Potential for other wildlife too, we just didn’t see any.

Things we didn’t like:  Just so I have something to put here, I would say the sites could be more level on a whole, and quite hours could be longer 😉

Would we go back if in the area: Yes

View of our campsite.
View of our campsite.
Sunrise over the Sacramento Mountains
Sunrise over the Sacramento Mountains
Arial shot of the campground taken from Dog Canyon Trail You can faintly see it if you zoom in at the valley.
Arial shot of the campground. (Taken from Dog Canyon Trail)
Saw about a dozen of these guys at night. It's a little eerie because they eyes reflect light, so it's easy to spot them if you just sweep a light around.
Saw about a dozen of these guys at night. It’s a little eerie because they eyes reflect light, so it’s easy to spot them if you just sweep a light around.
A pool of water on the nature trail near the visitors center.
A pool of water on the nature trail near the visitors center.
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White Sands Sledding- The dog wants to do it too

 

rachel and spicy
Rachel at the top of the sledding hill.
getting ready to sled
Michael getting ready to sled.

A popular thing to do at White Sands National Monument is to sled down the dunes.  You can buy a sled at the gift shop next to the Visitor’s Center and sell it back for a fraction of the price when you’re done.  Our sled was around $16 and we sold it back for $5.  There are also blocks of wax you can buy for around $2 or $3.  You rub the wax on the bottom of the sled and and it increases your speed.  It’s also helpful to find an area where someone else has already packed the sand down for you.  This was more fun than we expected and our dog Rachel wanted to join in as well.

rache l

rachel and spicy
It was a good night.

Campsite Breakdown- Pine Springs at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

rv guadalupe

We thought we would start doing some short posts with basic information about where we’ve been staying.  We will probably go back and do this for the other places we have stayed too.

Where we stayed:  Guadalupe Mountains National Park Pine Springs Campground

Why we went there:  It’s about a 30 or 40 minute drive to Carlsbad Caverns and there isn’t any camping around Carlsbad Caverns.  There is an RV park in White City which is only about 8 miles to the Caverns but we prefer a more natural setting.  And we are trying to live as cheap as possible.  We would’ve loved to boondock somewhere but did not find a place to do this.

How accessible for RV’s: The drive to the park and campground is no problem.  Because of a tight turn on your way out, the max recommended total vehicle length is 50′. The tent and RV camping areas are separate.  There are about 8 spaces for big RV’s in a circular parking lot framed by the Guadalupe Mountains.  Ours is 38 feet so we used one of these big spots.  Three of the spaces are huge and you could easily fit an RV bigger than ours and your car next to it.  The other five are not as big but we managed to squeeze our car into our spot right behind the slide outs.  The rest of the spaces were for much smaller rigs.

Are there hookups:  No hookups and no dump station but there is a place to get water right by the registration board.

How much does it cost:  There is the entrance fee to the National Park which is 5 dollars per person.  We bought an Interagency Annual Pass for 80 dollars at the beginning of our RV traveling and it has already paid for itself.  The camping fee is 8 dollars a night.

Quiet Hours: (This is something Michael loved):  From 8am to 8pm.

Why we loved it:  The views were spectacular.  The sunsets were amazing, this seems to be a staple of the Southwest.  A lot of the hiking trails started right out of the campsite including the hike to Guadalupe Peak, Texas’s highest peak.  We got to see some wildlife like Mule Deer and Javelinas. It was close to Carlsbad Caverns.  The Salt Basin Dunes were not something we expected to find at the park and they were a good warm up for White Sands National Monument.

Things we didn’t like:  The RV’s were packed in pretty tightly together.  All week long we had neighbors 4 feet from us.  It’s nice to have some more space.

Would we go back if in the area: Yes

cool tree at campiste
Beautiful tree we saw on the Smith Spring Trail
IMG_1617
Walking on the Pinery Trail that starts right outside the visitor center.
javalina
Javelina
mule deer
Mule Deer on the Smith Spring Trail.
hike on guadalupe peak
Picture from our hike up Guadalupe Peak.
sunset pinery trail
Sunset over Visitor’s Center.

Detours and Drivelines

Through the magic of time travel, you can relive our most exciting weekend to date.

Friday:

I fall asleep while watching the office with Tara. It’s about 8:30 pm. The excitement of the day has been too much to handle and I can’t stay awake. We are boondocking off BL-20 in Odessa, TX. This is our second of at least four nights here. It’s not that we are here because there’s so much to do in the Midland/Odessa area. We are here because they are the closest Allison Transmission service center.

Where did we end up? Is this Texas or the UK?

 

Earlier that day:

Shortly before the passing train some 300 feet away gets the chance, my alarm wakes me. It’s 7:50 am. I have slept nearly 4 hours. I groggily brush my teeth so I don’t offend the service center reps. I walk in to let them know why there’s an RV in their front lot where they surely didn’t have one yesterday. Continue reading Detours and Drivelines

Shell we dance?

shells on table 1

I remember finding shells when I was little.  They were treasures, instantly put in a pocket, or held firmly in a fist.  Later, they were transferred to a bag or a box, maybe even kept in the pocket, to await the journey home from the beach.

And that was it.  Once I got home, the shells disappeared after a couple of weeks.  There wasn’t much to do with them and they lost a lot of their magic off the sand.  As I got older, I started to leave the shells on the beach.  The next person who walked by might appreciate them longer.

Then we came to Padre Island National Seashore

And I’m five years old again.

rachel running
Those are shells all over the sand!!! What?!!

rachel running 2
Rachel is super excited about the shells too.

Continue reading Shell we dance?

Words of the Sea

“Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me … on that summer’s day, when my eyes were opened to the sea.”

-Jacques Cousteau

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“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.”

-Robert Henri

“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of time.”

-H.P. Lovecraft

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First campsite on Padre Island National Seashore, it’s free!

I get the absolute pleasure of writing this while we are staying at Padre Island National Seashore.  I decided to keep this post simple and just share some quotes about the ocean.  Last year, in the dead of night, over multiple days, Michael had me watch The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  I didn’t get to watch all of the documentary and I honestly don’t remember much of it, since it was viewed at my bedtime.  But I do remember listening to John Muir’s words.  They resonate deeply and I can’t imagine anyone reading or hearing the things he said and not wanting to immerse themselves in nature.  And after being beside the ocean for a few days I wanted to find some poignant words (since I haven’t found my own yet) to express how deeply the sea touches us all.

Luckily, the internet gives full access to all kinds of beautiful quotes about the ocean.  Enjoy.

Continue reading Words of the Sea

The Great Blue Heron Stalker

You may think, from the title, that this article will be about a human that stalks the majestic bird, the Great Blue Heron.  And perhaps that human is one of us.  You may think, it is a simple story, with a beginning and an ending.  But is any story so simple?

Life on the road, and in the RV, is full of untold dangers.  There is my recurring nightmare of us driving off a cliff.  There is the possibility that the GPS will lead us to an unfinished road where we will drive off a cliff.  The RV might blow a tire leading us to skid off the pavement and drive off a cliff.

Then there is the danger that lurks inside the RV.  Confining people and animals to small spaces does not always bode well.  One thing our animals like to do, is to wait for Michael and I to be in the narrowest part of the RV.  (This is right in front of the shower and bathroom sink.  We have a propane heater in this area, so the the hallway is smaller than anywhere else in the RV.)  The animals then converge here and it becomes a game of survival as to who can make it out unharmed.

final shower scene Danger awaits you here