My newfound path to Hippiedom has been blessed with many outposts, rest stops, roadside attractions, and Kodak Photo Points. Remember the Kodak Photo Points at Disneyland? When I was a kid, these were where your parents would drag or push you to get “the perfect shot”. Of course, it was all manufactured, even the backdrop, out of a retired agricultural field using wire, concrete and plaster. And it was a way for Walt and his brother to make a few bucks off a Kodak sponsorship or by selling a few rolls of film. I’m gushing cynical here but contrasting our trip to date with that benchmark I find that a loosely structured jump into America produces something that much more closely resembles perfect.
As we motor down the highway, all 17,000 pounds of us and always in the middle of a stretch of road that goes 40 miles in either direction without seeing hide nor hair (well, sometimes a hare), I always marvel at the appearance out of nowhere of a giant yellow sign that warns “BUMP”, followed almost immediately by a bump that rattles us and everything in every cabinet of the rig.
The time, cost, and trouble it took to acquire and erect the sign could have been better spent just fixing the damn bump, no?
The most common question I get asked is “How do you manage to write so much almost every day?”. First, it really isn’t so much. Second, we are seeing a lot every day, and that gives lots of fuel to the writer’s engine. Third, I keep pretty regular writer’s hours, usually 4AM-6AM, and I fill that time emptying the bucket of observations into the laptop. What isn’t specifically germane to the days’ sightseeing theme, our random thoughts and philosophical moments, usually gets transcribed into a prose bank, a document I keep on the side to cut and paste from. We both keep one; it serves a purpose all on its own to just unclutter the mind and make more room for the important stuff. This paragraph came from it. I’m sure that’s way more than you all wanted to know.
Our trip to Carlsbad took us through Roswell, apparently the center of the Universe for UFO activity. Everything in the Southwest seems “out in the middle of nowhere” because of the huge expanses (full of BUMP signs) of unpopulated land, and Roswell is no exception. Most of the wide-spread dots on the map pop up in your windshield and just as fast are gone in your rear-view mirror. But Roswell gradually rises up out of the desert like one of those pop-up greeting cards that go all 3D when you open them. We were expecting far less, surprised to see Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, Albertson’s, even a JC Penney (the only one I’ve seen in YEARS). And Roswell spends a lot of its landscape advertising itself.
It was lunchtime and we were thinking we could stop somewhere and order Alien burgers, but didn’t even though they have a McDonalds fashioned out of an old alien spaceship. They probably just taste like chicken anyway.
Of course, we had to stop and buy a magnet, so we also took the opportunity to pose with a few of the locals.
Onward we went after our lunch and a gas fill-up (just barely north of $4/gallon!), southward back into the vast desert. As RVers, we are bucking the natural order of things by going South in the Summer (the dashboard temp shows 99F, probably headed to 103). We did this before when we last lived in a rig and went North in the Winter. The obvious disadvantages are the tribulations that adverse weather can bring to those who live in a box on wheels, whether it be cold or heat. The advantage is being able to see and tour without the crowds of other RVers. Off-season locals can be very chatty about their towns when the crowds are gone, but you’ll never know until you try it yourself.
Carlsbad was another “ship in the desert” that amazed us. We read in the “Quick Facts” that “Carlsbad is a city in the southeast of New Mexico, founded in the southeast of New Mexico so that the citizens of southeast New Mexico could have a city”. We figure Kamala Harris has a side gig writing these things.
It’s a l o n g city, 10 miles north to south, and contains many of the large city amenities we have become accustomed to. I previously studied cell phone coverage maps of all of our destinations, trying to determine what kind of connection we could maintain to the internet at our stops. It is now clear to me that the pace of growth in cell phone coverage and speed has outpaced the ability of the web to keep up with it. My research showed that Carlsbad had “nearly zero” coverage of any type, and the reviews were there to back that opinion up, even if they were a couple of years old. Most warned T-Mobile customers to steer clear, or immediately transition to Verizon, “the only partial coverage in town”. We had a very good 5G signal all the way through, only dipping to moderately good LTE coverage as we drifted out of town south toward our campground. After our visit to The Caverns on Memorial Day, we are going to stock up on some necessities in town, especially some needed RV supplies. Our campground is next door to an RV supply shop, and there is a Tractor Supply and a Walmart just down the road!
Next up: Carlsbad Caverns, a post worthy of all-on-its-own status.
Tippy has stopped dwelling on the past. He and one of my all-time favorite sports coaches.