In Search of Level Campsites & Epic Rides: Volume 3

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Not that anyone’s paying attention, but it’s been well over 2 weeks since James or I put anything on the website.

It has given me a whole new respect for full-timers who are pumping out frequent content from the road on their blogs or YouTube channels.

How do they do it? I guess it’s like anything. Make it a priority and it happens.

Though if it’s at the expense of less exercise and less trip fun, count me out. I wait to post until I’m excited to do so. And guess what. I’m excited to do so right now!

Mel’s excited, too!!!

When I left off from my last trip update, we had finished our time in Arizona and were headed east… about to enter my old stomping grounds and the place where I developed my green chile addiction: New Mexico.

After hitting the grocery store in Las Cruces to stock up on green chile, and also scoring a bag of cotton candy grapes (Yummo! Rare fruit find!!!) we headed to our campground:

Aguirre Spring Campground, Las Cruces, NM

Cotton candy grapes and views for miles = Very Happy Stef!

New Mexico is full of amazing places to visit, and one of my favorites is White Sands National Monument. The only White Sands drawback? No RV camping there. Aguirre Spring is a BLM campground 40 miles away from White Sands, and with its million-dollar views, it makes you completely forgive White Sands for their no-camping rule.

Aguirre Spring is in the foothills on the east-facing side of the stunning Organ Mountains, and is hands-down the most beautiful campground in the White Sands area.

Here’s a little fun fact for you:

The Organ Mountains are one of the steepest mountain chains in the US. They go from around 5700ft to 9000ft almost vertically.

Add that to your vat of useless trivia knowledge!

The campground is mostly occupied by tenters, as the sites aren’t really designed for RVs, and I wouldn’t recommend taking anything larger than a compact Class C up there, though I’m sure it’s been done.

The sites are well-spaced and scattered all over a very large area, though there are very few that are anywhere close to being level, so bring your leveling pads, folks!

The drive up to the camping area will take your breath away… and not just because of the stunning Chihuahuan Desert vistas. It’s also a bit of a white-knuckle hold-your-breath kind of drive since the road is narrow, steep, and winds sharply for a short bit.

But yay! It’s paved!

As we worked our way up, I was taking mental note it would be the same road we’d have to bike up. With no shoulders, steep drop-offs, and blind corners, I’m sure you all know what comes next for me:

Yep. I bailed on James.

I told him it was because it was cold and windy. But really it was my inner terror of getting hit from behind and tumbling down the slope resulting in my inevitable death.

And I’m not ready to die. Judge me all you want, I wear my wuss badge proudly.

Since James has no such fears, he absolutely loved this ride. Here’s a selfie he sent me from the bottom part of the park:

So I don’t speak for him, and since he’s conveniently sitting right next to me, I’m going to make him describe it for you.

“Yeah, it was nice.”

Well, gee. Thanks for that super helpful description, James.

Allow me to speak for him. The ride started with a big downhill off the mountain. Once down, he headed towards Las Cruces on US-70. It’s a very busy 4-lane highway, but the shoulders are wide and in great repair. James had no complaints about the highway stretch. He ended up riding through the Organ Mountains and turning around once he was on their west side. Daylight was the only thing that made him turn around, as there was plenty of road to continue on for anyone considering repeating his route.  The climb back to the campground is not for beginners, but it’s the stuff experienced cyclists crave…well, the brave ones, that is.

Click this picture to go to his ride details on Strava:

So in summary, chickens like me, cross this ride off your lists. Masochists, psychopaths, and fearless souls, put it towards the tops of yours.


White Sands National Monument:

White Sands is such a fascinating place… likely the most unique place I’ve ever visited.

It’s hard to explain how bizarre and magical it is without standing there yourself, surrounded by a sea of rolling sand dunes as far as you can see.

It is otherworldly, for sure.

Technically, White Sands isn’t sand, it’s gypsum. The two substances aren’t the same. In fact, I just asked James to be sure;

Me: Gypsum isn’t “sand,” right?
Him: (…as he watches a funny cat video on YouTube) No, gypsum is hydrated calcium sulphate and sand is mainly silicon dioxide.

Uh, okay, nerd.

It’s likely why he was so at peace with being there, which is very out-of-character behavior for him. James is infamous for his sand-phobia and the extreme measures he takes to keep the stuff as far as possible from Lance.

Last time we were camped at the beach in California, James hung out ON TOP of Lance, “fixing” a solar panel up there while I hung out on the beach, because it suddenly needed immediate and all-day attention. He’s not transparent or anything.

But seriously, there’s a definite difference between sand and gypsum. Gypsum doesn’t stick to you as sand does. It has a strangely cool feel and is much more powdery than sand. You know that “pedicure effect” you get from spending a day walking barefoot in sand at the beach? Your heels feel baby soft and you have that slight rubbed-raw feeling? Yeah, doesn’t happen with gypsum.

THIS is pedicure sand. (And also a picture I sent to my grandgirl whose pet name is “Punky”and whose cute little smiling face turns me to putty…)

If you go to White Sands, bring sleds! The dunes are a blast for sledding, I’ve done it myself…though not this trip. It would have given James a heart attack, and since I need him alive and kicking to do, well, EVERYTHING for me, I didn’t even suggest it this time. See what a thoughtful wife I can be?

We were thrilled they allow leashed pets on the dunes. It gave us loads of priceless photo opportunities with our favorite toy: Mel.

As we were playing with Mel in the dunes we both kept exclaiming how hiking the sand dunes would have been wayyyy less fun without him.

Cats are awesome. Every RV needs one.

In fact I’m going to propose to Winnebago that with every RV purchase they throw in a free cat.

BOGO sale! (Except not this cat. Or this RV…)

It was New Year’s Eve, the day we hung out at White Sands, the last sunset we’d see in 2017. As the sun sunk below the dunes, we loaded up (after my feet received the James Seal of Sand-Free Approval) and continued our trek east. We landed for the night at a rest stop east of El Paso off I-10.

That’s where we rung in the New Year.

As 2018 began, I couldn’t help but reflect on the moment.

There we were at a rest stop, sleeping in a van, with our passive-aggressive doglike cat doing his “chaperone” move and hogging the center of the penthouse bed.

“Hey James!” I whispered over a sleeping Mel, “It’s such a wonderfully wacky life we lead!!!” He chuckled and muttered, “Yes. Yes it is.”

And that, my sweet RVing friends, was my first conscious thought of 2018.





After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

    23 thoughts on “In Search of Level Campsites & Epic Rides: Volume 3

    1. Anne

      Please share the name of Mel’s walking jacket/harness! We’re beginning to RV with our 2 cats and are seeking an escape-proof but comfy outfit for them. They’re already leash-trained but the current configuration clearly isn’t secure enough to venture more than 10 feet from home. Thanks!

    2. Ken Johnson

      Are still happy with your Moustiquaire VR-Rolef Screens?
      We are thinking of purchasing them after seeing your video.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        The more we use them the more we love the screens! Being able to open the slider with the screen in place is wonderful… especially in buggy places.

    3. sonoma charred

      Trying to find your friend Sue on the Revel blog. Not sure where to look. help? Thanks, Barbara
      PS. Revel is awesome. 2 weeks in so far.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        LOL! Look for “Sue Valentine” on the Revel Owners and Wannabes group. She has just sold her AdvancedRV as she waits for her Revel on order, and is living out of an SUV at the moment, lol!!!

    4. Gordon Yaghjian

      I think I can, I think I can I think I may have made my mind up on what to buy for our first RV. Winnebago Paseo .Louise drove it and handled it like a champ. Has all the goodies we want for a price we can afford,
      Doesn’t have the fold down rear couch , but I already have a modification in mind for that . Ring the bell for me James .

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Gordon oh yay! Now come join the Paseo group on Facebook. I know a few of the owners and they’re working on building the Paseo community. They’ll be more than happy to answer questions or provide support as you move forward. And keep us posted, too! Rooting for you! xoxo

    5. Noel Fleming

      I’m so poor I can’t even pay attention…ha ha! No, Stef, this is such a wonderful reminder of the rich life that we live! We get to see and experience the wonders of the world and share them with loved ones, friends, and random strangers on the internet who suddenly become less random and more simpatico than we ever imagined. FitRV on! And may 2018 bring gypsum for James, moseying for Mel, and too many blessings to count for you!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Noel! What a wonderful comment. Thanks for the 2018 wishes, those hit the nail on the head, and we’ll take all the good vibes we can…gypsum for James; YES!

    6. Jon Ault

      I’m also checking for new posts, periodically.

      I went to White Sands last March while passing through NM, definitely one of the highlights of that trip. Did you see any of the little white lizards?

      1. Stefany - Post author

        White lizards! How did I not know about this coolness? We didn’t see any, but had I known they existed would have been a fun treasure hunt. They certainly would have been safe from Mel judging from his reaction to an armadillo he found in Florida. He just followed it around from a safe distance while it sniffed garbage.

    7. Gordon Yaghjian

      2016 Albuquerque New Mexico was the site of our Navy Reunion. Didn’t make it out to white sands testing area, but loved all the places we did see. Hot Air balloon ride by day and drive up the hill side at night, to over look the city lights . To answer the question ,YES, we know there is no ocean in Albuquerque. The fleet anchor anywhere !

      1. Stefany - Post author

        What a strange (and awesome!) place for a Navy reunion, HA! I was a public school teacher in Albuquerque … a great city to visit, and the balloons in the sky every morning are such a delight. Often balloons would end up landing on the school grounds during the school day, such a treat for the kiddos! James and I got married there, too!

    8. Ted

      We only made it to Carlsbad before having to turn back for a family emergency. We had a brief but memorable discovery of Abadobo Chili (in the Carlsbad Caverns cafeteria no less) as a part of New Mexican cuisine. Now the wife is growling that she’s still “Not too sure about the whole RV thing”, but she wants to go back and properly explore the area next time.

      Looks like you’ve got the “cat walking” down pat. There are lots of hilarious videos of cat leash fails online.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        I’d definitely encourage your wife to explore New Mexico more! It’s such a unique state with its own vibe… lots to love there. I haven’t seen the funny cat videos of cats learning leashes, but have seen the ones on cats in the Thunder Shirt, which is a type of calming vest for cats when they get spazzy. We got one for Mel! The videos of cats first putting it on are hilarious.

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Wow, you are?! Awww that just made my day! Although did James pay you to say that just to motivate me to write more? 😉


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