Quasi-disasterous trip to southern NM

A couple of weekends ago I packed up my new car with camping gear, and we loaded up the dogs and took off Friday evening after dinner. We arrived at Three Rivers campground in the Lincoln National Forest around 9:30, set up the tent, and promptly crawled in and went to sleep.

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I got a new Thermaraest pad, looking for slightly more luxury and comfort in my old age. My old pad is fine, but it’s only knee length, so my feet would freeze if it was at all chilly. Also, we’re about to have a short person who will need something to sleep on, so perfect excuse. So, I ordered a flawed pad online, not really realizing that it was not only full length and slightly thicker than my old pad, but also like 6 inches wider. Which was not really necessary, but is super comfy! But it does take up a lot of footprint in the tent. Too bad for Ken… On the other hand, with all three pads across the floor there’s basically no gap in floor coverage, so we no longer are really able to roll off. Anyway, I slept great on my new pad, and Ye Olde Heidi Dog approved heartily of getting to sleep on a pad.

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The next morning we consumed some corned beef hash and eggs, then took off for White Sands National Monument. It was a bit of a drive down there, and Lombard has wrecked any chance I have of not being the one to admit weakness and call for a rest stop, so we had to stop in Alamogordo and get Frostys at Wendy’s so I could pee. What a shame! A delicious shame.

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White Sands was totally incredible. It was pretty hot and blinding when the sun was out, so we didn’t do much hiking, but we enjoyed lunch in a picnic shelter and marveled at the views from the tops of a few dunes at various locations. I enjoyed going barefoot in the cold, white sand, and running down the dunes.

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Hey, I finally look like I’m pregnant!
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After we’d had our fill of sand, we drove back up into the mountains to Cloudcroft to see if we could find some rpetty aspen trees. We found a few, and a cool old railroad trestle.

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Hard to believe this is 35 miles from the last picture.

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We then headed back to camp, and broke the car accelerating hard to get on to the highway. Oops. So much for the new car. We limped the rest of the way back to camp on three cylinders. Should have kept the Civic!

Anyway, instead of having a pleasant evening playing Farkle around the campfire, Ken spent it worrying that his theory that the problem was a fuel injector was incorrect and it was the head gasket again and that the car wouldn’t start in the morning. Unpleasant.

Then. Around 9:00, a couple of cars pulled into the site next door and proceeded to set up a party, complete with beer pong and an ever-increasing number of people. We went to sleep ok at first, around 10:00, but then the boom box showed up around 10:30 and shortly thereafter a few firecrackers. There must have been at least 9 cars when I got up at 11:30 to go to the bathroom, and they kept getting louder and louder. There’s no ranger or camp host or anything at this campground, especially not in mid October, and it’s a good 13 miles off of the main road, seven of which are dirt, and probably another 15 miles from there to the nearest town. There was nobody complain to. They finally all passed out by like 2:00, but people kept driving around all night – presumably people deciding they were sober enough to drive home and heading out. Then, on top of it all, a completely separate car alarm at the trailhead around the corner went off four times that I counted between 2 and 6 AM. It was NOT a restful night.

We packed up and got the car started despite Ken’s worries in the morning, and we babied it all the way home.

What a trip! This was supposed to be our last hurrah before Lombard has to be dragged along. I told Ken all this went wrong so that we’ll think camping with a baby is a piece of cake.

As a good news postscript: Ken took the car back to the dealer AGAIN and they willingly took it to their shop, who fixed the problem (a cracked spark plug boot) in an afternoon. We’ve had nothing but good service from the dealer and at this point the car has been running great for over a week.  Let’s hope it continues to do so.

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