Las Cruces, NM to Carlsbad, NM
Via White Sands National Park (National Park #1)
Today’s Drive: 233 Miles
Total Miles: 1092.4
Drive time: 4 hours 12 minutes
Brake light status: Gremlins (off and on and off etc)
More GEEKY JEEP REPORT at bottom of post.
The highlight for today was a visit to White Sands National Park – and several hours spent in Starbucks fixing our website.
From the NPS website: Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dune field. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.
The last time I was at White Sands, it was crawling with people and cold as I recall – granted it was also spring break, and almost 30 years ago and I was traveling with my parents and toddler sister. This time it was blazing hot out. The thermostat read somewhere around 90 degrees, but with all the reflection off the sand it felt -much- hotter. And while it wasn’t quite deserted, there certainly weren’t many people there.
Driving through, it is certainly impressive just how much, how fine, and how very white the sand is. As a child, I remember being overjoyed at how the sand got everywhere! As an adult, I was dreading the fact that the sand gets EVERYwhere. Read that as you will and dress accordingly.
Steve tried out the sand barefoot – (I thought it would burn my feet right off!) He said despite the heat of the day, the sand was cool and fine, and pleasant to walk in. And that it got EVERYwhere.
Leaving White Sands, we were heading to Carlsbad NM – and given that this is an adventure, (and we preferred a 3 hour drive to a 4.5 hour drive) we routed ourselves on to the backroads rather than back to the interstate. Although the stretch between Alamogordo and Mayhill is beautiful mountain country,
US-82 between Alamogordo and Artesia is the loneliest, most deserted stretch of highway either of us has been on in a very long time. The highway between Artesia and Carlsbad isn’t much better. Why do I keep mentioning Artesia? Because that’s where the Starbucks was, and it was the one and only recognizable (and open) place to get food that we saw during the entire drive. We stopped in for some coffee and to use the restroom. And left sand EVERYwhere.
GEEKY JEEP REPORT: If you’re following along on the Wrangler 4xe you might notice that today we saw an excellent jump in the AVG MPG. We have yet to find a place to recharge, (so far none of the stations has had the right kind of charger) but going through the mountains using the Max Regen button plus the Auto 4wd, and cruising at 50 – 65 the whole way, we brought the AVG MPG up from 18 to 20.2.
Now many of you might be thinking that’s not great mileage. Well, for a fully loaded Jeep (a vehicle with the wind dynamics of a brick), it’s fairly average for high-speed freeway driving. The hybrid aspect has been absent since the battery spent its main charge at the beginning. However, the Wrangler 4xe is fully capable of recharging most of that battery while driving. But since that would require using the gas engine to recharge, the gain would be negligible. Charging the Jeep on a regular basis from stations would increase the mileage substantially but recharging is harder to do when you’re on the move. We’re still quite pleased with it!