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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Carlsbad Caverns, NM - Mar 2016

 The Caves

Good news, bad news
Entrance was free, Elevator was broke.

This was a bit of a disappointment or maybe I was expecting too much.

The "Cavern" is huge and amazing.  The disappointment came in the form of colors, or lack thereof, and lighting.  Obvious, a cave doesn't have lighting and the Parks Dept has done a great job of lighting it up, but I was expecting a little more light.

Colors were the biggest disappointment.  I had thought I had seen pictures with reds, greens, yellows and various rainbow colors down there, but it was pretty much cream/white/light cream/white.

(can't really get the size of it all with these pics, but big it is)

I was planning on taking my Nikon/tripod but at the last minute decided not to and just took the "Point N Shoot" (PnS Lumix) which usually does a good job.  Looking at the photos of the hike down, I figured the Nik/tri might be a little too much for this 'Ole Phool' on the way back... as it turns out I was right.

(Little did I know just how deep it was..heheh, easy going down, but up??)

Since the elevator was down for repairs, back up in "May"?, it was a hike down.  In my backpacking/hiking/climbing limited experience, it's Easy going down, but it usually means going Up-Hill on the way back. (Reverse for hiking)
(It's sooo deep.  How deep is it?? So deep that you have to look upward to see the Gate's of Hell)
The walkway was in excellent shape, hand rails and one way.  It felt a lot like a Disneyland Walk-a-bout.  Again, the cavern is HUGE, so long walking and it has several optional paths.

I did the "Big Room", I think anyway, never really said "Big room" just signs saying how far it was, .5 mi - .3 mi and then I guess it's supposed to be obvious.  Well, there are a lot of "Big Rooms" so not sure.  The walkways have one or two intersections pointing the way and since there's nowhere else to go, I assumed I was in it.

Hard to get anything with the PnS and would advise taking a tripod for some 20-sec shots.  You would get some good pics to show the size of it, but again, no colors.

Buy the post card, if not
Take the elevator, if not
Give the camera to a kid to take down.
Go when it's not crowded if at all possible.
Take camera and tripod if you're going to take pics.  While you can use a flash, to me, I don't like them as it washes out the soft colors.. heheh, but in this case, soft white? you make the call.

I would NOT recommend the hike down unless you are in excellent shape, i.e. a hiker.  I ended up revisiting the old hiking '4-count' (One Chipmunk, two chipmunks....) on steps and a '10-Chipmunk count' at each switch back (2 turns) could be old age, outta shape...heheh, do ya think? but even so, it's not fun.

(I see the light... coming back up to the entrance)

While it was a good overall experience, I'm able to check it off the list and move on to the next thing. I would go back when the elevator is fixed and in a non-crowded time with camera/tripod and if? I happen to be in the area.

While the "Bats" normally are gone this time of year, they were there, I could hear a few. Ranger said they came back a little early. I would have stayed at the recommendation of a few friends, if I were camping at the entrance, but not going to make the long drive just to see some "Flying mice" come out of a Black whole.  Luckily, the Batman movie gave me the feel for it... next time...

The RV park right at the entrance, 7-mi from the actual cavern entrance, would be ok to stay at if not crowded.  From my site, Brantley Lake SP, it's about an hour so not too bad.

And finally, your mind can imagine all sorts of things looking at the 'Tites & Mites' from a Walrus to a Baleen Whale  and a lot of other things, so that was something to experience... fun...

And all this for some 'Bat Sh.. errr, Guano"  apparently 40' deep in some sections, heheh, don't trip....

On to the Ice Caves and then Grand Canyon.  Right now, caught in wind storm till late tomorrow, Wed,  so just sitt'n prudy... well, sitt'n anyway...

Interesting factoid:
The limestone rock that holds Carlsbad Cavern is full of ocean fossil plants and animals from a time before the dinosaurs when the southeastern corner of New Mexico was a coastline similar to the Florida Keys.

Gallery Photos here.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

OTRA - From the "Q" to Carlsbad, NM

Whew, finally, I'm 'On The Road Again" (OTRA) left from Quartzsite, AZ (The "Q") and headed to the Bat Caves, Carlsbad Caverns, NM and with the typical timing I have, the "Bats" are on vacation to the southern parts of unknown, to me, locations, back in Apr or May.  Not going to 'Hang' (wink) around till then.

The "Q" was fun, spend over 90-days there, mainly focused on buggy riding, but due to the blood thing, stopped.  Then the focus was on a rock or a little bush or ?? Gawd knows what else there's to do there.   Also, snakes, aka rattle snakes, were starting to come out and so needed to get outta there quickly.

Left the "W" (that's "Q" misspelled) after getting my camper batteries swapped out. I kept running out of juice when running the TV morning and night for a few hours. Had 12v, grp 29 water filled, and got 2 6v. Had to take out the sliding tray and put in a watering top for access.  They are an improvement, but still need another set of 2 for a total of 4 6v batteries and then should be ok.  Also, another 160w solar panel for a total of 3 for 480watts.  Once batteries got installed, left for the Bat caves via back roads (see map below).

Nice drive and Garmin was able to run me right through traffic.  I try to take the back roads and not the main Interstate, to see the off beaten paths.  I was looking to  Over Night (ON) at Theodore Roosevelt Lake thinking, Kewl, trees... but it was a pretty barren high desert lake, jam packed with "Fisher Peeps" crowded, so drove on to Globe, Apache Gold Casino.. and stayed in the parking lot. Not bad at all and would do it again No Problem-O, they run a smooth operation.  Some might think staying at a casino is a nirvana, like going to Vegas, but I didn't even go into the casino, so don't know.  Last time I "did Vegas" was when the Circus Circus was just opening up and the "Five big Casinos" were there, heheh, I know, a few years ago eh?

Headed out for the Coolidge Dam.  I've often heard about it, but never saw it, so Dam the Torpedos, full steam ahead, on rough road, pot holed and wash boarded.
The Dam is pretty much off the beaten path and in fact I had to stop a Ranger going the other way to make sure I was on the right path.  Confirming that, "yes" I "Pressed on" as they say at the Laundry.

The dam was much like the roads, sort of forgotten and in disrepair.  Water was way low as is the case with most other places.

You can see the Cement slowly scaling off, suspect it'll be decommission in the near future, but I'm no "Damn Expert", heheh, sorry, just had to work that in somewhere. The road some 40+ miles from the Hwy, was poor and about 10 miles in, a sign posted that at some 15mi there's a detour.  Hmmmm.... only one road in and out, so crossed my fingers an hoped "Detour" meant you can go around it, in a camper.  Past the dam, 2 more signs stating the same thing.. Like I'm going to turn around? WTF, over..... post the Detour sign when you come to it.  It was a little tricky, small bridges were out and they dropped the "Detour" down into the wash and back out. (pic - see bridge on the right side)

A little dusty, plenty of potholes and while speed limit was 25mph, I guess to make sure you catch them all, I ended up running at about 46mph which seemed a little better, driving, not so sure about the rig.

Next stop after casino was at the Dreamcatchers in Deming "Escapees" (RV group),  that have a few RV parks scattered around where members can stay, cheaper than others.  Without hook ups at all, it was $5 night. Nice clean facilities

Next day, up and at'em, taking the longer route through the mountains and finally saw my trees... ski resort and a village of sorts in the clouds.  Heading toward Carlsbad.  I thought Nevada was bad on long empty spaces, but New Mexico has them beat.  The White Sands Missile range is long...... Arizona has it's peaks and valleys, but much closer together.

The original game plan was to stay in the Whites City RV park, but due to bad reviews and limited space, I found a lake, much prettier to stay at.  Also, just passed another Escapees Ranch and was going to keep that as a backup.  Headed to the Brantley Lake SP, between Artesia and Carlsbad, NM.

As luck would have it, all the first come, first served spots were taken, only RSVP sites for one night only.  Tried to go online to RSVP, but not available at this time. Ranger help is a little sparse so I picked an RSVP site and hoped for the best.  Turns out, they're rebuilding it, so no hookups and can't RSVP online so here I am, paid by check for another 3 nights in case they come by and say "Nope"... no refunds... sigh, it's always sumpt'n eh?

So for now, game plan is to kick back here at the lake, then Monday hit the Caverns (avoid the crowds), leave Tuesday and take a look-see at the Escapees (aka SKP as pronounced sounds the same) "The Ranch" place just up the road.  Check it out.  I understand they have a great 'Quilting Class'... sigh he said, shaking his head...

Then, back towards the West, several stops like the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, just in time to watch all the fantastic flower blooms, best one in 10yrs, die out... Timing, it's just not my thing.

And then head to the coast and up along it.

Current buzz among RV'ers is doing Alaska... I try not to read too much about it and shy away from the discussion or I'll want to do it.  It's going to have to wait till next year, but it's at the top of the list.  That will be the "Mother of all Trips" as I'll loop back down through Canada and do the TransCanadian Hwy from coast to coast and THEN down through the lower 48 Eastern states to "Knock'em Off"... just need the "FFB's" (Fuel, Food n' Beer), heheh, the only thing holding me back.

Caverns, next stop with pics.

On a personal note:
I'm in a bit of a dilemma on what to do with myself since I'm no longer "Buggy Riding".  Anything from Cooking/photography/wood carving/banjo/piano.  The buggy riding was the main point of traveling around, going from one rally to next or with groups to explore areas.  It's the only reason I got the bigger truck and the flat bed to haul it around.  It was the main focus.  Now, poof !! gone...  I thought about Paragliding again, but too much time sitting around waiting with limited locations.
With some encouragement from a friend, I'll try cooking and Photo-ng again.....

While I'll get past it, it's just a PITA trying to plan things out recently so now I'm not going to count on anything.

Stay tuned... Happy trails,


Ps. Healthwise, I appear, heheh, to me anyway, to be fine.  On thinners, Xalrelto, for a year and then we'll see.  Otherwise, business as usual, but getting fatter... and as the lovely ladies are able to blame the 40lbs of extra weight on the new 8lb babies, I figue I can blame it on the meds...  it's all the med's fault... not me.... time for some ice cream and a beer.


More pics here