Sunday, April 12, 2015

Valley of Fires -- Sunday Morning

I’m parked on a ridge overlooking an old lava flow — a “malpais” as they’re called hereabouts.  If that sounds grim, it’s not.  

The hardened and signed trail into the malpais

This morning before it rains I plan to walk down there. 

The neighborhood. 

This is a “developed” BLM campsite called “Valley of Fires,” and so far it deserves its great reviews.  I have a spacious almost-level site, electricity, water, and gangbusters ATT and Verizon service. There are clean-looking showers.  There are individual trash cans and sheltered picnic tables.  I’ll probably “hole up” here, reading and writing and walking about, until early Tuesday, when I head up to see Doug and Dotty near Los Alamos for a couple of days.

I got in yesterday afternoon and crashed.  There’s no other word for it. I made it through a microwaved dinner and tried not to fall asleep until I gave up at 8PM.  I was tired — no, I was exhausted — grumpy, and doubting the whole RV travel enterprise.  I wanted home and dog.  I wanted my Mommy. (Well, that’s a stretch!) Went to bed at about 8:30 and got up at 5 —an almost-unheard of night’s sleep for me. This morning, with a cup of coffee, the world seems like a better place, even if it looks like rain for the better part of the time I’m here. It wasn’t real cold last night … had more fresh air in the rig, which I think helps.  (I always keep one window open a crack, but a bigger crack seems to have helped.) 

What was supposed to be a brief stop in Deming wasn’t so brief.  I needed to get a prescription refilled at Walgreens, which was a major production involving phone calls to my “home” pharmacy and the time zone difference and the fact that someone who needed to sign off on the transaction couldn’t be found.  It got done; I just sat in the waiting area and cleared the 209 emails which had accumulated in the last few days.  I went to WalMart, because I needed to restock on some food and wanted a broom and a windshield-cleaning tool to get the bug smears off at the end of the day.  It was a “Super Wally” with everything you might ever want under one huge roof.  And I have to admit it was just fine.

That’s a major admission. In general, I’m not a WalMart fan.  I don’t like they way they treat their employees, I don’t like their corporate politics.  And in my experience, the stores are crowded and unstaffed and just mildly nasty.  This was none of those.  The staff were plentiful and friendly and helpful.  They had everything.  The selection of grocery items was at least as good as my home neighborhood Albertsons and Safeway, and the clothing and housewares and stationary departments I walked through has the same stuff I’d expect at Target.  The store was big and clean and open.  

I got a tasty, nutritionally absurd, portable lunch at Burger King to snarf down while traveling and hit the road.  Drove through the White Sands Missile Testing Ground… the longest, straightest stretch of road I think I’ve ever seen, with miles and miles of nothing and occasional discreet roadside markers identifying “Emergency Rendezvous Point 37/38/39 … ” with a red cross marker.   Occasional side roads lead to clusters of small buildings.  One had a sign saying it was a “small missile test facility:”  A useful reminder of the seriousness of the enterprise that was once in full tilt here.  This is, after all, where the first atomic bomb was detonated at Trinity Site near Alamogordo, developed at the Labs at Los Alamos where I’ll be visiting my friends in a few days.  Scary stuff.  

I’m learning about styles of travel.  I’ve been really happy at state parks and National Forest and BLM campsites.  When there’s a fee, it’s usually more than reasonable: $9 per night where I am now.  (That’s 50% off cuz I’m old.) $7.50 at Lake Roberts.  I enjoy the comforts of electricity and water.  It’s even better if, like here, there’s good cell service. None of them so far are crowded or noisy or scary.  The people I’ve talked to are pleasant and friendly and if I needed help of some kind,  no one would slam their RV door in my face.  There are people around, but — over there.  I’m learning that when it’s workable, I’d rather stay a few days rather than move camps every day.  

I make snarky remarks about whether this is camping. Doesn’t matter.  Whatever it is, I’m enjoying it.  

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