The Adventure Continues…
It’s the Little Things
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” -Oprah Winfrey
How ironic the things we take for granted; like electricity, water and packaging tape.
To fully appreciate the previous statement, I am starting today’s installment moments before I arrived at Rock Hound State Park Campground in New Mexico.
A truck towing an Airstream camper led the way to the Rock Hound State Park Campground. Concern welled up in the pit of my stomach; my intuition told me I would be lucky to get a campsite and I may have to find another campground to stay. I watched the camp host direct the guests ahead of me to a site up the hill in the day use parking area. It was my turn to pull forward. Gently I eased off the brake and rolled up to meet Karen, the camp host. She informed me there was only one campsite available in day use and it’s a shallow site. Karen offered to direct me into the space to ensure I didn’t damage my camper on the picnic table area roof. Words of gratitude filled the truck as I followed behind the cart she drove to the day use campsite.
Once the camper was in place, I walked to the back of it to thank Karen for her help and check the distance my camper was to the metal roof. It didn’t take me long to notice the vinyl cover was missing from the space tire. I put my hand on the tire and it wiggled. Oh CRAP! Have I mentioned the intensity of the desert winds of New Mexico? No? My experience has been, well, dare I say – mind blowing. In the two weeks that I’ve been in New Mexico I have experienced periods when the desert winds blow consistently (according to the weather apps) at twenty to forty mile per hour with guts of sixty miles per hour.
As I set up camp, the realization of how unprepared I was for long-term boondocking surfaced. This site did not have electricity nor water. This gal has gotten used to having hookups on this south westerly journey. How would I recharge the battery that powers the propane furnace, interior lights and water pump for the fresh water tank? Heck, do I have enough propane for cooking and heating my home? Based on the online reviews, and the camp host’s confirmation, there was a good chance I would not park in a site with hookups for days. It was in the silence of my home, I knew this would test of my state of mind and cold-weather camping survival skills. Oh crap…
Boredom has not been a friend of mine on this journey. Too much time to think has had devastating consequences. Staying within a few steps of the hiking trails at the foothills of the Little Florida (pronounced flow-reed-dah, not floor-eh-dah like the state) Mountains, I planned to remain active searching for gemstones. First, I needed purchase a battery operated lantern.
This was the first time I boondocked for an undetermined amount of time. Experience has taught me that Friday, Saturday and Sundays are the hardest days to find occupancy in campgrounds. I felt safe, and the thought of driving another two to four hours in hope of a campground with hookups was out of the question. I thought, You got this, Cynthia. You’re resourceful, a tough badass and what’s the worst that could happen?
I kept the thermostat turned down to preserve propane. Up until this point, I had not determined how long the battery would last while operating the furnace for a long duration of time. The overnight forecast was for forty degrees and clear skies. The idea of waking up in the early morning hours with a freezing cold camper was not on my to-do list.
The indicator on the wall showed there was three quarters of the battery remaining. Sweet!
However, the battery on my laptop was dead. Great time to take a hike, right? I walked the trail that goes up the side of the mountain in search of the opal, obsidian, black perlite, rhyolite and other gemstones. On my off the beaten path venture, I walked too close to a prickly pear cactus and it poked me above my left knee. Ouch! I continued up the valley, pausing to take in the views of the desert countryside and mountain peaks.
A shiny black stone caught my attention, I bent over and zam-WOW-wee! OUCH!! I turned around and realized when I’d bent over I leaned my butt back into the small thorns of a prickly pear cactus. Reaching back, I started to pull thin little thorns out of my blue jeans and tush. Unable to retract all of them, I reached down the back of my pants and pulled out more.
I had to have been an entertaining sight to see. A gal standing in the wind, hair whipping around, picking her ass and swearing. Not PG-13 swearing either.
Once I got the majority of the thorns out, I traversed to the privacy of my camper and stripped down. Remembering a trick I used once to get shards of dichroic glass out of my hand, I grabbed the roll of packaging tape and cut several four to six inch lengths. Carefully I covered the area of my skin with the tape and quickly pulled the tape off. The first strip had two thorns; the second thread had none. I could feel that there were more thorns. Carefully, I applied and removed the packaging tape. It was the fifth try I had relief! I did the same tape technique on my blue jeans and underwear to remove any lingerings so not to stab myself again.
The overnight forecast was for a low of twenty-nine degrees. Screw the conservation, I wanted heat.
At 5:20 a.m., the battery indicator showed only twenty-five percent battery remaining. Oh-oh. That’s not good. I spent most of the previous day stalking the campground watching for departing guests in the electric sites. The only one that opened up was quickly filled with campers with reservations. I had to do something. When the furnace turned on, the indicator didn’t light up when the button was pressed.
I drove an hour to Camping World in Anthony, Texas, and purchased a Nature Power 80 Watt Briefcase Solar Panel and a tire cover to replace the one that sailed away in the desert winds along Highway 10. I also traded in my second propane tank that’s been empty for a month for a full one.
The solar panel was easy to plug in and it fully charged the battery. Feeling foxy and proud of myself, I turned the heat up that night and enjoyed the comforts of a warm camper.
When I slid the shade up to view the sun rays on the Big Florida Mountains, I was stunned to see an inch of snow covering the landscape. The ground was snowless when I fell asleep at 4:30.
I heated water in the aluminum kettle on the gas stove as I slid on blue jeans, shoes and winter jacket. I poured the hot water into a mug to brew tea, grabbed my camera and cell phone, and headed out to photograph the snow covered desert plants.
A snicker escaped when I thought, “HA! Take that you prickly pear. This Michigander slapped you with a little snow-karma. Bet you won’t stab me in the ass again.”
I watch three campers depart. In this campground you have to be quick to get a site with hookup. For me, words of gratitude filled the truck as pulled up next to an empty campsite where a camp host was prepping the site for the next guest. He walked up to the truck as I rolled down the window. I asked, “Is this site taken?”
“It’s open. However, it’s got full hook ups with sewer so it’s more expensive.”
“Sold! I’ll be back in fifteen minutes with my camper.” Funny how the little things like electricity, water and sewer hookups can excite this gal on a cold, winter morning in New Mexico.
A book in progress…
Captured moments along the way…
Explore the adventures that got me here…
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