Sunspot and crossing the live fire range


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September 20th 2013
Published: September 26th 2013
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Cloudcroft and return via Ft Bliss


Live fire rangeLive fire rangeLive fire range

I saw these signs all over the place once I had gone too far to turn back. I chose to believe they meant to stay on the road.
September 20th – Friday - today I decided to drive out to the Solar Observatory on the Sunspot Scenic Byway more for the scenic drive than the observatory as Im really not that interested in Space that much. I figure not that much real is going to happen as far as venturing out into it in my lifetime. I stopped at the Haynes Canyon Overlook and checked it out on the way.

When I got to the observatory I looked around a bit but didn’t check out the museum. Actually it kinds of frightens me when they talk about the sun will do this in so many hundreds of millions of years and then do that for a billion years and then something else for another 3hundred and something million years it frightens me because it brings home how long I will be dead!!!! I really don’t want to think about it.

I took the little walk they had and checked out the overlook which was quite nice. Then I went back to the office and found that the picnic tables by the office had WiFi and electrical outlets to plug in my computer and recharge my phones. While
The fork in the roadThe fork in the roadThe fork in the road

I came to this fork in the road and looking at the options neither path looked good. I took the right road but didn't know it would take me onto the Ft Bliss live fire range
I was taking advantage of a quiet and comfortable place to get on the internet and eat my lunch they came and told me there is supposed to be a flash flood in another hour or two and I should go back down the mountain but they are always saying there is going to be a flash flood around here so I ignored them and continued making up my email and blog. I figured there probably would be one later today but hopefully I would have finished by then and gone down the mountain and into Alamogordo.

I had decided that after I finished at the observatory I would just continue on south on the Sacramento Canyon Road (CR E012) till it linked up with CR E001, and then follow this road till it met Hwy 505 (the Owen Prather Highway) and go west on that back to Hwy 54 and then north back into Alamagordo. I knew after I got passed Timberon the roads would turn into dirt roads but I could not imagined just how bad they would get….big mistake.

So I finished up my internet work the best I could before the storm started and loaded up and went back to my truck. Just as I got back into my truck it started to rain and hail for a bit but didn’t last long so as soon as it stopped I started back down the south side of the mountain.

The road into Timberon was good but as soon as I got the other side of the town I turned into rough gravel and rock. I considered turning back and just going back to Cloudcroft but that seemed like a long way back and I figured I would press on with the plan.

Unfortunately the roads kept getting worse and worse if that was possible (which it was) and in parts of it there wasn’t even any road, just some plowed out creek bed with the rocks loose under my truck. I’m glad I have some good strong tires and on my truck because I sure didn’t want any flats way out here. And I am also glad I have 4 wheel drivde

The road just kept going on and on and my truck was getting beaten to death but we kept obstinately on because I knew how far back I had to go if I turned around and I just didn’t want to do that. So I kept on and on and on,then came to a sign saying I was entering the Fort Bliss Military Installation. The sign said restricted area on both sides of the road soI chose to believe that meant off the road and I could continue on as long as I stayed on the road.

So I continued on until I finally got to Hwy 506 and it was still just a gravel road. I went West on it by now seeing signs on both sides of the road saying this was a live fire range and so I chose to believe that that meant not to get off the road on either side as long as I stayed on the road it was OK. I chose to believe that as I was willing to take my changes with artillery shells etc rather than drive all the way back out on the road I had just came on.

I was getting a bit stressed by now but consoled myself that I was at last on a highway but then came up on a low point
I just came out of this sectionI just came out of this sectionI just came out of this section

Reading the sign for the area I just came out of....It said "Danger Artillery Range Keep out No Entry....gee
in the road and it was flooded!!!!

So this really sucked but by now there was no turning back as far as I was concerned. I was just going to keep going forward and forward until I got to a way out of here or the MP’s showed up.

So using my Delorme New Mexico Atlas and Gazetteer I found a couple of small roads where I could get around the flooded part and headed off south on them and I finally I turned West again on one of them and it took me after a while back to 506. I must have gone south quite a bit because it took me a long, long time before I finally came upon Hwy54 at last. I’m sure glad I left this morning on a full tank of gas. And I was damn glad to get off of Ft Bliss…..a sentiment I’m sure I share with thousands of soldiers.

That pretty much ate up the day for me. I went by the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park on the way back to Alamogordo but I wasn’t in the mood for any more exploring today.

I pretty much just got some ice for my ice chest at the machine by WalMart (20 Lbs for $2.00), ate a bite to eat, and then headed back up the mountain to Cloudcroft.

It had been an eventful if somewhat stressful day.

Tomorrow morning the plan was to head out to White Sands again for the Balloon Launch from there that was scheduled for 7AM.


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Finally got outFinally got out
Finally got out

I was glad to get out of there before the MP's showed up : )


19th December 2014

I can relate
I went to visit Cloudcroft for the first time, not knowing the area at all, I used Google maps to make my way down the right side of the mountain... Stupid mistake. When the road turned to gravel and gravel to rocks, I should have turned back. But did I? No. I thought the exact same thing you did, thinking it was too long of a way back. Worst part is, I did it all in my front wheel drive Acura... For 5 hours I drove at 5mph. Thankfully, I made it out too. Needless to say, I was scared to fuck. They should not call that a highway...

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