Mad In Pursuit Notebook

Roswell NM

Day 19: Roswell to Carlsbad, NM (74 mi)

26 Oct 2008, Sunday-- A change of pace as we unexpectedly took to the great outdoors.

Our guidebook mentioned Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refugenear Roswell NM, so we started the day off there (photo above). We were amazed at the flocks of sandhill cranes flying overhead and landing in the lakes. And the wonderful solitude. Nice to be in a place where the background sound isn’t the rumble of traffic. Luckily we had our binoculars and a bird book. We toured around and saw coots and another kind of duck, common black and redtail hawks, snowy egrets, and a couple white-faced ibis.

As usual, we seemed to get twisted around trying to leave the Roswell area – iPhone GPS to the rescue once again. Eventually we headed south toward Carlsbad. The landscape is flat now and increasingly hot (even though we are still above 3000 ft). Cattle ranches, oil and natural gas thingies, cotton fields. Towns are few and far between and even these have few amenities, if any. We need to be prepared with our own drinks and snacks.

Near Carlsbad, we stopped (also on impulse) at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. Okay, despite the flat landscape this is way up on a mountain with sweeping views of Carlsbad and the plains around us. The facility (kind of a desert botanical garden, with a few animal exhibits) is designed to educate the public on the flora and fauna of the Chihuahua Desert, which extends from here down through Mexico. It’s nice to have all the plants labeled so we know what we’re seeing as we drive – yucca cactus, juniper, etc.

Living Desert Zoo and Garden State Park, NM

We’re going to spend two nights here in Carlsbad. Tomorrow, the caverns!

From my handwritten notes:

At the end of a long day of nature observing -- a question: Why is naming so important? Shouldn't seeing be enough? Sometimes "just seeing" for me results in a blur -- not a "right-brain" appreciation of the WHOLE. Differentiating, labeling, sorting out seems to allow me to appreciate the WHOLE better -- Like reading "Blood and Thunder" -- the Old West emerges as an intricate weaving with a discernable design, no just a mass of ground up wool (gray felt) that represents my old cliches, conclusions and stereotypes. I guess if all you care about are labels and lists and taxonomies the weaving is just a collection of threads and catalog of patterns. But, if you can see "the whole" as a coherent pattern of specifics that hang together in a specific way -- don't you have some potential to break through the old conclusions and stereotypes? In a new environment seeing the pattern of the whole means discerning, individuating. If you understand that a big bird is a crane vs a hawk, you see their role in the landscape and the ecosystem more clearly.

If you only want to "feel the magic" -- the supernatural -- will you miss the wonders in the details and intricacies of the here and now?

Zuzu and Zim go birdwatching in Roswell, with Unidentified Flying Objects:

zuzu and zim

Internal dialogue: “Oh! My drawings would be SO much better if I hadn’t limited myself to index cards and pens/pencils with big fat points. And sitting on the bed by the light of a 60-watt bulb. And then trying to “scan” a drawing by holding my camera still in the same dim motel room light – fuhgeddaboudit.”

“Shut up and draw.”

Sigh. Isn’t there a proverb about the poor worker who curses her tools? We have seen plenty of vibrant drawings done 150 years ago out here on the frontier using only color pencils on crappy paper.