We started in the south and spent two days in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, descending into the Big Room, watching the evening bat flight and also undertaking a ranger guided tour of the King's Palace. At Brantley Lake State Park, our camping, we were treated to lots of quail running around, always in pairs, road-runners, cotton tails, jack rabbits and deer along with a numerous variety of other birds.
After that we headed north to Roswell and the city's primary intergalactic port - the International UFO Musuem and Reasearch Centre, which documents the "Roswell Incident", the military's supposed recovery and subsequent cover-up of extraterrestial debris from a local ranch in 1947. We experienced no known close-encounters in the "Alien Capital of the World", no flying saucers, no bug-eyed space creatures, just lots of other curious earthlings and of course the sinkhole that was our campsite at Bottomless Lakes State Park.
From there it was on to Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. Not having anticipated the elevation (7,000 ft), its location at the bottom of the southern Rockies, the snow on the peaks of the Sangre de Christos mountains to the northeast the town, or the strong northerly wind blowing down from those snow peaked mountains, we hit our first cold spell and boy was it cold, especially given our camping was up in Hyde Memorial Park, closer to 8,500 ft. Despite the cold, the city, which is more than 400 years old, and the high desert country that surrounds it were so different from anywhere else we've been. The adobe buildings, a mixture of earth, straw and water, and the newer, faux adobe buildings, seen throughout the downtown and residential areas blend together beautifully. In the Railyard district we managed to get Declan's bike fixed - a buckled front tyre as a result of hanging too low off the back of the van.
On to Albuquerque (ABQ), a pretty historic old town and a fabulous RV park - Enchanted Trails - just outside town on a real part of the old Route 66, complete with lots of 1950's examples of caravans and cars.
Our next stop was Enchanted Mesa and the Acoma Pueblo. Enchanted Mesa looms 430 ft above the surrounding plain and was the ancestral settlement of the Acoma in this area west of ABQ, but according to Acoma tribal folklore, access was wiped out by a violent storm, leaving several Acoma women on the top to starve. The Acoma tribe re-settled at the Acoma Pueblo, also known as Sky City. This is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the country, with evidence dating it back to 1150AD. A few dozen Acomans still live without running water or electricity, year round, on the mesa top.
As we headed towards Arizona, we travelled down the 117, past the lava beds of El Malpais, La Ventana Natural Arch and amazing scenery, including the Continental Divide, all of which continued to enchant and to which I doubt our photos do justice.