White Sands, another bad tire, & a City of Rocks

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
City of Rocks State Park
What I did
White Sands National Monument

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lazy way to start the day as we were in no rush. Because of the fires in the Lincoln National Forest, we were only staying in Alamogordo for one night. Our plan for the day was to drive the three hours to City of Rocks State Park close to the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico. On the way is one of the most unique geological features in the world – White Sands National Monument. Pooh did a load of laundry (this was a cheap place to do it) while I went to the Chamber of Commerce to do some uploading to the Travelpod using their free Wi-Fi.

From Alamogordo it is only 20 min. to the sands. It is located on the major highway between Alamogordo and Las Cruces. The visitors center building was unique in that it copied the Spanish pueblo- adobe style. It was built during the Depression by the WPA. The film was shown on a small TV in this big theater which was quite interesting. Everyone had to sit up close and squint their eyes. The shop was one of the best of the trip of which I had to get a cool T-Shirt. The park is not so big so I planned 2 hours here. The drive is only 8 miles in with a few trails. These sands are unique in that there is no ocean for hundreds of miles. If fact we are in a desert depression surrounded by mountains. It is known as the largest above ground gypsum field in the world. Unlike beach sand, this sand does not get hot during the day. When we came in the morning it was already 90 degrees but you could easily walk barefoot on the sand. The first trail was the Nature Trail with signs about the sands flora and fauna. For over one mile you go up and down sand dunes in this vast array of sand in the middle of the desert. After this mile I was tired due to the fact that it is hard to walk all over these sands. This trail was easy to follow the signs. If there were no signs it would be very easy to get lost. Pooh and Quique only lasted a quarter of the trail as our dog looked tired walking in the sands and Pooh thought it was too hot. After four miles the road itself turned into the white sands. There were just a few places where the RV tried to spin a little. The second trail was an easy 0.3 mile nature boardwalk. This had many signs too and led to a little overlook. The Nature trail was much better. Next on our tour was lunch. We found a large flat picnic area that had been cleared of sand by the earthmovers. We parked right next to this white dune. I've never seen so much white in my life – even during a snow storm. We did our usual RV on the go lunch by taking out the generator and cooking an Indian style ramin noodles with chip and dip. We just need the gas to boil the water but the gen. unit powers the fans inside which is much needed in 90 degrees plus weather.  

At this time Pooh tells me something that she had known for several days but had forgotten to tell me – one of our RV tires was going bald. At first I did not take it seriously since I had just put air in all the tires. But when I went out, the back side of this tire was bald as a baby’s butt. CRAP!!! Another tire to replace. This makes it two in a week. These repairs are becoming an epidemic. I called a few tire places in Las Cruces and Alamogordo. During my investigation I found out that this bald tire was the WRONG SIZE! My RV tire people back in Lawrenceville had put the wrong tire on. Not happy about that - $100 down the drain. I found a place back in Alamogordo that would do it for just a little north of $100. There was a place in the other town, which was on the way to our destination, but I did not feel comfortable driving 50 miles on a bald tire. So I took the 15 miles back to town. Again, I had to maneuver my RV back into one of the bays of the tire place. A few years ago I could not have done this. But I’m getting pretty good at backing the RV. These people took a little longer than the ones back in Mississippi – just over an hour.

So now back on the road – though a little later than I wanted. The drive to Las Cruces was long a boring. I did want to stop at the White Sands Missile Museum, but that will have to wait until next time since we started so late. Right before the city, which is the second largest in New Mexico, we had to go up this mountain range of which my RV did not like. Had to downshift and go over slow up the mountain. Then we had to go downhill towards town of which I had to downshift again to keep from going so fast and burning out my breaks. The police must had been going through some major budget cuts since they were pulling people over left and right in this town. I have no worries since I can’t go that fast. Through town we did pass the New Mexico State football stadium – about a third of the size of an SEC stadium. 
        After another one and a half hours of driving through low scrublands we made it to City of Rocks State Park. At first we were wondering why put a state park in the middle of nowhere. Maybe to get away from it all? But as we crossed the top of the hill to the park we had our answer. There were all these rock monoliths sticking out of the ground – like a nature made Stonehenge except with hundreds of more rocks. We parked our RV with our large window overlooking the large flat prairie with a 1,000 foot butte. We quickly set up the RV and the three of us, including Quique went walking through the rocks. It was a unique fantasyland. We acted like we were kids – climbing around and on top of the rocks. I crawled on top of this rock to watch the sunset over the prairie. Pooh and Quique did the best in climbing. Back at the RV I cooked a little Indian dinner before our nightcap.

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