We’ve been in New Mexico for a little over a week, with endless blue skies, bright sun, and lots of high winds. We are in the southwest part of the state and while it’s dotted with mountains, it’s also part of the Chihuahuan desert, the largest in North America. As I type, the winds continue steadily at around 20 mph and gust up to 40 or so, rattling our windows and shaking our trailer. We’ve had a couple of days like this – it’s part of spring here – and it’s not too bad, especially when it’s warm and the sun is shining. It does pick up the dust though, and after one particularly blustery day we had a thin coating of dust over every surface in our little home. (Oh well. Your standards of clean flex a little bit after being on the road for a while and road dust is part of life.)
On our trek here from Tucson, we hit the worst traffic of our entire trip. Maybe because we generally avoid Interstates, or try to travel at off-peak times, or perhaps we’re just lucky — but we haven’t been in too many traffic jams while towing the trailer. Just west of Tucson, around noon on a Wednesday, we pretty much came to a stop. Surrounded by tractor trailers in both lanes as far as we could see, we crawled less than ten miles in the next hour. Eventually we passed the construction zone and then the special wide load trailer and its many highway patrol escort vehicles that had backed up the Interstate most of the day, and had the whole road to ourselves.
We sailed into New Mexico easily after that, and spent our first night at an easy boondock spot – one of the state rest areas. In a very welcoming gesture, this particular rest stop along I-10 has about a dozen shelters (or rather, ramadas or casitas as they’re called here) stretched out in a big loop behind the main building. These are meant for a single night stay as you travel, and there was only one other rig camped there, so plenty of room for us. We were pleasantly surprised to find them immaculately clean, with big picnic tables, a light, and our own individual trash can. (Disposing of trash is one of the little chores that comes with boondocking – not hard necessarily, but it takes some thought- so the trash can was a nice touch.) At the end of an unexpectedly long day of driving, we were happy to pull in and relax without much thought required. (Yes, there was noise from the highway, but it wasn’t bad, and the big field we could walk Juniper in made up for it.)
The next day we found a small spot on BLM land a few miles south of Las Cruces, in a break from the pecan farms that cover the land here. While not our best camp site because it was near a trailhead, it did have wonderful views that made it worth staying for several days. It was also a good base for nearby hiking in the foothills of the Organ Mountains, and easy enough to get into town for exploring.
We spent an afternoon poking around Old Mesilla, an adobe town square adjacent to Las Cruces, looking at handmade silver jewelry and getting our first taste of New Mexican cuisine at a local restaurant that’s been on that site in some form since at least 1870 (the enchilada with red chili sauce was a hit, as was the endless salsa that had a nice amount of heat.)
When the first day of significant winds was forecasted – gusts over 50 mph for the entire day and into the evening – we decided to move on. Our spot was pretty exposed, and while there was more hiking to be had, we weren’t going to do it in that weather. So we packed up and broke camp. We also broke our 46 day boondock streak and, after resupplying in town, headed north of town to Leasburg State Park. We like it here more than we expected — we are in the primitive loop (no hookups, no casita) and it feels fairly private – almost like we’re still out in the boonies, only this time with a great cell signal and a short walk to hot showers. I got to dust off my hair dryer and get back my big hair, what a treat!
Best of all, the Robledo Mountains are our next door neighbors and have proved to be a great place to hike. This time of year, the landscape looks mostly brown and dormant, but once we got out there, we found ourselves in gorgeous multi-colored canyons with dry waterfalls to scramble over and all kinds of vegetation thriving in this dry environment. We’re looking forward to getting back out there for more. And then enjoying a hot shower of course.