December 22, 2021
Well I said I would go sledding on the sand dunes so I had to do it while we were here. Luckily, the gift shop sold little saucer sleds used for $15 so I felt I could justify the price. It turns out that sledding on sand isn’t very thrilling. I found the steepest dunes I could too and it still wasn’t the fastest or smoothing sledding experience. However, it was beautiful and a good work out climbing back up. We had said that it would be easy to get lost out here and sure enough, it happened. My ears started to ache from the wind so I told Luke I was going to head back to truck. I wandered for about an hour before figuring out where I was and making my way to our vehicle. I thought Luke would have been worried about me (no cell reception so I didn’t have my phone with me). However, he had also gotten lost and we both found the truck and made our way back at the same time. Luckily, we made it back before sunset. It was easy enough to find the road through thew park as we hadn’t wandered too deep in so worst case scenario is we could have asked a passing motorist for help. I asked one for directions to the parking area we had left the truck in which is how I found my way back.
Once I had checked sledding the dunes off my bucket list we decided it was time to get to work building our website and starting our YouTube channel. Luke handled the technical parts of this by making the website and showing me how to use it. Congratulations for finding it. Here we share awesome photos we are taking as well as this adventure log. We asked friends to help us come up with our name for our YouTube channel and we chose MacNeils on Wheels. Luke designed the logo. You can find our videos here which Luke works hard to make while I provide some of the creative input and have a lead role in: MacNeils on Wheels. We went into town to get an oil change before moving to our next stop and an old man in overalls taught me that an advantage of this attire is “no buttcrack”. I had never thought of this benefit and now enjoy overalls even more.
Our next stop was in Silver City, NM so we could see the Gila Cliff Dwellings. We used our Passport America membership to stay at a campground for a few days at half price. We stayed at one called Rose Valley and it was nice. The neighbors were friendly and there was a bit of space and fencing between sites which I enjoyed. I took advantage of the laundry facilities on site and the walking trail behind the campground. On our first evening there, I was walking the dogs while Luke set up the camper and lost circulation in the end of my middle finger. It was weird. It turned completely white and stayed that way even after I went inside until I ran it under warm water. I googled it and realized I have Raynaud’s disease which is not serious at all and just means I need to bundle up more when it’s cold. Once I read about the symptoms, Luke and I recounted times when I had turned a little blue in the cold and it all made sense.
The cliff dwellings were fun. As we hiked to get up to the cliff where they were I imagined the people who lived here hauling water up here from the stream below as the hike up was rated as moderately strenuous and I had to stop to catch my breath a couple times just carrying my camera gear. These dwellings were built and inhabited by the Mogollon people in the 1200’s for only about 20 years. I had a hard time understanding why they would build all of this and then move on, but I guess I should understand since I’m a nomad now too.
After this we said goodbye to New Mexico for now and headed off to our next campsite on BLM in Sonoita, AZ where we saw warm weather and lots of free BLM camping opportunities. We were not disappointed when we arrived. The sites were huge and beautiful. They were also spaced far apart from each other at Las Ciengas Conservation land. The dogs loved running through the grasslands we were camped in and come home with no prickly things stuck to them which was great. The area is managed by the historic Empire Ranch which we passed on the way in. We were able to stop there to fill up our water tank and they had an interpretive trail with a little crank box you had to turn to hear the stories about the ranch. I think we will be happy calling this space home for a couple of weeks.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.