Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10: Las Cruces, NM > Picacho Peak State Park, AZ

I awoke fairly early this morning, courtesy of some sort of aviary alarm clock and my biological clock still being on East Coast time. No matter, it would give me a head start on the day. 

I had eggs, tea and a leftover sausage from the night before. I chatted with my neighbors a little more, as well as introducing myself to two other tenters that were from Worcester MA. The manager of the KAO let me move to a site with electricity to charge my appliances and write in my journal. It was warm with a light breeze, perfect for writing. 

The above photo is taken from the same vantage point as the last photo from yesterday's post, only in daylight, looking east towards Las Cruces proper. 

I headed back into the city of Las Cruces to find a Target to exchange some power cords and pick up a few other supplies before getting back on the road.

I also finally managed to find the Rio Grande. It was in fact, big and grand. 

The car needs a photo op next to the river as well.

I then headed across the Organ Mountains, towards White Sands National Monument. The Organ Mountains are some of my favorites. 

I attempted to go to the rocket museum at White Sands Missle range, but the closest I could get was the front gates. A photo op next to a roadside rocket will have to suffice.

Looking down from the San Augustin Pass (5719 ft) towards the missile range. 

I passed through another US Border Patrol checkpoint, this time only being asked if I was "...an American". This made me feel uneasy...

I've been to White Sands previously, and I still find it fascinating and lovely. People "rent" sleds to go out and slide down the sand dunes. It looks like a lot of fun.

I stopped and had lunch at a picnic area, and wrote a few postcards. It was a calm day in the low 80's, and was lovely...except for one giant gust of wind that came along and blew everything all over. 

Unlike Death Valley, White Sands never seems to get that hot. Even with all the white reflective sand, if anything it is a little chilly.

Walking around in the fine sand feels really nice. By this time it was 88 degrees, and very nice. 

Back on the highway, just to the west of Las Cruces is a giant roadrunner sculpture. It is apparently known as the Recycled Roadrunner, made up of a little bit of everything.

Who knows what actually happens when you push the red "Yes", but it was a decent restroom, so I pushed it. Several times. 

We just don't see trains like this in the East, and I'll always be fascinated watching a massively long train stretch out to the horizon. 

4:26 PM, Arizona (114,395 miles). Or is it 5:26? Apparently, Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings, so I was very confused.

The plan was to camp for the night somewhere near Tuscon, and after some searching online and in my atlas, I settled on Picacho Peak State Park, to the NW of Tuscon. I needed supplies, so even though it was rush hour, I ventured off the highway to downtown Tuscon. I found Johnny Gibson's Grocery store and was happily surprised. 

The butcher, Mike helped me select a few cuts of meat for dinner and breakfast, and was generally all around a great help. 

Back on the highway, I was rushing to beat the darkness and feared that the campground would be closed. I stopped at a gas station and paid an exorbitant amount of money for a bundle of wood ($13 for 5 pieces!) 

I found the perfect spot, set up camp and settled in for dinner.

It was a glorious sunset.

Steak, potatoes, beer, wine and tomatoes in balsamic vineger for dinner. I chatted with a few other folks at the campground (including a woman from Portland ME), and turned in for the night at 10:30, but not before witnessing a shooting star while sitting by the campfire with some whiskey.