Friday, May 6, 2016

Away we go! Carlsbad Caverns

Mirror Lake formation

Roger here....   Good-bye Texas --- Hello, New Mexico.  The adventure begins.  It took us two full days of driving and part of a third day to get out of Texas.  Our overnight stays at Buckhorn Lake in Kerrville TX (one of our favorite rv parks), and the Fort Stockton RV Park were good, but they were just overnight stops.  


 On the third day we enjoyed a two-night stay at Brantley Lake State Park near Carlsbad, New Mexico.  We camped in the desert near a lake and truly enjoyed the solitude and quiet.

The lake was nice, but the nighttime sky and the wildlife were the highlights.  There was no extraneous light to diminish the star-studded views of the Milky Way.  And.... I have never seen so many rabbits in my life (both cotton tails and jack rabbits).   There were so many rabbits that during our frequent walks with the dogs, they were visible in every direction and all times.  So many rabbits that the dogs got used to them, kind of :-).
Dianne got a good shot of two jack rabbits checking out our campsite.

On the second day at Brantley Lake, we left the serenity of our campsite to drive about forty miles.  Our destination, Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  We are not cave enthusiasts, but we had heard great things about Carlsbad.  I wondered how it would compare to our visits to Mammoth Cave. 


 The answer to that question. It did not compare.  Carlsbad Caverns is a unique world like no other.

Before the adventure began I got tricked out for the spelunking descent into the darkness --- always prepared.  (I opted out of the cardboard cut-out photo op, but I knew Roger would do it -- D.)

The elevator into the cave was out of order.  We had intended to go in through the natural entrance and return via the elevator --- not to be.  The extra exertion, and I do mean EXTRA exertion, was unexpected, but certainly worth it.  We have now completed all of our exercise routines for the entire month of May.

The above photo only gives a hint of the downhill hike.  The descent was much steeper after entering the cave.

Looking up through the natural entrance to the cave

We literally hiked 1.9 miles down a steep, well-maintained path.  Then hiked for 1.2 miles though a magnificent room.  Then hiked 1.9 miles back up the same path.  Most of the trail had hand rails that were essential for preventing falls going down, and for upper body workouts going up.

The question looming for those of you who know Dianne is obviously, where did she go to the restroom?  Whew, after the first 1.9 miles (where the nonfunctioning elevators were), we found restrooms and a snack bar.

The formations in the 1.2 mile side hike through the "big room" (14 football fields long) were beyond description --- like something you could only see in a movie, or in your dreams.  The images are truly indescribable, so I will not describe them, but I will show you a few of them.

Lions' Tails

Going back up.  Step, step, step, pull, step, pull, step pull, pant, sweat, step, pull, pant, sweat, sit on a bench.  Repeat.

When we stumbled out of the cave four hours later, we walked to the top of the amphitheater where people view millions of bats flying out of the cave for their evening meal.  With apologies to our friends Sandy and Leila from across the pond, we did not stay for the bat show --- too tired and we needed to get back to our dogs.  However, we have seen the same phenomenon at a state park in Texas, and highly recommend it.

We decided to reward ourselves with a cheeseburger and milk shake at the local Sonic on our way back to the campground.  After all, we did need to replace all those calories that we expended in the cave.  We certainly would not want to lose any weight.

Carefully opening the freezer 
Flashback.  Speaking of food, Before we left Retama Village, Dianne froze several meals to put in the crock pot during our all-day excursions away from the motor home. 

 "Hey Dianne, what are we having for supper tonight?" 

Her response, "Whatever falls out of the freezer".

"Looks like we are having turkey/vegetable soup."


(Believe it or not, the following sunset photos were not even enhanced before posting.   It was that beautiful! -- D.)

At our home in Texas (with its fenced-in back yard), Dianne and I had gotten out of the necessary habit of taking the dogs for an evening walk.  On the road we needed to reinstitute those walks.  If our walks so far in New Mexico are an indication, we have been missing quite a bit of amazing beauty.


Leaving the Carlsbad area, our next destination was Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The best roads to Las Cruces took us back into Texas and past Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  I knew we would be driving by the entrance to the park, but did not intend to stop.  After seeing the scenery from the motor home, I realized that was a mistake.  Beautiful country.  Another time.  


We are currently at the Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces.   It has the best dog park we have ever encountered in an RV park.  Hands down.  It is well maintained, somewhat narrow, and extremely long --- I would guess 1/4 mile.   It is also recessed from the surrounding area.  Other campers refer to it as "the moat."  Very unique.

The picture below shows a little bit of perspective.    Bandido is running toward me (kneeling).  Tequila is the little white dot farther down getting ready to turn a corner.

Our posts may be somewhat erratic as we are depending on campground wifi.  It is great in our current location.  The next post, whenever we can post it,  will include Historic Mesilla and White Sands National Monument.


Nancy and Bill said...

Sure looks like you two are off to a great start!! Beautiful photos!! Really like the grab bag freezer idea. That alone makes each day an adventure;o))

Steve said...

That is one sport that has never interested me ... spelunking. Although that would be a great place to be in the middle of summer when the temps are over 90°. Great photos. Too many years ago when people would ask where I lived, I would reply Carlsbad ... they would reply "Caverns?" ... I would follow with, "no, California" :)

From all of the photos I have seen of dog parks through the many blogs I follow, that has to be the best design I have seen. The hounds could run forever in that place. I agree with your training plan using ice cream to replenish used calories after hiking. It is the same training plan I have after mowing my yard.

I look forward to your White Sands post. Alamogordo has always interested me in a possible destination.