Too Many Happy Faces

We woke to a cool, sunny, windy morning. We headed into Carlsbad about mid-morning with only a loose idea of what we might do. But, first we went to mail a couple of packages at the Lakewood, NM Post Office just down the road from the campground. It’s literally all by itself in the middle of nowhere and looks more like restrooms at a highway rest stop than a post office

There were a few more errands to run including an oil change for the truck at Wal-mart. While we were signing in for the oil change there was a fellow sitting on a bench with his dog. He would put the dog on the ground, tell it to come up, and the dog would walk up his legs with front paws on the right leg and back paws on the left. Very funny to watch.

They had the right oil and filter in stock so, while that was happening I went into the store to get some juice and yogurt.

On a whim, I went to the CD section, and almost collided with an archetypal cowboy coming ‘round the corner. On the next aisle, I passed him again and he asked me if I had a license. I said I was looking for Willie Nelson, singing ‘On the Road Again’. The cowboy’s friend, a big, mustached Mexican, joined us and the three of us started searching the bins! They asked why I needed that specific song. I said we were traveling and that song would help us get on the road. The cowboy asked about our trip, and when I told him, he said, “You really do need that song!” They looked carefully through the disorder of the country racks and his friend found it: the 16 top Willie Nelson favorites, for only $6.88! When they asked me what we’d liked best on our travels, I replied easily, ‘All the nice people we’ve met.’ They grinned from ear to ear. I wish I’d thought to take their pictures, but I’ll see them in my mind’s eye every time we play Willie. So, we got our oil change, yogurt, and Willy all at Wal-mart and were out before noon.

Headed generally in the direction of the caverns, we stopped at the National Parks Visitors’ Center in town for information on the caverns. After talking with the ranger, we decided it would be better to wait for an earlier start tomorrow.

We stopped for lunch at Happys, and were happy we did. Under the tall yellow sign was a restaurant that had seen better days, but the chicken quesadillas were the best we’d ever had.

As we held the door for a lady leaving the restaurant, she asked if this was the first time we’d been there. We said yes; it had been a ‘happy’ choice. She said the owner had been an actress of bit parts in Hollywood, with all sorts of memorabilia collections, and that burgers and breakfasts there were really good. The actress’s name has slipped my mind, so we just might have to go back for breakfast and some stories.

We used the coolness of the afternoon to visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park, on a high ridge overlooking Carlsbad. While we were there, the sky in the distance grew very dark with ominous clouds moving towards us on very high winds. We feared a thunderstorm, exposed as we were, but it was a large dust storm sweeping across the valley that totally blocked the view of Carlsbad for a time. Very impressive, and a bit scary to a northerner.

Learned a lot about desert plants and animals, which will make our travels more informed. We also learned about the bats of the caverns. Maybe tomorrow?

Wal-mart and Happys, way too many happy faces for one day.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Food, Historic Sites, Weather

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