At the end of October, we were relaxing in the desert north of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, but on the 2nd of November it was time to move on.
I had a doctor’s appointment in Hatch, New Mexico, on the 3rd, so we ambled our way south, staying at the Caballo State Park (picture above) just outside Truth or Consequences and then getting to Hatch for the Dr. appt. (Everything is fine – just needed a little check-up).
Hatch, New Mexico
Turns out that Hatch, NM, in addition to being the home of a very nice doctor, is the chile capitol of the world. Who knew?
While we were out in the desert, we noticed that the generator was acting a little funny, so we scheduled a trip to the local Onan Generator service place – in El Paso, Texas. So that was our next stop, after an overnight in a rest area in Rincon, New Mexico. Stop – sleep – coffee – go! Not exciting.
El Paso, TX
On the other hand, driving through El Paso during rush hour traffic … that was “exciting” (in a very stressful sort of way). NOT something we want to do again any time soon! Once we arrived at the Onan/Cummins Service Center, we were provided with a nice little hook-up for the couple of nights. During the day they took the bus in for service; then we could stay in it at night. The service was actually pretty quick, but they had to order in some parts, which accounts for the two night stay. We got the “full” maintenance on the generator (which is sort of like the 30,000 mile tune-up for your car). Man, that baby just purrs now! Slightly lighter in the pocketbook, we headed out on the 6th, en route to Carlsbad Caverns.
Guadelupe National Forest
Sometimes you just have to get on the road, assuming there were be some place to pull over for the night. Normally there is, but that night … nothing! No rest areas. No pull outs. No truck stops. No wide spots in the road. No empty parking lots. Dusk came on. Full dark came on. Still nowhere to park. By that time we were winding our way up the mountainside in Guadalupe National Forest, in the dark. Honestly, it was one of the scariest drives we’ve had, and one of the main reasons we try never to drive at night. Luckily, and with the help of Google Maps Satellite view, I spotted a “picnic area” (Texas version of a rest stop) that was JUST big enough for us to pull into. We slept backwards in bed because of the slope, but were SO happy to have a safe place to pull off!
In the morning, we looked outside and found that we were just at the base of El Capitan. Since we made the conversion from desert to mountainside in the dark, it was so strange to wake up in the morning to a completely different environment than expected!
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Once on the road, we went straight to Carlsbad Caverns, which Jere had been telling me about for years. It’s way up a hill (a five mile windy drive to the top). When we arrived, we discovered the elevators were out … which meant a 3 mile round-trip hike, down 800 ft (and then back up). See the picture – that gives an idea of what the “down” and “up” are like – and that’s just the path getting to the START of the cave!
Considering the fact that my knee still bothers me, it was with great trepidation and determination, I decided to “just do it” … and I’m proud to say I did it! I didn’t let Jere notice that I could just barely make it back to the bus, and my knee hurt for a week after – but I DID IT!
Carlsbad, New Mexico
After finishing our trek in and out of the caverns and buying a couple of post cards, we started out again. It was late in the afternoon, so we were looking for someplace we could just relax for a bit after rest stops and diesel service centers for the last 4 days. What we found was a county road off Highway 42 just northeast of the town of Carlsbad, on which there was a pullout by one of the very, very many oil wells.
I had no idea there were so MANY oil wells in the area! The site wasn’t great, but it was flat, quiet and off the beaten trail. We stayed for a couple of days, just to regroup and make some plans.
Hobbs, New Mexico
Now after nearly a week of boondocking, it was time to hit civilization, get connected, dump the tanks and do some shopping. We went to Hobbs, New Mexico, a nice little town, and stayed at Henry McAdams Park, an RV park run by the city. It was very nice, good sized spaces, grass and even a few trees, something to really appreciate in the flat of this part of New Mexico.
The park was across the street from a golf course on one side, and an abandoned, decommissioned army base on the other side. The army base was a great place to let Duke run. He discovered that there were jack rabbits under almost every bush, and spent quite some time trying to catch them. He didn’t even come close to catching even a single one. I’d never seen a jack rabbit before – very strange (and FAST!) little creatures.
We stayed in Hobbs for four nights, during which time we also got to enjoy a movie, dinner out and some shopping. Duke got a couple of new toys at the Pet Depot in town.