Rolling through Southern New Mexico in record high temps the starship campervan began to feel more like a vehicle from Mad Max. Covered in Dust, an insect graveyard upon the grill and bumper. The previous morning I’d hit a tumble weed. Am I an official “road warrior”? May I point out the van is a tiny home on wheels, NOT a finely tuned super car. Yet somehow, we managed to dodge countless birds, deer, and a fox. Mother Nature really needs to start a wildlife/ woodland creatures suicide counseling program.
Pulling into Elephant Butte, New Mexico’s largest state park, I was a bit let down. A giant reservoir in the middle of a desert is impressive, but we’re from South East Texas we have giant lakes everywhere. Speed boats and bikini girls drinking “wine coolers” blaring loud music isn’t my personal ideal of a majestic nature experience. Oh well, it’s a place to park the van and take a much-needed shower!
Just before sunset on the horizon an unusual cloud began to develop. The result of a small “sand storm”. Suspended sand and soil drifted and twisted painting the skyline with brush strokes of rich oranges, reds, purples, and blues. The following morning a mirrored lake surface, yet untouched, accented what may be the most exquisite sunrise I will ever see!
Heading ever West a sign caught my attention, “Ice Cave”. It’s 103 degrees, what tourist trap dark magic is this “ice cave” you speak of? A short hike found us at a set of stairs. Descending before me Lauren let out a gasp. “You have to feel this, it’s incredible”. Within a few steps the temperature dropped to 30 degrees. The insolating property of lava rock, a perfectly angled cave opening, and thousands of years’ worth of winter ice created what could only be described as natures perfect (Ice Box).
Through a lifelong love of literature, eloquence, and education, at a loss for words a single phrase quietly slipped from my lips WTF. Sorry, but even John Muir cussed sometimes. Adding to the splendor of a 25 plus feet thick ice floor within an underground volcanic tube was a green alga which shouldn’t grow here.
The following day we visited El Morro National Monument. A dry arid terrain supporting hardy wild flowers, cactus and scrub brush. Yet, getting closer to the large rock formations were larger trees and lush flora. Just around a bend was a pool surrounded by cattails, and water plants. What on earth? I was born and raised in the Piney Woods and marshes of South East Texas. What is a cattail doing in the desert? Cactus growing next to Pine trees, wow!!
This water sustained life and as such this area was first inhabited by Native Americans who built elaborate stone structures. The rock walls are adorned with their art, along with the signatures of Spanish Conquistadors, and early settlers.
Later that day Lauren and I sat before a plate of amazing nachos, within the Ancient Ways Café. An establishment which could possibly be described as “New Age”, or “Hippie”. Gay pride flags flapped in the dry arid breeze. A large sign on the wall said, “we have the right to serve everyone” and another “All lives matter, and water is life”
THAT SIGN?. All lives matter, red, yellow, black, white, age, gender, etc. Yet as a society we spend a great deal of effort arguing if they matter equally. I’m not looking for a fight merely sharing what I pondered over those amazing nachos. Water is life, everywhere we find it, there’s life. We are often amazed and surprised by its splendor. The alga that shouldn’t exist, a cave full of ice in the summer heat, or a magical sunset in a sand storm over a giant lake. Just as water is life, so is love. Where there is love, life will thrive!