by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO — When you live in Huerfano, you’re already at the ultimate vacation destination. But all this beauty can get tiresome after a while. Well, that – plus the wind. Plus the dust. And the adobe bugs. But I digress. Eventually you are going to want to get away from the place where people come to get away from it all. So where can you go?
Well, how about Carlsbad, New Mexico? It seemed like a good idea at the time. And after our trip to Florida last year, during a freak cold snap that started the day we got there and ended the day we left, we didn’t want to drive as far to be disappointed. So Carlsbad it was. And I know you’re thinking, “But Carol, you think bats are repulsive and there are like millions of bats there.” And you are correct. But the bats fly south for the winter, so we were safe.
But it wasn’t Carlsbad that we had to fear so much as it was the TRIP to Carlsbad. The first clue that it would be a weird trip were the signs “Watch for Water.” Now if you’ve been south of Trinidad, you know they don’t have much water down there. You could be watching for a thousand years and not see a whole lot of water. So what was with the signs? Did “water” mean something else – for instance guys taking relief breaks along the highway? I didn’t see many, but one fellow in particular wasn’t even hiding the fact that he was relieving himself on someone’s cattle gate. That, by the way, was the only watering taking place along the highway because our neurotic dog would NOT wee-wee when we stopped for potty breaks. She held it because she could not find the just perfect spot to go. There were two of these spots between Huerfano and Carlsbad – one on the way down; one on the way back.
The next oddity was the fact that you can drive for a hundred miles through New Mexico and not see another vehicle. Well, it’s a good thing we didn’t see many other cars because our truck and RV were dirty after driving through fresh slush on I-25, and Rick cannot tolerate a dirty vehicle on a road trip. It’s unsightly. Of course, on this trip he wasn’t too very cognizant of what the truck looked like because he finally was brought down by the Walsenburg Crud about three minutes after we left home. Being a real trooper and having a wife who doesn’t like to tow the RV, he drove for a while, but after he stopped to barf behind the Wendy’s dumpster at some town south of Raton, we all knew with great dread that he wasn’t going to drive the rest of the day. I kind of felt sorry for the people going through the Wendy’s drive-thru, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Not only do I not like to tow the RV, I do not like road construction. So naturally, after I took over driving, we came upon road construction signs. Fortunately, they had just finished some project or other and were lifting the traffic cones. One nanosecond later, it became apparent that the road had just been oiled. Oh no. At least dried slush washes off. Not oil. As a rule, we don’t drive through fresh oil if we can avoid it, but there was no way I was going to wake Rick up to see if there was an alternate route, for fear of another wave of barfing. So I kept driving.
The road was nice and black, but it was knobby, and at one point the weeds, which had been thoroughly oiled, looked like they were going to take over and consume the entire pavement. There was no center line, just those yellow sticky notes in the middle, some of which had been run over and stuck to car tires and then were deposited any old where, which would definitely mess with your head if you weren’t sober. About a thousand miles later – at least it seemed like that because the fillings in my teeth were all vibrated loose – we reached non-oiled pavement. Besides all the fake green aliens posted throughout Roswell, the rest of the trip was uneventful. And, yes, the dog finally did go – when we arrived in Carlsbad.