We are on our first day of our epic road trip. We have been enjoying the threat and turbulence from a storm menacing the Tularosa Valley of New Mexico. We just left my childhood stomping grounds and the White Sands National Monument, but now, we need to find a shelter.
We pass by Holloman Air Force Base and more memories are triggered. Before space was deemed safe for men, it was here that chimpanzees were trained to be sent out into orbit. These earliest astronauts were trained with the positive reinforcement of banana pills. My dad, an Army Lieutenant Colonel had toured the training facility and brought some of the “top secret” pills back home to me. He joked about using them to train me like a monkey. Those pills were absolutely the essence of banana, delicious and I did want more.
Things have changed, this was once the world where Billy the Kid camped out under the stars of the big sky. Today, as we approach Alamogordo, I am searching for the National Weather Service on my smart phone. Do we go for a tent site up in the foothills of the Lincoln National Forest, or hunker down safely in a stuffy motel?
I look to the forecast and the evolving satellite weather map. I look out at the storm across the vast valley from here, ground level. I figure odds are that the storm will pass west and south of the mountain range. We’re feeling hopeful. We drive off to investigate the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.
After dropping our camping permit papers into a small box, we’re watching rain and storms all across the great valley. We’ll pitch our tent in the evening sun.
There are numerous adobe picnic shelters spaced across …