Day 17 - Carlsbad
|Thursday, March 4, 2021: The sun was beautiful rising over Lyman Lake. We were on our way by 7:30 AM because we had a lot of road to cover today. But first, we stopped at the only open bathroom in the campground, which we discovered on our drive out. Lesson learned (again): always always always ask where the open bathrooms are when checking in at a campsite.
|On our way out, we passed the dam that created Lyman Lake.
|It lets just the tiniest amount of water out to run downstream as the Little Colorado River where it will eventually empty into the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
|It was a beautiful day for driving.
|We passed the Little Colorado River again, ...
|... then stopped at a rest area just down the road.
|This sign explained the Upper Little Colorado River Restoration and Demonstration Project happening here.
|This one, on the river's edge, talked about the Little Colorado spinedance, a fish native to this river that is currently threatened.
|In Springerville, we went back for a better look at this statue, Madonna of the Trail. The base reads "Madonna of the Trail - NSDAR Memorial to the Pioneer Mothers of the Covered Wagon Days." We later learned that this is one of twelve identical copies, each placed in one of the states along the National Old Trails Road which extends from Maryland to California.
|Welcome to New Mexico, Land of Enchantment - The Ocho's fourteenth state. Goodbye to all true rest areas, because this state has none.
|We were taking a lot of backroads to cut across the state to Carlsbad. This town's main street was so sleepy that dogs hung out on it.
|Here's an interesting sign, warning that the hill is so steep you can't see someone coming on the other side.
|We entered Cibola National Forest.
|Quite by accident, we found ourselves driving past the Very Large Array, a radio astronomy observatory. There are twenty-eight 25 meter satellite dishes that just happen to look like lopsided trees from a distance. It is possible to visit it, but today, it was closed to visitors.
|The dishes are set on railroad tracks so they can be repositioned to different distances.
|There are three more dishes in this scene. Can you spot them all?
|We crossed the Rio Grande and promised to catch up with it again in Texas two days later.
|Debbie made turkey and chicken salad sandwiches as we drove and served them on our fancy fast food trays, which are perfect for eating on the road.
|We passed White Sands Missile Range to the south, ...
|... and stopped to read this historical marker sign about the Trinity Site.
|It's out there.
|Let's zoom in a bit.
|New Mexico highways are filled with picnic areas and roadside trash bins, like seriously, every ten miles or so. But if you need to use an actual toilet, you'll be holding it until you get to the border - any border. Hooray for traveling in an RV, but bummer if you have to go #2, because we don't do that in our RV.
|At the base of the hill was the Malpais Lava Flow. It was really cool to see up close.
|We zoomed past Valley of Fire Recreation Area, which looks like it had an actual bathroom. It would be a nice place to camp since it is on a hill overlooking the vast lava fields.
|We entered Billy the Kid Country, which is an odd mix of Billy the Kid history and Smokey the Bear history.
|We were now in Lincoln National Forest.
|Capitan is the home of fictional Smokey the Bear and the real Smokey the Bear (we didn't know that either!). The entire town reflects that fact, from the Smokey Bear Motel ...
|... and Smokey Bear Restaurant ...
|... to the Smokey Bear Historical Park ...
|... and Smokey's Country Market. We had been seeing Smokey the Bear signs and statues throughout our trip, but this was the big leagues.
|Here's another cool ranch entry gate. There were so many, so it was taking great restraint to not photograph all of them.
|This display (next to another Smokey the Bear) pointed out the Capitan Mountains, with Capitan Gap on the right.
|We passed Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area.
|Look at those pretty purple-topped trees.
|Well, this is colorful.
|Horse and buggy crossing!
|The town of Lincoln takes its Billy the Kid history very seriously. They put on a BtK pageant each August.
|Here's the old county courthouse.
|The many historic buildings in town make up the Lincoln State Monument.
|We were still driving and were surprised to see green for a change after days of seeing only beige and brown. This was the stretch of road where we started to see and smell dead skunks fairly regularly.
|When we passed these adorable goats on bales of hay, we had to go back to get a picture of them. You're welcome.
|As we passed Roswell, we stopped to read this historical marker about Walker Air Force Base, which is now Roswell International Air Center.
|Row after row of aircraft were stored at the airport. New Mexico's climate is perfect for storing aircraft grounded during the pandemic.
|Speaking of Roswell, here's some artwork on the outskirts of town.
|We were happy to find fast food for a mid-afternoon meal.
|Like every other state in the western half of the US, New Mexico has oil rigs.
|These rows of pecan trees were right next to ...
|... Carlsbad KOA Holiday, ...
|... our destination for the evening.
|We checked in and were very sad to learn that the water was temporarily turned off and the bathrooms weren't working. Seriously, New Mexico, why won't you let us poop?
|Fortunately, the water was back on in less than a half hour, and we were ready to enjoy a couple of beers in our super deluxe patio campsite. It was our first day of wearing short sleeve shirts and it was a treat indeed.
|Then we moved indoors to enjoy the rest of the evening, keeping the sliding door open as long as possible to soak in the ambience.
|This KOA smokes their own BBQ meats, so we ordered a single combination meal for delivery to our campsite. Look at all this delicious food! It was more than enough for dinner for us (since we had enjoyed a very late lunch) and still have leftover brisket to use in our ramen for dinner the next night.
|Here's our beautiful little RV and campsite. Note the swing on the left. Before bedtime, we came out and sat on the swing for a while as we looked at the stars.
|Once the sun goes down, we close all the shades and put out our window coverings to keep as much heat inside as possible. We call this "buttoning up." No idea why. We just do.
|We watched "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" even though we have the entire movie memorized. It's nice to have a beloved DVD collection so we don't have to rely on streaming for entertainment.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy