We drove into Santa Rosa, NM last night with intentions to camp at Santa Rosa Lake State Park. We arrived around 6:30 and drove about 7 miles out from civilization to a desolate desert landscape. Flora was limited to sporadic tree-like bushes and the occasional cactus. Every step was accompanied by an audible crackling as the dead, dry grasses and broken limbs gave way under our weight. We hiked downhill about three-quarters of a mile to the edge of the lake encountering lizards, crickets, birds and jack rabbits along the way. Snakes were a concern as we weaved our way through the tall grasses but thankfully there were no unwelcome encounters.
We returned to the road, set up our camp and prepared for dinner; mac and cheese with hot dogs (for Sean and Andy). As the sun set the wind began to pick up taking on ferocious speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Andy and Sean struggled to tie down our tent as I unsuccessfully attempted to cook macaroni on our butane powered stove. It became clear within minutes that our tent would not be able to withstand these conditions. Intermittent gusts flattened the tent on top of itself as it tried valiantly to break away from the rocks that were pinning it to the dusty desert floor.
At this point we began ferrying all of our belongings back to the car. Not only had the wind picked up, but the temperature dropped, mischievous looking clouds rolled in, and the blackness of the night surrounded us. Despite the chaos I was somehow able to cook four hot dogs for Sean and Andy. With all of our belongings safely tossed haphazardly into the car we made our way to a nearby Motel 8, somewhat defeated. I, however, was quite content, anticipating the gloriousness of four walls, a bed and a real bathroom.
As it turned out, temperatures dropped into the low 50s last night and it started raining during the early morning hours. I can't say I'm disappointed that I avoided waking up to the unexpected sensation of raindrops pelting me in the face. Instead, I enjoyed the previously taken for granted and under appreciated warmth of a cozy bed and the satisfaction of a hot breakfast. Ultimately, our experience in the lonesome New Mexico desert, isolated by miles of flat, deserted plains, is one that I will look back on and smile, remembering fondly our shattered expectations and admirable adaptation.