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Published: September 28th 2013
Saturday September 21 – It was brisk at White Sands National Monument. I drove out from Alamagordo to check out the balloon Invitational but the line going in was 2 to 3 miles and creeping along stop and go and so was too long for me so I went around them in the other lane. A policeman stopped me to make sure I was indeed going through and not going to go to the start of the line and try to cut over. I told him I was going through and I did so and then after getting past the entry I turned around and parked on the side of the highway on the other side to watch. While waiting I let down the tailgate of my truck and fixed up a breakfast of peanut butter sandwiches with a banana, and an orange.
While waiting a man in the truck next to me came over and started up a conversation which somehow evolved after a bit into his right to bear arms. He told me how when he entered the nearby airbase to visit his son and they asked him if he had any guns in his truck he replied
honestly that yes he legally did, he had some pistols and a sniper rifle with ammo!!! For some ridiculous reason they searched his truck and questioned him a bit??? Imagine that!!??
But back to the balloon fest. - The process of entry was slowed down to a parking lot pace by the Park Service stopping each and every car and collecting their $3.00 entry fee. I knew there was no way I was going to get caught up in that bumper to bumper traffic.
It's just as well I stayed outside as I saw cars coming back out around 9AM and found out the balloon launch was called off account high winds. That is the unfortunate thing about these balloon launches. They are subject to the caprices of the weather.
After the aborted balloon launch I came back into Alamogordo to the MacDonalds and got on the internet for a bit. Then I headed out to the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park a bit south of town. It is at the base of Dog Canyon which is one of the canyons that the Apaches used as a natural fortress to keep the US army at bay. I
can see from looking at it that if they were up there I believe I would have left them alone. Of course soldiers don’t have that option. They have to follow orders.
I did notice that the road that goes up to the park is BLM land with some unimproved roads going out in them. That meant that if someone wanted to boondock in this desert they could do so for free. I wouldn’t recommend it in summer as it would surely be roasting hot. Other parts of the year it might not be bad. There was a sign which said the BLM land was closed to hunting and shooting but open to camping and hiking. I'm glad to hear that. I don't particularly relish being shot dead by a stray bullet.
The Oliver Lee Memorial State Park , http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/oliverleestatepark.html
, had some campsites and I think it would be a great place to camp when the weather is a little more moderate and not so hot. They had sites without electric for $10 and with electric for $14. Some of the sites had an awesome view of the Chihuahuan desert to the west and the Sacramento Mountains
to the East as well as Dog Canyon. I would have certainly stayed there if it had not been so hot.
Saturday Sept 22 - I got up early and drove to the balloon fest. As I was one of the first to arrive I parked in a good spot before the attendants started directing traffic and making everyone go to the end of the field. I can’t blame some of the people who ignored the attendants and tried to park closer to the event. To my mind that is the point of arriving early, to get a good spot.
The weather was perfect and the balloons launched. So that was a good deal. Their was a festive atmosphere as they launched and it was quite and impressive sight. They launched 57 balloons and that was quite a bit but the one in Albuquerque in a couple of weeks will dwarf it at 700 balloons. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with that launch.
After watching the launch I headed back up the mountain to Cloudcroft, stopping and checking out the view from the overlook just west of the tunnel. When I got to Cloudcroft I
went to Big Daddy's BBQ and had some of the best BBQ this side of Texas. It was delicious.
Then I eased back to the campground for another "brisk" night on the mountain.
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