• J.F. Rowan

Oliver Lee SP, Alamogordo, NM: The Strong Winds Cometh!


So after a somewhat hasty departure from Roswell, NM we headed down the road to…Alamogordo NM! Yes, we’ve been here before. Why return? Well, it was one of the only options given the path we had chosen as we slink our way toward Durango, Colorado. And, as it turns out, not a bad stay except for one fairly rough and expensive night. So let's get that out of the way first.

There was a very light breeze off and on during the day. Quite pleasant considering the temps were around 90. We set up everything. Awnings on both the truck and trailer were extended, the RTT (Roof Top Tent) was set up. We were in essence, fully functional given the equipment we had. We picked the right spot and positioned everything for maximum comfort and views. On the second day, around 4 pm, the wind picked up. Nothing wild, but more than it had the day before. It settled out, as it usually does around dusk. But as what seems to happen in the southwest, a strong wind storm appeared out of nowhere. The awning took the worst hit, bending two of the spar poles, snapping all of the spar connectors, and breaking the cast aluminum spar hinge in two places rendering it useless. The awning folded up like a cheap suit!

This is pretty much how the awning ended up in a blink of an eye. Heavy wind gust folded it like a "cheap suit!"

Bent Pole...actually ended up being two bent poles. Tried to bend them straight but they had a ribbed core that made getting them straight pretty impossible.

We folded it up as best we could in the dark, and would deal with it the next day. For the next hour or so, I became a close guardian of the tent whose roof rain fly seemed to want to depart the trailer with every heavy gust of wind. There was no way to take the tent down as the wind was in the wrong direction and would have just exasperated the problem. Instead, I had to continually circle the trailer tightening down straps and making sure it didn’t meet the same fate as the awning.

Awning spar pole ends completely snapped off. Even the cast aluminum spar hinge broke under pressure.

A better view of the spar hinge and the spar pole attachment points. It was an expensive night once all the parts were ordered (A week or two later). That in itself will be part of an upcoming blog.

Fortunately, the awning mishap wasn’t the highlight of our 4-day visit there. We took a road trip into the nearby mountains where we stopped at a place called the “Pie Barn” (worst pie ever!) and visited nearby Lincoln National Forest where we walked among the pines. Most of the campgrounds there were still closed for the season so we were able to walk without seeing may people. We parked the rig at the gate of one of the campgrounds and hiked in for about an hour before turning around. It was cool to see the active replanting of trees that had either died or had been harvested. We came across a rusted snowmobile trailer with a couple of snow machines on it. Older sleds that brought back memories of my youth. Funny how something can trigger your brain into being thankful for the friends you have (Thanks to Tom!).

Click on the photos for more info. The Yellow sled is a 1970 Ski Dot Alpine! Not too many of those left I bet!

We also came across nine elk that were feeding and moving forward higher ground. On the return trip to our Oliver Lee Base Camp, we stopped at a little restaurant in the mountains and had a great lunch. These little mountain villages can reveal some real gold nuggets when it comes to food etc.

Wicked tasty! See the fat spicy Hatch Green Chile nestled in there?

Buried somewhere in that forest are 9-12 Elk. iPhone photo, apologies for the lack of clarity. This place was about an hour from where we were camping, in the desert. Such contrast!

We also hit up the local Pistachio farm while in Alamogordo. Who knew there were so many ways to eat pistachios!?

Click on em if you dare. (Bet ya can't eat just one!)

We stayed for four nights. Though we had some issues here and there, the park served as a great place to get showers and rest for a few days before moving on. When our stay was finished, we headed off once again toward Hatch, NM in search for the worlds greatest cheeseburger. They’ll be things to see along the way as well. Our next stop? The White Sands Missile Museum and one of our first BLM camping spots! Stay tuned!

Random Photos...

Location Update:

Currently we are in South Dakota. Lack of space available in campgrounds and state parks in Colorado and Wyoming forced our hand and we pushed all the way to a Army Corps of Engineers Area in Hot Springs South Dakota. A nice spot but even from here we are finding it difficult to find spots to camp in state parks and area camp grounds. We stay away from private campgrounds as they are often densely crowded, and can be expensive. National Forest areas are sparse here but we are hopeful that as we move through Grand Rapids, we'll be able to talk to folks at the Ranger Station there for guidance on boon docking within the Black Hills National Forest. Keep your fingers crossed!

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