Carlsbad, New Mexico
March 16-21, 2018
When our dear friends the Waldroops messaged to ask if we were anywhere near Carlsbad, we couldn’t have been more delighted to say yes. Tanya & Dakota became our close friends in college, and since that time our 4 daughters have become very special friends as well. Our entire family was counting down the minutes for this opportunity to spend time with them on their spring break vacation.
We did some exploring with them – in Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area, Guadalupe National Park, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park – and we enjoyed several meals with them. But mostly, we just relished the chance to spend time with old friends. Beware the lonely extrovert….on most of our drives Tanya hopped in the car with me, and I just absolutely could not stop talking. I hadn’t realized how much I’d been missing time with friends. I’m always an over-sharing, talkative person, but it felt like the floodgates just opened and I poured out all over this sweet friend for several days. She was such a great sport about the whole thing, and even though I kept apologizing for dominating all conversations, she kept insisting that she loved getting to hear all about what was going on with us.
I don’t know how I am so lucky to have such amazing friends in my life, in so many different corners of the US.
Besides meeting up with great friends here, our main reason for visiting this part of New Mexico was to explore Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We hiked down the natural entrance one day to check out the incredible Big Room, and rode the elevators down for a ranger-guided tour another day.
The eerily quiet, still, underground labyrinth was in stark contrast to what was going on above ground this week. During our stay in Carlsbad, we learned that spring is the “windy season” in New Mexico. (If you don’t know me well enough to hear my tone in my writing, let me just say that ass an exaggerated understatement.) We got our first taste of a true dust storm while we were parked in a giant dirt parking lot. Because of the angle of our rig in relation to the wind, dust from the parking area whipped directly against and into our home for several hours. I am not a fan of windy days on any occasion, but in the trailer I HATE the wind. Brad took mercy on me and sent me to a local coffee shop where I could ride out the worst of it without actually feeling like I was RIDING IT, as they did back at home. The wind was so intense, that even as I hopped into our truck to leave the campsite, a gust caught me with the truck door open. I had the door handle in my hand, but even pulling AS HARD AS I COULD, I could not close the truck door until the whirling-dusty-gust had stopped. As the stinging wind battered me and the open vehicle, I had half a thought that if I released the door handle, the truck door might be ripped off it’s hinges. I’m not sure that’s actually true, but I know for a fact that every inch of our truck cab & every item inside was COVERED with a layer of dust thanks to this ill-timed entrance, as well as my ears, eyes, nose, and scalp. This was extra-unfortunately since we were boon docking, so water conservation patterns were in effect.
Once the Waldroops headed back to Oklahoma we spent a little bit more time in the free BLM parking lot that we called home this week. Still aglow from all the conversation and fun, I felt emboldened to say hello to my neighbor when I saw that it was a young couple. I went and introduced myself and learned that they were a newly-wedded couple who had launched in their RV full time the week after they got married. He does computer coding and she teaches English online, and we spent 2 really fun evenings hanging out and talking with them. The most interesting thing, though, was that he was the 1st person we’d ever met who was a 2nd generation full time RV’er. He spent 2 years living in an RV with his family of 6 when he was in high school. He really didn’t have the greatest things to say about the experience, but still chose it for himself again as an adult. As we talked about it, Brad & I slowly came to realize that this “childhood experience” was only about 5 years ago. We had such a wonderful time chatting with them, and as is true with many of the people we meet, we hope that at some point we will cross paths with them again since we became fast friends. However, a unique realization came over me as we spent time with them over the course of a couple of evenings…maybe we should have invited our girls to come along instead of putting them to bed first..because I think that these sweet young people were closer to Sunny’s age than to mine…