After spending my longest stretch ever with no hookups, including three national parks, a couple of Walmarts, and a road side rest area, I am really ready to get back to “the pole.” Not only have I been battling depleting batteries, but I had a slight meltdown with my DC outlets. Lesson Learned: Always check the fine print on the handy apparatus left behind by the previous owner (Max. 5 A) before plugging in an iphone AND a dead laptop to charge at the same time! Of all the systems in my rig, the electrical continues to be the one that perplexes me the most. SOME DAY, I am gonna “get” V x A = W!!
It’s now the last weekend of my vacation, and I want to spend my last Saturday night on a high note, rather than back in the Alamogordo Walmart parking lot, as level and quiet as it may have been. I have seen the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park on my Allstays App, but I figure being so close to Alamogordo, they will not likely have an opening for the weekend. Since it is only 7 miles out of my way to my next destination, I decide to go for it. The man at the desk says he doesn’t think there are any electric sites left (they reserve only eight, and the remaining eight are first come, first served.) He tells me to go on down and check. “If you find one, park it! Come back and do the paperwork later!”
I get the last remaining electric site in the park! As soon as I get myself level, I jump out, grab the power cord, jam it into the pole, and Eureka! Thus ends my fourteen day streak of “complete self-containment!” I must say, it is a treat to cook dinner by electricity rather than candlelight for a change. (Did you know if you place a flashlight up next to a gallon jug of water, it glows like a lantern? New batteries are definitely in my future!) The sweet little Oliver Lee campground is really nice. The sites are spread out a respectable distance from each other, and all have a phenomenal view of Dogwood Canyon. And as an added welcome, among the friendliest campground hosts I have experienced, all for $16 per night (less with a parks pass.)
I only have one day here, so I quickly get myself settled, and take off for the 6 mile RT hike up Dogwood Canyon. I am thinking, this seems more taxing to me than the Guadalupe Peak climb! First of all, it is steeper. And it is a little warmer here. But the worst part, it seems a swarm of relentless flies is determined to hike with me! I just keep wondering, are these the same damned flies that are following me up the mountain, or does a new swarm lie in wait?
The trail is up and up again, with only two small flat stretches. One of these is through a bizarre “cholla meadow.” It is beautiful, seeing all the vibrant green “trees” with their bright yellow tips, but also very daunting, knowing how painful one wrong bobble on the path could be.
The hike is gorgeous, but extremely tiresome due to the flies and late afternoon heat. But I persevere to the Line Cabin, an old ruin at the bottom of the canyon. There is a group of Boy Scouts camped right inside the ruin, so I visit with the Scouts for a few minutes, then make that my turning point for the day, taking my time back down the mountain to enjoy the sun now dropping low in the sky.
I fall asleep in the Sweet Oliver Lee campground with the laptop still glowing on the pillow on my lap, feeling both indulgent as well as appreciative that I don’t have to constantly monitor the battery level for a change…