I left Phoenix on Sunday and drove to Saguaro National Park where I hoped to camp for the night. I watched the sun set behind the very distant mountains surrounding the valley town. Okie and I went for a little dusk stroll along one of the park trails. I don’t know if it’s because of the Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons but I love the look of the big saguaro cacti, especially the silhouettes of them against the darkening sky. Upon our return to the van a policeman/ranger greeted me with news of my needing to move on for the night. John was one of the nicest cops I’d encounteredt. We chatted for a while about my trip and his travels with his career and when we parted he told me he was impressed with my choice. Nice man. I ended up sleeping at a Travel Stop gas station off the I-10 in
I drove for most of the next day. My goal was to make it to Elephant Butte Lake State Park. I chose to take the scenic route through the Gila National Forest. I love driving through National Forests because they seem to always contain tree covered mountains which gives me a break from seeing desert all the time. As a person from a coastal town I miss water when I’m not around it for a long time. Before I started driving around the desert I had romantic notions of the desert landscape. I still love it and all it’s variety but I also need to see water every once in a while and don’t think I could ever settle somewhere without it. This is why I wanted to camp at Elephant Butte Lake. That and I’ve never seen a desert lake.
After our painful but beautiful walk we jumped in the van and got ready to head towards Roswell. I mean, who can be this close and not detour there? As I went to start the van I noticed a piece of paper on my windshield. Hmm, what could this be? A $3000 fine for being in a state park without paying?! I stupidly took my stub out of the window when I left the my campsite. I calmly explained the situation to the woman at the exit booth and she took it back saying she’ll fix it. Man! Can you imagine? It’s only a $300 fine if you get caught throwing litter out of your vehicle but $3000 if you visit a state park without paying. Wow.
Anyways, after driving through places like Truth or Consequences (named after a 1950s game show, formerly Hot Springs) and Lincoln (home of the last stand of Billy The Kid) I am now in Roswell. I’ve come into town just at dark so I plan to sleep in the Wal-Mart parking lot. It’s not my first choice but it’ll do every now and then. Tomorrow I'll explore Roswell and its kitschy alien gift shops. So far it looks like any other town with it’s Wal-Mart, Target, Starbucks, Burger King, Home Depot etc, except their McDonald’s is shaped like a UFO.