Monday, June 8, 2009

Road Trip - Day #2

Total Mileage: 300 miles
Number of hours of sleep in the last 4 days: 13ish?
Number of degrees the temperature dropped between Carlsbad and Santa Fe: 28 degrees
Number of times we heard "are we there yet?": 18
Number of times Emily asked if "she was pretty?": Too many!
Number of unscheduled potty breaks: still ZERO

Let me just start out by saying the Carlsbad Caverns are awesome. Seriously. If you are ever in the area (although I'd have no idea why you would be) you need to stop by. It is one of the coolest things James and I have ever seen. It was a last minute choice - and a very good one.

We started out talking to a park ranger who said she would recommend us taking the elevator down to the bottom and checking out the caverns that way. I guess she looked at our girls and thought that there was no way they'd make it. As nice as she was, we decided to take a chance. We didn't drive all this way to ride an elevator. We came to hike and hike is what we did.

Note: we took a lot of pictures, but they by no means do this place justice. It's pretty dark - and there's really no way to capture the "feelings" that overtake you when you're in there. From the depth to the smells to the temperatures dropping to the history - it's almost impossible to describe it. Very, very cool.

This is the road to the caverns. It is in the middle of the Guadalupe mountains.

This was the entrance into the cave. Do you see how the path spirals? Well it spiraled down to the bottom for 1.25 miles, but since it winds it took a good hour and a half for our family to make it down. Some parts are fairly steep, some a little wet - but all have an interesting view. We got some good exercise. What you can't see (or hear) from this post are all of the birds flying in and out. They put on quite a show.

If we came early enough we could have seen the millions of bats come into the cave. If we stayed until 7:30 that night we could have seen them leave. But we had other things to do. We checked it out on youtube tonight. It was cool too.

Again, let me just say the pictures do NOT do this place justice. It is simply amazing, I have never seen anything like it. Just thinking about the history of people living in this area for centuries (and more) - it really makes you appreciate it. If these walls could talk - I would love to hear those stories.

Emily pretty much led the way most of the time. It really was a long trip down and the literature said you had to be in good physical condition to make it. We were way over an hour into it when Emily started to look like she was tired of walking. James carried her for a bit and she kept going. We got through the whole experience without one fall, scratch or complaint. We were so proud of the kiddos.

Happy spelunkers.

Many of the formations have names. This one is called The Witch's Finger. For the record, it's a stalagmite.

Austin is now an official "Junior Park Ranger." He did a workbook, answered some questions, took the pledge and now he has the badge to prove it. So whenever you want to know about a national park, you've got someone "on the inside."

We left Carlsbad and headed to our next destination, Santa Fe. Before we left, we went to a local shop and bought Emily and Abby some jewelery (thanks Grammy). Now Emily thinks she's "pretty." We think she's pretty without it.

We stopped in Roswell for lunch... We didn't make it to Area 51, but we did find some great Italian food.

No sight of little green men. The wind gusts were way over 30 mph so we're thinking they only come when it's calm.

If you stare at the photo below for about 3 hours, you'll get a real taste of the rest of our drive today.

Tonight we made it to Santa Fe - and we're getting some R&R before our big train ride tomorrow.