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THURSDAY - For today's route we had two choices. Travel north around the White Sands Missle Range through the towns of Carrizozo and San Antonio, or take the 30-mile shorter southern route back through Las Cruces, which is exactly how we got here.

One thing you can't do is take the much shorter direct route by following the red arrow. First off there are no roads, and if you try and take an unauthorized flight over the missle range they're liable to just use you for target practice.

By taking the southern route we got another look at the sharp peaks of the Organ Mountain Range where we camped for FREE last week on BLM land.

Tricia LOOK! A fellow Airstreamer heading in the opposite direction on US-70.

This southern route also enabled us to travel past the town of Hatch, NM where we have a special lunch planned. Hatch, NM (as you can see from the photo below) is the self proclaimed "Chile Capital of the World". You can also see they grow both RED and GREEN chiles here.

Hatch is also home to a popular Roadside Attraction known as Sparky's. In addition to being a roadside attraction it also serves up some of the best Green Chile Cheeseburgers and BBQ in the entire state of New Mexico, consistently winning statewide contests.

With credentials like that we just had to stop in and see for ourselves.

Before you even make it to the door, you'll notice Uncle Sam is offering you a Green Chile.

They even hired an out of work Ronald McDonald to greet you outside the front door.

I'm not sure who those guys on the roof are, but they look familiar.

Once inside the door the show doesn't stop! Here's the Pizza Chef ready to take your order.

We chose to sit in the quiet back room for today's lunch,
but on Saturday and Sundays at noon there's live music.

We are sharing our room with these two happy characters.

When we were leaving we spotted these guys,
guarding the oveflow parking lot across the street.

Not only was Sparky's a funplace to eat, the food was delicious! Tricia and I both had the BBQ. Tricia had the ⅓-lb. Pulled Brisket Sandwich and I selected the ½-lb. Pulled Pork Plate, we both chose Fries for our side and Lemonade for our drinks.

Each state we visit I have a few MUST TASTE items on my Bucket List. One of the items for New Mexico is a Green Chile Lemonade. So I had them add Green Chiles to my lemonade and when I tasted it I immediately wish I hadn't. Tricia was smart enough to NOT ask for green chiles in hers. They can't all be winners folks!

After lunch it was back on the road to finish up our travel day to Elephant Butte Lake State Park.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park is New Mexico's largest state park and surrounds the state's largest reservoir. The 36,000-acre (150 km2) reservoir, created in 1916 when a dam was installed across the Rio Grande, is 40 miles (64 km) long with more than 200 miles (320 km) of shoreline.

We are camped at the very northern tip of the state park and the dam, marina and Elephant Butte itself, are all located at the very southern edge of the state park. But don't you worry, before we leave here we'll make it down there to grab some photos for you.

Arriving at the road leading to our campground we're still four miles from our campsite.

Not a bad view, and look, we have water and electric hookups, all for $14 a night.

Yes, that's Elephant Butte Lake and the Rio Grande River behind our campsite.

FRIDAY - Today we'll be heading into the town of Truth or Consequences, NM. That's right, it's named after the 1950s NBC Radio Show hosted by Ralph Edwards.

To find out how and why the town changed it's name from Hot Springs to Truth or Consequences follow this LINK.

While we're on the subject of odd town names, the other day when we were heading north on Interstate 25 I had to do a double take to make sure I read the Exit Sign properly.

Exit #51 on I-25 North is the Derry Arrey exit. That's not one name, it's two!

The towns of Derry and Arrey share an exit. I wonder if the sign leading south is the Arrey Derry exit? Nope. I Googled it, it too is Derry Arrey, only it's Exit #59.

Apparently others have noticed the sign because I found several photos on Facebook of people sticking out their derrières in front of the sign.

Anyway we're in town today to take care of laundry chores. After which we ate lunch and then decided to go in search of the mountain formation known as Elephant Butte.

This is the Elephant Butte Dam, so we must be getting close.

It was completed in 1916 and at the time was the largest irrigation dam in the U.S.

Lakeshore Road used to cross over the top of the dam, but not any more.

There is a decent sized marina on the lake side of the dam.

That's also where you'll find Elephant Butte, only I don't see any elephant shape, do you?

SUNDAY - Here in New Mexico we are starting to feel some of the nasty weather that has been disrupting life all along the California coast for the last few weeks.

It came here in the form of WIND. Twice today the power has been briefly interrupted here in the campground. Each time was just long enough for us to consider flipping the refrigerator off of electric and over to propane, turning off our electric space heater and starting the propane furnance, and turning our inverter on to power the Starlink satellite for internet service until it returned.

That's right! We recorded a 54MPH wind gust just before lunch today.
That is solidly in the middle of the Tropical Storm Force winds range (39-73mph)!

During one of the power outages today I went outside just to make sure it wasn't JUST OUR SITE that was somehow without power (ie. the plug fell out). While outside I felt like I was being sandblasted, only it wasn't sand. It was tiny ice crystals (hail) floating down from the skies like heavy snowflakes bouncing off the ground.

I was wondering, "How is that even possible when it was still 48°F outside"?

With all this bad weather around us it got me looking at the 10-day forecast of where we are moving to next. We are at a modest 4500' in elevation here at Elephant Butte Lake, compared to our next stop which is at nearly 7800' (which will be a new record for us).

Their forecast for next Thursday, the day we are scheduled to arrive, is 16°F and SNOW. I immediately went online and booked us an additional 3-nights right where we are now. I sure hope the long range forecast is correct because the forecast for our new arrival date is 15 degrees warmer and no snow!

WEDNESDAY - IT'S OFFICIAL! (now that February is over with)

We just had our COLDEST month ever since hitting the road in May of 2018!

It's not a record we will be trying to break anytime in the future.

With daytime highs averaging at just 58°F, that was just a little bit too chilly for us Floridians when you pair it with the gusty winds we've also had for most of the month.

It's the nights that we are the most concerned with!

At just above freezing for the 28-nights in February, we averaged a mere 33°F! That's not good when you live in an aluminum box.

Our January and February route for 2023.

It's not like we aren't trying to stay warm. Our entire 2023 route has been within 100-miles of the Mexican border in southern California, Arizona and New Mexico. At several locations we were less than 10-miles from the border.

The problem with February has been our elevation. We've averaged a whopping 4750' of elevation for the seven locations we've visited, all of them in New Mexico.

Let's hope this current Winter Storm "Quest" (as named by The Weather Channel) we are experiencing blows itself out soon and allows for an early spring this year, because as our route starts trending to the north and our next 4 scheduled visits are at 7750', 7400', 6200' and 7300'. Any one of these will be a new record high elevation for us while camping. Our current record is a measly 5863' while visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho last October on our return from Alaska.

I mention Alaska because I know what a few of you are thinking. Surely the temperatures in Alaska were colder than what we just experienced this February. NOPE! Not even close!

Our average temps for our three months in Alaska were June (70F-47°F) - July (64F-49°F) - August (59F-48°F). The only reason for August being so chilly during the daytime is because it rained nearly every single day that month. As a matter of fact, of the 107-nights we had in Alaska only 6-nights were below freezing, and they were all in August.

THURSDAY - Well today is a relocation day (not a moving day) !

We've been here in the South Monticello Campground of Elephant Butte Lake State Park for a week now on Campsite #26 and our time is up. But as I mentioned earlier in the blog we reserved an extra 3-nights here to let some bad weather clear out of the region we'll be traveling to next.

Unfortunately our prime view Campsite #26 is already booked for the weekend and that means we'll have to pack up everything as if we're moving down the road. When in reality we're just going to the dump station to empty our waste tanks and move across the campground to an equally nice Campsite #18 with a slightly different view of Elephant Butte Lake.

This won't qualify as our shortest move ever, currently at 3-miles, because we're not really changing campgrounds, just campsites. This has only happened to us a few times before, most notably in December of 2020 while visiting the Army Corps of Engineers Gunter Hill Campground near Montgomery, AL. There too we added three extra nights to our stay and had to change campsites for the same reasons as here.

I try not to put ourselves in this situation too often, because it's about 30-45 minutes of work to break down camp and hookup ROVER to THE POD, just to move a few hundred yards and have to go through the trouble of another 30-45 minutes of setting up, leveling and unpacking THE POD all over again.

Like actor John Wayne once said, “A man's got to do what a man's got to do.”

Today's exceptionally short relocation route.

NOTE: As I suspected, now that we've actually made the move,
it was exactly 1-mile from Site #26, over to the Dump Station and then back to Site #18.

Our new view of Elephant Butte Lake outside our front door.

Notice we didn't even unhitch ROVER from THE POD for our three additional night stay.

We have a deep ravine and wash that empties into the lake directly behind this campsite.

I believe that's snow falling on those distant mountains and the reason we're staying put.

SUNDAY - After visiting Elephant Butte Lake State Park for the past 10-days it's now time we leave and head north by northwest and on to BIGGER and ROUNDER sites to see.

Any guesses where we are visiting today?

Near perfect weather for our travel day!

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