This morning we bundled up LeuC and headed south down I-25, leaving Albuquerque. It was an easy drive, just a bit long. The 275 miles took about 5.5 hours with stops to change drivers and fuel up at a truck stop along with adding some air to one of our tires. We have installed tire pressure sensors to each one of LeuC’s tires and when I installed the first one, I allowed about 6 pounds of pressure out before I figured out how to install it properly. Each tire runs at about 110 pounds.
We arrived at Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico under clear skies but had driven past a bit of changing weather. The park was about 1/3 full so we decided to release the site that we reserved and select another site that was easier to get into. This park has 6 sites that you can reserve in advance and 51 sites that are on a first come, first serve basis.
After we were settled in and had dinner, we started hearing thunder approaching and soon saw a lightning strike just outside the park. It was close enough that the clap of thunder was instantaneous with the view of the lightning strike. It lasted about 20 minutes but then moved on.
I later grabbed a cigar and went out to enjoy some leaf. I was greeted with cooler air as the lightning and thunder represented the passing of a quick moving cold front coming down from the north. To the east and south, about 20 miles away, I could see the edge of the front as it was demarcated by intense lightning. It was too far away to hear any thunder but the light show that was displayed was amazing! The dark eastern and southern horizons were lighting up with lightning bursts at a rate of about 1 every 2 or 3 seconds. The multiple bursts lit up the distant sky in random patterns of streaking light. Many were so big that the result was a big semicircle of bright light which would dance up or down across the black horizon.
I have only seen a display like this once before. At that time, we were on Leu Cat, our wonderful 44-foot sailing catamaran, moored just off the western coast of Bonaire, only about 40 miles north of the Venezuelan coast. A similar fireworks display of lightning was flashing over Venezuelan mountains and lasted for about an hour. During that hour, I counted over 500 strikes.
While I was outside, sitting within our campsite’s picnic table shelter, big, heavy drops of rain started falling. It was not too heavy but, due to the size of the drops, it was very noisy. Being protected from the rain reminded me again of being on Leu Cat. During the 10 years of sailing around the world, we weathered many storms on her with heavy winds, big waves crashing over her bows and rain pounding down from the skies. However, we were always safe and dry up on the flying bridgedeck, protected by the enclosed bimini.
If the storm or seas got too big, making our sail a bit worrisome, we would just point into the wind, backwind the jib, reef the main and turn the wheel a quarter turn and lash it down. This maneuver is called “heaving to” and it virtually stops the boat and keeps it pointing about 30 or so degrees into the wind and waves. The result is amazing as you go from a rough and wild ride with the decks awash with green water to simply sitting there, bobbing over the swells just a cork floating on the water.
Once we secured the boat, we would go down into the salon and play cards or take a nap. It was that comfortable and enjoyable. Usually, the storm would have moved on 4 to 6 hours later. At that time, we could pop out of our hibernation, return to the helm on the flying bridgedeck and then continue our ocean crossing. Easy, Peasy!
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we hope to drive our little Fiat three miles south, to the Mexican border. Once there, we will park the car and walk across the border to explore the historic Mexican village of Palomas and have lunch. I hope to take lots of photos with the intent of sharing with you what we see.