Warning: This post contains bare bottoms.
For a few seconds in the New Mexico desert I thought I was having a stroke.
Braden and I found the Berenstain Bears cartoon on TV but we couldn’t understand any of the words. Then I realized it wasn’t English and I wasn’t supposed to be able to understand it. It definitely wasn’t English, but it wasn’t Spanish or French either. It sounded vaguely like an Asian language. Thankfully, after watching a couple of minutes, the credits rolled and they explained the Bears had been translated into Lakota, a Native American language. Who knew those bears were so multi-lingual?
That was our first clue that New Mexico was a different kind of place. Our next clue came when the campground host told us not to take our dogs out in a certain area of the park at night because the poisonous toads come out after dark. New Mexico would reveal a lot to us during our time there. Here goes:
Right across the border from Texas is Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Since we had already been to Mammoth Cave and Wind Cave national parks in Kentucky and South Dakota, we debated skipping Carlsbad. I’m so glad we didn’t. The cave has the staggering size and scope like Mammoth but the intricate details and awesome formations of Wind Cave. Plus it had an elevator! We hiked in the natural entrance then went into the “Big Room” and took the elevator back out. It’s a truly amazing place that I highly recommend if you have a chance. The trip into the caverns was on our 10th wedding anniversary which was fun. I’m sure someone could outline some similarities between marriage and fumbling around in a dark cave, but in my 10 years as a husband I have come to realize when I’m about to get myself in trouble.
We stayed for a couple of nights in Carlsbad, NM which meant a trip to Walmart. It sounds odd to notice, but while the store was busy, it was the fewest women we had ever seen in a store. Every where we looked it was all men. We assumed this was from the large number of mining, oil and natural gas workers in the area. We’d never gender ratios at a Walmart before, but this was unique.
Staying a few miles out of town at the KOA, we could smell some of the work going on. At about 1:30 in the morning on the first night, Jess woke up to a strange smell and was convinced the RV was either on fire or leaking something bad. She wouldn’t go back to sleep until I went outside and checked everything. I walked all over the park and after I determined that the entire campground smelled like burning rubber I returned to bed.
Jess and Braden were able to make it to the Desert Zoo in Carlsbad which they enjoyed. As we left Carlsbad, the mountains had plenty of snow on them as we drove through, but the roads were fine and it was warm in the valleys.
Hidden Valley Nudist Campground
There were a few things we knew about our next campground:
- There was a “Clothing Optional Family Campground” right outside of the small town of Truth and Consequences, NM named Hidden Valley.
- We knew absolutely no one in New Mexico who would ever see us again.
- This trip is all about adventure and experiencing new things.
We debated this for miles driving through West Texas and New Mexico, but in the end we decided that we didn’t have to stay if it was too weird.
For starters, when you visit a Nudist/Naturalist campground don’t expect to ease into it. We saw a whole lot of skin before we even pulled up to the office.
At the check-in, the elderly lady (her nameplate was on the desk because — well, there was no place to put a name tag) assigned us our site. I noticed they had a lot of sunscreen for sale at the office. I decided that would would be important for a nudist campground in the desert.
Also you should know that NONE OF THIS PART IS TRUE. PUBLISHED APRIL 1. HAPPY APRILS FOOLS DAY! I’ve literally been planning this post since November. Did we get you? For the record WE DIDN’T ACTUALLY GO TO A NUDIST CAMPGROUND. The photos came from the web. Do yourself a favor and never Google “nudist campground.” Unless you’re into that kind of thing. Next topic!
White Sands National Park
Getting back to the non-fake news of our trip, after Carlsbad we camped at Oliver Lee State Park in Alamogordo, N.M. It’s a very pretty little state park nestled into the feet of the mountains.
The park rents out sleds and wax for visitors to slide down the sand dunes, which instantly put White Sands as Braden’s new favorite national park. Up until then, the St. Louis Arch had been his number one spot. He said White Sands was even better than a Yogi Bear Jellystone Park, which is awfully high praise from him.
The park’s sand is a really fine white gypsum. Braden called it a “comfy” sand and it was. If you’re curious about the sand, odds are pretty good that we will still have some in our car when we get back settled in Chattanooga so you can come see it then.
Well, we have a few more details from New Mexico and Arizona to get into, but we’ll save that for the next post along with Arizona. I hope you enjoyed this special April Fools Day blog post!