Everyone woke early. I was up at 4:30, and by 5, heard activity outside. By 5:30, all the others were actively making breakfast and packing. My plan was to leave later, since my distance would be more conservative, and since I would be slower.
Ferdinand headed north on 187, to try to hitch a ride towards Colorado. I was headed south on 187, following the standard ACA route, so we parted ways.
I didn’t feel too good after that big lunch. Maybe it was the green chili shake? It was a slow slog for the next 20 miles through shifting winds along the Rio Grande. I took pictures of the Rio Grande, but it’s not very impressive in this area. Kapalama canal is wider and clearer.
I had set my GPS to get me to Leasburg Dam State Park, but it directed me to the Day Use area. I was about a mile off. There was no ranger there, but a River worker told me that the campsites were on the other side of the river, and I might reach them by going over the bridge, since I had a bike. I followed that route, but quickly realized that it was a sand trail on the other side, designed for mountain bikes. Nope. I went back to the main road, and went in through the main park entrance. The camp host told me that since it was Memorial Day, a site could only be booked for the 3-day weekend. Remembering that I had passed an RV park on the way in, I decided to double back. The RV park office was empty, so I called the posted phone number. Nothing. I knocked on the door of the trailer that looked the most permanent, and the caretakers called the owner. Sorry, they don’t take tent campers. Okay, back to the State Park.
Please, let there be sites left. At the State Park, the ranger told me that the 3-day rental was $42, no plastic accepted. Sounded great to me. Less than a motel, with most of the advantages of one, including wi-fi, electricity, hot showers, and good water (the water at the RV park was smelly). Plus he was a nice guy. He was part Mexican, part Navajo, and spoke fluent Spanish, as well as some Cantonese, Mandarin, German, and French. He said that since Navajo and Asians look very similar, his father’s friends would sneak his father into Chinese school in El Paso, and he could fool all but the old people. Saved his life in the Korean War, he said, because he got stranded behind enemy lines, but passed himself off as Chinese.
The bathroom/shower was 300 steps from my campsite, over loose gravel. For some reason, they gave me the most distant campsite, even though there seemed to be no other guests in the entire area. I went to take a shower, but when I got there, I realized that I had forgotten my towel. Go back and get it, or adapt and overcome? I decided it wasn’t worth going back. I washed out my clothes in the shower, and when I was finished washing myself, I just squeegeed the water off myself as best I could with my hands, then put on my clean clothes. Everything dries quickly in the desert wind. By the time I was back at my tent, the clothes I was wearing were dry. I hung the washed clothes on posts to dry overnight.
The site was very windy, so I initially thought I would just roll out my sleeping bag on the picnic table. However, after dusk, the wind died down, and mosquitoes and other flying insects came out. I decided to pitch my tent, after all, just for bug protection. It was not cold.