Somehow, through methods, an idea for a day trip to the desert outside Los Angeles turned into an road trip all the way out to the New Mexico-Texas border.
I had been to Carlsbad Caverns on my own a few years ago and it was perfect for our Atomic Tour leanings so I wanted to take Tara there. Our Atomic Tour was a month-long road trip a few years ago anchored by all the iconic destinations of the 50s like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. So we took five days and saw Carlsbad Caverns. Why not?
Day One: Los Angeles to Tucson
We couldn’t leave until the afternoon so there’s only a few photos from day one before we lost light. We passed Coachella out in the desert. You people have fun with that. Enjoy your stroke.
Day Two: Tucson to Carlsbad
After a detour to Tombstone (pretty disappointing) we visited Rattlesnake Crafts (as seen on NBC’s “Today” show) then headed towards Carlsbad visiting lots of abandoned businesses, buildings and even whole towns along the way.
Day Three: Carlsbad
After touring the caverns Tara had to file a Grantland story so I drove out to the middle of nowhere to see the Gnome Project ground zero site. It’s miles and miles in from the nearest regional highway on a rough dirt road that’s poorly rendered in GPS apps. I hit a patch of deep, loose sand and just like that Minty Burns (that’s our car) was hopelessly stuck. Sand is way more evil than snow.
There was an oil rig up the road and every trucker was super nice and offered to help but no one could figure out where to hook a hook to what appeared to be an all-plastic car. So I asked one of them to explain where exactly I was to AAA over the phone and waited for help. After the car was pulled out we discovered, somehow, I managed to put the car on a sand butte. The wheels were just hovering over the ground. Impressive bit of stupidity on my part.
So after that I found the plaque (I over shot it by one road) and after walking to it (being very afraid of sand now) I took a couple pictures then I heard the angry cattle and saw the deep stares. I slowly walked away assuming with my luck one was going to charge and gore me. I survived.
Days Four & Five: Carlsbad to Flagstaff to Los Angeles
Last time we passed through Roswell we went to the “serious” UFO museum. This time we went to the super stupid one with aliens taking poops. Don’t you ever change Roswell. After that we hit the Smokey Bear Historical Park and gravesite in Capitan, the Very Large Array (you may remember it from the movie Contact) and Pie Town. The next day we powered home back through California following the old Route 66.