Last night was spent at the Lake Brantley State Park, north of Carlsbad City. The lake is a dammed reservoir and the surroundings are flat and barren but the main campground has hookups, trees, restrooms and showers.
Being the frugal (ha! More like Super Cheap) campers, we opt for the primitive camp area. There are no designated sites and we have to hike a ways to the main campground to use the restrooms. But it is deserted and we are at the water’s edge for a dramatic sunset with dinner.
We will not be going to White Sands. A drone (?) crashed there and now the park is closed. Thanks to the Military Industrial Complex.
Speaking of which, New Mexico is MIC (military industrial complex) Central. From Los Alamos where they began to make the first atom bomb to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a plutonium dump, all things nuclear are here, cradle to coffin. There’s been an underground fire at WIPP since earlier this month and, of course, leaks to the outside world.
WIPP is near Carlsbad. We got to get out of here!
First stop today: Roswell of UFO fame. Science fiction is much more light hearted than science fact. Little green alien sculptures are everywhere. Arby’s sign says “Aliens Welcome” and McDonald’s has a flashing green neon alien. At the Visitors Center, we find out that Area 51 has nothing to do with Roswell. That’s near Las Vegas. Oh.
It’s a long drive up to Vaughn, then northwest, towards Albuquerque. We stop in the tiny town of Mountain Air long enough to peek inside a Visitor’s Center and groove on some murals, then turn up onto the Salt Missions Trail. There’re the ruins of an old mission but we can’t spend too much time here. It’s already 4 o’clock and we need to find a campsite for the night before too long. The ranger at the Missions Visitor Center tells you that the closest State Park has been closed for a while but you can turn into the Cibolla Mountains and park for the night.
Guess it’s going to be dry camping tonight but first, we have to find some water. The towns along this road are more a collection of homes, churches and meeting halls than real towns. They are so small they don’t even have shops. The last town has a small shop-cum-gas station and the woman working there tells you that there is water in the bathroom so I take the big plastic storage bin we bought in Roswell to the sink there. Worried about not having enough water, I overfill the bin. The lid doesn’t seal and water sloshes everywhere.
More water spills out as Big Dog drives onto a dirt road, deep into the National Forest. It is still charred from a big forest fire, probably the one that closed down the State Park. After several miles, we come to a small picnic area with one of the more disgusting pit toilets we’ve seen on this trip. This will be camp for tonight. It’s kind of nice that we are able to just park in a national forest.
It’s cold here and we are happy to be in Sprockets, rather than a tent. Being able to cook inside is nice, too. Sprockets is not quite level and I am dizzy in bed until I shift positions, but hey, it’s free.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!