Culture Shock

Summer in Ruidoso is delightful. At an elevation of about 7,000 ft in central NM, the temperatures are very comfortable with low humidity and a chance of rain most afternoons. The thought of heading to hot, humid weather in Texas induced a feeling of mild dread. We had some work to do in Mesquite (outside of Dallas), which is not far from where we have family, so we figured it would be a good opportunity to get in a family visit and some work. Naturally, it needed to be done this time of year, rather than in the fall. But, better to get it done now, rather than get all the way back to Arizona, only to have to go all the way back to Texas.

Knowing we were heading to Texas, we wanted to enjoy some cooler temperatures for a few final days.  We camped at another good spot we found on Free Campsites near Cloudcroft (about an hour from Ruidoso), which is close to 8,500 ft in elevation. It was refreshingly cool and rained everyday.

Nearby a trail winds alternately through the woods and spacious mountain meadows. We saw a herd of elk in the final meadow we came to.

One particularly rainy afternoon forced us to hunker down and take cover - not something we get to (or have to) do often. I sat outside and enjoyed the rain for awhile and worked on a new paracord dog collar. When I finally got cold, I climbed in the truck with the other two and curled up with my sleeping bag and and a book. This is also the spot where we found a Lodge cast iron griddle/grill! I was just looking at one, longingly, in the store a few days earlier.

We awoke on our last morning to find elk grazing around the campsite. The drive down from Cloudcroft is very lovely, descending through a picturesque valley filled with ranches and little towns. After being in the mountains for so long, it was a bit of a shock to then be driving through the oil fields and refineries of eastern New Mexico and Western Texas. The oil pumps and wind mills go on and on...and on. Along with the big farms and the cattle, of course, and the long, straight mind-numbing highway.

We wanted to break up the drive to the Ft. Worth area, but finding a place to tent camp in western Texas is challenging to say the least. Some small towns have city parks that offer RV parking, but that's about it. We did find a 'lake' where we could stop for a couple days in Sweetwater. We found a decent spot, overlooking the lake, but it came with ALOT of trash. I picked up 4 bags and 138 bottle caps and pull-tabs (my new obsession) and didn't even get it all. Contrary to what you might think if you follow van-lifers and other road warriors on Instagram, it's not all stunning vistas and idyllic remote campsites.

Clean pool in Phoenix? No thanks! Baron prefers green, swampy lakes!   

Clean pool in Phoenix? No thanks! Baron prefers green, swampy lakes!


It was a very West Texas experience - two oil pumps very close by, views of windmills, wild boars rustling in the bushes, and cows mooing on nearby farms. We also both ended up very bug bitten. Welcome to Texas! We've had a nice week staying with family, though, enjoying creature comforts of the indoors and getting all our big town errands and chores done. From here we will work our back up north, through the panhandle and northern New Mexico and back to Arizona - at last!