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January 31: Monahans, TX to Alamogordo, NM

The speed limit on I-10 in west Texas is 80 MPH, but we inched our way along the westbound lanes at about 25 to 30 MPH, as ice and fog(?) caused visibility to reduce to about 50 feet or so. As I mentioned in the previous blog post, there was a terrible pileup this morning on the east bound lanes this morning, the sight of which caused my stomach to lurch and my palms to get sweaty as I imagined being in a similar situation. Miraculously, a rest area appeared and we pulled off the highway for at least an hour, hoping visibility would improve and the ice would stop falling from the sky.

Icy travel on I-10 in western Texas added a few more grey hairs to my head.

Eventually we drove back onto the highway, seeing that traffic was moving at a sane 30 miles or so per hour with all vehicles flashing their hazard lights, and we eased our way down into Van Horn, while we watched the temperature rise from 24 to 58 degrees over the course of about two hours.

We re-charged in El Paso, a stunningly sprawling metropolis. With our planned destination – Brantley Lake State Park in Carlsbad, NM closed – we pushed on, arriving at Alamogordo, NM and Oliver Lee Memorial State Park around 5:30 pm (thanks to a time change along the way).

I had forgotten just what a gem this park is, stretching out over sloping desert acres, overlooking the Tularosa Basin (formerly an ocean created by a block fault millions of years ago). Now that basin is a vast, flat desert-scape, bordered on the west by the San Andres Mountains and on the east by the Sacramento Mountains (which tower over our campsite).

The view from our campsite includes the Sacramento Mountains in the mid ground and the San Andres Mountains in the distance.

We pitched our tent and had our first hot meal in a week – some heated up corn chowder I made this summer. We were in the tent by 8 and asleep probably by 9. Sadly my bladder woke me around 1 AM, but the reward of the impossibly bright moon and stars made it worth going out into the cold.

We feel so fortunate to have arrived here and look forward to four more days at Oliver Lee.

Good night, sun.

Best signs along the way: Keep Your Rear Clear

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