Living on a farm is fabulous. It is a great life to wake up and smell the fresh air. But, operating a farm is also hard work. It is early morning and late evenings. You must work, despite the heat, ticks and mosquitoes. But sometimes, you have to get away from it all! Especially after the successful start to our farming career.
In walks Road Trip 2017. We started planning our summer get away back in the spring. The kids immediately asked why we’d travel in September and not the traditional summer months. The answer was easy…. We live on a farm. At this point, I got a lot of blank stares. So, what that translates into, is that the summer months are when our summer crops are being harvested. And you can’t expect the vegetables to pick themselves!
This year, we decided to hit the trail to see the old West. Nothing like a good ol' road trip to get the blood going again! The first part of our leg was just getting out of Texas. Before we moved, we lived in the DFW Metroplex and it was in the middle of Texas. But now, we live up in the farthest northeastern corner of the state. It took us a full day to reach our first stop in Artesia, New Mexico.
Our destination wasn’t this picturesque small town. It was simply going to be our pit stop for Carlsbad Caverns. But, we found the town to be inviting. We stayed at the Comfort Inn & Suites Artesia where the staff was truly amazing. I had forgotten that we needed a roll-away bed and they found one with no additional charge! Liz, the night manager, helped us find a place to eat and answered our five million questions. The breakfast had so many choices that no one in the family complained...EVER. This is a major deal!
Artesia has a cute walking trail through its downtown area. They have some original sculptures that harmonize to the city’s history. The area is also within walking distance of the hotel which is extra nice. It makes a nice evening walk. You can time it and eat dinner at Alma’s, a family operated Mexican Restaurant.
Our first full day started with an early morning trip to Carlsbad Caverns. If you have putting this off, then it is definitely time to go ! The lines were so much shorter during the Labor Day weekend than the summer months. Let me take a moment to recommend that you purchase a National Parks Pass, if your trips will take you by at least two National Parks. Dear hubby purchased his Senior National Parks Pass in August for $10 before they raised the price to $80! We visited a total of 5 different National Parks and got in free! A worthwhile investment.
We spent about three hours in the caverns. Of course, when you are 750 feet underground, you just don’t notice the time. We took the self-guided tour and entered the cave through the natural entrance. I’m going to be honest. When I first looked at the descent into the cave, I almost told them that I’d meet them at the car. But, I cast off my fear of heights for the family good and had a tremendous time….bat guano and all.
Three hours later, we took the elevator up and had lunch at Carlsbad Caverns Trading Company. It is located just steps away from the elevator. I was expecting mediocre based on some reviews I had read while planning, but I got extraordinary! They used an avocado spread on my sandwich that has me switching from plain old mustard. The chicken veggie soup was soothing with just the right amount of spice. They are a bit pricey but well worth it!
Now, what is a trip to New Mexico without a visit to Roswell? Even if you are not an UFO enthusiast, it’s a fun side trip. The whole town embraces the “little green” men theme! We drove down the main drag to the International UFO Museum & Research Center and took a self-guided tour. It’ll make your mind wonder about the validity of the Area 51 claims.
From New Mexico, we headed north towards Denver, Colorado. We took Hwy 285 because it took us through some beautiful scenic highway. If you love winding roads along a beautiful river, then this is your highway! But more importantly, we could get to Dixon, New Mexico from this highway. Why Dixon, you ask? Dixon is home to La Chiripada which is owned and operated by the Johnson Family. The winery has been creating award-winning wines for over 35 years and is New Mexico's oldest winery! Their wines are beyond amazing. You can go in and taste every wine they have for a donation. This farm wife needs her wine. Needless to say, I left with a few bottles and a plan to order more. They just recently started marketing outside of just word of mouth. Yes, the wines are that good!
After replenishing our wine stock, we stopped at one of the local apple farms in Dixon. There's nothing like a New Mexico apple or pear! The climate in this river valley makes it the perfect place to grow fruit. We loaded up on sweet Red Delicious and Bartlett pears. They had been picked just hours before our arrival. They were a perfect snack for our long drive to Denver, Colorado
Check back for the next part of our adventure that needed its own blog post!