Elephant Butte Lake State Park, NM

At long last we are back on the road.  Getting back into the Airstream was easy, like riding a bike, but getting out of the house was not.  Even though we delayed our departure a couple of times, it was still a long day on Tuesday settling final projects and packing the Airstream.

Part of the trouble stemmed from the fact that the Airstream will be away from home base for six months, and it contains a growing child.  Eleanor desperately tried to plan for Emma’s expected growth this summer by test-fitting every single piece of clothing, culling the borderline outfits and finding suitable replacements. This was a process I’d just as soon never see again, much like touring a meatpacking plant or a Congressional committee hearing.

But it’s all done, and by 10:20 a.m. (only an hour behind schedule) we were heading away with everything we’d need for an indefinite time on the road.  We got back into the full-timing groove almost instantly.  At the first rest stop, Emma commented wistfully, “It’s good to be back.”  I had to agree, although I realized that she was twice the size and twice the age she was when we started out the first time.  She used to be able to sit cross-legged on the dinette and take pictures through the window, but now, she’s a pre-teen approaching five feet tall.  Still, the Airstream is home to her.

Having trimmed a full week from our original itinerary, we have to make some miles at first.  Rather than dawdling through New Mexico, we are making a simple overnight stop at Elephant Butte Lake State Park in central New Mexico (near Truth Or Consequences) and then proceeding north to Colorado.  Our trip plan calls for about six hours in the car on Thursday, then about three hours on Friday, and then we’ll pause in Colorado Springs for the weekend.

Zooming past the scenery is not all that bad today.  Generally we like to go more slowly and explore, but this time we are making notes for a future pass through the area.  There are a lot of interesting state parks, historic and natural areas, and “blue highways” that we would like to explore, and we will, next year.  The sky is brilliant blue, the mountains are red and tan, and the weather has been absolutely perfect.  Best of all, the Airstream and Mercedes are performing optimally, with no strange glitches resulting from months in storage.  So our opening day has been auspicious and I hope it will be the start of a long stretch of happy towing.

Elephant Butte Lake is a nice spot.  There are “developed” campsites (shade ramada, water, barbecue grill, $10) lined up on a bluff overlooking the long and convoluted lake, and we chose one of those.  Our Verizon Wireless cell phones seem to work fine here. Down below are sandy primitive sites ($8) where tenters are camped right next to their boats pulled up on shore, and a large marina.  Off to the west and mostly lacking a view, is an electrified campground ($14) where all of the other RV’ers seem to have chosen to be.   I don’t think you could go far wrong choosing any of these, but I would warn RV’ers to avoid the sandy primitive spots by the lake, because you could easily get stuck.

After a long day in the car it’s really important to get out and move around a while.  There was just time for a nice walk down to the beach and back (about a mile total), settling in, and dinner, before the sun set.  We needed that break to work out the little travel stresses that build up in a long day of driving.  I spent the evening on the bed, working on my first little travel video about towing with the Mercedes.  Eleanor shot it for me with her little Canon digicam.  The video quality isn’t superb but it does the job, and it was fun to make.  You can see the results of our first effort on YouTube.

Now the wind is blowing warm against the side of our trailer in the dark, with a brilliant star-filled sky, like it should be in the desert this time of year.  I had forgotten about this: a night with the trailer gently rocking in the breeze.  I won’t ruin it by putting the stabilizers down.  Emma was right, it really does feel like coming home.


  1. Judy says

    I’m jealous! We’re having the couch reupholstered so are out of commission for awhile. Can’t wait to get it back!

  2. insightout says

    re: Emma

    “she is twice the size and twice the age she was when we started out the first time”

    A predictable truth. And your family, Emma included, has become the face of Airstream travel, the goodwill publicists for a successful corporation. Now would be an ideal time for Mr Wheeler and Mr. Huttle to provide the Luhrs with a custom designed (2 BR version) of the newly revived 34′ Classic Limited, at no charge, to continue the ambassadorship.

    Visualize if you will, drifting over the brow of a blue highway, the rosy fingers of dawn reflecting a silver smile through a vanilla morning mist: The Emma

  3. says

    Glad to hear you’re all back in the groove, and feelin’ groovy:


    And what an interesting first stop… Elephant Butte Lake State Park is the location of the largest and most popular lake in New Mexico, which is actually a reservoir created by a dam constructed in 1916 across the Rio Grande.

    “Elephant Butte” refers to an ancient volcanic core in the shape of an elephant seen as an island in the reservoir:


  4. Alice Wymer says

    We are feeling the pressure of getting on the road as well. Already on Plan B going into Plan C. Pulling out in nine days. We’ll be arriving at the Jackon Center Terraport late on the 25th. We’ll fill you in when we see you. Thanks for all the hard work you have put into Alumapalooza. We’ll see you all soon.