April 12, 2016 Alamogordo, New Mexico

Route 82 Heading to Cloudcroft, NM
Route 82 Heading to Cloudcroft, NM

On to Alamogordo

Bright and early Monday morning, I loaded up the Prius and departed the Brantley Lake State Park after eleven great days there. I would definitely return here in the future, though not a lot to photograph in the immediate area, I found my campsite to be quiet and peaceful and I managed to accomplish a few chores I had been avoiding for too long, such as restringing my two large day/night shades and taking out the paintbrushes and actually starting a few bird paintings.

Scaled Quail
Scaled Quail

Rattlesnake Springs

One of the two day trips I took while at Brantley Lakes was down to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park to drive the 9 mile loop road through the desert above the caverns and then down to Rattlesnake Springs, just a few miles south of the caverns, where I had been told I might find some desert birds.

Scaled Quail
Scaled Quail

And one of the birds I have been looking for, the Scaled Quail, turned out to be there in good numbers and I finally was able to add a few images of this bird to my library. In addition to the quail, I found wild turkeys, Canyon Towhees, Vermillion Flycatchers, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Gadwalls, Coots, Northern Shovelers, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a few more individuals that I couldn’t quite identify. If in the area, this is an interesting little oasis in the desert worth checking out.

White Sands in the Distance
White Sands in the Distance

White Sands National Monument

I have driven past White Sands more than once over the years, heading to California, or back through the desert to the midwest, but have never stopped to check out this unique landscape.

So, yesterday I headed north on Route 285 from Brantley Lake State Park and made the unfortunate decision to head west on Rocking R Red Road ( Route 21 ) to avoid driving through Artesia. What looked like a decent paved road on Google maps turned out to have about a seven or eight mile stretch of some of the worst gravel road my poor motorhome has ever been subjected to just before it joined up with Route 12. Even slowed down 15 mph and less, I’m afraid I probably did some damage to the rig bouncing over this extremely rough section of road. There really is no reason to go this way since Route 285 joins Route 82 in Artesia and I definitely recommend not making the same mistake I did here.

Route 12 north took me up to Route 82 heading to Cloudcroft, New Mexico. I did some research on the internet and asked a few locals about the descent on Route 82 from Cloudcroft to Route 54 and Alamogordo. The internet search was fairly evenly split between, yes, you can manage the long, steep, downgrade, and no, if you attempt it, you will most definitely die doing so. The locals who were familiar with the road all said I would best want to avoid it.

So I took Route 244 from Cloudcroft north to Route 70, down through Mescalero, and got on Route 54 south to Alamogordo. Route 82 from Artesia to Route 244 just short of Cloudcroft is a very good road with no serious grades and only the first few miles of Route 244 has one short steep climb and then an easily managed steep descent before becoming a very easy drive to Route 70. I intend to drive back up to Cloudcroft in the Prius to see just how bad the grade on that road really is.

Campsite at Oliver Lee State Park
Campsite at Oliver Lee State Park

Oliver Lee State Park

Since I purchased an annual camping pass for New Mexico State Parks, I set my sights on the Oliver Lee State Park, about ten miles south of Alamogordo. It is a nice little two loop park nestled against the base of some imposing hills at the mouth of Dog Canyon overlooking a vast expanse of desert. Only six of the sites are reservable, all the others being first come, first served, so I figured I would most likely be able to snag a site on a Monday at midday. And that turned out to be the case.

However, finding a site IĀ could somehow manage to get myself level on was another story. Most of the sites are fairly severely sloped, many of them I could see no way at all that the site was usable for my rig. After trying a couple sites, I finally got myself situated on Site 48, and by parking at an angle was able to level my rig, and the site was large enough that I didn’t have to unhook the tow dolly.

Campsite at Oliver Lee State Park, Dove Nest
Campsite at Oliver Lee State Park, Dove Nest

When I let the dogs out, I happened to notice a White-winged dove sitting on a nest in a short yucca, not fifteen feet from the front on my RV. After seeing a few other birds hopping through the undergrowth and flying by, I decided to set out some feeders and see what I might be able to attract here.

White-winged Dove on the Nest
White-winged Dove on the Nest

It should be kind of fun to see if her eggs hatch while I am staying here ( I have signed up for a week ).

White-winged Dove on the Nest
White-winged Dove on the Nest
Ocotillo in Bloom
Ocotillo in Bloom

Right next to my site, there are a couple ocotillos in full bloom, though not a single green leaf is showing on either of them. But with the ocotillos in bloom, I decided I may as well hang out a hummingbird feeder too, since it would seem they might just be in the area.

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