Monday, March 12, 2007

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

My first four years of college were mostly an excuse to keep travelling around the U.S. with two of my best friends, Chad and Clib. At least 3-4 times a year we would hop in my parents VW van and head to a different national park or monument. With these two guys by my side, I would eventually hit all fifty states, Canada, and Mexico.

I am going to dedicate a few posts to some of my favorite travel adventures.

I believe the year was 1995 and we were making a return trip to Big Bend National Park in Southern Texas. We had decided to expand this trip to include Carlsbad Caverns in White City, New Mexico.

White City is a very small town that is basically owned and operated by the White family, who's patriarch had discovered Carlsbad Caverns many years ago. White City consisted of a gas station, a gift shop, a campground, a motel, and a small restaurant with a really small attached bar.

On our day of arrival we headed straight to the caves, and after a long day of cave exploring we drove to the campground, set up our tent, and decided to splurge by going to the bar/restaurant in order to enjoy some local libations.

The first thing we noticed upon arrival to the bar is that no one else was there, and it was already 6pm. Then we were informed that the bar had a strict 3 drink MAXIMUM. It seemed the Whites did not want a bunch of drunks in their quiet town. The bartender told us the way to cheat the system was to have three, go eat in the restaurant and return for three more. We did just that.

After our 2nd three drink maximum we did not want to leave, but rules are rules. The bar had finally started to get a crowd of two other guys. As we were leaving I noticed one of the guys was wearing a "Louisville Rugby" jacket. I, having played a little rugby, struck up a conversation. We talked for about fifteen minutes, and they offered to buy us a round, but the bartender informed them that we had already exceeded our maximum allotted beverages. They both pulled out a wad of bills and started tossing them onto the bar saying, "come on, one more." Finally the bartender relented. It is safe to say this is where she lost control of the situation.

The five of us started cheering as she gave us five new beers. The rugby guys convinced her a round of shots was required to celebrate this occasion. Twenty minutes later we were singing rugby songs and toasting our bartenders lenient attitude.

After about another hour, and several more beers, a group of four arrived, two guys and two girls. It was shared that one of the guys had won an all expense paid trip to Carlsbad Caverns from a L.A. radio station. Enjoying our ribaldry behavior, he offered to buy us a round. The bartender informed him that we were all well over our three drink maximum limit. The Rugby guys and the L.A. guy now pulled out more money and began to bribe the bartender, who could not really start enforcing the rules properly at this point. More beers were passed around to raucous jubilation, quickly followed by more shots of tequila.

I believe it was around this time I noticed Clib drinking a mixture of beer and tequila out of a rugby guy's shoe. (a hallowed rugby tradition, called "shoot the boot") He would soon follow that up with stripping to his underwear and sprawling across the bar in an attempt to imitate the burlesque painting that was hanging behind the bar.

This scene, combined with the loud singing, motivated the restaurant manager to walk in, give the bartender an evil glare and close the doors which connected the bar and restaurant. It suddenly got eerily quiet, and everyone felt like we were all underage drinkers who had just got busted by a parent. After a few moments the bartender told us the manager was her roommate, so it would be okay. Everyone cheered and more drinks were ordered.

Clib vomited on the floor, either from athletes foot or alcohol poisoning, regardless we moved our table to cover it. One of the L.A. guys was walking around with a tray full of tequila shots, which me and Chad would take back to the bartender and trade for beer, she then would turn around and sell the shot back to L.A. guy.

By now the restaurant was empty and the manager and entire wait staff were watching the action through the door. One of the rugby guys stripped and ran through the bar naked, which is a universal sign for, "time to wrap it up."

I walked around with a glass carafe and got everyone to give as much money as they had to the bartender, by the end it was so much I was packing it in with a steak knife. We presented it to our new best friend, wished her luck on the new job search, and left the other guys to sort out the bill.

Luckily our campground was right across the street from the restaurant/bar. We stumbled to our tent and passed out almost immediately.

We woke up at sunrise to begin our long, quiet, and painful drive back to Mississippi.


fringes said...

This was an awesome story. I do not use the term awesome loosely. I wish I could have been there to see the undies guy on the bar.

Anonymous said...

Great story and awesome word choices! Memories are the greatest eh?

Churlita said...

Now, I want to go to Carlsbad. I actually wanted to go before reading this, but now I REALLY want to go.

jeepgirl said...

Found your blog randomly.... I wish I knew about that bar the one time I was in Carlsbad. I ended up at the drive in, which looked like a southern Wal-Mart on a Saturday night! Thanks for the laugh though!

othurme said...

This feels like a story I would read on Mist's blog.

Now that I think of it, I've never seen Mist and Killer in the same place.

Mayren said...

Cool story. You made me think of
when I went to Carlsbad as a little girl. that of course prompts a new posting in a few days. awww. Killer gets booze. It's a special time. *hug*

- Funny comment Othurme, Killer and Mist in the same place.... Mist is secretly and actually JK Rowling. They are seriously NEVER in the same place at the same time, Plus those glasses aren't even real. That's the clue.

hellohahanarf said...

any drunk travel story that combines bribes, nudity, rugby, shots and at least one good vomit is a good story in my eyes. loved this one. now i'm dying to take some rugby boys to carlsbad. of course i can think of a few other places i'd take the rugby boys.

please, please tell me the rugby boys were cute...

Liz said...


I know the undies guy. It is debatable if you'd like to see him in this posture, drinking from a shoe, and vomiting. I love him, though!

mist1 said...

What kind a place as a drink maximum? I'll travel elsewhere, thank you very much.

David said...

For more information on Big Bend, check out and

apositivepessimist said...

Oh to be young again...*sigh*

Having worked in the hospitality industry I can say youse no doubt made her usual boring shift go by pretty damn quick. "Three drink minimum"...jaayzus, never heard of such a thing.

Killer said...

I got spammed by the National Park people. I think they are stalking me.

Julie_Gong said...

That is a great story.

Drinking beer and tequilia out of a shoe? Very interesting...

chad said...

i simply want to thank you for this post because now i have a recorded account a great night, along with many details that were almost lost due to our exceeding the maximum limit by about 15 drinks.

i look forward to having my alcohol-induced, hazy memories clarified in future travel posts.

fringes said...

Liz, thanks for the warning. I shall alter my daydream immediately.