Welcome back to Living Purposefully! Once again, thank you a million times over for reading what little ‘ol me has to say 🙂
Today on the blog I want to share a recap about my trip to Texas and New Mexico that left me feeling incredibly relaxed, refreshed, and renewed before heading back to work. I also want to talk a bit about allllll of the little speed bumps that happened during our trip, but instead of dwelling on them negatively, I want to talk about why speed bumps and how we respond to them are actually incredibly beneficial.
So let’s get started on the trip!
Blake and I had initially planned to leave Friday night for Texas but I woke up feeling pretty sick on Friday, which I blame on not getting enough sleep this week (I am an infant with how much sleep I require). I had initially wanted to tough it out but quickly realized I was going to be miserable on a 10-hour drive, so we decided to push it back a night just to be safe. This was a bit of a bummer considering how excited we both were!
I went to the doctor on Friday evening after work and got some antibiotics for basically a cold and I ended up feeling 10x better after my first round of medicine already. So when I woke up Saturday morning feeling completely like myself, I was so so thankful we waited an extra night.
Check off why speed bump #1 ended up being a good thing!
Fast forward to Saturday night around 9:30 when I said goodbye to my baby girl, Bella, and we were off! We arrived in Quitaque, Texas at Caprock Canyons State Park around 7:30 in the morning and we.were.tired. Now, Blake is a rockstar and drove through the entire night so he was undoubtedly more tired than I was, but I actually stayed up pretty much the entire night with him so we were both a litttttle on the cranky side.
When we got to the state park, we spotted free-range bison! I had never seen them in the wild before and apparently Quitaque is the bison capital of Texas (if you ever get asked that question in jeopardy.)
We also found a camping spot relatively quickly among the most beautiful canyons and our moods lifted a bit . . . and then the rain hit. According to the park ranger, it was the first rain in 5 months and so, naturally, we were a bit frustrated when we couldn’t get our tent set up without it collecting water and wind blowing everything around. So while we sat there under a pavillion (luckily our campsite had some shelter) waiting for the rain to die down, we decided to go into town and get some things we forgot and hope that it’ll stop once we get back.
Now, I share all of that not because I want to seem whine-y, but because after we got back and I was begging Mother Nature for some sunshine since we only had one day there, the most beautiful weather emerged almost immediately. I’m talking, “clouds-were-moving-quickly-and-the-sun-was-beaming-down” almost immediately.
Within minutes, the weather jumped from mid-40s to 70 and sunny and we were in awe. I sat there praying my apologies to God and Mother Nature for being so instantly frustrated when it started raining instead of simply waiting for it to pass. It was one of those moments where you think “we really do need the rain to appreciate the sunshine” and are reminded how much patience is something that needs to be practiced daily.
Speed bump #2=out of the way!
After we set up camp and rested for a little bit, we were off to explore! We seriously lucked out with the location of our campsite because beautiful trails were literally within steps of our tent.
These canyon views were a 5-meter walk from our tent and could not have been more gorgeous. We decided to trek on down to the creek bed and walked along for about an hour. The weather was so beautiful after being so rainy all morning and temperatures reached close to 80 degrees and so us Missourians were sweating! It felt so incredibly refreshing to move and sweat in the sunshine (anyone else love a good sweat?!) after being in the car for 10ish hours.
The canyon bed was super dry in every part we were in except for the very beginning that you can see in the picture above. I am a big nerd and love looking at all of the different kinds of rock and there were the most beautiful gypsum chunks in the sides of the canyon walls and on the creek beds themselves. I think geology and the formations of canyons are so interesting! (Please tell me I’m not the only one). According to the Texas Park & Wildlife Department, the Little Red River has been downcutting through the canyons for millions of years, creating exposed geologic layers throughout the park.
We headed back to our campsite with plans to just lay around and rest a little bit more. I started a book on Saturday right before we left and ended up covering a big chunk during Sunday afternoon and the book was so good!
—-If you are in the market for a touching and historically-based book, it was called The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.
After resting for about 2 more hours, we went to another part of the park to explore an established trail. This trail explored the lower rim of the canyons and was such a pretty hike to do at sunset. It had amazing views all around, it was an out-and-back so we could easily turn around when we wanted to, and it wasn’t incredibly strenuous.
After that hike, we were ready for some eatin’! I had prepped a super easy foil-pack salmon recipe (will be up on the blog soon!) and when Blake ran back to town to grab stuff, he picked up some packs of Ramen noodles for us to make and share because he knew I had been craving it lately! Such a sweetheart.
After a good night’s sleep on Sunday night (under a sky full of beautiful stars), we woke up ready to head to New Mexico! We made a quick detour at a restaurant in Lubbock, Texas since we knew big cities would be far and few in between during the 4 hours it took us to get to Carlsbad, NM.
We stopped at a restaurant called Taqueria Jalisco and it was goooooooood. Real, legitimate Mexican/Southwestern food and packed full at 11 am on a Monday so we knew it was the real deal. I ordered a dish full of fajita vegetables, shrimp, steak, and chicken on top of a bed of rice and all topped off with cheese. It was seriously the best melted cheese I’ve ever had! Highly recommend this restaurant if you’re ever in the area.
Once we hit Carlsbad, it was about 3:30 pm and we were heading towards Sitting Bull Falls, one of the biggest waterfalls in the state. We were pretty excited about this until we were only about 10 miles from the entrance and we realized we needed to turn back around into town for gas. Not exactly what we wanted to do, but completely necessary, so we hightailed it back into town.
Now as I’m scrolling through the TripAdvisor website for the falls (I seriously stalk all of our activities on TripAdvisor), I notice that it says that their gates close at 4 pm and that it’s basically 4 pm already. There was no way we were going to make it in time and that we were pretty much SOL because we had just planned on going to camp somewhere after that. So Blake and I are both disappointed, but he calls the Park Ranger number in hopes that he can at least ask about nearby campsites. As he’s talking to the guy, he tells us about campsites people have made right outside the entrance of the waterfalls and that there’s a campfire ring, but it’s pretty primitive.
So we drive to just before the gates and see that there is, indeed, 2 or 3 camping spots dispersed at the base of this mountain and in pretty much complete wilderness. We decide to bite the bullet and add “primitive camping” to our traveling bucket list! I was a bit apprehensive at first (because hello, wolves, bears, mountain lions, snakes, etc…), but it ended up being the coolest experience I could have imagined in that scenario. Once we parked and set up camp, I felt so incredibly grateful we actually hadn’t gone anywhere else and things worked out how they did.
Speed bump #3= so worth it!
If you could see 360 degrees around the view, it would all basically look like that. We were almost totally isolated (luckily there were 2 cars sleeping over about 1/4 mile from us) and in the middle of a complete desert habitat. It was incredibly cool to see the sheer height of each mountain and feel like we were in a different world in the valley of these mountains! I highly recommend primitive camping if you ever want to get away from the norm of everyday life and get disconnected.
Blake is an absolute champ at making fires and we enjoyed some crackers, jalapeño sausage, and the most incredble apple cinnamon cheese. If you are on the market for a new specialty cheese, this was amazing. Soft, cinnamon-y (but not overpoweringly so), and full of flavor.
Fun fact: when we were sleeping, the entire night was so weirdly silent that I couldn’t sleep more much more than an hour at a time. The only time I heard anything was about 4 am when we heard a bunch of wolves howl in the distance (yes, I mildly freaked out) and I considered sleeping in the truck for about 2 seconds before I decided I was being a baby and that was that!
We woke up and headed to the falls at about 9 am and they were everything I could have imagined and more. We hiked to the top of the falls first (which was an insane incline) and it was really cool to see all of the little pools that collected at the top. The water comes from the springs system in the surrounding canyons. No one knows where the actual name “Sitting Bull Falls” came from, but some people think it originated from a Sioux medicine man named Sitting Bull that used to frequent there.
The bottom of the falls was even more stunning than the top and I left feeling like I’d been in an oasis of some sort. It’s crazy seeing it pop up in the middle of this desert landscape and I can see why its Apache name actually means “hidden gulch.” The water at the bottom was a turquoise color that is the water color of my dreams basically! The reflection of the sun on the water also kept creating the illusion of a rainbow and it was a picture-perfect scene.
As you can see, it was an amazing couple of days and I could not have been more thankful for how it all turned out. I left feeling so refreshed and happy to be back home and back to a normal routine until my next trip.
It also served as a great reminder for me to be more patient with circumstances and mishaps. I recently gave up quick anger for Lent (I’m trying to be more patient overall but it’s a major work in progress) but I still find myself getting frustrated when things don’t work out immediately or something pops up in every day life. I always have to remind myself to take a few breaths before I get upset because almost every single time, I end up grateful for how things worked out! Our little speedbumps turned out to be for a good reason. It’s almost like God knows what He’s doing when He places these happenings in our lives 😉
I hope everyone enjoyed my long-winded post about this trip and I can’t wait until I can write about my next one!