Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Days 14-16 On the Road: What Do Caves, Aliens, and Sand Dunes Have in Common?

We were sad to leave San Antonio. The people, the food, the culture, and especially the weather but the journey had to continue.

Kids enjoying swimming outdoors (on the day it snowed back in NC)
 We hit the road and traveled from San Antonio to Fort Stockton, TX. It took about 7 hours for a 4 hour journey but it was nice to not be stressed about the time. We just rolled and stopped when we needed to. Unfortunately we "needed to" because my check engine light came on. I pulled into a tiny gas station with no working gas pumps in the middle of nowhere TX to try to figure out what was going on. As I popped my hood a man, who had broke down a mile or so back, happened to be walking by and asked if he could help. He checked my oil and the look on his face said it all. "No oil. You have no oil. Zero". Oops! He showed me how to figure out what type of oil I needed and I went in the store and bought three bottles of it. I dumped in two of the bottles, fished the oil cap from wherever I had accidentally knocked it and started her up. She purred, thankful for the liquid and the check engine light went off. We hit the road again and drove for several more hours until the light came on again. This time it was dark and I pulled over on the side of the road. It was terrifying! The big semi trucks whizzing by on my right, the darkness of the dessert and all the creatures that live there on my left. I quickly checked the oil, which read full, jumped back in the rig and just decided to see how far we could make it. Fortunately we made it all the way to Fort Stockton. We found a Passport America park for only $15, plugged in and settled down for the night. I figured I would worry about what's under the hood and the blinkers (oh I forgot to mention my blinkers just stopped working) in the morning. In the morning I checked everything, everything was fine (including the blinkers) and we were off.

The nothingness for miles and miles and miles through Texas
 The drive from Fort Stockton to Carlsbad, NM was long and boring up route 238. There was nothing but oil fracking along the way. No trees, no animals, no buildings, just oil stuff and trucks. We stopped for gas about 40 miles outside of Fort Stockton in a town called Pecos. Leaving we were stopped by the train and decided to turn left to explore their downtown instead of waiting. We actually found a place to park our big rig and decided to get out. We found a cute little museum on Pecos town history and learned about its days as a frontier town, with saloons and gun slingers.
Clay the Gunfighter's grave (Pecos)

Jerry Heard, the Saloon owner (Pecos)
 Back on the road we pushed along with not much to see. We traveled along Route 238 for 120 miles. Can you imagine 120 miles of nothingness? Well, that's what you get along that route. The scenery was beautiful though and I was able to stop and get some pretty good shots.
flame from the oil fracking in the background

Guadalupe Mtns I believe. We had just entered NM here

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery

Practicing my shot...More NM scenery
We finally made it to Carlsbad around 1:30p (because we actually lost an hour by crossing into the Mtn time zone). We checked into the White City RV park and headed up the mountain to the cave. The 7 mile drive up the mountain was... well, interesting in our big ole rig. We made it though and was glad to see other rigs up there as well.

The view from the parking lot as spectacular.  If it was this great just in the parking lot I couldn't wait to get inside.
views from the Carlsbad Caverns parking lot

views from the Carlsbad Caverns parking lot
 We checked in and decided to head straight to the caves before exploring the museum. The cave was amazing. It was a self guided tour but there were park rangers at the entrance to warn you about how treacherous it is. And he was right, it was the most treacherous cave we have done yet. The entrance leads you straight down into the cave via a winding path. Once inside the cave you continue straight down through winding paths that circle around the most gorgeous geologic features you may have ever seen. The stalagmites grew mighty from the ground and the stalagtites hung from the ceiling like geologic chandeliers. It was gorgeous. The walk down was steep and definitely not for the faint of heart and the walk back up was three times as bad as going down. Now I know I'm no athlete and I can stand to get in better shape but I had no idea that cave was gonna kick my but the way it did. Even the kids had to stop and rest several times. We all came out of our sweaters and sweated our way back to the top in our t-shirts. It was rough but it was so totally worth it. We conquered Carlsbad Caverns and didn't let it Conquer Us!!!
Going into the Cave

Going into the Cave

After the cave we checked in to a camp site at White's City RV. The customer service was horrible and it was made clear they did not want nor value our business so we pack up and left. We drove two hours and found a nice little park near Roswell.

We got up early this morning (7:30a to be exact... I think the time change has us all off wack) and cleaned the RV a little before heading to downtown Roswell to go look for aliens. The International UFO Museum and Research Center was very fun. We learned about the Roswell UFO crash of 1947 and I must admit it is pretty convincing.

After the museum we toured some of the neighboring shops and picked up a few alien trinkets for the road. We made our way into the El Toro Bravo bakery and it was on. We piled our tray high full of pastries, both those we recognized and those we didn't. We couldn't wait to get back to the RV to begin stuffing our faces.

Our next stop was Carlsbad, NM to see the white sand dunes. The two hour drive there was uneventful. We stopped to snap photos of the beautiful scenery along the way and tasted fresh tamales from the only gas station in the small town (population 702) of Hondo, New Mexico.

About twenty miles outside of the dunes we came across the world's largest pistachio so of course we had to stop. I mean that's what this trip is all about right? Stopping to see the randomness of the country. We tasted more varieties of pistachios than I could have ever imagined existed. We bought some yummy pistachio brittle and were on our way.

The white sand dunes were AMAZING. They looked exactly like how I saw them in the photos that first made me want to visit. The only difference was the views that were not shown in the photos were absolutely stunning. The San Andres Mountains that lined the horizon were breathtaking.  The kids and I had a blast sliding down the dunes for the next hour until we were completely exhausted.

After the dunes the kids and I decided to keep pushing west and ended up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We are now snuggled into our campsite here and about to get some sleep.

Tomorrow we plan to push into Arizona to visit Tombstone... I'm excited to see a wild west shoot out. Of course I'll post pics but until them or until I see you on the road... Peace, Love, and Blessings!


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