Thursday, February 18, 2021

Now boondocking near Picacho Peak, waiting for a package.

 Nope, not the Picacho Peak in Arizona, which I climbed up to the top of back in January of 2020: LINK

This Picacho Peak is located just outside of Las Cruces on the west side of town and isn't quite as imposing as Arizona's peak.

Why such a short distance displacement you ask?  Well let me tell ya.  The package Martha mailed via the USPS to the post office near where I had been camping has been "delayed".  The original arrival date was the 16th, it's now the 18th and the folks at the post office still haven't seen it.

The tracking system says its "in transit but delayed", delayed for almost two days now.  The folks at the target post office believe it'll be delivered to them even though they don't do General Delivery there because their address is part of the mailing.  I have my doubts.  So I'll be checking the main post office tomorrow to make sure the General Delivery label didn't confuse some clerk and they're holding the package there.

Still, the silver lining is that it led me to explore the Picacho Peak BLM Recreation area where I'm presently camping.  It's much more secluded in terms of other campers than where I had been, and provides ready access to Picacho Peak and an interesting trail up to the top supposedly.

Picacho Peak

There's not a lot of camp sites suitable for RVs but I found a couple easily enough and occupied one.  The access road looks a bit sketchy at its beginning but it actually wasn't bad at all.  The Baylor Canyon road had been much worse and rocky!

I even unloaded Yagi, my TW200 and did some brief exploration of the surrounding area via the dirt trails.  There's even a BLM managed recreation site that provides access to the trail system for Picacho Peak.  I supposed one could camp in there as well?  I did see one car still there as night fell and am pretty sure the driver is overnighting there at least.

Late afternoon, I headed on back to the target post office on Commerce Drive and they once again shook their heads saying the package hadn't been delivered yet.  Sigh.

Heading back to the new campsite, I stopped by the motel that has the worlds largest Chile:

Back at camp, it was warmer but still a bit cool.  The golden hour came and went but the sunset was nothing to write home about.

Here's a view of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks, the base of which I'd just spent a week at, with the city of Las Cruces between me and them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Visiting the White Sands National Monument with Mariko

 Today, the weather was warmer than the last couple of days but still more cloudy than desired, so it was still a brisk experience, walking among the dunes when the sun was hidden by clouds.

I'd been to this park before, back in December of 2018, better pictures than the ones taken today here: LINK

So I learned one thing about the "white sands" at this monument.  If you visit after shortly after a snow fall, the sands are still wet if not still around and turns the sand, well, sand colored!  It wasn't the snow white sand that I'd remembered from the 2018 visit.

Here's the pics that sort of came out, mostly to depict the clouds in most cases, or show Mariko the Sammy in a sand dune environment.

Once the clouds moved in, it was time to drive Mariko the 16 miles or so to the city of Alamogordo to get fuel and lunch for myself.

Munching on fast food (something hard to do when on a motorcycle but not in the Sammy!) I returned to the monument hoping for better light conditions.  The sun was brighter for brief periods of time but I never did get the timing right in finding a spot for Mariko AND having the sun in the clear.

Returned to the campsite shortly after 5PM, packed up some of the outside items in preparation for displacing tomorrow towards Arizona.  Seven nights here is enough, especially given the recent freakishly cold weather.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Visiting the Missile Garden

 That's the nickname given to the White Sands Missile Range's museum's outdoor display of the missiles, rockets and associated equipment, drones, and launchers that have been developed/tested at this range.

Last time I'd tried to get into post to take the pictures, the rules still didn't allow me access onto post as I didn't have a military ID card anymore.  Now, as of over a year ago, I now have access to active military posts with my Veterans Health ID card.  So after registering myself and the sammy at the reception center, was allowed access through the Las Cruces Gate.

The weather was overcast, windy and cold.  There was only me and Mariko in the parking lot next to the outdoor display; the actual museum is closed due to Covid-19 I believe.

Don't worry, I'm not posting a picture of every single missile/rocket and launcher on display!  Just some of the stuff I was involved with during my active duty time and some group shots.

Back when I was a Field Artillery Captain at Fort Bragg, NC.  I commanded, C Battery, 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery (MLRS).  Back then, the battery fielded nine MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) tracked vehicles which could accommodate two of the below six packs at a time.

Self-Propelled Launcher Loader

A MLRS Launcher's 12 rockets could, put a ICM (Improved Conventional Munition), basically a hand grenade, in every meter of a 1000 meter grid square.  The Iraqi army would come to know the effect of these munitions as "steel rain" during the Gulf War.

A "six pack", showing one MLRS rocket emerging.

The largest drone I saw, an actual F-4 Phantom which could be
remotely piloted to be used as a target during missile testing.

Years after I left command, the battalion transitioned to wheeled launchers, pictured below, which carried just one six pack of rockets.  Called the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), my old battery was used to test and field this system apparently according to Wikipedia.

Pano of the Missile Garden

I left the Missile Garden and the post behind and ventured into the nearby Aguirrez Springs Campground where I'd camped before on previous trips.  Plenty of spots open but as you can see the weather turned bleak:

The east side of the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks
I'm camped on the other side

It started raining then lightly snowing as I made my way back to the other side of the mountains via Saint Augustin Pass.  Mariko, like my Ural Sidecar Rigs, struggled on the uphill portions of the pass but made it up eventually.

Got back to camp and watched it snow for a bit (it didn't stick) then just stayed inside the URRV while the wind howled outside the temperatures hit a high of 44 in the very late afternoon.

The sun broke through after the clouds had pushed on further east, heading towards Texas I think.  The sun was too late to do any warming up though and about an hour later the sun set.  Another cold night I believe, luckily still good with the propane supply.  Nice and toasty as I type this.

Hopefully, the package I've been waiting for from Martha will arrive tomorrow.  If the weather is good, I might drive over to the White Sands National Monument but unsure at this point.  The cold front sweeping the nation right now is playing havoc on most of the country and has made weather forecasting more of a guess than usual!

Pretty sure though, that I'll be headed west towards Arizona by Thursday though.

Monday, February 15, 2021

After the snow storm...

 I ended up running the catalytic propane heater almost 24 hours during the recent snow storm and used up about 1/8 of the propane in the onboard tank, so not bad at all!

Though today started overcast, it would clear up in the late morning and it was then that temperatures started to steadily climb out of the high teens to the low 30s.  The sun felt good I must say.

As it had been overcast all day yesterday and this morning, I ran the Predator generator most of the morning and into the early afternoon.  This to charge up the house battery and to run the 200 Watt Electric Heater which at first supplemented the propane heater and then took over from it to keep the house temperature around 60°F (15.5°C).

Here's how the nearby Desert Peaks looked like in the morning:

Puttered about the campsite, knocking ice off both the URRV and the Sammy.  Bundled up, it wasn't too cold.

Having a bit of cabin fever, I drove Mariko the Sammy into town to purchase some groceries and a part from Autozone for the Sammy.  I had thought the part, the coupler for the steering linkage u-joints, was looking a bit ragged but apparently, a new version also looks a bit raggedy.  Not as robust as the "donut" used by Ural Sidecar motorcycles to couple the transmission output shaft to the driveshaft going to the final drive.

Coming back, the mountains were pretty much clear of the morning clouds/fog:

Not much else to report, still killing time waiting for a couple of packages to arrive at the Las Cruces post office, hopefully by Wednesday.  I'm thinking of heading over to the White Sands National Monument (about 40 miles away) tomorrow, and make it a day.  We'll see how the winds are though, it's supposed to be pretty windy tomorrow.