Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roswell and White Sands

Good Morning! Or perhaps we could describe this as bad morning. The camera is shot. We tried to get it to work this morning and it does not focus, does not flash, and turns off. This is not a good thing. A quick check of best buy locations finds one in Las Cruces, NM. This is basically on our path but still a bit out of the way. We need to stop to get this fixed though. I thought our best approach might be for Kristie to wear her tank top and short sweat shorts so that the geek at Best Buy might be more attentive to our problems. Hopefully this works! After about 2 hours we arrived at Best Buy. The guy paid a lot of attention but was not as helpful as we’d wanted. He said that they’d have to send out the camera to get serviced and could not provide us with a replacement. Furthermore, they can only ship it out if you can pick it up at the same location as you dropped it off. This made Las Cruces pretty impossible. Thankfully he suggested we buy a camera and return it when we got back for a full refund. So maybe the sexy trick worked a bit at least!

By now it was pretty much lunchtime, especially since we skipped breakfast. It was time for the highly anticipated (and slightly disappointing) stop at the Pizza Hut lunch buffet. Ah highly filling Yum food. Then a bit of ice for the cooler and back on the road… this time towards White Sands. The GPS crapped out again and made it a bit of a challenge to find the road, but there was no way we were returning to Best Buy again and risking a lost afternoon and cutting out stops… especially because this was one of the highlights of Kristie’s trip… Roswell! But first – White Sands… We wound through a mountain pass and could observe a huge thunderstorm to our left. Then we descended into an incredibly flat valley. Here we drove right into a US Border Control checkpoint. A bit odd since it’s literally 150 miles away from the nearest border. But I get the idea, they are looking for drug runners. When you arrive, you’re greeted with about 20 cameras recording every angle of your car. Then you approach a guard who gives you an interrogation that’s more difficult than when you cross back from Canada. After that we were back on our way. This made us pretty happy since it would have taken at least an hour for them to search our stuffed to the brim car. After we left there, it occurred to Kristie that this might be a bit of a violation of our civil rights since, after all, we were Americans in America traveling on a public road who were being stopped and questioned without cause. Hilarity, which can be found on the video, ensued.

When we arrived at White Sands, we didn’t really know what to expect. I think we’d both say we were pretty impressed. Basically, there are nearly bleach white sand dunes as far as the eye can see. They’ve paved a bit of a road in and the rest is literally snow (ok maybe sand) plowed. We found a cool spot to climb on the dunes and take some pictures. As soon as you exit the car you find that this is not beach sand. It’s very hard packed and a bit wet. It sticks to your shoes like cement. I think it literally made me about an inch taller. We climbed up the dune and took some really fun pictures. I tried (multiple times) to get pictures of Kristie suspended in the air jumping on the dune. She also made a sand angel which was pretty awesome! I don’t know why but I was not in a really fun or creative mood. Rather I was pretty mellow and I’m pretty sure that the pictures of me will kind of reflect that. This was a short stop which we actually added on when we readjusted our schedule this morning. I think we were only here for about 15 minutes. It would be a fun place to come back to and go for a hike. You can actually hike back to some dunes which border a lake. I think the white dunes on the blue water would be pretty spectacular.

On the road again, we started jetting towards Roswell. It started to thunder and pour. Soon, I was exhausted and had to call make a call to the bullpen. Thankfully Kristie was rested and ready to close out the trip to Roswell. We made good time and got there at about 3:45. Thankfully we made it with an hour and 15 minutes prior to closing. This place was the Holy Land to Kristie and I had a good time too. We took a ton of pictures and also checked out the newspaper clippings, radio reports, etc of the 1947 Roswell UFO Crash. One of the cool features is a world map in which visitors mark their location with a pushpin. Apparently it is cleared every 2 weeks and there were literally pins from every corner of the globe. There were also exhibits on UFO sightings from other areas of the globe. When the museum closed, we headed to the gift shop. There was a good deal of unique memorabilia and Kristie found $110 of once in a lifetime items to commemorate the visit with. It was a very cool stop!

Plus, with the museum closing at 5, we were able to get on the road in time to make the evening bat program at Carlsbad Caverns. Each night, tens of thousands of Mexican (Brazilian) bats fly out of the caverns at sunset to go out hunting for the night. It is supposed to be an amazing experience. Sadly, as you’ll find out soon, it was not meant to be. We passed a disgusting smelly town. I think it was called Artisan, NM. It was home to a giant oil refinery and probably one of the lowest life expectancies in America. Plus the local Sunoco only accepted cash – obviously evading taxes. Finally, starving, we found a Sonic! This was a first! And a fun first! Kristie accidentally ordered their double cheeseburger along with amazing onion rings. I got a hot dog and an ice cream that was way too large for both of us to consume. All in all a fun stop. While ordering, I quickly confirmed visit arrangements with Jamin over text message. The next part of the trip is falling into place. This is good since it’s only about 2 days away!

Carlsbad was about 45 minutes south of Sonic. We had to push to get there for the sunset program. Once we arrived at the park, the terrain changed promptly. It was BEAUTIFUL. There were huge fruiting Prickly Pear Cacti, towering Yucca flowers, and a ton of greenery. It was like we’d just moved from the desert to a tropical paradise. We’d later learn that this was because they’ve had a good deal of monsoon moisture (the most in 4 years) in the past month. The cavern entrance was over 10 miles into the park. We did not account for this so we drove as fast as possible and actually made it on time. When I pulled up to ask the ranger where the amphitheater was, we were disappointed to learn that it had been called off due to “lightning in the area” and that they were closing the park early. This was a huge letdown as few people make their way to Carlsbad, NM more than once in a lifetime. I guess this means that we’ll need to be a couple of those few!

We took a bit of a more leisurely pace leaving the park. We took a good amount of photos and were enjoying ourselves until Kristie spotted a GIANT spider on a plant right off from where we were standing. This cut short the rest of our sightseeing and we headed back into town. We did not have a hotel reservation and this has already led to problems on this leg of the trip. This evening was no different. We decided to pick a random motel since there were bad reviews of the Motel 6. This was not a good choice. The wifi did not work well at all and this set the tone for a pretty awful evening. Kristie really wanted to be able to use the internet, so I called the front desk and asked if they could switch our room to somewhere closer to the router. They refused and told us that the router was located near the pool in the back. Such a lie… we went back there to find no service as well. Kristie thinks that they are stealing wifi from a neighboring facility. I think she was right.

Things were really awkward in the hotel room that night for a variety of reasons. We had a bit of a blow out argument that pretty much ended in both of us crying and being angry. Not what you’d want to have happen on vacation, especially at this point in this vacation. And, to be honest, I’m not sure if either of us knew or realized exactly what we were doing during this argument. It was bad and damaging and regretful. I said a ton of things that I didn’t even mean or believe. For example, I made up excuses for why we should not have kids soon, even though I did want to get married and have children relatively soon. I don’t know why I said them except that I felt, threatened, attacked, jealous, and uneasy. I wish I could have taken them back or just remained silent. Going to bed that night was melancholy and awkward.

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