Man my body hurts. My spine and hips are screaming in agony. My knees keep hyper extending with each step I take making me very unstable. My heart feels heavy and tired from over working. My mind says don’t go on this road trip but my heart and soul are shouting “GO, you only live once”.
Sure enough at 5 am I am sitting in the passenger seat of the Road Barge (our van) ready to meet our dear friends in the New Mexico mountains. Despite the pain I am in, it is important that I go on this trip, not just to prove something to myself, but also to do this for our sweet friends who have never been camping before. They need this outdoor experience to bring them back closer together. Being out in the wilderness takes you back to your primal state of being by channeling into the way humans once lived and for some reason it feels so liberating! Maybe it is because we are detached from societies tech ways or maybe it is because we fall back into gender rolls of men with axes chopping down limbs and manning the fire while the women prep everything and tidy up the place.
All I know is that camping is good for the soul and helps relight that fire inside.
The trip always begins on paved, no lined roads. That is when the excitement really begins because we are finally off the beaten path! These roads exists all throughout our country yet seem to be the less traveled route. No they are not glamorous, they tend to be pretty bumpy which means you have to drive slower, but they always take you out of civilization and into nature. These roads always lead to somewhere great like a gorgeous park or perfect campsite!
One of the many roads we traveled that weekend took us to Sitting Bulls Falls which is west of Carlsbad, NM and sits in the Lincoln National Forest. It was a beautiful park that sat in the desert. It was small in size, but was a perfect park for me and my limited mobility that day. From the parking lot to the stunning falls was about a tenth of a mile in distance. They had well maintained cement sidewalks with hand rails along the whole path. I was so excited to discover such an accessible park and it could not have been any more perfect for me in the condition I was in. This park proved to me yet again that there are beautiful places out there that are simple, cheap, and accessible to all.
That afternoon we set up camp higher in the mountains, but still in the Lincoln National Forest. It was so enjoyable to simply relax at camp and not be in a mad rush to go someplace or be somewhere by a certain time. The whole day we all had smiles plastered on our faces including the dogs who were over stimulated by all the sounds, smells and amazing things to explore. Lounging by the fire with tasty food, s’mores and story telling we just what we all needed. That night the sky was shinning with stars, and we all took a moment to reflect our existence in this world.
Mornings at the campsite are always very cold. Unfortunately my other half had the brilliant idea to burn ALL the wood the night before which left us fire-less that next morning – thanks Mr. Jack Daniels. But Wes came to the rescue and scrounged up fallen limbs around our campsite and started the ladies a little fire while the hung over chief worked his magic at the stove! Seth is a fantastic cook, but oh his breakfasts are absolutely amazing!! Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon and mimosas by the camp fire was a wonderful way to start the day!
That morning after the campsite was broken down and the cars were packed, we hit the road again heading to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Hidden beneath the surface lies thirty miles of stalagmites and stalactites that were formed thousands of years ago when the New Mexico climate was much wetter. The options of exploration are endless at this park! There are a multitude of tours to choose from depending on how brave you are. There is a guided crawling and climbing tour, candle-lit lantern tour, and of course you can do your own self guided tour.
At this time the park is not accessible to those who are in a wheelchair or use a walker. The elevator which takes you to the bottom of the cave is currently broken and will hopefully be up and running after Memorial Day. This was a major disappointment because I am not physically capable of walking the steep 750 ft. descent then turning around and climb back up. So we did the best we could do and went maybe three quarters of a mile down, rested, then headed back up to the entrance. In the small distance we covered, I saw such extraordinary formations that I am itching to go back when the elevators are working!
After spending a weekend out in Mother Nature an interesting shift happens inside you. By overcaming fears, accomplishing tasks, regrounding with yourself and reconnecting with your partner you feel proud and capable of doing more things you thought you couldn’t do before. Camping helps you feel human again and not just a robot doing the same mundane daily tasks.
It was so exciting to see this transformation within our friends. They left camp closer than when we arrived and there was a fire and excitement in their eyes! It was so wonderful to see!
We all can’t wait to go camping together again soon!