So long Tuscon. Strapping into a half day drive it's off to Deming NM. Somewhere out amongst the stark hills is a small national park that has boondocking for $10 a night. I know what you're thinking. Sounds a little steep to be camping without any amenities. As cheap as we are we've started to grasp the reality that where we spend our money will change what we take away from this trip. Sleeping at Wal-Mart sucks. It's loud and unlevel. You can't set up your chairs or even go outside to enjoy nature. Sleeping at truck stops is way worse. Locked into a row between semis means the slide has to stay in. The cramped confines make everyone miserable. Then stack the hum of diesel motors and the constant traffic noise which make for an absolute miserable night. Free BLM boondocking is great but is hard to find outside of the southwest. Short of paying for an RV park, this is the next best thing.
This tiny park only has about 30 campsites and every single one of them is full. I stop in to chat with the campground host and he gives me the rundown. "We've got a couple of spots we can make work. Hop in the gator and I'll show you around". Mr. Host and I set off for the top of the campground where the spot is very cramped and slopes downhill. "You got anything else?" I inquire. He smiles back at me and says, "Yeah I got something that can work". Back down the road and to the side of the park we head into the day use only area. He points to the handicap parking spot next to a picnic bench. "Will that work?" I pause... "I'm not handicap and that says day use only" is my humble reply. He glances at his watch and looks back up at me. "Parks about to close for the night. We do it all the time". A smile crosses my face as I realize this guy is just trying to help folks out. "I'll take it".
Settled into our level spot we gaze out at the hill in front of us. Most of the park is just this big lump of rock. Out in the stone are gems locked beneath the earths crust. I'd give you a list, but I didn't really care. Apparently people come from all around to come out here and dig up geodes and opal. It's one of only two national parks in the system that actually encourages visitors to take a piece home with them.
We don our Camelbacks and hit the trails. It's a short 1.3 mile hike about halfway up the slope and then back down. My bum knee has kept us from longer hikes for nearly a month now. It's frustrating that we can't explore the way we really want to. What's worse is knowing that my shortcomings are holding up Katie from being able to take in all the things this trip has to offer.
Settled in for the night I set up camp and Katie preps dinner. There's 13 channels available off the antenna thanks to a few towers on top of the hill. The backdrop is absolutely stunning. I've never seen Shirley look so good.