After leaving my friend’s house in Lubbock, TX on the 22nd, I retrace my route back to Carlsbad on 62. There is little public land to boondock on in Texas, and the locations near Carlsbad National Park are the first you hit headed west: a gateway to boondocker’s paradise.
I’m camped in the same location I was last month, a large dirt clearing off of Dark Canyon road, southwest of the town of Carlsbad on 180. A surprising number of rigs are here for Thanksgiving weekend, I make the sixth. Fortunately they’re all the quiet sort like me and I have no problems.
Today I’m getting antsy after several days behind a computer screen and a big blue sky beckons.
I take Dark Canyon road farther into the bush. There are a couple residences out here, a lot of cattle and a few oil related structures – similar to the ones at the end of the spur road I’m camping on which I took pictures of a couple days ago.
The road is paved, but without lines and it crosses a couple washes. Eventually, it also enters a canyon, and the bluffs provide a welcome change from the flat landscape near camp.
There are two little springs marked on Google Maps, but neither pans out. One is on private property, the other a dried up hollow. There is however more remote boondocking out here, surrounded by hills and flanked by a wash. No phone signal so it wouldn’t work well for me, but weekenders might enjoy it.
I take a short walk down one of the washes. Trees grow here where water is more readily available, and some of them have dried-up yellow leaves on them. The walls of the wash are steep in places and cactus and yucca cling to them. This is my first off-trail hike since getting back to the southwest and I’ve forgotten one of the key lessons of the desert: everything will stab you. I get too close to one of the trees and a thorn impales my leg, drawing a bit of blood. Okay, lesson re-learned for the season!
But otherwise it’s a good hike and I feel sufficiently recharged and ready to get back to work.
Nov 29, Wednesday
Moving day! Original plans had me moving yesterday, but yesterday was scheduled to be windy and I didn’t fancy driving through it, so I hung around camp. The morning dawned cold and gray and to warm my fingers up for typing I indulged in a cup of hot cocoa on my ‘patio’ before starting to write.
My patio is a bit lacking in the finer things, consisting of only my free folding chair from CamperForce. Five years into full-timing and I still don’t have a comfortable chair, a mat, or a table, but when you’re on a budget you make do. Someday!
Indeed the wind did pick up later in the morning and by 2 pm I had to put my solar panel away or risk it getting blown over. I’m glad I decided to stay put.
Today, wispy mare’s tails decorate the sky and the wind is calm: time to get moving.
I continue on 62 to Whites City, where the lone gas station is advertising regular unleaded at $2.89 a gallon, whew! Just past that a sign announces that there are no services for the next 130 miles, I guess that would explain the gas prices. Good thing I filled up in Carlsbad recently.
62 to El Paso is a very lonely stretch of road. Before long I’ve crossed back into Texas, and the road climbs. And climbs. Huh, Texas has mountains! I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the state on my travels and never knew this. I experience a particular kind of glee every time I learn something new about an area I’ve visited before, it keeps my travels fresh.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park sits right on the border with New Mexico, the norther end of this range is host to Carlsbad Caverns but the mountains there aren’t as rugged as this southern end, I considered them bluffs more than mountains. I would stop at the park to have a look, but my gas tank wasn’t that full and I don’t want to push it. Another time!
62 has multiple little picnic areas along it, some in the mountains themselves which feature great views. But I’m not hungry for lunch until I leave the mountains and enter the flats again. Here’s where I eat.
Not an hour later I close in on El Paso, and get gas (yay!). Coming from 62 instead of I10, my GPS sends me north around the city proper on 375 which crosses… another mountain range! Now I’m feeling rather sheepish, not knowing Texas had the Guadalupe Mountains is perhaps forgivable given its isolated location but missing this one when I’ve been through El Paso before? In my defense, the Franklin Mountains are a pretty small range running north-south, ending before the city. I noticed them in the distance before, but always just assumed they were across the border in New Mexico. Wrong.
The grade coming down the west side is slightly steeper than the Guadalupe Mountains at 8%, but it feels like an easy 8% if that makes sense, I don’t even need to be in 2nd gear for much of it. Easily traversed by any RV. And prettier than the drive through the city, I recommend it.
After coming down out of the mountains, 375 ends at I10 and I’m back on familiar ground. The drive to Deming, NM where I spend the night at a Walmart is uneventful.
Nov 30, Thursday
The hazy and overcast skies have me a bit worried in the morning that there will be wind, this stretch of I10 is notorious for dust storms. But no, it’s just a rare overcast day in the desert.
The miles fly by on this familiar (and rather boring) drive, and before long I’ve crossed into Arizona. My lunch stop today is at a TA truck stop in Willcox, AZ, where I also buy a shower (oooo, real shower!).
After lunch I continue to Benson, where I break off I10 onto 80 heading south towards Bisbee, which has, in my humble opinion, the best name ever. It’s just fun to say: Bisbee. Anyway…
What follows is one my more trying experiences getting settled into a boondocking spot, but that’ll have to wait until next post. I will give you a clue by way of a photo on my way out there, can you guess where I am? Hint: I’ve never camped here before, but it’s pretty well documented on boondocking websites.
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