LIVIN’ ON STILTS
After spending Sunday night at the Pilar Campground in Rio Grande Gorge SP, we headed back toward Albuquerque, planning on staying another night at the Coronado Campground in the town of Bernalillo. The campground is situated right on the Rio Grande and next to the Coronado State Monument. The State Monument had Indian artifacts and a partially restored adobe. We did a quick walk around the State Monument before checking in to our site for the day. The campground had terrific wifi, and we were able to get a lot of work done Monday.
Tuesday, we headed to Truth or Consequences, NM, also referred to as T or C. Previously known as Hot Springs, NM, the town changed its name in the 1950s after a popular game show (called Truth or Consequences) promised to host the show in the first town to name itself after the program. Pretty freaking silly, but also super awesome. Just as it’s old name suggests, the town is full of mineral hot springs and spas. The town itself was a bit run down, but we stayed just outside of it at the Elephant Butte Lake SP. The lake and park were huge, with hook up spot above and primitive camping on the beaches below. We didn’t realize we could drive down to the beaches when we checked in and picked our spot but were in awe of the beautiful views of the lake below.
On Wednesday, we made plans to visit some hot springs and relish in a good soak. T or C was interesting. There is a church on every block and just about every water tower had a mural painted on it. It didn’t seem like the town had a population large enough to sustain that many churches, but who knows. We learned while driving through the state that painted water towers are a thing in New Mexico. We spent an hour soaking our bones in the old mineral hot spring. Matt and I were total jelly after our soak and spent a nice lazy day back at Elephant Butte. We did try driving down to the beach, but the wind was so ferocious down there. With Matt’s dreams of fishing the lake dashed, we headed back up to a hook up spot above the lake.
Thursday was awesome! We headed to White Sands NP, about an hour and a half from T or C. We could hardly believe our eyes while driving through the dunes. What looked like snow piled on the sides of the roads was very white sand. I was so tricked by the look of the dunes, I put on warm layers to go play in it. Silly me, we ended up running around in t-shirts and bare feet. Fred was allowed on all of the trail and in the dunes. We did a few of the short trails, but had the most fun exploring off the beaten path. I laughed so hard sliding down the dunes on our boogie board.
The white sand is made up of gypsum. Gypsum is a very soft sedimentary mineral. A very long time ago, the area was covered in an ancient sea that deposited the gypsum. After evaporating, the gypsum remained, with the winds pushing it around creating the dunes we see today in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert Tularosa Basin. The sand felt cool, and a little sticky. Less wet and sticky than that sand stuff they sell in the mall, but not far off. White Sands was another geological wonder you can visit in a day. I recommend adding it as a stop on your road trip elsewhere, maybe while on your way to Big Bend NP.
Camping options close to the National Monument are pretty scarce. We ended up boon docking at Lake Holloman, which was very close to the Air Force Base. It was fun watching the jets fly out and landing. At one point, a very jarring bang shook the camper. Not sure if it was some sort of weapon test or the force of jet taking off. It felt like something had slammed against the camper. Someone smarter than me probably knows what the bang actually was.
Friday morning, we drove into Las Cruces, NM, about an hour away from Lake Holloman. We ran some errands, did a lot of adulting, then found another free spot at the foot of the Organ Mountains. The lucky people of Las Cruces sure do have a spectacular backdrop to their town. The Organ Mountain range is absolutely breathtaking and yet so sinister. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I even woke up right at first light Saturday morning, my body involuntarily forcing my soul to take in the sunrise over the range. Our last morning in New Mexico was a beautiful one, and I vowed to wake up more often to catch the sunrise on our trip.
Saturday was a long driving day. I’m sure you’re all aware but Texas is massive! We did a quick one night stop in Fort Stockton, at a Walmart. We had around 20 RV neighbors that night. The Walmart parking lot was surprisingly quiet and we both got a great nights sleep. The next day, we took off for San Antonio early. Another long driving day, we ended up at the Guadalupe River SP, about 40 miles from the Alamo.
Before heading to the old battle grounds, we went to the gym. A lady called the cops on our asshole dog, Fred, for barking while we were working out. I don’t think she was annoyed, probably worried about him. When the cop showed up, Matt was already in the camper with Fred. Didn’t end up being an issue at all, but it is something we need to figure out how to manage.
The Alamo is nestled right in the heart of San Antonio, TX. We took advantage of the holiday and were both grateful for the little traffic into town. Fred isn’t allowed inside the old Mission, so I put up a sign that said “The dog is fine. If super concerned call [my number].” The Alamo was pretty great. A lot of it has been restored rebuilt, including the ceiling and floor in the old church. I couldn’t stay in the barracks, now a museum, for very long with its low ceilings and narrow walls. I live in a small truck camper, and yet my claustrophobia seems to be getting worse! I did really enjoy getting to see a lock of David Crockett’s hair before rushing out, though!
We’re in Austin, TX now. Monday, it was in the 70s, but there is a pretty bad storm around us right now. It got down to the low 20s last night with hail, sleet and snow all in the forecast. So far, we’ve just had the rain and hail, but even our outdoor rug is totally frozen. Lessons from Canada taught us to always choose hook ups in times like these. We’re nice and toasty plugged in hiding out in the camper until the storm passes. We can’t wait to explore Austin. Giant donuts and brisket are in my near future.
Don’t mess with Texas!
Ariel + Matt
Spent two nights in Truth or Consequences, NM. Soaked in some mineral springs and enjoyed Elephant Butte Lake. Went to White Sands National Monument. It’s super cool, and I highly recommend spending a day there. Camped near an Air Force Base, then one night in Las Cruces at the base of the Organ Mountains. Free camping, yay! Spent one night at a Walmart in Fort Stockton, TX. Just a quick stop on our way to San Antonio, TX. Visited The Alamo, then drove in to Austin. Bad storm around us, but we’re plugged in and running the heater.
- Still trying to figure out the best way to keep Fred from howling when we leave him in the camper. Thinking another dog might be the best bet. Everyone needs a friend, right?
- Texas SP charge a per person entry fee into all of their parks. This fee is on top of the nightly rate for camping. It’s also per day. So a $20/night spot is actually a $32/night spot for us.
- Every one waves in Texas! It’s like we’re all best friends.