We got the kids up and in the car as planned. The garage door closed at 12:40am. Wesley decided that he had slept enough and kept me and Amber busy for about three hours complaining, talking, and eating beef jerky. He mostly wanted to see cows, which I can tell you, are hard to spot in the dark. He did eventually nod off though and didn’t get up until the sun had started to rise. I drove clear on through with Amber sleeping except during Jillian’s feeding times. We had strong winds the whole time, which made the driving difficult at times, but we arrived safe. I spotted the following animals during the drive there:
- deer (Dozens and dozens of them bounding all over the place. Even more on the way home. They made me nervous as their friends were splattered all over the road and I didn’t want to be the cause of another mess.)
- rabbits (several sizes and kinds)
- opossum (had to swerve to miss this one)
- skunk (had to slow down to miss this one)
- coyote (ran right across the road)
The sun came up on us just past Pecos, Texas. We continued on and ended up in Carlsbad, NM at about 8:30a local time (9:30a Central). We drove straight to the campground, looked at each other as if to say “this was a mistake” and then did a loop through the campground. We weren’t ready to commit to staying just yet. The place is really what you’d expect an RV/campground to be. A few trees, but mostly gravel, no privacy. We stopped in at the Ranger’s station and the ranger told us that there wasn’t much better. The nearest state park is quite a good distance away. We drove around a bit and then came back to the campground and decided to pay for just one night.
We set up and took naps. It was pretty breezy and without a windbreak the tent setup was tricky and everything was getting really dusty. Food, clothes, everything. We had some time to wait before Amy, Jason, Gracie and Emmett arrived so Wesley took me swimming. They have a small (maybe 10 yard) indoor pool that was warm enough to be enjoyable. We were playing and splashing when all of a sudden the stiff breeze turned into a major wind storm. It was shaking the building and blew in dark clouds that blotted out the sun. Even Wesley noticed the difference and stopped swimming. Amy arrived and Amber came and got me and we made a retreat to the tent, which at this point was laying more or less flat on the ground. It was still fully assembled, but couldn’t handle the winds, which were reported at 33mph with gusts of 45mph at the nearby Cavern City Air Terminal. Other local weather stations were as high as 51mph.
Everything in the tent, which was zipped up at the time, was covered with a measurable amount of dirt and sand. I removed the rain fly and unzipped the doors and windows. Even with big gaping holes for the air to flow through it was pushing the tent nearly to the ground. We broke it down, through all our stuff in the car and rented one of the small cabins they have available. Amy and Jason did the same for this first night. The tent, which we borrowed from friends, split a metal coupling on one of the poles, which tore the rainfly. As such I couldn’t really trust it until it was repaired even when the wind did die down to a strong breeze.
We made dinner, and all of us, adults included, conked out early on that night. Sleeping was tough, Wesley and Jillian both waking and crying much of the night. No rest for the weary as they say.