November 9, 2016

One Random Place: Carlsbad, NM

Yes, this was real life. This sign kinda sums up Carlsbad, New Mexico (for me, anyways). We had just left Big Bend and all I wanted was a grocery store. A big beautiful fluorescent-lit overcrowded grocery store. We didn't find one of those but we did find a Wal-Mart. We stocked up and spent a gazillion dollars (really, we did) as we were out of everything. Anyway, all I wanted was civilization. We didn't find it in Carlsbad. It was another week of feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere. Sorry, Carlsbad.

It was pretty evident by the number of RVs that went in/out of the campground that this was a mid-point for most, an overnight kinda deal. Not for the Cortes'. We stayed a week. You better believe we did everything we could in that week to make it a successful trip and it was. I was just craving culture and people and fresh produce and Target. Ooooh Target. Luckily, the campground had a big dog park and a large playground that we did frequent for our down days.

Here's what we did:

1. Living Desert Zoo and State Park: This park was nicely landscaped and a good early evening stroll. We got in with just enough time to enjoy the animals and actually see them at dinner time. Score!

This funky plant. I just like it's messiness. 


I mean, this is just cute.

Scary on all levels. This is a horned lizard. From what I understand it can shoot blood out of its eyes when threatened. No, thank you!

This was near all of the snake tanks. This is Reno pretending the snakes are after them!

2. Sitting Bull Falls: It was on the drive to Sitting Bull Falls in the Lincoln National Forest that we saw the sign in the title of this post. It was desolate. We kept wondering 'what in the world are they hiding out here?!' That being said, I wasn't sure what to expect when getting to these falls. I can honestly say that so far on this adventure this is probably my favorite in the Completely Unexpected category. It was BEAUTIFUL. We were the only ones there besides the park hosts that live in a travel trailer on the property. We walked down to the falls and were so pleasantly surprised by it's peacefulness. It was such a hidden gem. Niko and his brave soul even went in. It was freezing! Cayenne then saw Niko in the falls and before I could blink she was standing there next to me ready to go skinny dipping. This girl took off her diaper and all and was just standing next to me in shoes. It was hilarious! She wanted to go in with her brother who lasted all of 5 minutes.

Not pictured: the shot I got just after this one. Cayenne's nakey butt! :)

3. Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Guadalupe and the Caverns were a good, long and exhausting day trip for the Cortes Crew. I was pooped when we finally made it back at 9pm. We then had to make and eat dinner! That being said, I wouldn't have missed it. These two parks are why we stayed in this neck of the woods in the first place.

It was also at this park that I landed a top pick for another category on my list of fun favorites: Hike Where We Almost Lost Our Marbles. It was the Smith Springs Trail, a moderate hike and we were NOT prepared. We had a water bottle each, no snacks and a toddler in a not meant for hiking backpack. No bueno. We were on the verge of dehydration, starvation and everything else you can muster up. Niko was a trooper and didn't complain once. Cayenne was riding in style on my back (which may or may not still be aching :)) Reno was practically in tears and ready to give up. It didn't help that almost half way to the Springs we saw a couple that had turned around because they didn't see an end in sight and it was way longer than the 2 1/2 miles the brochure stated. Thanks, people. Thanks! That just reaffirmed Reno's desire to turn around. Ummm... no. We kept on and when we finally made it to the springs it was shady and lovely. When Reno was finally able to sit down and relax he was a new kid. I think just knowing we were headed back gave him a huge sense of relief. I must admit I was relieved, too. We just kept stressing how proud we were of the boys for finishing that hike. Pats on the back all around.

Reno needs shades. This was at Frijoles Ranch before we started the hike. A LOT of history here.

Did we make a wrong turn?

The look of defeat on his face is priceless. He felt better 2 minutes later.

4. Carlsbad Caverns National Park: We've been to Luray Caverns in Virginia. We were expecting something pretty similar. Of course there were some stalagmites and stalacmites but we were surprised at just how grand these caverns are. It was one HUGE room with a ton of stuff to see: cave popcorn, cave pools, drapery and soda straws. We also made sure to stay for the famous Bat Flight. It was one of the last ones of the season. We didn't get pics of the bats (we weren't allowed) but it was awesome nonetheless. I just wish they would've made their grand exit a bit sooner. Wrangling a toddler in a place where you are supposed to be quiet was next to impossible. Here are the pics...

Always riding in style!

Where the bats exit. Exciting! They made us turn off all phones and electronics so no pics of the bats. Bummer.

Bats! Please come out already! 

Just waiting. Cayenne is always looking for friends so she can play.

5. Roswell, NM: Roswell was about an hour away. Edson and I have heard about this place for what seems like forever. We got there, went to the visitor center and they handed us some paperwork and we headed on our way to explore this Alien Nation. It was a bit like this: Waaaaa Waaaaa Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. As in, we weren't impressed. It was cool, as in eye-opening and interesting but a total of a couple hours in the International UFO Museum and we were done with Roswell. In looking at the visitor center map for cultural attractions we ended up stopping at gift shops (not labeled that way) and that wasn't what we were looking for. Another listing was the Roswell Air Center which I looked up further and it was the airport. Cultural attraction? I think not. We came. We saw. We conquered. We were happy to head back to the RV. At least the pictures are entertaining and we can mark it off the list.

This was pretty cool! The incident happened people. This museum proves it!
These were the wooden carvings at the KOA where we stayed. Cayenne posing with her dog Alicia.

If you are ever in Carlsbad these places are a must. Although, I'm betting none of you will ever head that way. I have a feeling that this won't be the only random place we visit on this adventure. After all, a lot of this country's beauty lies hidden and we are out to find it!

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