Day 33- Angel Peak, NM- Roswell, NM * Day 34- Roswell, NM- White’s City, NM
Our pop down game is the best it’s ever been. I woke at 7:36am and we were on the road by 8:24. Our next stop is Roswell. We were thinking seeing some alien stuff would be cool. I still think that, but Roswell during COVID is no place I want to be. Everything there that is interesting is closed, and everything there that sells your necessities is overrun with non maskers.
I’m getting ahead of myself. The day started great and we were really enjoying the drive until I got a call from my car insurance agent who informed me that there was a discrepancy with last months payment (not sure what happened, but the auto draft didn’t go through and we didn’t catch it) and that if we didn’t pay by today, the policy would cancel tomorrow. So we transferred funds from Venmo and PayPal to make the unexpected payment. This normally wouldn’t have been a big deal but all of the rest of the Quarantour 2020 gigs have been cancelled thus eliminating all guaranteed income for the rest of our trip. The stress set in and for the first time on this journey, I turned inward.
As a person that battles depression, I am grateful that I’ve gone as long as I have on this trip without feeling the stress and anxiety that comes along with it. And I’m very lucky to have a woman by my side that understands what I go through because the majority of the time, she takes the brunt of my frustrations. And that was the case today. The following incidents didn’t help any either.
Right as we backed our camper into our tight little spot in our Roswell RV park, our neighbor accidentally dumped her waste line all over the strip of grass between us. My jaw dropped and I was speechless as she fumbled for words to apologize. We were kind about the occurrence. Maggie said, “I live with these two. I smell shit all the time.” Inside I was fuming and so was the strip of grass outside my front door.
The owner came by quickly to spread kitty litter so that the smell would evolve to kitty shit. I’m not sure what the thought process was there. The only thing worse than the smell of human shit is kitty shit. Shit. Maggie loaded up our essential oil diffuser and I went in to lay down.
We were all tired from the last few days of hikes and late night stargazing, so a rest up period after our pop up was in order. We all laid down for a couple hours before remembering we needed to grab a few essentials from Wal Mart. Still tired and cranky, we loaded in the car.
Now, every store I’ve gone in across the nation has signs up informing customers that masks are required for entry. And in every store I’ve gone in across the country, every employee of each store was masked. Of course, there were always a few non masking customers who I guess don’t believe in science, but most people have been masked in stores. Not in Roswell. Not the customers or the employees. The ones that donned masks were wearing them as mouth covers or as chin straps. I thought about my friend, Chris, saying that wearing a mask like a chinstrap is like wearing a condom on your foot. He speaks truth.
We avoided contact with anyone and got what we needed, but the stress of this situation only added momentum to my downward spiral. I recognized where I was at mentally and apologized to Maggie for my mood and often sharp reactions. I made a conscious effort to pull out of my funk.
We returned to camp to cook dinner to find that whole RV park smelled like a horse farm, or maybe a zoo. Yes, a zoo. It smelled like the elephant exhibit at the Audubon Zoo. I lit a stick of incense and placed it nearby as I cooked ramen noodles for me and the boy. Maggie made herself tuna salad. We had laundry to do as well which had us walking back and forth across the park. I ended up lighting every last stick of incense I had and strategically placed them about every ten feet between our camper and the laundry room. Shit.
After a day like today, there was nothing that could salvage my outlook. The only thing I could do was sleep and hope for a better tomorrow.
I couldn’t wait to get out of here. Our neighbor had pulled out early and it seemed as if the smell had left with her, so that was nice. Maggie took off to grab some coffee with some points she had as I was troubleshooting an issue with our bed’s sliding rails. The bed was pulling out too far on one side, and it has been getting worse the last few days. I found the issue and when Maggie returned, I left for Home Depot for a bolt and locking nut to serve as a stop for the slide.
Home Depot was no different than Wal Mart. I got exactly what I needed and returned to fix the bed. In just a few minutes and only a few profanities later, our bed slide was fixed. Maggie was elated as she had been becoming more and more worried about the issue. We popped down and we were on our way.
I still had a bit of a bad attitude this morning and I recognized it early. The stress of the income lost from the cancelled gigs still had me reeling about how much just getting home would cost, much less all the things we wanted to do along the way.
I had a great conversation with Michael Delaney, who owns Delaney guitars, and is currently building a custom guitar for me as a Delaney endorsed guitarist. He builds beautiful guitars and was actually working on mine when we spoke. Mike is a great guy and talking with him on the phone instantly made me feel better. Of course, there was the excitement of him working on my guitar, but aside from that, our conversations flow so organically as if we have been friends for years. I’m really happy to become a part of the Delaney guitar family.
With a spot of brightness in my day, we continued on to White’s City RV Park, just a few miles outside of Carlsbad Caverns. We laughed at how bare bones the park was, popped up and headed out for a hike. We chose a trail called Devil’s Hall which was in the Guadalupe Mountains just south of the New Mexico/ Texas border. This was our most ambitious trail yet at 4.4 miles. August whined a little at first, but in true August fashion, even after falling and hurting his knee and having a stomach ache, he ended up crushing the hike.
The post hike high is great. I felt good again. We were made aware of the bat flight that occurs nightly at the cavern, checked the time, and immediately drove that direction after the hike. We arrived a few minutes early and waited eagerly for what we thought would be something more special than it actually was. I guess it varies night by night as far as how dense the population of bats are leaving the cavern, but I know tonight was not one for the books. We saw small spurts of three and four bats here and there, but nothing like our friends had seen a few weeks back.
We made some new friends who were parked a few spots down and talked with them until the sun had expired. They had been on the road for six weeks and weren’t planning on going home anytime soon. We shared a few hike suggestions, said our goodbyes and headed back to camp for dinner.
While Maggie cooked for herself and August, I heated up some leftover quesadillas as I set up for a live stream show from the campground. I figured with all the other gigs canceled, I could still hopefully generate a few tips from a good old fashioned live stream.
I set up just alongside the camper, hidden from other campers in hopes to avoid anyone coming over to hear the music. The set was a low volume one that I thought felt great. There was great interaction with all who were tuned in and everyone was generous with their tips. There were even a few campers from down the way that I caught out of the corner of my eye that were enjoying the show from a distance.
I am just so grateful for the ability to play and sing and write in a manner that affects others in a positive light. And I’m so grateful for all of you who are affected by my music so much so that you share your generosity with me and my family. Just by playing the music and interacting over the live stream tonight, I was able pull myself out of my funk.
And to be quite honest, looking back on the stress of yesterday, I really think it was less about the money, and more about the gigs being cancelled. Of course, losing the expected income hurt, but not enough to tarnish the rest of our trip. I just needed to play. It’s part of what makes me me. So I’ll keep playing wherever and whenever I can and for whoever will listen.
And once again, in the words of the late great Spencer Bohren, “Be good to yourselves and each other.”