Cloudcroft, New Mexico part 2

New Mexico is a beautiful state( if you like the desert). The vistas are grand and impressive, but it is still desert, very different from the rich, rolling farmland of Southern Ontario. It is a rugged beauty that is both compelling and threatening, miles and miles of desert, no houses and few people. As we traveled I kept wondering how the native Americans and the original settlers ever survived in such a barren place.

baby cactus

prickly

I recommend staying in the state parks where the sites are large and far from neighbors. Each site has an awning over a cement patio, a fire pit, electric and water. We stayed in three state parks and they each offered unique features of their location.

Our site at Bottomless Lake State Park

Bottomless Lake near Roswell

During our travels we used a great guide book, RVing For Dummies. It has lots of tips for RV travel including routes and side trips. It gives recommendations for places to stay, where to shop and local attractions.

The book suggested a side trip to Cloudcroft, a beautiful and quaint small ski village atop a large mountain. See the town here – http://www.cloudcroft.com/views/burro2.htm On the map it looked like a short route between Roswell and Alamagordo so we decided to go that way.  What the book  didn’t mention was how hazardous the trip down would be, especially towing a 35 foot fifth wheel, total weight of the rig 20,000 pounds. A nice meandering road took us to the top.  As we neared the summit our fuel filter went on us and we had to pull over to fix it.

Cowboy church on the mountain where we pulled over

Apparently traveling from the desert climate down below to the alpine climate (there was snow on the ground) near the top made the fuel in the filter gel.  Mike is always prepared for most situations, and lo and behold he had a replacement along. What he didn’t have was the tool to get it off. So we unhitched the truck, limped up to the top, found a shop that sold us the tool, and went back down the mountain, where he fixed it at the side of the road.

fixing the truck by the side of the road

A local stopped to see if we needed help, and warned us to be careful on our trip down the other side. We assured him we would.

Should have listened to the helpful stranger

Well, that trip down very nearly ended our adventure.

Ours was a 9% grade

There were signs at the top warning of grades of 9% but we had no idea what that meant so we headed on down the mountain. Now we know that means the drop is 9 feet for every 100 feet of travel or to put it into simpler terms, on the 16 mile trip down that mountain the drop was nearly 5, 000 vertical feet, or approximately 1 mile straight down. That is scary steep, white knuckle steep, close your eyes and pray steep, passenger has their foot on the brakes steep, heart racing steep. The grades were so steep and the switch backs so tight that all the gearing down and braking couldn’t slow us down much and signs on the road down said “runaway lane 7 miles ahead”. That’s a long way off when the brakes on the trailer and the truck were smoking.  We managed to pull over at a lookout parking lot for an hour to cool the brakes off and settle our frayed nerves.

Cooling off on the way down

The rest of the trip down went well but when we reached bottom we were wrung out. That experience has made us leary of any steep grade. Kind of limits some of our destinations.

Drove into the visitor center for the White Sands Missile testing site for the military. Could have taken a walking tour but it was a hot day so we just kept on going.

Beams

Desert plants

White sands

Another highlight of this trip was our visit to the Trinity site, near Alamagordo where the first atom bomb was exploded on July 16, 1945, open to the public twice a year, first Sat. in April and first Sat in Oct. It was very humbling to be walking on such historic ground.

Jumbo shell

Sign at ground zero

Thousands of people visit this historic place annually, not much left there but the Jumbo Bomb shell some buildings and lots of trinitite, the glass like substance produced when the sand melted with the bomb blast.

trinitite

trinitite sign

We spent two weeks in this interesting state but the sand storms drove us out. The mornings would dawn clear and crisp, but as the temperatures rose  during the day the wind would come up and you could watch the sand blowing across the desert toward you.

Sand storms caused roads to be closed,traffic had to pull off the highway and wait it out in parking lots along the road. It seeped into every crack  and left a layer of sand on everything.

Typical building in Alamagordo

We both got major sinus infections, felt really awful, so we headed north through Albuquerque and west to Oklahoma where we missed two tornadoes and headed home to a gentler climate.

Pistachios growing in our campground

Actually we arrived home to freezing rain.

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3 comments on “Cloudcroft, New Mexico part 2”

  1. What an outstanding post! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve always dreamed of traveling around the country in an RV and writing about all my experiences, but your difficulties with the RV breaking down and such would definitely be a concern for a woman alone who has no knowledge of such things. I imagine that the costs could be substantial too. Your pics are wonderful and your writing interesting, clear, and amusing! I just adore what you’ve done here! Keep on! I’m so looking forward to more! And take good care of your precious selves! (p.s. you can take your foot off the brake now! lol). xoxoJulia

    • Thank you Julia for your kind words. If you want to read a great post by a woman who Rv’s full time alone with her two dogs, check out RV Sue and her Canine Crew.
      http://rvsueandcrew.com/
      She is very folksy, tells the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Lot’s of pictures and she has travelling cheaply down to a fine science. A great read and very inspiring.
      Follow your dream, we did, and have no regrets, except we wish we had done it sooner.
      Ruth from At Home on the Road

      • Thanks so much, Ruth! I just checked out her latest posting. She’s a hoot! I enjoy her writing and pics and look forward to reading more of them….as well as more of YOURS! Take good care of your precious self, my friend. Happy and safe travels to you! xoJulia


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