Thursday May 23rd 2019
Waking up in Lincoln National Forest felt like home. The towering ponderosa pines would put Wisconsin’s conifer mix to shame but the joyous northwoods vibe was all the same. The creepy vibe I had mentioned in the last blog no longer existed with new daylight that brought songbirds and warmth. It dropped in temp pretty well throughout the night being we were in higher elevation, Phoenix even crawled into bed with us at one point.
A small walk to scratch the surface of my curiosity started the day. I followed the gravel road down a bit through the forest greeted by friendly waves of the fellow campers. I walked till I felt uneasy about not seeing camp and turned back. I then facetimed my dad who I ended up talking with for quite some time and we all even did some unexpected shots together. Now that’s one way to start the day. It was then we decided we would relax till late afternoon.
We busted out the baseball gear to play some fetch till Phoenix got bored then switched to him practicing riding his strider till we decided a bike ride was in order on this magnificent day. It was truly a beautiful day almost perfect when we got a spook by wild horses. I never imagined wild horses would be roaming this forest but there they were staring back from the bottom of the hill. What a tremendous moment for us 3 all the while soaking up the rich sunshine. We rode further down the forest road till a locked gate forced us to turn around. Along the way were a few more campsites.
Back to camp while making lunch we got a visit from a new comer who needed to borrow a shovel to level out their camper. Turns out this mom and son duo were on a mountain bike team who were out for a camping weekend to hit up the surrounding trails and just relax.
We still had some time to kill so passed it by painting rocks inspired by my encounter with that vibrant camphost back in Louisiana. I hopped on pinterest for some upbeat inspirational quotes to hopefully brighten whoever was blessed with finding it. Simple unexpected messages can turn a persons day right around. I placed mine and Phoenix’s near the entrance of the forest road beneath a smoky bear sign. Snapped some pics to add to Traveling Rocks on Facebook.
We left after 3 pm and within minutes were in the rustic mountain town of Cloudcraft, New Mexico sitting at 6,668 ft elevation. Snapshot out of a old western movie just cluttered with modern day cars.
After this was a crazy winding drive down a mountainside with outstanding scenic views that required a pull over, a tunnel and runaway truck ramps to the town of Alamogordo, elevation 4,431 ft.
If our eyes could not have been any more spoiled we feasted them on White Sands National Park, the worlds largest gypsum dunefield. Stunning, jawdropping, majestic, breathtaking, the list could go for days on how to describe this wonder of the world. White glistening sand cool to the touch, so soft you just wanted to roll around in it despite the aftermath.
We started this beautiful journey at the Spanish Pueblo style adobe visitor center. If I haven’t mentioned yet you are allowed to go sledding here!! Visitor center is where you have a choice of buying a brand new sled for $20 or renting a used for $10 and throw a cube of wax in for a couple bucks. We went with the used option.
Sled in hand we only had a few hours to explore so making the most of every minute in this glorious sea of sand was crucial. We started down the sandblown pavement till meeting the washboard sand drive taking it around the loop and parking in the West Filming area. Believe it or not the catalog of moives filmed in this park date all the way back to the 1950’s.
Our life years spent sledding in Wisconsin did not prepare us with the skills needed for sledding down sand. I don’t know if it was because we had a used sled but getting a path made was difficult and extremely tiring. Hiking up and down the sand dunes made for quite the workout. Eventually we gave in to rolling down the hill and just trying to take in the sight.
We stayed till sunset and my lord was it a blessing to witness, needless to say our sd cards left with hundreds more pics. Ill let a few of them try to show you the beauty.
Depressingly around 8 park rangers made there way around the drive with their megaphone announcing closing time. We then had a half hour to be out of the park. Shaking what sand we could out of places we didn’t know existed we boarded the RV and set of for a free camp that had plenty of mix reviews on the smell.
Just a few minutes down the road with a hard to catch drive we found our spot for the night at Holloman Air Force base. A lake fed by treated wastewater from the base was open to the public to camp for free. From what I have researched currently it is closed to the public due to high levels of chemical contamination. Some samplings showing 84 times the advisory amount. When thinking back on this the site the smell was distinct and horrific. Nonetheless we set up camp with a half dozen others and endured the night inside the RV while others braved a fire lakeside.
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