We left Ft. Stockton Texas early on Monday morning for our 289-mile journey west to Las Cruces New Mexico. We left fairly early because there was a high wind advisory in effect for later that afternoon. High winds and tall vehicles like Mo do not mix, so we wanted to be settled in place before 3pm if at all possible. Our route west was all on I-10 so it was a fairly easy drive. We saw lots of flat land and then started seeing mountains when we were east of El Paso. We stopped at a rest area for a pit stop and to stretch our legs, and to grab a bite to eat from Mo's fridge.
We made it to our location at the Hacienda RV Resort on the western side of Las Cruces around 3pm - we had failed to factor in the time zone change to Mountain Time, but the winds came in later that evening, and they were not really that bad. We lucked up on the site assigned to us - it is probably the biggest and prettiest spot in the whole park! Nice and long, with a huge sitting area, trees and a nice picnic table. Sweet! We got all settled in for the night.
On Tuesday, we decided to head to the White Sands National Monument which is located about 60 miles NE of Las Cruces. I forgot to mention that we put BAT in the shop as a "check engine" light came on the last day we were in Ft. Stockton. Another glow plug - the 4th one that has needed replacing since we hit the road. Steve also wanted them to check the alignment and the brakes while in the shop. Sooo, we rented a little Nissan Versa for a couple days and used it Tuesday to head to White Sands.
White Sands National Monument sits out in the middle of the huge White Sands missile range which is a testing ground for the Department of Defense. The White Sands area is what is remaining of the Permian Sea which left behind huge deposits of gypsum which over the years has been reduced to fine sand. In fact, this is the site of the largest gypsum dunefield in the world, covering 275 square miles. The National Monument preserves about half of the dunefield.
We reached the entrance to the monument after passing through a border checkpoint. We stopped at the Visitor Center to check things out and to take a few pictures. Then we went to the fee station/entrance and incurred no charge since we were using Steve's senior pass - woo-hoo! From there, we went on the 16-mile round trip scenic drive which takes you out into a portion of the dunefield. There were stops along the way where you could get out and sled down the dunes, or have a picnic, or do backcountry camping, or ride your horse. All that was missing was the ocean! We stopped a couple times and hiked up the dunes and walked out on a boardwalk. Pretty cool place - like nothing else we will likely see again.
Wednesday, we still had the car and we received an update call from the Chevy dealership - we had asked them to go ahead and replace the 4 remaining glowplugs so they would all be new, and the service writer also advised that BAT needed new lower ball joints and an alignment. They needed to keep BAT another day to finish the work.
Wednesday was our 9th wedding anniversary so we decided to take a drive into El Paso for a couple reasons - we wanted to stop by the Cabela's store to use a gift certificate we were given for Christmas. (Thanks Sid and Christie!) We bought a new gravity chair there. We also wanted to check out the local casino, and it turns out that we ended up back in New Mexico, just across the Texas/New Mexico border on the west side of El Paso.
Let's just say we left some money near El Paso, but we had fun and had a really tasty lunch too. Back at Mo, we took turns chilling out in our new chair. Later that evening we went out to eat at a local Mexican joint and both had Chile Rellenos with green chile sauce - yummy!
On Thursday, we were scheduled to return the car, so we left Mo early and headed west on I-10 about 5 miles to a rest area which boasts a huge roadrunner statue made of recycled materials. Steve took his drone so he could get some cool pictures and I used my big camera to catch some pictures too. You can really tell the size of the roadrunner by the picture with me standing next to it. After eating breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel, and as we were returning the car at Enterprise, we got the call that BAT was ready so we caught a ride over to Bravo Chevrolet to pick her up. There she was, all shiny and clean with her new glowplugs, fresh alignment and new ball joints! I saw a sign in the service area that we could get 10% off labor if we like Bravo Chevrolet on Facebook - so I quickly liked their page before checking out and we saved $50 - sweet! BAT drives much better now, and we hope we are done with some of the maintenance items for a little while - fingers crossed!
We chilled out the rest of day, except for finishing up our tax returns and getting them filed.
We have plans to head into Old Mesilla on Friday - sounds like a neat place to visit - more on that later. That's all the news from New Mexico!