Our trip to Alamogordo was 151 pleasant miles through the high desert and across the Sacramento Mountains in the Lincoln National Forest. We first went north to Artesia which is one of the prettiest little towns we have observed this trip. From there we turned west and crossed the mountains before coming back down to Alamogordo. The peak of the mountains is at Cloudcroft which has developed into a tourist town due to its mild summers and ski slopes in the winter. It sits at 8,600 feet and the road then drops 4,000 feet in the next 16 miles to arrive at Alamogordo. All of the literature says to avoid this highway if you are a truck. There are several warning signs starting when you leave Artesia of how bad the descent is. I had checked with some of the locals and learned that I shouldn’t have any problem if I watched my speed and that the drive was very scenic so we decided to take it. You also save an hour by not driving north to Roswell before turning west through Ruidoso. The Mothership handled the climb to Cloudcroft with ease and once we started the descent I put her in third gear and turned on the exhaust brake. I was pleasantly surprised with how well she did. The speed limit was 35 for trucks and she stayed right at 30-40 with me rarely touching the brakes. It was a very nice ride!
The funny part of the ride was Sheila, our GPS. She is a truck GPS and I couldn't get her to route me the way I wanted to go through the mountains due to the truck restrictions so I just let her route the way she wanted (through Roswell) and we went the way we wanted. Immediately after turning west at Artesia she kept trying to reroute me to Roswell. I would ignore her and the next opportunity she we find another way to Roswell and tell me to turn. This went on for over 50 miles with her wanted to send me down these one lane gravel roads (in a truck) to get back to Roswell until we reached Cloudcroft and she finally accepted I was going down that hill whether she wanted me to or not!! Just shows you not to trust them completely but use a little common sense as well.
We are staying at the Boot Hill RV Park just north of Alamogordo. We have a large 50 amp, full hookup, pull-through site with good Verizon and satellite reception. We hooked up electricity and water, then headed for White Sands National Monument. It is a very unique place, over 240 square miles of fine, white gypsum sand that has been blown into huge dunes that are constantly moving due to the blowing sand. Some of the plants there have developed interesting strategies to stay alive. For instance, the desert yucca grows fast enough to keep its head above the dune as the dune grows. The yuccas in my pictures are only a few feet above the sand but have trunks that are 30 feet high. The bad part is that most of them collapse when the dune moves on and the trunk cannot support the weight by itself. The skunkbush sumac send roots and extensions out as it is being covered with sand and eventually when the dune moves on, it creates what is called a Gypsum Plant Stand where the sand entwined within the bush remains and crates little plant covered pedestals throughout the area.
Tomorrow we head for Indian territory in Wilcox, AZ where we will stay a couple of nights.