I woke up refreshed with a solid three hours of sleep. I really like my new camping pad, but it could use a little help from, say, another pad or a thick blanket. I’m going to buy one or the other but I’m not sure which one will be more beneficial. The blankets pro and cons are; it would allow me to unzip the sleeping bag and spread out quite a bit more, ( it’s very tight in that thing when it’s all zipped up) but it would take up a good chunk of space to carry it on the bike. The extra pad would make lying on the ground more comfortable, but I’d have to continue to be crammed into the tightness of the sleeping bag. Kinda makes it hard to get comfortable when you can’t adjust your body for different positions. Two other convenient occurences contributed to my, not so good, nights rest. I’m not sure if every Tuesday night in Roswell is locomotive night or not, but they should label it that. For hours after I crawled in the tent, train after train would roll into town, honk the horn 4 times in a pattern like this; two regular honks followed by a third short honk followed by, the fantastic, four second honk and then roll out of town. All of the engineers driving those trains must have had the same on the job training to get the pattern perfect every time. I’ll give them credit for at least being persistent. The second piece of the, lack of sleep, puzzle was the rooster that brought me out of my nighttime nap at 5:38 am. It just wasn’t my night. Oh yeah, did I mention it was cold? Well, it was the coldest night of camping on the trip so far.
On the bright side, the heated bath house was 100 feet away. I made a bee line for the warm water and came out feeling nice and peppy. Lately I’ve been trying to squeeze in a morning walk and that day I walked about a half mile into town to grab a coffee. It’s so peaceful walking at sunrise. 24 oz of coffee later and I was on the move, packing, organizing, cleaning up camp, and jamming out to some Motley Crew on Pandora Radio. Before I got totally packed up, two of my fellow campground folks from British Columbia, (Erin and Linda) came over and we had a great little morning chat about travel and blogging. I asked for some advice on the BC region of Canada and they happily filled me in on anything from the best time of year to visit and how to handle grizzly bear encounters. We exchanged info and they gave me their blog address. If you want to check it out, it’s band-of -gypsys.blogspot.com. We bid farewells and I was ready to put the new-found familiarity of Roswell behind me. Not more than a couple of miles out of town, I saw it. What is “it”, you ask? My first big mountain! Capitan peak, at 10,083 feet elevation was on the right of the horizon and the 12,003 foot high Sierra Blanca could be seen from 70 miles away, straight ahead. HELL YEAH! Finally! I had nothing to do but head right for them at that point and that’s just what I did. One little pit stop in Billy the Kids territory and I’d soon be at the foothills of those giants. Earlier in the morning Linda and Erin recommended that I take a detour through the little town of Lincoln on my travels that day. Lincoln is a tiny, rustic, western town where it all went down with some of histories more notorious wild west legends, Billy the Kid and his band of Regulators and Pat Garrett and his fellow law men. In Lincoln, five buildings make up the total museum. The old courthouse was the most interesting one for me. It still has a bullet hole in the plaster from, none other than, Billy the Kids six shooter. The building has been kept in an authentic condition and doesn’t feature any modern touch ups. All of the towns museums together tell a great story of a time that won’t soon be forgotten. I am a bit ashamed to say that I went there not knowing a darn thing about who Billy the Kid was or what he did to become so infamous. I left with a decent understanding and was thankful that my BC buddies recommended it.
The roads in that part of New Mexico are lined with gorgeous scenery that will make everything above your shoulders swivel back and forth until you get nauseous. I couldn’t drive a mile without stopping and firing out some pics. Eventually I just had to force myself to make some miles. The rolling fields of golden grass speckled with dark green shrubs all surrounding snow capped mountains was heavenly. The scenery in the west just keeps getting better and better. Eventually I made it to the little alpine town of Ruidoso. By that time, any trace of the desert was gone and I felt like I was in Colorado mixed with a hint of Switzerland, not southern New Mexico. With Sierra Blanca shaking hands with the clouds and every last building looking so damn rustic, I just had to stay a night. Originally I wanted to push on to the White Sands national monument, but there was no way I could just breeze through a town like this. Ruidoso’s style had my name written all over it. I found a cheap room at the, Indian owned, Budget Lodge, unpacked, grabbed my new favorite thing in the world, my camera, and trekked about two miles into town. Once there I found a bar called Quarters and scarfed down the best fish and chips of my life. The bartender told me that their sister bar the “WPS saloon” had live country music. Soon after, I headed that way. The band played all of the covers that I liked and just as in Texas, the New Mexican folks were excellent dancers. I’m a bit envious of the people who can shake a leg for that many songs and look professional the whole time. I think my A.D.D. would have me two steppin on too many toes. I hung around there for a few hours and had a wee bit of whiskey (a lot) before walking back in the snow flurries to the warmth of my cozy room.