I’d rate my maiden voyage with Sadie a success, since a) I did not blow myself up lighting the stove, b) I did not run over animals or small children while pulling into a campsite, and c) Sadie did not come unhitched and go sailing by me on the highway. (Thanks for sharing that story, Ginger! Didn’t even know that was a possibility!)
Here’s the recap.
Miles driven: 1,523
New friends: Two. I met Bill and Susi at Bottomless Lakes State Park, and without any hesitation they showed me how to set up the fridge, hook up the water (and loaned me a hose – did I think the campground would hand them out, like party favors?), then fed me and gave me wine. They’re truly special people, and my hope is I can be half as helpful next time I see them.
National Park Service Areas checked off: Two. Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands, which is actually gypsum, the stuff in sheet rock. The park is most impressive from a distance – a swath of gleaming white below the horizon, like a giant paint spill.
Hitch time: Down from half an hour (with help, for chrissake) to ten minutes.
What didn’t happen: flossing, exercise, and cooking. Which means unless I change my ways on the next Scampabout I’ll come home with gingivitis, heart disease, and a nasty addiction to Trader Joe’s black bean soup.
What didn’t happen, though I thought it might: Loneliness.
What I learned: Plan ahead – there’s nothing wrong with booking campsites in advance. (Who knew people even approved of Columbus Day, much less celebrated it by camping?) Prop a big rock on the water drainage hose to hold it in place. (You don’t want to be draining your black water – the, uh, remains from the toilet tank – and have it slip.) Get gas at about half a tank. When hitching, take the parking brake off but leave it in park, then when you lower the hitch down onto the ball and it groans, put it in neutral and it’ll connect. (I realize that makes no sense to most of you. And come to think of it, it doesn’t make sense to me either.)
New obsessions: RPMs (between 2,000 and 2,500 is the goal at high speed) and mileage (it dipped to 17 MPG for one long, hilly, high-speed stretch and, Internet, I was bitter).
What surprised me: How rushed this trip felt. Next time I want to spend less time driving, and more time writing, talking to people, and, er, flossing, exercising, and cooking.
Best meal: What did we do before the internet? We ate crappy meals, that’s what. I found El Comedor (2190 N Highway 28 in Mesilla, just south of Las Cruces) on TripAdvisor.com, and the high ratings were spot on. Fresh chips, great salsa, huge wine margaritas, and outstanding fajitas (more than two meals’ worth). Plus patio seating and friendly, fast service. Highly recommended.
Campgrounds: Bottomless Lakes State Park, outside Roswell, was pretty with big pull-through campsites, and only $14/night for power and water. I stayed at Coachlight RV Park in Las Cruces for $17.65/night (two nights max with the Passport America card – without the card, it’s twice that). It wasn’t fancy, and there was pre-dawn rooster crowing, but it was safe, had full services, and the price was right.
Random weirdness: The dark brown rio, like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river, but instead of delicious sugary goodness, it was flowing mud. The gorilla sculpture in front of the equipment rental store. The convenience store called “Food Jet.” The billboard for a personal injury law firm whose number is “1-800-I-AM-HURT.” The motel advertising honeymoon suites. What does that even mean? I’m thinking mirrored ceilings, shag carpeting, and Tom Jones. Which doesn’t sound half bad, in a retro, far-too-much-body-hair kind of way.
Next week – Sadie and I head for the Texas panhandle. Yeehaw.