Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Camping North of Carlsbad NM

The Astrals left Fort Stockton and headed north through west Texas, making for a campground just north of Carlsbad NM, a place famous for the caverns. (More about the caverns in a later post.) It was a lonely drive through some fairly desolate yet strangely beautiful landscapes. As far as we could tell Orla, TX was a ghost town. Maybe it's inhabited, but we saw no evidence of that. 

Here's a representative sample of the Orla visible from Route 285. This
was right near the crossroads that seems to define Orla.

Another state notch on the Astral traveling belt. Not sure whose 
responsible for the shotgun dents, but, Texas, I'm a-looking at you.

It's not everyday you see a water tower named after your
favorite rabbit. Otis, this one's for you babe,

We pulled into Carlsbad a bit peckish for lunch. parked and happened
upon the Trinty Hotel, a lodging place in an historic building that just 
happened to have the most amazing restaurant.

Astral Wendy ordered the Pork Shank on mashed potatoes and they brought
out a mastodon on an Everest of spuds. The pork was fall-off-the-bone tender
and the mashed mountain could have fed a family of four. The gravy was flavored with red cabbage, onion, and bacon. I had to taste it for review purposes. Delightful! The only thing missing
was a star on that tree of rosemary.

My order came steaming and sizzling so hot I couldn't 
even see my plate.

Ah! There it is. Gigantic shrimp wrapped in serrano peppers, cheese,
and applewood smoked bacon. I barely touched the wild rice.

North of Carlsbad, it's flat and deserty.

We camped at Brantley Lake State Park. Nowhere near as dramatic
as Big Bend, but it had a tranquil quiet beauty and some decent hiking
and biking trails. Also, it was almost empty so we enjoyed the peace
and quiet. Not much in the way of wildlife danger here, I think, as
the garbage cans weren't even bear- or racoon-proof. The only warnings
were for West Nile Virus from mosquito bites and I didn't even see a 
mosquito. let alone get a bit.

The lake is man-made behind a dam and the water
levels were pretty low. We hiked around the lake
edge and it looked like the water was down about 
12 feet from the norm.

Astral Wendy heading lakeside.

This bird ran afoul of some predator. The park officials were 
excited by some recent Jaguarundi sitings. The Jaguarundi
is a small wild cat that has a longish body like a weasel. They're
pretty rare this far north.

Are you the predator? Hmm...could be.

Find the rabbit and win a prize.

Here's the cozy sleeping quarters of the Eurovan. It went down
to 27F the first night, so cuddling is a survival skill.

Whaddya mean I hit a wrong note? I have this
little Washburn Rover Traveling guitar to mess 
around with. Full fretboard and tiny body.

Here's a nice view of the lake from our campsite.

We did a little biking around the park.

Lots of open land here.

It's a little early for the spring bloom.

Go, Astral Wendy, Go!

Camp Cuisine: Chicken with Rice flavored with onion, garlic, and
freshly peeled mandarin oranges. Side of greens with dried cranberries
and almonds.

The sunsets here were sweet and sometimes dramatic. Then
it was time to get under the covers and wait for the freeze.

Sleeping in the cold is not so bad. It's the getting up that kills.
Here, Astral Wendy embraces the dawn with a smile.

The trails down by the lake featured a bit more vegetation.

A shoreline composition.

Last night there, the sky exploded.

Here's a Western Cottontail. They're a lot grayer than the Eastern
Cottontails we're used to back home in NJ.

For comparison, here's a spoiled brat rabbit sampling some
Southwestern sticks.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow*

T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men


  1. beautiful shots of the sky guys

  2. Gorgeous sunset! Nice action shots of Otis and his wild cousin. But that pork shank -- holy moly! I was so stunned by its size and that huge mound of spuds that I didn't even NOTICE the rosemary tree until I read your commentary!

  3. @ Colin... your Dad can sure rustle up a great meal on a campfire stove!

    @ Dale... finally found the camera setting that doesn't distort the sunsets... I didn't have to alter the photos a bit!

    @ Debra... thanks Debra. It was an obscene hunk of meat and although it was an excellent meal somehow it took away my appetite just looking at it. There was no justice done on that meal! Otis is very aloof to the wild bunnies who come to visit our campsite... little Lord Fauntleroy we call him.

  4. Enjoyed chatting with you at the bookstore. Hope you enjoy your time in Roswell. If you are here a while longer, the are a couple of mom and pop cafes you may like. The Cowboy Cafe is on East Second and La Casita is about 3 blocks south of the UFO museum (can't miss it, it's painted NEON YELLOW). The chile rellenos at La Casita are great (of course I don't know how it compares to a mt of mashed potatoes and mastedon) Adelante... vaya con Dios.

  5. @Anonymous: Thanks for the tips. The Contemporary Art Museum (which we never would have found on our own) was truly amazing. La Casita looked a little sketchy to me but now I HAVE to try the rellenos. Love the Mexican food here!

  6. spoiled brat rabbit.....laughinggggg
    i am just now catching up with your astral travels. it's all wonderful and i love it!

  7. @Kathy: Whoa, that was a long ago in Astral time. Thanks for catching up.

  8. Bless you and all Eurovan owners (me and hubby included :) )

  9. @Anonymous: Thanks. Are you keeping a blog too? We'e been off the road for awhile now but the itch is returning. Cheers.

  10. We are centrally located for a whole array of beautiful area attractions. mobile homes for rent

  11. I hope you don't mind I would like to post one of your pics on my facebook, thanks in advance Levi

  12. Certainly Levi! That would be great, as the Astrals freely share! Namaste!