February 19 – Carlsbad National Park

Whoa – there is nothing between Fort Davis and Carlsbad except oil wells and desert. We have descended to 3000 feet and I was surprised but this area is still desert. It is hot today at 90 degrees but we arrived safe. I will also say that the roads between here and there were poor. Lots of bumps which made traveling slow. A motorhome can only handle so many bumps or at least the dishes and glasses can only handle so many bumps, so I drive a little slower. Truck drivers weren’t happy.

Campground isn’t bad, we got a decent size lot but others were touching each other almost. Wifi is good but the roads are dusty and because we haven’t had rain for weeks, you can taste the dust. No trees of any size to mention. Did you know that Carlsbad has 350 days of sunshine a year? No wonder we didn’t see any greenery.

Saturday we loaded up (just Brenda and I) to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I wasn’t expecting a lot of people, but there was a lot of people. Upon arrival we immediately saw the sign that said the elevator wasn’t working (I remember that sign at City Hall at U City on occasion and it was only 4 floors up), but we went inside anyways.

The plan was to walk in the Natural Entrance and proceed to walk 1-1/4 miles and descend 755 vertical feet. DSC_0024

It was amazing, first the cave and all the stalagmites and stalactites (formed by one drop of water at a time) and other formations you find in a cave,

second the trail was paved all the way (not quite ADA accessible) but to us older adults it was nice, thirdly was the amount of people and at times you had to wait for them to pass. The number of switchbacks was just an engineering feat that impressed me.DSC_0029

Normally when you reach the bottom and the Big Room, you can take an elevator back to ground floor, but today and it is unknown as to when it will be repaired, the elevator is out of order.

Now Brenda being the wise lady she is, stopped about ¾ of the way down and said she was heading back up. She encouraged me to continue, which I did and I did reach the Big Room. Now that you are there, there is another 1-1/2 mile trail around the Big Room to view the many spectacles of this cavern. I chose to head back to the top knowing it was going to be tough and concerned about Brenda’s trip back up.DSC_0073

I did catch up to Brenda and someone she met along the way and we continued our walk upward.

The whole trip was fantastic with 56 degree temperature, reasonable walking trail and beautiful formations along the way. Carlsbad Caverns is a subterranean marvel, perhaps the eighth wonder of the world.

We did see some young Jr Rangers sweeping with paint brushes the rocks along the trail and collecting the debris. I asked and they were picking up the lint and dead skin all the humans had left along the way. It was amazing the amount of lint they had collected.DSC_0065

Yes, I did watch the movie and get my stamp. I also buy a metal refrigerator magnet for all national parks, so when you stop by you will be able to see them.

What I didn’t see was the bats leaving the cave (wrong time of year, they were wintering in Mexico). Supposedly there is 1000’s that exit the cave and is quite a spectacle during the summer evening hours (road trip sometime).

Did you know that they used to mine bat dropping (Guano) and make money?

After the long walk back, we needed a beer but nowhere in the area, so home again home again and yes there was a nice cold beer. Had a steak to close out the evening.

Sunday is a day of rest and yes we did rest. We attended the local Lutheran Church and had a good worship experience. Very outgoing congregation, even got a welcome package from the church. Didn’t do a whole lot today except read, walk the dogs and relax. Did have a Mexican Breakfast after church – pretty spicy!

This evening while walking the dogs, a clown came out of the clubhouse (private birthday party for the some kids) and Hansel saw this clown and freaked out. He went high tailing in the opposite direction. My poor Hansel is now scarred by a clown. Won’t be able to take him to the circus.

Campgrounds sometimes have DVDs and books to lend out. Stopped by the camp store and found Gods and Generals, story about Virginia seceding from the Union and the battle at Fredericksburg – same section I am reading in my book about Lincoln – reinforcement for learning. It turned out to be a 4 hour movie.

Monday another day of rest. Weather is overcast and cool so we decided to smoke a couple of pork butts for future meals. It’s an all-day affair. Great day (weather was nice) watching the smoker and in the end, the pork butt turned out really good. We now have pulled pork for many a night (we did get 6 meals out of the two butts).DSC_0002 (2)

Tuesday off to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

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