Monday, April 1, 2013

White Sands–Cloudcroft NM

Well, I’m in catch-up mode with this blog again. We left City of Rocks NM, traveling east to view White Sands National Monument, on our way east, back toward MO.
White Sands is located NE of Las Cruces NM. It’s a basin which collects the gypsum leached from the surrounding mountains. Since the water table is only a couple of feet under the dunes, the sand is amazingly cool to the touch.
The dunes are constantly moving, shifting NE from the prevailing winds, so the older dunes have quite a bit of plants anchoring the sand. But the newer portion, toward the end of the scenic drive, is only bare dunes.
The Park rents sleds for sliding down the dunes like they were snow-covered hills.
Then we continued east thru Alamagorda for a Wal-Mart stop before driving up the mountain thru Cloudcroft NM. The west side of the mountains are a whole lot steeper climb than the gentler east side getting to 9,000 ft elevation in the Sacramento Mountains.
We thought the small town of Cloudcroft NM was great. Seems our favorite towns this winter have all been little mountain towns. We drove around town looking at the houses & small business section & stopped to eat at Big Daddy’s Diner for a fantastic fried catfish dinner. They have an all you can eat buffet every Friday, but the two large pieces of catfish in our dinner were all we could each manage.
We continued east from Cloudcroft about 17 miles to a small, free campground called James Canyon Campground, in the Lincoln National Forest along the south side of Highway 82, just a few miles west of Mayhill NM. There are restrooms, 4 tent campsites, & two graveled SMALL trailer/RV sites, all with picnic tables & fire rings. We hung out for four nights, staying off the roads over Easter weekend.
So early Monday morning, we loaded up & continued down the mountain toward Texas — & ultimately back to Missouri. By the time we’d traveled to the junction of Hwy 82 & Hwy 24, going toward Artesia, we were out of the mountains & back in flat desert again. It was 34° when we pulled out, & by the time we arrived at Big Spring TX (getting into Central Time finally) that afternoon, it was 86° & humid! My sweatpants were changed for a pair of shorts! Instead of boondocking for the night like we’d planned, we opted for Texas RV Park of Big Spring in order to have electricity to turn on the much wanted A/C. It’s a very large park with many oil field workers, BUT. . .we were comfortably cool & dumped our tanks & took on fresh water. Overnight, a cold front came thru, cooled off, & thunderstorms were predicted for our destination — the TX Hill Country Bluebonnet Trail.
Not much to photograph today, but glad to start seeing signs of Spring.

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