By Helena Rodriguez
As a child, my family took a few memorable camping trips during the summertime.
Every child needs to go camping.
In my early years, it was an exciting adventure. As a teen, it made me appreciate modern-day conveniences.
One summer my parents took us camping in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe and to camp in Villanueva, also in northern New Mexico. At the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Mom pointed out the green cactus with little red pieces of cactus fruit in the middle. I don’t know if that is how the mountains got their name, but she told us the cactus fruit resembled drops of blood. I thought that is where the mountains got their name.
Another summer we camped at Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo. As a teen, we also camped closer to home, at Fort Sumner Lake, where we visited the Billy the Kid museum (a little Wild West in our back yard) and we camped at Buffalo Springs Lake near Lubbock.
My best campfire memories were hearing Dad’s stories of La Llorona, the legendary weeping woman said to roam riversides and other bodies of water. It made going to the bathroom alone out of the question and the slightest sounds outside of the tent at night made you quiver. Dad testified to having encountered La Llorona as a child in South Texas.
During the Santa Fe trip, we visited the site of my Grandma Emma’s birth in La Palma. I remember my parents also taking us to a church in Holloman where an image of Jesus reportedly could be seen at the side of a church. We were one of many cars outside of that church one night because they said the phenomenon appeared at night. We thought we saw an image.
At Palo Duro Canyon, called “The Grand Canyon of Texas,” I remember us walking down to the stadium area where the outdoor production of “Texas” is staged every summer. I also remember washing dishes in a small creek. There is nothing like camping to make you appreciate modern-day conveniences, and yet the memories of “roughing it” cannot be replaced by a visit to Disneyland.
Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at Helena-Rodriguez@hotmail.com