We made it to New Mexico!
For the past 9 months we’ve been circling around a lot of the same states, which makes this our first official “new” state since that single night back in Nebraska last July. I put new in quotes because while we have both spent some time in New Mexico, we’ve never been here together, and we’ve never been here with the Airstream, which makes it a “new” state. New Mexico is also our 20th state since leaving Vermont back in June of 2012. We have a long way to go if we’re going to hit them all.
We’ve been here less than a week, but already I’ve developed a few ideas about New Mexico. It’s very possible that these only apply to the area where we are right now. But for now here are my initial impressions. It will be interesting to see how many of these hold true at the end of our three month stay.
-New Mexico is windy
-New Mexico is rural
-New Mexico is inexpensive
-New Mexico has very finicky cell service
-New Mexico has awesome state parks
I could do without the wind or crappy cell service, but I really hope the last one remains true throughout the whole state. We just purchased a state park pass (more on that at the end of the post), and plan to spend the next three months staying almost exclusively at state parks. If they are all like our first stop at the City of Rocks State Park then we are in for a treat.
City of Rocks is located in southwest New Mexico between Deming and Silver City. As we drove north from Deming through miles of flat, grass covered meadows, I couldn’t help but wonder, where are the rocks? And then, Bam! We rolled over the crest of hill and there it was. A city of rocks amid a sea of grass.
According to the video we watched at the visitor center, the city as we know it today formed during a volcanic eruption 34.9 million years ago. Over the years the volcanic matter cooled and formed a layer of rock the cracked and eroded leaving behind the large rock pinnacles and boulders separated by paths (or city streets) that we see today.
Upon arrival we circled around a few times looking for a spot where we would fit, and at least have a shot at getting level. Of the 52 sites, 37 of them are first-come-first-serve, no hook-up sites. There is also a small loop of 5 dry sites that you can reserve, as well as 10 reservable sites with hook-ups.
The dry camping sites are all tucked in the rocks surrounded by cool backdrops and rock formations. Unfortunately, many of them are either too small, too slanted, or too awkward shaped for the average size RV to fit in. That’s not to say it’s impossible to find a spot, because many are suited for RVs, but we noticed that most of the really big RVs are in the hook-ups area.
We got lucky and snagged a really cool looking, really private spot on the west side of the park.
We had a long private driveway, two nice evergreen Live Oak Trees with glossy green leaves, a huge siting area, and a gigantic playground of rocks in our back yard.
Because we were facing west we also had some awesome sunset views.
It seemed perfect. Until it wasn’t. The problem arose on Tuesday morning when the internet slowed to a crawl. Since we need the Internet to pay the bills, a usable cell signal is required, and for some reason that wasn’t happening on Tuesday morning. Up until then we had a great 3G signal. No idea what happened to it that morning. The strange part was that we still had a strong signal, but for some reason our mifi device refused to connect and stay connected. We managed to muddle through the day with the slow connection, and after work Tim drove around the campground with the mifi and his laptop trying to find a better signal. The only place he had luck was over by the visitor center. The next day there was no change. Around noon we decided it wasn’t going to get better and the only thing to do was leave. So after work we packed up, hitched up and started to head out. At the last minute we decided to check out site #1 near the visitor center to see what we could get (when tim checked the previous day it was occupied). Well lucky us, the site was empty…and we got a 4G LTE signal!
As of today (Thursday) the connection is holding up fairly well. It has dropped several times, but so far- cross fingers- it’s come back every time. This site is not quite as perfect as the last one. We still have some cool rocks nearby, but our front door view faces the visitor center and the entry road, so we see everyone as they drive in and out of the campground. It will do for the next couple days though, and we are very relieved that we didn’t have to move to another campground yet.
One of the reasons that we want to stick around is because we plan on checking out Silver City and Pinos Altos this weekend, and right now we’re in the perfect position to visit both.
Okay, on to the promised info about the New Mexico State Park Pass. For a fee of $225 (or $180 if you are a resident) you can get a one year state park camping pass. With this pass you get $10 off per night on all camping fees. That means if you are planning to spend more than 22 days in a year period at any New Mexico state park this pass is a must have. For people like us, who plan to spend 3+ months here it is a huge money saver. And with 36 parks spread across the state we will have no problem finding a park anywhere we want to visit in New Mexico. The best part is that the camping fees are already incredibly low. $10 for dry camping, $14 for water & electric, and $18 for full hookups. Crazy right? That means here at the City of Rocks our site would be $10/night, but with the pass it’s zero! Soooo, because I am a little dorky when it comes to stuff like this, I made myself a spreadsheet to compare what we would be paying without the pass, versus what we are paying with the pass. When we leave the state at the end of June it will be interesting to see just how much we saved. And of course I’m sharing it with you.
For the fist couple of weeks the per day fee with the pass will be higher than without, but after that just watch the savings roll in.