Leaving Van Horn behind in the rain this morning, I headed further down I10 West. I had only a 3.5-hour drive today and gained an hour entering Mountain Time. The rain and fog continued through El Paso and then the skies began to clear as I entered New Mexico. I turned on the I25 and headed north out of Las Cruces toward the Organ Mountains. The landscape is a beautiful desert terrain ringed by majestic mountain ranges. The little settlement of Radium Springs has only a few small houses, trailers, and a Family Dollar Store and a Post Office. The Leasburg Dam State Park, on the other hand, is a diamond in the rough! The park is very well maintained, the campsites are large semi-circular pull-throughs with a concrete pad for the camper and a lovely shelter over a picnic table, water and electric with a fire pit for $14.00 a night!
When I arrived, the camp host asked if I was staying for the program on Saturday night, "Turning Back the Sun". I had only made a reservation through Friday night and did not know about the program at that time. He told me it is quite an event, a celebration of the Winter Solstice with many cultural activities running from noon until 8pm : Pueblo Indian social dances, Buffalo Stew, Hot Coco and Adobe Horno baked Pueblo Bread and Pizza, Traditional Winter and Coyote Stories from Dine', Apache, Pueblo, and Blackfeet Peoples, as well as Stargazing with the Astronomy Society of Las Cruces who will bring their big telescopes. As soon as I had my rig parked in space #21, I got on my smartphone to extend my reservation. Someone else had already reserved my campsite, #21 for Saturday, but I was able to reserve campsite #17 for Saturday night, and it was the only spot left available! Later, I was speaking with the ranger at the Visitors Center and we found that #17 had also been booked for Saturday but the folks had canceled their reservation just an hour before I made mine. What luck I have! I'm so excited that I can stay and enjoy this traditional festival on Saturday. The visitors center had much to offer:
Dexter and I took a short walk after setting up camp. It's still cool, in the upper 40's but the wind has calmed.
I went out for a taste of local Mexican food in the neighboring town of Dona Ana at a quaint place called Chachis. I knew I was in for a treat when the only folks there were local Spanish folks and a couple of Border Patrol agents! The food was delicious but spicy hot! I have forgotten what real traditional Mexican food tastes like... An ice-cold cerveza helped cool my taste buds!
I've seen many rabbits hopping around the campsite. They are normal sized and brownish grey in color, but have exceptionally large white fluffy tails! I also saw a covey of Gambel's Quail. I hope to get some wildlife photos while I'm here. The birds and wildlife are quite abundant here on the desert floor. I also plan to get out to the White Sands National Monument. Tomorrow is forecast to be chilly and rainy so it may be a crafting day. Friday and Saturday look sunny and clear so I should be able to get out with the camera then. My brother-in-law David from Alaska will be in Hatch, NM on Friday morning as he travels through the area to Santa Fe so we have made a plan to meet for brunch. What a nice surprise that is! It will be great to see him.
I leave you tonight with a video of my campsite at sunset.