New Mexico

It’s a long drive to make to New Mexico from southeastern Texas. I’ve decided to skip Austin and any other sites in Texas so I can get to New Mexico. Dad just doesn’t like cities and I would like to spend some time in Austin, so we do the 10 hour drive to get to Carlsbad in one day. I think Dad was getting tired of driving and wanted to skip Carlsbad to head to Colorado as quickly as possible, but we stuck to my original plan.

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We camped in Carlsbad and grabbed some grub in a tiny dinner called Happy’s on the main strip through town. It was a total dive, but the food was very good and the decoration very kitschy.

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Then we headed south towards the caves. Along the way, we found some long-horn cows which we had to stop and bother.

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I am so happy I put my foot down and told Dad that we could not skip Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I love caves and this cave is huge, open, and incredibly beautiful. We did the self-guided tours through the caverns, starting at the natural entrance and wandering down and through the big room. The hike through the caverns took us about 2.5 hours and it was worth every moment.

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WE also learned that Carlsbad Caverns is a bat cave. When we went through the natural entrance, we passed all the sleeping bats. However, there were not any bats deeper into the caves. Most of the area they sleep is well away from where the humans explore, but they do come out of the cave at night to hunt. Dad however kept looking and hoping to see the bats.

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After the cave exploration, we still had time left in the day so we headed 30 miles south to Guadalupe National Park. This park is all about exploring desert flora and fauna. We only had an hour and half of daylight left so we did a nature hike rather than explore one of the canyons. The trail was lined with yucca, sage, prickly pear cactus, and desert grasses. The trail was overgrown, so we carried sticks in front so if there were rattlesnakes the sticks would be bit and not us. It was extremely beautiful to get that close of view of the desert. But there was only one issue. I’m highly allergic to grass, so the desert grass was sticking through my leggings and skirt and burning my legs. By the time I was done, I was completely covered in grass and stickers. I ended up throwing away the skirt because I couldn’t get all the stickers out. So I recommend to wear pants that resist stickers and letting the grass poke through.

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We finished the hike and still had some daylight left, so we decided to drive back to Carlsbad to see the Bat flight that happens at sunset. This was probably one of the best decisions of the trip. The cave is home to 300,000-400,000 resident bats during the summer. In the fall, they migrate south to Mexico. In addition, in the autumn other bats who are migrating also stop at the Caverns on there way south. So we had the chance to see the full residency of bats and few guest if they hadn’t already started to migrate which would happen any day. Luckily, for us, we hear a rush of water sound coming out of the cave which is the flapping of bat wings and the bats hitting each other. Slowly, they emerge into the twilight sky and head out to their evening hunt. We watch the large stream of bats flow out of the cave for an hour. It was so cool to just watch the bats keep coming and coming. I don’t have any pictures of the flight because even having my phone on would have disturbed the bats. So it was just an incredible mental picture I got to take of the experience. However, watching the bats is a must do part of a stop to Carlsbad.

After the Bat flight, we head to Roswell to sleep for the night. I had promised my roommate Pepe that I would visit Roswell on the journey. For those of you who have not met Pepe, he was brought to life by my dear friend Marc who worked magic with paper and paste. Watch how close Pepe and Marc are!

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So visiting Roswell, I spent the time trying to find any relatives of Pepe’s who still lived there and luckily I found a few.

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After Roswell, we continued north to Santa Fe. When I was younger and looking at grad schools, I had wanted to check out Santa Fe. My family had driven through on a return trip from Texas. However, Dad had been grumpy at that time and didn’t want to stop so we really didn’t get to see the town at all. However, this time it’s my trip and we wandered around the old section of town.

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I spent the most time in the Basilica which is a magnificent church. The art and stained glass was just beautiful. Although, I no longer practice any religion, my Grandma and Grandpa Corra were devout Catholics. When I travel and visit churches around the world, I light candles in honor of them. I had to do the same here in Santa Fe.

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After visiting the Basilica, Dad and I did explore a few of the stores. We haven’t really shopped in any of the other locations on the journey. I was trying to avoid shopping especially here since I loved the art work and jewelry. But the shops were just to great not to take a peak.

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We closed out the night by going to a fantastic little restaurant, Elevation Bistro, just off the main square. They had the World Series finals playing, which I had to watch and cheer for my beloved Giants. Dinner was also fantastic and consisted of corn and chili chowder, lamb achiote tostada, and pull-pork sandwich with mango coleslaw. Yummy!

We camped the night in Santa Fe, and fueled up at the Holy Trinity Cafe. This is a tiny hole in the wall coffee stand that makes some of the best coffee in the city. I don’t recommend the cappuccino but the coffee was excellent.

 

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We then continued north to Taos. We stopped for lunch at the Taos Inn, which in past days was an adobe set of homes where Doc Martin lived in the largest house. It now houses a nice bar and restaurant, as well as the oldest water well in town. We visited on October 30, and the hotel had a Dias del Muertos alter set up for anyone to add their prayers. I added the names of the three people this year that left this world way to soon. I hope that Pat, Daniel, and Angel are in peace.

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Dad and I were tempted to hang out longer in the bar for lunch than normal because of the super cheesy horror movies played on the tv. But they were so bad we finally motivated ourselves to move on after a great elk burger lunch. We wandered around the town for a moment, where I met Rocky Raccoon in the Kit Carsen gift shop. I knew he had to join our journey as a talisman to protect the Rav 4 from anymore animals trying to sneak in. He’s been a great companion since.

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The next and last stop in New Mexico for us was the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation. The Pueblo dwellings are still occupied and functioning after 2000 years. It was beautiful to see the church and all the buildings. Plus, it was autumn so the trees where all a magnificent yellow color.

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Dad and I also shopped, since many of the residents had little stands for Indian art and food. Dad bought a handmade bow and got a new pair of turquoise earrings. We then headed out of the heat of the New Mexico sun and continued our journey north into Colorado.

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