We found this post by Suzanne Anthony on her blog “Take To The Highway.” What she wrote echoes what we are hearing so often these days about crowded conditions in RV parks and even boondocking areas.
Suzanne had recently learned about an “idyllic” boondocking spot near Cloudcroft, New Mexico, in the Lincoln National Forest. She was looking for a place to escape the brutal heat of central Texas. She found the coordinates, and then headed off. Here is part of what she wrote about the experience:
I have boondocked in just about every state west of the Mississippi, and I’ve never in my life seen anything like what manifests each Friday evening in the Lincoln National Forest. It’s bad. Really bad. Is this due to COVIDity? Or is this the norm? It’s like a train wreck, hard to look away. And they all have Texas plates when New Mexico has a quarantine mandate for out-of-state visitors.
I stopped by the ranger station to get a map and hiking info. The head ranger was there, so I asked him what was up. He said he had been stationed at this post for 25 years, and had never in his life seen anything like it. Certain areas (hike to the waterfall) had been closed off because they were being completely overrun by campers, and they don’t have the resources during COVID-19 to deal with it.
El Paso is only 108 miles away, he tells me, and they come to escape the heat. Would the last person leaving El Paso please turn out the lights? Oh, wait. No need to turn out the lights, because they brought the lights with them — a construction sized light pole!
Nearly every group has a generator. Why do you need a generator when camping in a tent? And there’s always a car among the group equipped with trunk speakers. . . I guess to drown out the generator noise. Nothing says “a weekend away in a quiet forest” like a giant sub-woofer.
And of course there are ATVs, UTVs, Polaris RZRs and dirt bikes, all buzzing up and down the forest road until long after dark. But never fear, they are equipped with roll-bar mounted spotlights, neon LED whip antennas and giant flags waving out the back.
WHILE I AM ENRAGED by the mess left behind, I can’t begrudge them for coming. They are all escaping the same triple digit misery I left behind. But what about social distancing? It’s a big forest, yet they congregate in tight-knit groups. I guess their idea of a “quarantine pod” is a little bigger than mine. So what about New Mexico’s quarantine mandate? There is a state law requiring anyone with out-of-state plates to quarantine upon crossing the state line for 14 days or the length of their visit, whichever is shorter. As long as they stay in the forest and don’t go into town, I suppose they consider it a legitimate quarantine.
So why on earth would I stay, one might wonder? Well, this “cloud” in Cloudcroft has a silver lining. Come Sunday afternoon, the place folds up and empties out. I have the place pretty much all to myself, save for two other “regulars.” During the week, there is an average of three rigs, tops, along the entire Forest Service road. I have kind neighbors who have my back, look after the rig while I am hiking, and always ask if I need anything from town.
If you would like to read Suzanne’s blog, which continues beyond what we posted here, you can do so here.