Day 15. March 3rd.
We were right about rigs belonging to the oil workers, although they were trying to be considerate us light sleepers were not going to be able to ignore the rumbles of the trucks firing up and idling around the campground between 4 and 5am as they made their way to work. We got up to a chilly damp morning just before 7am with a lot of miles ahead of us today, unfortunately too many to even consider a visit to Carlsbad caverns. It was a shame but you have to make choices and we have some pretty good caves in the UK we have explored. By the time we had breakfast, got showered, tidied the 'house', unhooked and crossed the road to top up our fuel tank it was already close to 10am. Time to get a 'wiggle' on with over 400 miles to cover to reach our destination, Lake Lyman SP in AZ.
Click here for this RTA Library Map
We head north on US285 past Brantley Lake and through Artesia to Roswell. As we approached Roswell there was another piece of John Cerney roadside art depicting a Rancher and his family welcoming aliens. We continued into town and past the UFO museum, not only did we not have the time to stop, we didn't have the desire.
We accidentally missed our turning onto US380 and continued on 285 past the impressive Chavis county courthouse north of town before cutting across on the 246 to US70/380, adding a few extra miles we could of done without. At the town of Hondo US70/380 split and we took 380 on the 'Billy the Kid Trail' to Lincoln NM, a historic town named after Abraham Lincoln. Originally called Las Placitas del Rio Bonito by the Spanish families who settled it in the 1850s, the name of the community was changed to Lincoln when Lincoln County was created in January 16, 1869. The Lincoln Historic District was made a National Landmark in 1960 and is well known for it's links to the Lincoln county wars and the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid. Billy the Kid, an orphan who took to robbing and eventually murder was thought to have killed 8 men before being shot dead aged just 21 years by Pat Garrett. He gained notoriety through press and eventually film, securing his place in history. Having watched the likes of Paul Newman play the role, we always wanted to be 'Billy' as kids when playing cowboys and Indians, but the reality is different. He was a scrawny so and so who looked like he had fallen from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down ! Haha
Billy the Kid Trail.
Riding into Lincoln.
We walked through town and read lots of interesting facts written on boards outside certain properties and had a look in a couple of stores before 'saddling up' and getting back on the Trail to Capitan. We had hoped to detour to Fort Stanton and Snowy river cave but time was an issue so we just enjoyed the Capitan mountains.
Capitan is the adopted home of Smokey bear. Smokey was a small cub when he was rescued outside of town in the Capitan Gap fire in1950. Ranger Ray Bell took him in and cared for him and he was then sent to Washington Zoo. He became a living symbol for the Forest services 'Smokey bear' fire safety and awareness campaigns and became somewhat of a legend. After his death in 1976 he was returned home to be buried in what is now known as the Smokey bear National historic park in Capitan. For just $2 you can enter the park and check out the splendid exhibits and watch TV interviews of Ray Bell telling his story of Smokey. You can then walk in the garden and visit Smokey's final resting place. It was a wonderful short stop and amazing value.
The town was a little run down but had some interesting homes with old cars out front, a few stores and the Smokey bear restaurant where we decided to eat lunch. It was a bit dated but also kind of quaint, much more of an old locals and truckers cafe than a restaurant. The food was fairly basic, but good old fashion tucker which was enjoyable enough and good value.
Capitan 'Antique' store.
With over 250 miles still to cover and time running away from us we were back on the road making our way towards Arizona, not knowing we would narrowly miss potential disaster !