We got a good start from our camp this morning on the Plains of Augustin... near the Very Large Array and not far from Magdalena, NM. By 9am we were headed down the hill and, except for a few intermediate mountain passes along the way, it was mostly downhill all day long. The one thing we did fight today was wind. In my experience New Mexico can often be windy, but the approaching winter storm has generated some high wind warnings for much of the state today and tomorrow. During today's drive through those intermediate mountain passes we had tail winds, head winds, side winds... you name it and we had it. There were a couple good gusts that hit us sideways in the passes that moved the whole bus-house like it was a billboard on wheels. Come to think of it, it is a billboard on wheels -- at least size-wise.
But we made it to our intended destination, an Escapees RV Park called The Ranch. It's located about 18 miles north of Carlsbad, NM -- down in the southeastern corner of the State if you're trying to find it on a map. But despite being within spitting distance of the Texas border, we're actually closer to Tuscon, AZ. than we are to either Dallas for San Antonio. Texas is a big State. Oh, and we're at only 3400 feet of elevation tonight... a net drop of 3800 feet during today's trek.
Escapees Parks are always the friendliest places we stay. Within an hour of arriving we had been introduced to, no kidding, at least 20 people. After planting the jacks and getting a little set up, we went down to their 4:00pm happy hour. They usually have a short program where they make announcements, introduce new visitors (us, for example), say good-bye to visitors who are leaving the next day, tell stories or jokes, and generally have a good time. It doesn't last long, but it's a way to get people to mingle and learn about one another.
As we traveled today, Dar cooked dinner. On the menu tonight was meatloaf and cooked veggies, which were all done in our slow-cooker during the drive. We learned this trick from some other fulltimers and it's just the bee's knees for travel days: Before leaving, load up the slow-cooker with your favorite recipe... as you normally would. When it's all set to start, put the slow-cooker in the kitchen sink (to keep it contained during the bumps and jars of travel) and plug it in. Turn on the inverter -- that great device that takes 12v power from our batteries and converts it into 120v power -- and get the bus-house rolling. As we travel, the combination of solar panels on the roof and the alternator on the diesel engine keep the batteries fully charged and the slow-cooker cookin' it's little heart out. However, there is one big downside to this technique... the odor of a fully cooked meal wafting around the bus-house as we near our destination. At least once Dar has had to physically restrain me from digging into dinner at a wayside rest stop because I just couldn't stand it any more.
We're thinking we'll stay here at The Ranch for a week. The "down" time will come in handy for Dar, as she works on the hundreds of photos we've taken over the past couple weeks to get them ready and uploaded to our online photo collection. And being a practiced procrastinator, I'm always behind on a long list of to-do's.
Getting used to all the oxygen at these lower elevations...