Sunday, 4/11/21: BLM Carlsbad

Our first restaurant experience since forever.

Stealth is impossible in the dark. Normally, we back Saturn up to V-Jer the night before we leave. Then, all we have to do is crank V-Jer’s hitch down to Saturn’s ball hitch. Of course, we have everything else packed and ready. The merriments last night kind of interrupted our ritual. Thankfully, we had the awning down. We made plenty of noise for our neighbors while we were fumbling in the dark putting things away, and especially when we were trying to line up the hitch. I did manage, with Wanda’s admonishing stares at me, to keep the invectives down to a low whisper. All-in-all, we pulled out around 7:30 am.

We had to make a side stop back at Fort Davis. Embarrassingly, I left our big honkin’ surge protector plugged into campsite #50’s electrical outlet. I can’t blame Duende on that one. It was pure David. As I was putting away the water hose and electrical cord, I made a mental note to come back around to get the surge protector. The Post It note in my head must have blown away. My brain did successfully retrieve the note, but not until we were about 100 miles down the road. Wanda called the park and they promised to send a park ranger down to fetch the big guy.

The park ranger had to chide me a bit as he handed it over to me. It was deserved and kind of funny. The unit is crazy huge. How could I miss it on my final departure inspection? Actually, with the kidding aside, the guy was very grateful to have a happy ending to enter into his log book, which I was happy to sign.

This is the bad boy that I left behind at Davis Mountains State Park. I was happy to be reunited with it.

The 6 hour trip to our target, a BLM campsite in between Guadeloupe National Park and the town of Carlsbad, was technically shortened to 5 hours when we crossed over to Mountain Time. We pulled into our first freebie boondocking experience on BLM land around 12:30 MT. This large gravel parking lot even had a name attached to it - Chosa. It was just what the reviews we read had explained - perfectly adequate to visit both Carlsbad Caverns and Guadeloupe National Park. It is stark. It is bleak. It is sparse. It is free.

Pretty bleak!

We dropped off V-Jer, locked her up, and off we went into the small city of Carlsbad, population 26,000. The highways leading into town are lined with the usual ugly commercial urbanization that left half of the cute downtown stores closed.

A couple of downtown buildings. The red building used to be a hotel. The bar used to be the old City Hall. I took a photo of the current city building, which is in an adobe style, but somehow I lost the photo. It was a unique style - sorry.

The Pecos River runs along the edge of town and here is where Carlsbad shines. The Pecos is a surprisingly wide river, the color of jade. For several miles on both sides of the river, Carlsbad maintains a green park and river walk. One spot is a sandy beach and on this hot 90º Sunday afternoon, tons of multi-colored families frolicked in the water and grilled meats throwing off their delicious aromas. Apparently, Carlsbad is wonderfully integrated.

I had read somewhere that the Yellow Brix Restaurant was supposed to be good. When we stumbled across it and saw outside seating, we decided to try our first restaurant experience in a long time. We had a margarita, tortilla chips and salsa, and tacos la pastor. The homemade tortilla chips were very different but great, as was the salsa. The tacos al pastor is a grilled pork taco featuring a combination of middle eastern and traditional central Mexican spices. Again, different but delicious. The restaurant experience, as fun as it was, did give me sticker shock. Home cookin’ ain’t so bad after all.

Before returning to V-Jer, we hit Walmart, what we call the Black Hole. This is our first Black Hole visit on this trip and it lived up to it’s nickname. It cost $148 to leave. And we were only going in to pick up one or two items. That’s just how the Black Hole works.

I expect to stay here for a couple of days. The earliest we could get tickets for the Carlsbad Caverns is Tuesday, which I snatched. Tomorrow we will explore the surrounding area more thoroughly.

The weather report is screaming for ferocious winds from 3 am to noon tomorrow. We saw several tornado-like dirt devils on our way here, so we know the winds can get tricky. Tomorrow will only be in the low 80s and Tuesday in the mid 60s.

A couple of shots from Big Bend. As you can see, I am touching Mexico in the Santa Elena Canyon. Then Wanda is getting one last look at me before I am hauled off to prison.

Dave and Wanda

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