By Don Laine
Tired of northern New Mexico’s cold and windy spring weather, on March 11 Barb and I, and our wonder-dog Zoe, headed south in Thor, our 24-foot motor home. Since our plan was to spend at least three or four weeks in New Mexico’s southern (and warmer) state parks, our first stop was at state park headquarters in Santa Fe to buy an annual camping pass. With pass in hand, we headed down to Brantley Lake State Park, just north of Carlsbad.
The next day we met Virginia and David Staat at Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park in Carlsbad, where Virginia gave a presentation on her recently published book, The Legend of El Patron, the story of a renegade black bear (www.virginiastaat.com).
After the presentation we had a late lunch with Virginia and David, which, come to think about it, was the last restaurant we’ve been in. Then we headed to a commercial campground south of Carlsbad. The next morning – Friday the 13th – we headed west, dropping down into Texas on our way to Leasburg Dam State Park, just north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. We took a wrong turn in El Paso, driving in circles for what seemed an eternity, before finally finding an on-ramp for the interstate and getting to Leasburg Dam in the early afternoon.
But there was something very wrong: RVs of all shapes and sizes were lined up along the exit road of the park. And then we saw it – a handwritten sign stating that, effective immediately, the park was closed. What?!
As part of New Mexico’s efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, state officials had determined that all state parks be closed, effective immediately.
Some parks re-opened for day use during the summer.
But it took until October 1 to open the campgrounds, and then only to New Mexicans and only by reservation. We quickly reserved a campsite for a week at a campground at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, and while there had a thoroughly enjoyable morning along the Rio Grande at Riverbend Hot Springs in nearby Truth or Consequences.
What a treat!