White Sands, Petroglyphs, and the murdered hermit

White Sands, Petroglyphs, and the murdered hermit

December 14, 2021

We moved to a new camp this week boon docking on Lake Holloman (called Raptor Lake on Compendium) to boondocks.  The lake is beautiful and smells fine, but is a wastewater lake for the Air Force base right next to us so no fishing.  It’s cool to see the planes and drones taking off over the water in the morning here.  Sunsets are spectacular here as well and there is no one parking close to us as there seems to be plenty of spots.  We chose this spot in Alamogordo, NM as it was free, looked pretty, and is only 4 miles from the White Sands National Park.  What more could you ask for.  The only down side was that some days were very windy which is tremendously noisy in a tiny home made of aluminum.  Especially as we have parts that jut out with little awnings attached to them (slide outs) that just love to flap around in the wind and make it sound like your whole house is shaking apart.

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Speaking of White Sands, we took advantage of being so close and went back there.  We caught some beautiful skies while we were there which was lucky.  The sand is actually not sand at all.  It is gypsum crystals and the largest gypsum dune field of this kind in America.  It is beautiful to see and the crystals twinkle in the sunlight.  Some parts of it had very fine “sand” that felt like baby powder and other areas had rougher and larger particles.  This place formed long ago through global warming, wind and erosion as the gypsum from the surrounding mountains was carried down through rain and snowmelt as the earth warmed while the lakes that were once here dried up and left behind selenite crystals.  The wind then drove it all into dunes and this process continues today.  On one visit, it was windy which was good and also not good.  The sand got everywhere and the wind made our ears hurt up on the dunes, but it also erased all footprints so we were left with just natural beauty.  It seems easy to get lost hiking out here.

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We also went hiking in the Dripping Springs Natural Area in Las Cruxes, NM.  We didn’t see any waterfalls this time of year, but we also didn’t have to worry so much about rattlesnakes during this season so that’s OK by me.  There has been evidence found of humans living here going back 7,000 years which is very cool.  We hiked one trail that led to a cave which ancient people lived in.  This cave also housed a hermit at one time who was a healer and nomad.  He lived there for the last few years of his life before he was murdered there.  His murderer was never identified.  I had decided I wanted a good windmill picture and the perfect one was right there as well for me.

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We also drove out to the Three Rivers Petroglyph area which is also a campground (though we kept our free campsite at Lake Holloman).  We actually made two trips out there as we had the dogs with us the first time and discovered they were not allowed on the trail.  Only .5 miles into the trail and you get to see some amazingly well preserved petroglyphs.  Tons of them too as there are over 21,000 of these rock paintings in this area.  These particular paintings are Jornada Mogollon art which dates back to between 900 and 1400 AD.  We were lucky that our national parks pass offered us free admission at all of these places as they are national monument sites.  I also was able to fill a page in my national parks passport stamp book!  

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To round out the adventure of this week we also tried out our first showers at a truck stop.  I was a little apprehensive, but it was glorious.  It had been about two months since I had been in a shower that was spacious where I could easily step out of the water stream to shave my legs.  It was also nice (though wasteful) to not have to turn off the water while I lathered up or shaved.  This kept the shower area nice and toasty the whole time.  You see, when you are boon docking, you only have the water in your tank to get you through the two weeks you are allowed to camp on BLM land.  This water is used for cooking, coffee, the dogs to drink, showers, and dishes.  We have a 75 gallon tank, but it would go fast if we took frequent showers in our camper and showers are the biggest water waster.  To avoid the hassle of hitching up the rig and moving it to fill the water tank and then possibly having our previous site occupied when we return, we try to conserve water.  We also don’t want to fill up the grey water tanks where shower and dishwater collects before our 14 day limit.  So, I do the dishes in a collapsible dishpan and throw the dishwater outside when I’m done.  I try to make meals that don’t use a lot of dishes each day and we take less showers.  Getting in and out of this site was not easy due to a narrow gate and tight turn so we decided it would be simpler to find a public shower.  We may have hit the jackpot here as the bathrooms were clean and modern (you could smell the cleaning products) and only $7.  We made a nice campfire outside when we got back and watched the sunset on the lake.

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