Several years ago, we had taken a road trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and when taking long trips by car, we will often stop at places of interest along the way. On this particular trip our journey took us past Fort Sumner New Mexico, which is the location of the tombstone for the infamous Billy the Kid, as well as Roswell New Mexico, the site of a supposed UFO crash that the government is covering up. We knew that we wanted to stop at Roswell, but stopping at Billy the Kid’s tombstone was a spur of the moment decision when we saw signs on the road for the attraction. While visiting the caverns was definitely the purpose of the trip, those added stops made the entire trip that much more interesting.
There isn’t much else to see in Fort Sumner other than Billy the Kid’s tombstone, but for a quick detour while traveling through New Mexico, it was fun to see. With all of the technology that surrounds us in our modern world, it is somehow relaxing to reflect on just how recent it was that our world was not so complex. According to legend, Billy the Kid shot and killed twenty-one men, although current belief is that it was only eight men, before being gunned down by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881. From Fort Sumner, we continued on to Roswell and we went from life in the old west to space invaders in the span of less than an hour.
Do aliens really exist? We’re not sure if they do, but we are positive that there are more than enough unique individuals on earth that we don’t need to import them from space. As it turned out, it was the annual UFO Festival when we arrived in Roswell, so the town was crowded with enthusiasts. After spending a few hours surrounded by people in costume, wearing tin foil hats, ufologists, and vendors trying to sell us UFO memorabilia, we were ready to jump into a spaceship and head to the rugged terrain of Carlsbad.
We were just there for a weekend trip, so our time in Carlsbad was fairly short, but we definitely enjoyed the caverns and the town. One of the more unique things, other than touring the caverns and learning about stalagmites and stalactites, was learning about the bats. Hundreds of bats make the Carlsbad Cavern their home and at sunset they all fly out over the heads of the tourists seated in the amphitheater to watch the spectacle. It is quite impressive to see as there are so many of them that they literally look like a swirling black cloud as they zoom off to feed. The kids enjoyed making bat guano jokes throughout the return trip home, but at least they listened to the ranger talk during the tour.
So, whether making a drive across country or just getting away for the weekend like we did, it is certainly worth making little detours along the way. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination” and so should your travels. Make the most of the journey and you’ll enjoy the destination that much more.