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!
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:
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 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.
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.
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.