And There Was No Room…

at the inn. Anywhere in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Period. End of Story. What? You want more story? No way! Well, OK, if you insist…

This morning was a cold one at the supervolcano, a bone-shivering 47 degrees. The only colder night was a 46-degree affair 10,000 feet up near Monarch Pass. Not even a sleeping bag and two blankets could contain my body heat this morning. Nope. I froze on August 5th. Froze. August. Got it? Good. So I headed out to catch the sunrise over the Valle Grande, the massive meadow that occupies the caldera’s southern floor. To my surprise there was fog everywhere, acting like frozen clouds above the meadow. The volcanic mounds stuck out above the clouds, creating an effect of being suspended in the air while looking down on the earth below. It was cool. Or should that be… cold? Here’s a timelapse video:

This afternoon I decided to start making my way towards home. I drove south through Albuquerque and into the Estancia Valley, a hot, dry basin that once supported three pueblo societies and their Spanish missions. I toured two of the pueblos last year but didn’t have the right video footage to complete a short documentary. So I grabbed a few scenes at some salt lakes (the pueblos were supported by the salt trade). I wanted to camp at Manzano Mountains State Park, a place I stayed last year but… it was closed. Zero for two in the last-year-camping department. Fire danger was too high. Shame. I was looking forward to capturing an amazing sunrise from there. So I took a gamble and drove about 100 miles south to the Carrizozo and Ruidoso region of New Mexico. Carizozo has a volcano and lava field. Not that impressive, to be honest. Ruidoso is a mountainous tourist-y region with a national forest. I drove to a campground some 9,000 feet up a mountainside but when I arrived I started to shiver. It was 6 pm but the temperature was barely above 60. Add some wind chill and I just didn’t have the heart to camp one more night.

That brings me to the “inn” part. I decided to end my vacation with a night at a motel. You know, a reward yourself, get a good night’s sleep kinda thing. So I drove up and down hotel alley in Ruidoso and… no rooms. At all. I asked one desk clerk why and he said, “Some sporting event. For children, I think.” I immediately knew what he meant. I remembered seeing the public park being prepped for a game and I put two and two together. Little League. Regionals. Parents and kids were in town from all over. Talk about bad timing.

So, instead of choosing the Wal-Mart parking lot tonight I drove an hour east to Roswell. Some aliens gave me a lift…. Now I’m at a Days Inn about to turn out the lights and get some rest for the journey home tomorrow. It’s been a good week away from the homeland. Strange at times but good. To this point I’ve driven 2,500 miles, though I never meant to. It kinda just happened. I’ve stayed in seven campgrounds for eight nights, taken thousand of timelapse photos (and a few artistic ones as well) and over eight hours of video. All in the name of fun. Crazy, eh? It wasn’t a spiritual trip as much as a “get away from it all” kind of trip. I brought my guitar and didn’t play it once. I didn’t start off every morning with devotions or end every night singing a hymn of praise. Nope. I just chilled and enjoyed the world God has made. There’s something highly spiritual about seeing the sun rise and set. Or seeing the stars above in brilliant splendor. Or staring up at 14,000-foot peaks and climbing 11,000-foot passes (by car, of course). Or seeing the sun set in the desert, with its mighty browns, reds and yellows.

I’ve been keeping a mental list of observations that I’ll share in the coming days. And there will be some goofy and, hopefully, highly entertaining video to come.

Hope to see everyone soon!

— John


P.S. — Actor Ewan MacGregor once said that the whole world reminds him of Scotland. I believe that if the world looks like Scotland (and it does) then its inhabited by Texans. My people were everywhere. Even in a ghost town like St. Elmo I saw a vacation cottage with Texas memorabilia on the front porch. Scotland and Texas. A great match.