The wind advisory for southern New Mexico was not kidding: Saturday we endured one of the tougher nights we’ve had with winds gusting off the lake at 50 mph or more, and the Airstream shaking and making all sorts of groans and bumps. At one point, I went out with a light to see if my belly pan and back bumper repairs were holding – and they were. Our neighboors, a young family with three boys, lost their tent in the melee and had to crowd into the grandparents’ small RV next door. You could taste the dust in the air; Mary and I were glad to hitch up in the early morning darkness and be on the way to Texas.
Winds were high on Sunday but they were out of the north and directly behind us. The trip through boring oil fields was mercifully short and we arrived at Balmoreah State Park, a small CCC-built park featuring wonderful wonderful spring water in thee midst of a desert. This "oasis" turned out to be our Bermuda Triangle and we could not wait to get out of there.
The first issue, which by itself would have been a small annoyance, was the internet situation. Here we were, four miles from I-10, and the At&T signal was either weak or when available, some version that was unuseable for either email or web. And unlike our present site, you could not drive a few miles and find a signal. I needed to make reservations for later in the week but Nada.
Then, a real stress-inducing event hit. After we had just parked but not unhitched or set up, the truck alarm went off with Mary sitting in the truck with the door open. I got my keys, reached in to turn the ignition on to stop the noise, and then tossed my keys on the seat saying "In case it happens again." I then took Penny for a walk since she’d been cooped up for several hours.
I returned to find an ashen-faced wife saying, "We are in serious trouble – the truck is locked." I freaked out, trying to blame her (it was my fault), realizing that on a Sunday in a town with 649 people, help was miles, and perhaps days away. Her pocketbook, my glasses, and our phones and Ipads were securely locked away. And then I noticed that my window was down about a little less than an inch.
I took two wire coat hangars from the trailer, made a three foot- long snake with a hook on the end. Carefully, with a number of misses, I hooked the ring and slowly started dragging it toward me. My heart sank as the contraption slid off the neat nearly hitting the floor but soon the keys were nearly at the opening and I got hold of the ring. I don’t recall breathing but must have. I got the small accompanying key through the opening but the thick plastic end of the truck key jammed. Carefully, I worked it through, with literally no room to spare, and had the key, the door open, and a victory horn toot that drew Mary from the trailer with relief. If the window had been up another eighth of an inch, we would have been hosed.
The third event, about which I’ll write more later, happened just afterward. The refrigerator would not turn on and the stuff in the freezer – particularly ice cream, was thawing fast. I checked fuses, power supply – it was dead. I went in town to the only store – no RV repairs in area, nearest store for a cooler about 50 miles away, so I bought a bag of ice and returned.
We had planned two night so I had unhitched in preparation for some birding on Monday (I was looking for a Clark’s Grebe which are often seen at a nearby lake.) We decided to leave this cursed place so I did some quick birding in late afternoon – and got the grebe – and came back and hitched back up for a quick getaway in the morning.
So, we are in the cooler/ice mode but our spirits are good and we are exploring options. We are in a beautiful small park in the hill country (Lost Maples State Natural Area) and hope to see the Golden-cheeked Warbler here. We’ve tossed out the map and literature from Balmoreah – don’t think we’ll be visiting there again this trip, or this lifetime.