Well we made it down the mountain. We did a little research and thought “Slide Rock Canyon” sounded pretty cool, We slightly underestimated how cold and snowy it would still be when we got there, and all the places to park our van were closed for the season, leaving us with the only option of paying too much money to literally sleep for 8 hours and get up early to enjoy the park, as it closes at dusk. So our option was too fork out the cash or keep driving. We inspected the outside of the park and then saw the dreaded “no dogs on trails” sign, yeah I suppose they were technically allowed in the park, but like most of the national parks, that meant in the parking lot or on the road.
We got back on the road, driving through Sedona, a cool little adobe built town, that reminded me of a slightly Mexican version of Jasper or Banff in Canada. A little touristy town built around a mountain, full of privately owned coffee shops and over priced clothing and nick nick shops. The backdrop was absolutely stunning, filled with red mountain cliffs, and snow peaked trees, and as the sun was setting it cast a red glow over everything.
We pulled into Tucson at about 7:30 pm, and tried to stay in an RV park that was from Passport America (offering 50% off with a 44$ yearly membership) and as we had discovered a few times before, it was more of a trailer park where the office wasn’t open to late night RV drivers. With no one to check in with, we couldn’t stay there, which also meant no shower again. We ended up staying in a small strip mall after stealing some public library wifi, and had a decent sleep.
We attempted to do a trail at “Bear Canyon Park” but the entrance was a small off road drive that wasn’t very accessible to the Van. Did a little more research and found a very dog friendly park named “Catalina state park” and off we went! The park was awesome and offered an array of various dog friendly trails, only restricting pups on areas where the mountain goats were. There was a couple river streams and pools the dogs were more than joyous to get their paws wet in. The weather was a sweltering 20 degree desert heat. We were surrounded by house height cacti, boulders and sand, and it was shorts and sports bra weather.
We finished off our sweaty day by faking an interest in a gym membership at LA fitness so we could have much needed shower, feeling fresh and vitamin D filled, we got back on the road on our way to Silver City, New Mexico. Maybe its my love for Central America, and all its culture and bright colours, that I was really envisioning in New Mexico, I mean come on, it says “Mexico” in its name, but I was highly disappointed. Pulling into Silver City was like a scene from a zombie movie or a post apocalyptic film. Everything was abandoned and dilapidated, rusty and deserted. I had read in the guide books that there was tourism there, but even after waking up in the morning and driving around the downtown and surrounding areas, I was still wondering what kept people here. I know most towns are built around some sort of resource, and it looked like there was a mine there at some point, But its ambiance gave more of a dead end impression, everything abandoned and a slight “end of the road” feel.
With intentions of heading up to Gila National forest, We got a coffee and headed up another mountain. More snow! We found a trailhead and started hiking.
It actually was very beautiful with its contrast of desert vegetation and snow-covered rocks. We hiked uphill for a mile or two and finally came upon some giant boulder cliffs that over looked the whole tree covered valley. We took some epic photos and debated hopping over the giant drop between the boulders to get a more impressive picture, but eventually, fear got the best of us and we opted for the safer route. Back down for some much needed lunch.
We looked up a few next destination options, and found some white sand dunes, and free camping at a “Lake Holloman” it sounded like a perfect combination. We drove past “Nasa Road “ which I believe is the new launch sight for the Nasa spaceship. Then as we got closer the Air force base, and missile launch sight, we passed a military check point where they checked my passport and waved me through. We drove past the white sand dunes and searched for Lake Holloman but there was no signage and ended up just finding ourselves at the Base. We got a bit turned around and eventually found some wifi and talked to some locals about a good place to do some trails and such. They highly recommended Ruidoso and said there wasn’t much too see around here aside from the sand dunes. We took their advice and headed in that direction. They failed to mention the fact that it was up another mountain and a foot of snow on the ground. We parked the van for the night outside a subway ( free wifi! ) and closed our eyes for the night, ready to find a good snowy mountain trail in the morning.