From Holloman Air Force Base, I continued north on US-70, skirting the edge of the Sacramento Mountains to where it merges with the Sierra Blanco Mountain Range, to a town called Ruidoso, NM. I had planned to travel straight to Carlsbad to see my cousins, Scott and Julie, and the town’s famous caverns, but it turned out that they were spending time up in Ruidoso, so I happily added the mountain town to my itinerary.
I met up with Scott and Julie at K-Bob’s Steakhouse, where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and catching up on each other’s lives. As we tried to nail down the last time we saw each other, we realized that it was back in 2003 when I was on another road trip (pre-biker days, so in a car); it had been 19 years! As we wound down our lunch visit, Scott looked over my road atlas with me to help plot out my route to follow-on destinations. He and Julie graciously offered for me to stay with their kids, Linda and Gavin, at their house in Carlsbad. I hadn’t seen my first cousins, once removed (what a weird way to describe a familial relationship) in almost 20 years either, so I was thrilled to get the chance to see them again and actually spend a little time getting to know them better.
I figured that since I was so close, I should route through Roswell, NM to see what all the alien hype was about. There were alien references and images sprinkled throughout the town (including the infamous spaceship shaped McDonalds), but the town was much more subdued than I expected. As someone at the Alien Museum pointed out, the town comes alive with all types of alien events during the summertime UFO festival, but most of the time, it’s just a regular town.
From Roswell, I took US-285 south and rolled up to the house in Carlsbad just in time for supper. The last time I had seen Linda and Gavin, they were just kids, so I knew they wouldn’t really remember me. Undeterred, they got me settled in and we got re-acquainted over a delicious dinner prepared by Linda. My time with these cousins reminded me, yet again, how great it is to have the time and resources to travel and re-connect with family in friends. Now I just have to convince them to come to North Carolina for a little lake vacation soon!
With family reunions complete, it was time to explore the caverns for which Carlsbad is famous…