Over the mountains

What a day.. I woke up exhausted.  I slept, yet not as well as the last time I slept in the car.. seems like I’ve forgotten a few tricks since my week in Jal. Mostly, it’s the fridge that was behind the drivers seat preventing it from laying all the way back. Tomorrow (perhaps, maybe) I plan to reorganize the inside of the car (again) with the goal of camping a lot quicker.

I mean really, day by day what do I need outside of my car? A place to lay down and sleep. Not a one hundred and fifty square foot tarp palace. Wow, it was a nice setup.. yet it’s more than I can (than I want) to pack in a day. I should be able to get by with much less.  Okay, before I get ahead of myself, let’s start this day at the beginning, again. I woke up exhausted, I slept for five or six hours, yet not comfortably at all.

I woke promptly at seven with just a hint of the sun able to penetrate the interior of my car, blankets and cardboard covering every window. Considering I was already packed and already at Walmart to do the final shopping, it took me awhile to get out of Artesia. After I wiped the sleep from my eyes, I got out of the car to walk into Walmart and immediately almost fell down- I could not believe how badly my legs hurt after yesterday. Yet, all day long, I didn’t die…

Into to Walmart for the restroom.. it actually seemed a little odd after the last two weeks using my portable toilet inside the tarp tent each morning. In fact, that was a bit more comfortable, certainly more privacy in seclusion. After that, I knew I was in Walmart already, yet I hadn’t brought a list and I didn’t want another bad shopping experience, so I went back out to the car to make a list. Once I got there, I found a previous list I had been working on, ha.. glad I went back out.

While out there, I considered tobacco. I hadn’t smoked in two days at this point, and when I ran out it wasn’t as if I had decided to quit, rather, I had decided that running out of tobacco wasn’t worth the trip in town. Not just for that. It’s neither food nor water nor shelter, and it might be something I like, yet I need my body to know it is something I can live without. I decided that if I could find some real pipe tobacco (not what they sell as ‘pipe tobacco’ to people that roll their own cigarettes, that is cigarette tobacco labeled as pipe tobacco to avoid the cigarette tax,) I would get some, else I would go without until I could get something nice.

A few phone calls, and I found one tobacco shop in Artesia that sells a few varieties of pipe tobacco, including my favorite, Cherry Cavendish. So a drive to the other side of town, then back to Walmart for shopping. A few odds and ends, some large tent stakes- and this Walmart was stocked with the Large stakes too- now I have four very heavy duty stakes for my two top lines (when and if I set up large tarp shelter again.) Even a bit of CATV coax.

With the seven inch TV I got last week, it’s nice to watch so OTA TV at the end of the night. It’s better than YouTube as I don’t have to select the content, rather just a channel.. much nicer when I just want to lay down and relax. Yet, with any OTA signal, height is might and since I already have a forty foot mast up for my radio antenna, no reason not to mount my TV antenna half way up on the same pole. At Brantley Lake I only received eleven channels. Four in Spanish, four PBS cartoon channels, home shopping, cold case files, and two infomercial channels. It’s a good thing I like Cold Case files.. (so far I have the antennas up for the night and did a scan and looks like I’m getting twenty seven channels here..)

After Walmart it was just a stop at the gas station and then I was on my way. Artesia is just over three thousand feet above sea level, over the next two hours I went up and over nine thousand feet! I went directly to the ranger station to get my map first and as for any tips. The ranger suggested the Upper Karr Recreation Area, as I was tent camping and that location had a vault toilet. Sounded good enough to me, so I followed his directions and found it.

I also found snow up there!  I was nice, the sun was shining and it was at least fifty, maybe fifty five- at two pm. I walked around for a few minutes thinking of where I could pitch a tent, yet nothing looked quite right. And the snow, it kept giving me an evil eye, ha. I got back in my car and headed back towards the ranger station, hoping to pick up the cell signal to get a map to Alamogordo. (Maybe it wasn’t the snow.. there was also very almost none cell coverage.)

I pulled off at several of the roadside stop along the scenic byway- the views blew me away. My photo’s don’t even do them justice.  Not only down into the canyon I stood above, yet far away- from the height of this mountain, you can see the next set over, the Rockies. Invigorated by the view from the top of a canyon, I was ever more excited to get to my destination, Dog Canyon. Following the map once it picked up, the way out of the mountain was just as easy as the way in, just so many curves, and so many amazing views. I did time lapse the drive, so I’ll probably upload that in the morning- I hope it turned out as well as I remember it.

Once I got to Alamogordo my first stop was the Post Office to confirm their General Delivery address- I have a package being sent to me from Michigan and I didn’t want to risk an addressing goof. Then a stop at a local dispensary and I finally on my way to the dispersed camping site about fifteen minutes south of town.

Rolling into the site, it is much different than Brantley Lake- it’s populated! Dozens of campers and tents set up every which way.  I found a good spot, then remembered I needed to fill up on water before I put down for the night, so I drove the next half mile up to the Oliver Lee State Park for water. Nicely, here they had a drinking water spigot right at the dump station, so I stopped to fill up (at Brantley, you have to find an unused site to fill up.) At I was filling my two one gallon jugs, I ranger stopped (over five weeks at Brantly, never talked to a ranger, here I wasn’t inside the official park for five minutes.)

He asked if I was camping here and I said yes I’m about to setup over in a dispersed site. He then said I wasn’t allowed to take water out of the park.  Stupefied, I informed him I held an annual camping pay that entitled me to all day use facilities including restrooms and water. Looking hard at me, he asked if I was an annual camper why I was staying out in the dispersed area, to which I relayed stories of the secluded Rocky Bay primitive area. Then he relayed stories of the local vagabonds and homeless in the area and suggested I come inside the gates as there were several tent sites open.

In my mind, I found this very odd- he never checked my camping pass, I only said that I had one, yet I suppose I do look the part, especially standing next to the car with it’s luggage. Anyhow, a bit more conversation and another ranger had rolled up and shortly he had me follow her down to my site. Though it is a labeled site, it’s nice just one slice of lawn after another, this is still desert country I guess. The campground is full of rolling hills and rocks and twists and turns, crevices here and there.

After the super-sized setup I had before, that I just had to experience tearing down, I’m ready for something small.  I’ve only pulled out the small tent and bed stuff to sleep, my chair and the small stove. Over than that, I’m going try to reorganize the cab into a livable workable area, whereas I could pack up the chair/stove/tent/bed in an hour or less, put them in the cab and go to the next spot. While also having room in the cab for whatever ‘stuff’ I might need at the next spot, trek poles, backpack, food, water, cameras, radios. Ideally, I could hop spot to spot day by day from the cab only without having to open the trunk or cargo bag.

Okay, so what have I learned. I’m not pushing hard enough. Not even close. That last day at Brantley doubled my work output, and today didn’t kill me (legs did feel pretty dead the first two hours.) Tomorrow, I walk up Dog Canyon. I don’t know if I can go all the way. It’s four and half miles I think. Yet I will go as far as I can, then rest the next day. Then go as far as I can, then rest the next day. Then.. okay, you see where I’m going with this. I’ll spend one day doing whatever and every other day going as far in as I can.

Okay, I’m in the car typing this (small camp site.. working in the car) and good news (OMG, is this really how I say this? I announce it as good news? What is wrong with me?) Blimey made the jump. I haven’t seen him, yet I can hear him climbing and scratching around somewhere in the back.

So, the canyon.. if you look at the top featured picture, my campsite (just to the left of me) is right on the trail headed in between those mountains. I can’t wait to see it. I can’t wait to see how far I can go. I can’t wait to see how much further I can go two weeks from now.

Time to rest.

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