Two Weeks and Over 3,000 Miles
Traveling like this is like living in a time warp and we can hardly believe it has only been two weeks since we left home to explore the great beyond. It feels like a month. We continue to find beauty everywhere we go, learn about something we never knew existed, and meet the kindest, most interesting people.
Since our last check in from Marfa, TX, we have left the state and are currently making our way through New Mexico. Before I talk about what we've been up to, I just have to say how much we loved Marfa. Before we visited, I think we would have agreed that we had no desire to live in a tiny desert town, but we have been converted. Marfa is a place where we both envision ourselves making a disappearance if need be.
As I was sitting at the common picnic table at the Tumble In, it struck me that Marfa really feels like a movie set. I swear I even saw a man riding a horse down the street and we fed the sweetest stray dog that seemed to be a regular at our dinner spot. The sound of the wind and the gravel beneath your feet is the soundtrack, occasionally accented by the rooster that crowns at 4am and noon, a train going by, and the sound of a goat braying in the distance. That being said, Marfa is not a secret and I'm sure, if it's not already, will be overrun with Austin transplants because something that great is destined for popularity.
On the morning of our departure from Marfa, we had the pleasure of chatting with Maggie and Ryan (@kaplandia on Instagram) who are on a parallel honeymoon journey to ours, except they're traveling in the opposite direction. They have the sweetest camper and I have absolute envy of their breakfast nook.
From Marfa we headed north to New Mexico and a stop at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which neither of us had ever visited. The best non-photographic description I can give it is other worldly. For the second time in one week, we were comparing our surroundings to scenes out of a movie, only this time it's definitely sci-fi.
Visitors can take an elevator to descend or ascend from the main cavern, but we opted to walk the steep trail down and were rewarded with spectacular views and struggles to get our eyes to adjust to the dark. Every time we turned a corner I found myself exclaiming what a spectacular/amazing/incredible/crazy feature I was seeing for the first time in my life.
The darkness is, of course, striking, but the other sense that was overwhelmed was what I heard, or rather, didn't hear. When there weren't other visitors talking to each other in voices you would reserve for a noisy bar, the quiet was deafening. Ryan and I could whisper and hear each other perfectly. It made it feel like a sacred place, especially surrounded by such spectacular yet delicate features.
The pictures below are mostly from my camera phone, which did much better than I ever expected. Unfortunately, the DSLR was running out of battery so we used it sparingly and without the preview screen. You don't get a real sense of the grandness of the features from the pictures, but nothing short of a visit will give you a true sense. After walking the caverns we took the elevator up. While I've never been on an elevator in a mine, this is exactly what I imagined it would be: watching the rocks rush past you as you ascend while your depth underground ticks away where the floor number would be in a building.
After being blown away by Carlsbad Caverns NP, we headed for an obligatory stop in Roswell where we visited the International UFO Museum. The city was actually less UFO crazy than I expected and the Museum was well curated and quite busy for a Monday afternoon.
We made camp at Brantley Lake State Park that evening. It's not necessarily a destination, but a nice campground for a state park with a great view of Brantley Lake and the surrounding desert. We have a couple destinations we would like to make in central New Mexico, including a self-guided Breaking Bad tour and stop at the Apple store in Albuquerque, so we camped outside of Albuquerque in Mountainair.
We went into Albuquerque Tuesday night to drop Ryan's computer at the Apple store (I accidentally spilled water on it and ruined the backlight...). Yesterday morning we returned to the city to hit up our favorite locations from Breaking Bad which was equal parts fun drive-bys of businesses and creepy stalking of people's actual homes who may or may not appreciate the popularity the show has brought to their home. We kept it very respectful and didn't take photos at most places and only got out at one spot.
It is unseasonably cold here in the high desert and Wednesday night dipped into the upper 20s, which was a shock coming from the near 100 degree weather Texas had given us.
From Mountainair we headed south and pulled into Elephant Butte park last night. The views here are fantastic and we slept so well last night.
This morning we drove to the Very Large Array ( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Large_Array ) for a self-guided tour. The VLA is an array (yes, it is very large, and can be set so that it is 22 miles in diameter) of radio telescopes used for astronomy. It is probably most well known for its likeness being one of the primary locations for the book and movie Contact. The place was crawling with astronomy nerds and alien enthusiasts.
Tomorrow we head toward Tucson, AZ, for some boring maintenance on our car. Today the computer told us to schedule a checkup in the next 300 miles or 111 days. Clearly it has not re-calibrated our average daily mileage in the past two weeks.