I wanted to go to Carlsbad Caverns next, but I had to make a decision about how to get there. I had had a significant amount of difficulty climbing the mountain to Cloudscroft yesterday, and I struggled with the decision of trying to climb it in the truck a second time to pass over the mountain range to Carlsbad. There was another path, but it involved leaving New Mexico, passing through El Paso, and going up through Texas to get back into New Mexico. This second path was shorter by about 2 hours. It also went through the natural pass in the mountains – El Paso. After some struggle with crossing this artificial state boundary line, I decided to go this route – for safety and environmental reasons.
So, I pass down through El Paso recalling the trip that I had made on the way up. I had stopped in the very nice archeological museum there – looking for work, but also taking in a fascinating exhibit.
I loaded up on water, charging my camera a little, and then headed down the highway. I somehow missed the exit for highway 62, and ended up heading in what I believed to be the right direction down some dirt roads for several miles. Some times the dirt roads lead somewhere, sometimes they lead to a closed gate. I wasn’t really sure. This road was sure bumpy, and one lane at least some of the way. It was a good opportunity to run the dogs, and I took advantage of it.
A metaphor for life – a long unnamed road leading into the horizon with no signposts or map.
Towards the end of this road, I carefully negotiated 2 huge sinkholes, and then hit the 3rd one head on, blowing the alignment on the truck, and without knowing it fracturing the solar panel that I had in the back. Maybe the solar panels are ok, and just the glass can be replaced. It was expensive.
About 50 miles down the road, I pulled over – everything was overheating, and I take a little nap. My bloodsugar was a little high from the trail mix I had been eating. When I woke up, I went to give myself a little more insulin, and discover to my dismay that the backpack that my insulin was in had flown out of the truck when I hit the sinkhole. Panic. Not having enough money to buy another bottle ($25), I weighed my options.
1) Find the backpack and insulin.
2) Go back to El Paso and panhandle for enough change for insulin.
3) Go to a hospital.
The simplest solution was to go back and look for the backpack. There hadn’t been any traffic on the road, so it might still be there. This was for me a trip-ending event if I didn’t get insulin. Amazingly, the backpack was still there. Everything had flown out of the truck, and landed in a most spectacular conceptual art piece:
A Bump in the Road. A loaf of bread, an empty water bottle, the red backpack, and the empty dog bowl of water next to a thirsty tree…
I felt enormous relief…It was as if the day’s work had been accomplished. It is hard for someone who is not diabetic to imagine the crisis that being without insulin is.
As the road teed onto pavement at Hueco Tanks, I remembered my passage there on the way up. I had taken a picture that I had entitled “In between a Rock and a Hard Place”. That had described my situation pretty well without insulin…
In between a rock and a hard place rockclimbing at Hueco Tanks.
The park had been a nice visit 1 month ago, but I had had to leave the dogs with some kids at a neighboring ranch campsite to go in for a couple of hours. The rock climbing had been fun, and there had been cave paintings, natural indentations to collect water in front of the caves, and a beautiful sunset.
I pushed on to Carlsbad, stopping to pick up a stranded hitchhiker with a little 2 month old Navaho puppy named Che before Guadelupe Mountain National Park. Since there was no room in the cab of the pickup, the 2 of them had a pretty chilly ride in the bed of the pickup, and I left them warm and inside at a rest stop while I wrote.
Another beautiful night of stars. I counted 42 lights in the picture including the moon (bright), but I may not have gotten them all.