There is no free in liberty.


Sunday, June 14, 2009


Yesterday we went to Carlsbad Caverns. We got a pass there that allows us entrance to all national parks for a year as a family. This included entry to the caverns. Considering the number of national parks we will be visiting over the next few weeks this should add up to a considerable savings.

Getting to the visitors center required more of a climb than I remembered and also gave a view of the dessert that I had not remember I'd like to think I could retain memories well enough that a view of the desert as nice and surprising as this would be relived.

The entry into the cavern is as spectacular as a hole in the ground can be. They do a good job there. The decent seemed to continue forever. Another good thing. There would not be much to this cave thing without the down part. Being a cave, it is by nature dark and as such difficult to photograph. I had some success, though. I have found that the camera is capable of an initial flash followed by a long exposure. This allows clear view of people in the foreground and the long exposure captures the darker background with the natural light. In other photos without family I set the camera on a nearby rock and let time do it's thing.

In the photo below Kat and the kids can be seen in the middle. They had to hold still for a long time to catch this. Of course, Ian's image was lost to child hood motion.a child's motion.

I also captured a pic of a vertical hole from bottom up that I recall having difficulty with on an earlier trip.

The photo on the right was a boo boo but I like it.

One last family photoElise and I caught a pic of a desert flower while exiting the park.

After visiting Carlsbad Caverns we traveled by way of El Paso toward Silver City, New Mexico. The road between Carlsbad and El Paso is the most desolate 136 miles we have traveled so far. No gas stations were between the two cities, but there was land for sale....$200 per acre. We saw the largest dust devil I have ever seen making it's way across a small salt flat. The Guadalupe Mountains are in the distance behind our poor van.

Tomorrow we will travel to the Gila National Forest and see the Gila Cliff Dwellers. This is North of Silver City, New Mexico.


NC, SC, and Georgia little of note occurred, although while still in Georgia and more accurately a little south of Atlanta we decided to pull a Walmart stop. It was a little after 4am. Tired.....We all found our beds and 4 or 5 hours later and a little less tired we were on the road. Walmart parking lots seem to remain active throughout the night. Idling truckers, loud talkers, lot vacs and squealing tires all seem to find a home there. I slept well.

Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana were uneventful as well with the exception of my foot. At times it throbbed and I was forced to 'keep it raised'. That is not easy while driving. Walking has been quite difficult as well. I am easily over taken by geriatric cane walkers as each step painfully shuffles swelling fluids around my foot.

We have found that motels seem to be reliable sources of free wifi and at one of these stops NOAA made it clear that rain was in our future. As I still needed to do some water proofing on the camper, we decided to leave the highway early. With the remaining light we could do the remaining work on the camper. We chose a Louisiana state campground... Lake Bistineau. $18 a night bought a lake front site with electricity, water and a.....wood deck. Sweet! At first glance we thought the lake was low and grass had grown over it's bottom leaving us a site on the edge of a pasture. Upon something more than a second glance we realized we were looking at a lake full of cypress trees laden with Spanish moss and the surface of which appeared to be entirely covered with some kind of floating aquatic plant. Apparently the prevailing winds had crowded them, carpet like, into our cove. Of course we arrived at dusk and no water proofing could be done. I was tired anyway. Later that night a passing thunder storm woke us. Sigh.

The next day we puttered around the Lake Bistineau boat dock before we entered Texas.

The morning drive into Texas was worrisome in that the weather looked ominous. We stopped occasionally to check with NOAA. We needed to see where the rain clouds were and which way they were moving. There was rain in Dallas and it was drifting directly toward us following I-20 east. We decided on a dog leg to the southwest then north into Dallas. We were hoping to drive around the rain. It worked. The rain that had been in Dallas had moved on to where we had been earlier. Apparently the night before Dallas had been pounded with around 8" of rain plus whatever amount fell from the clouds we had driven around. There was a lot of flooding visible from the interstate.

We headed on to Abilene TX where a long running battle with a leaky tire on the camper came to an end. There was nothing dramatic, just a slow leak, but after plugging a hole that required 3 plugs and another previously repaired hole that required one, I gave up. Although it was a slow leak, I didn't feel comfortable driving to Carlsbad in the dead of night on it. We spent the night in the Walmart parking lot near another camper. We made Carlsbad by mid afternoon the next day.

New Mexico is hot and our A/C struggled to cool the camper. It did cool off eventually, though the sun was going down at that point. This is another nice campground and at $14 it is a bargain. It is clean, has electricity and has a lake within walking distance. A little before sunset the kids and I took advantage of a rocky path to the lake. On the way back Trey was overtaken by something. I never saw it. While Elise, Ian and I spent time at the playground and watching a corn snake Trey was sick back at the camper. He was with the right parent. Like I mentioned, I was oblivious until Kat told me about it later.

The A/C finally fully cooled the camper as the sun set while Trey read in the cold. Elise and I wondered around enjoying the setting sun.