When I got to this campground, the ranger station was closed but a sign on the door said to find an empty campsite and return to the station at 4PM to check in. I drove around, picked out the best site, and returned at 4. I had to wait behind another pair of campers who hadn’t found a site, but finally the ranger turned to me.

Somewhat apologetically, because the people in front of me were still waiting to get a site, I said, “I took 25, if that’s okay.”

The ranger frowned. “Twenty-five is the worst site in the entire campground.”

“Oh? Why is that?” I asked, wondering what I’d missed. There’d been probably a dozen sites available, but 25 had been easily my favorite.

“It’s short. It’s narrow. It’s steep.” The ranger was looking at me like maybe I’d told her the wrong number.

“Ah, yes,” I said. “It is all of those things. I imagine people don’t like the steps down to the picnic table much, either. None of that matters to me. Twenty-five’s good, thanks.”

The people ahead of me, still waiting, said, “What does it have?”

“A view,” I replied.

Site 25 at Cochita Campground

a sunrise view

The view from site 25. (Standing in the doorway of Serenity, specifically.)

And what a view it is. New Mexico has fantastic clouds.

New Mexico also smells really good. I noticed it first at Bluewater Lake, but it’s even stronger here. I think it’s juniper, but it smells like Christmas and winter and wilderness, all at once.

I’m staying here for another couple of days, mostly because the writing has been going well, if somewhat annoyingly. I keep thinking I can get back on track with a previous revision and re-use some of the 450 pages that I’ve already written and then discovering that no, it doesn’t quite work. I am not quite rewriting this version from scratch, but it’s getting close. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the kayak scene, which I love, is going to be completely different by the time I finish, but I’m still determined to keep the bear scene. I might get to it today — well, no, probably not, but I could get to it tomorrow or Monday — so someday soon, I’m either going to be really frustrated and throwing things at my walls or bubbling with satisfaction. Fingers crossed for the latter.