Today has been a well-lived day! Adventures from dawn to dusk, and a nice quiet place to lay my head to sleep tonight. It’s all good.
This morning I woke up to 19°F outside (and likely about the same temperature inside) when garbage or delivery trucks, or something were quite insistent on doing their job at around 4:20am. It’ll be nice when I get some proper insulation in the trailer, and/or get to a warmer climate.
As I mentioned yesterday, I found myself a spot that was behind and to the side of the local Walmart. Seemed like a good idea the night before. This morning, a semi and a large van completely blocked my access to the parking lot I used to get to the spot I was at. So, since I have a four-wheel drive truck and everything has been designed with good ground clearance, I turned on the four-wheel drive and made my own path on the frozen and extremely rutted unimproved areas around Walmart, behind an auto-zone, and eventually to an unused side road entrance/egress. I’m really glad I spec’d out the trailer with extra ground clearance and dual high-capacity axels!
On a side note, I love being on a mission. Having a concrete, accomplishable goal. In this case, my mission is to get to Quartzsite by the 10th and overcome whatever obstacles appear in my way. I’m having a great time with it!
Driving this morning was pretty uneventful. Stopped for a shower, which was a welcome treat after not having one yesterday. When I got into El Paso, Texas, the winds picked up significantly. I made it into another local Walmart, this time to get my oil changed. After unhitching the truck and dropping it off, I noticed they had a hair salon in the store as well. Hey, why not, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a haircut.
After the truck was done, I got everything hitched back up and figured out my next destination. Since I was close to New Mexico, and the start of BLM lands, I thought it would be nice to try one of those out. As you can see by the featured image on this post, I found one.
Getting out of El Paso though wasn’t the smoothest. The wind was still blowing at between 15-20mph, and as I was navigating the loop around El Paso, I noticed some pretty mountains off in the distance. I thought they looked like a nice backdrop. As I got closer, I noticed there was a road going right through them, at a pretty steep angle, and there was a stream of cars that looked like ants marching in line. I figured I’d end up going around the mountain one way or another since that’d be the most sensible way to route traffic, I figured. Well, I keep getting closer and closer, and then I realized I was going to be one of those ants.
For the first time, the truck’s engine was not capable of producing as much power as the situation called for. I didn’t see a grade percentage displayed on the way up, but I did see an 8% grade for the way down, so I’m figuring it was the same for the way up. With the pedal to the floor and in second gear, the truck strained to maintain speed, and in sections, was not able to. I think I bottomed out at about 35mph while I was trying to maintain 50. I can’t imagine what that did to my gas mileage for this tank.
On the way down, engine braking and the trailer’s natural ability to act as an air brake were nearly sufficient by themselves to limit my fall down the mountain. I manually activated the trailer brakes once or twice, and with those various implements I was able to keep my speed around 50mph on the way down. I didn’t bother using the truck’s brakes until I was back in the normal traffic flow on level ground. It’s good to know that I can maintain an appropriate speed on an 8% downgrade.
Heading north from El Paso towards Las Cruces, the crosswinds were nearly too strong to deal with, but I powered on anyways. It was totally worth it!
Using FreeCampsites.net, I found this spot just outside of Las Cruces, NM. It’s amazing! There’s nobody here, the views are fantastic, and it’s really quiet. I have enough cell signal to be able to make calls and get online, so it’s all good. For anyone interested in coordinates, it’s 32.350245, -106.612515.
The view from my “campsite” at sunset. Spectacular! This kind of campsite is why I built the rig that I have, and what I’m planning on doing more than anything else. In the western states, these kinds of places are easier to find and more plentiful. Texas doesn’t have any BLM land. New Mexico and Arizona have plenty. Tomorrow morning I’ll have a very casual departure from here, maybe take some more photos from other angles.
On a side note, I’ve basically given up trying to use the propane heat. If I have enough windows open to properly remove the humidity, then it can’t really heat the trailer because the windows are open. If I minimize the square inches of open windows, it’ll shut off after a while due to the low oxygen sensor. I’m not sure how or where these heaters are actually effective.
Another minor side note: I was pleased twice today that my truck and trailer were built for off-road use. Coming into this BLM site, the last “road” (more of a dirt path) had some spots that were so questionable that I got out of the truck and checked it out before driving over it. After looking at one of them I thought, “Well, I’ll take it slow and see what happens…”. I made it through, and it’s a testament to the favorable ground approach and departure angles on the truck, plus it’s four-wheel drive capability to tow the trailer over the whole thing too. Adding the extra clearance height to the trailer has been really helpful too. Whether I’m going through questionable offroad situations or simply entering or departing parking lots at various angles, it’s never bottomed out as far as I can tell. My current truck might not be the greatest on the highway when towing the trailer, but it can really shine when performing offroad.