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6,500 Miles With the Crazies - A National Parks Road Trip Extravaganza

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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This isn't all of the pics...just the better ones. Honestly, it was so spectacular.

It's too bad I wasn't set up for planet pictures. Jupiter was rising and was so bright that I thought it was a flood light on a post in someone's yard.

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Side note...several people had their windows open and I could hear EVERYTHING out there. Nothing scandalous, but just don't really need to hear other guests like that.

I eventually got too chilly to stay out there, so I headed inside. Here's where the night takes a bizarre turn. I go up to the room, put the key in the lock, I try to turn it, but it won't budge. I try a few more times, but now I'm starting to bend the key. I know the door was sticking a bit when I left, but I've never encountered it where you can't even engage the lock. I tried calling David, but it went straight to voicemail. The same thing happened with him calling me. This was bizarre because we hadn't been having any service issues in the hotel. I knocked on the door a few times and I could hear David telling me to put my shoulder into it. I took several running starts at the door, but it wouldn't budge. All I got was a bruised shoulder. I could hear him griping about me behind the door, so I tried texting him. It went through on my end, but didn't come through to his phone until hours later. I could hear him trying to make a call on the room phone, but cursing because that wouldn't work either. So, I headed to the front desk. We talked about the situation and the night manager came up to the room to help. She was able to take my key and with just a little extra nudge from her shoulder, get the door open. The room phone was still dead, so she brought us a new one and made sure it was working. Another bizarre twist on this, when David and I talked about it after the fact, I found out he couldn't hear me. I could hear him talking and griping and what not, but he couldn't hear me. He didn't even hear me running into the door. He could just hear the lock on the door and see the **** moving a little...like someone was trying to get in.

So, I don't know who believes in ghosts, but supposedly, The Lodge is haunted...a little fact my boss neglected to share before I booked the place. The fancy restaurant downstairs is named after the main resident ghost- Rebecca. I guess she was some kind of chambermaid at the hotel, but turned tricks on the side to earn some extra money. Her boyfriend, a local lumberjack, learned of what she was doing and murdered her at the hotel. I haven't found any info on his death, but supposedly, they both haunt the hotel and it's considered one of the most haunted spots in New Mexico. I have read all kinds of stories about a multitude of crazy things happening at the hotel. I know we could attribute at least some of it to the door, and David did briefly turn on the a/c in case there was any swelling - which might have helped. Still, that usually is more of a frame matter and not the physical lock. It also doesn't explain him not hearing me, the phones suddenly not working, and the room phone dying. When I checked out the next morning, they thought it might be a nail in the door frame that needed to be sanded down. Again, how would that impact the lock? Or the sound? Or the phones? My boss is certain that we met Rebecca that night and that this was just another one of her mischievous little tricks.

Honestly, I didn't even know about the ghost at the time, so any fears I had were more about being able to get out in the event that there's a fire. The 2nd floor wasn't a long way down, so if we had to break a window...so be it. Thankfully, it never came to that.

Backgtracking a little...but I did also mention White Sands from the air. This is what we saw when we flew over in 2018.

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So, cool to reflect on the day and think about how nice it was to finally get to see it from the ground.


Coming up...we ditch a tourist trap, we see parts of two national parks in one day, we see more rain in the desert, and I have to give a reminder on just how large the State of Texas really is.
 
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HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
July 30th-

Thankfully, we were able to get out of our room in the morning. The staff at the front desk all knew about our issues from the night before and had all kinds of theories...none involved a ghost. LOL None also made much sense. Loading up the car was the same kind of pain it was the night before, but without all of the dressed up people hanging about. There were just a few people drinking coffee and some kids playing chess. Outside, there were men working on the renovations. Logic would say to wait on painting the back of the hotel while the front entrance is closed, but they had guys with ladders along the way. I once again had to move the vehicle to a handicapped spot and we started loading the car. The guys on the ladders came down for our first few trips, but stayed up there as we were moving our last few bags. I'm sure they were praying not to get bumped and I was praying not to get paint dropped on me.

We said goodbye to our haunted hotel, grabbed some breakfast and gas at a convenience store in the little town area, and hit the road. I think we were all pretty tired of being on the road at this point, We were still excited to see new things, and there was this crazy part of me that wished we'd gone even farther west and extended the trip even longer. That's the crazy part of me LOL The rest of me was starting to feel like we'd been on the road for a million years and it was time to go.

While NM has a number of ski areas, Cloudcroft isn't really as well known for it. Ruidoso is the more popular spot in this portion of the state, but there was still a small ski area on our way down the mountain. It also still amazes me that you have these lush green mountains that see copious amounts of snow in the winter that are flanked by desert lands. I also felt awful...while my vehicle was a total bug magnet during this trip, my grill became a sad butterfly graveyard. I'll spare you the photos I took of today's carnage. Or maybe if I can figure out the whole spoiler button thingy...

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Today's drive wasn't a long one. We had debated about making it a bit longer and going to Roswell, but I decided to take the advice of a number of friends and skipped it. I'm sure some people have enjoyed it, but I kept getting info from a number of different people who said it was a pure tourist trap. So, we skipped it and headed straight to Carlsbad, NM. It was only about a 2 hour drive. It took us through the town of Artesia which was also kind of neat. It's one of those towns that grew up around the oil industry. It had a number of cool statues and various things coming into the town that pays homage to all of the school athletes in town.

It wasn't a long drive to Carlsbad from this point. We passed a softball tournament on our way into town, which felt kind of odd. Like we're normally the ones at the tournament...not passing it. Oh well, we were all hungry and didn't want to waste a ton of time in a restaurant, so we went to Burger King. I know...exciting. After that, we passed our hotel for the night in the town of Carlsbad and then headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

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This is one that I've wanted to see since I was a kid. At some point, my parents got me a subscription to National Geographic Explorer and their write up on Carlsbad make it look like a really cool place to visit. My mom would sometimes say that I've already been to a national park cave (Mammoth in Kentucky), but I have so little memory of that. Funny, I remember Serpent Mound in OH, but barely any memories of the national park in KY. David had been to Carlsbad as a little kid, so he was excited to see it again. The drive in sort of takes you through some hills and then up to the top. He also insisted we dress for cooler temps inside the cavern. It was cooler in there but it was so humid and warm enough that I think you're seeing pics of some overdressed people.

Part of why we didn't rush straight here is that we had to buy tickets in advance to enter the cavern at a specified time. My parks pass got us into the park, but due to Covid, I had to buy separate passes for access to the actual cavern. It was only $1pp, but if you didn't have those passes, you weren't seeing the cavern. And since this check in was all done inside the visitor center, we got to see a number of really angry exchanges. I had to walk away from it. Slots opened up 30 days out, but the latest slot of each day was 1:30 and I think it was something like 250 people per hour. So, I'm sure some people just missed out even with trying. Side note- and I had to do this with Glacier too...because cell service is so limited at the various parks, I made sure to take screen shots of each of our QR code entry tickets for all of this stuff just so I had it at the parks that needed them. OK...back to the visitor center... I at least found a super cute ornament in the gift shop and the kids got their stamps. After Sam tried to figure out if she's a caver (yeah- Delta cases had spiked enough at this point that masks were mandatory again- in buildings and the cavern)...

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She's really slender, but I had these fears that it was designed for 5 year olds and she might get stuck in there. Thankfully, they are just cracking up...and obviously, she got out.

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...we headed outside and down to the ranger prepping everyone for cavern access.

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I took a few pics while we waited...

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HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
It was bright and sunny, but it really wasn't all that hot for this part of NM...especially in July. It was only 86 degrees outside. I had talked to the ranger about this because it seemed oddly cool. He said that they'd been receiving above average levels of rain, keeping temps cooler, and even the bats were acting strange from it all.

There was one other family that showed up while we were there. The kid was chewing a huge wad of gum...which I guess is a big issue in the cavern. The ranger pointed out his gum bucket, but the parents didn't make the kid spit out his gum. People!

There were also two options for the cavern. You could take the elevator down to the bottom, or the natural route in. We opted for the natural route...

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...you enter through the theater where they do their bat viewing each night.

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There are a lot of birds at the entrance to the cavern.

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On one hand it was neat...on the other hand, we...

1. feared poop getting on us

2. had to smell the poop all over the cavern entry walls. Bird poop in mass quantities is an absolutely awful smell.

Aside from the smell, it's kind of scary to descend into this dark pit, but here we go...

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I found myself repeatedly looking up, to see how far in we already were and see the last remaining bits of daylight.


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HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Eventually, we were relying on the artificial lighting in the cavern. That in itself is unnerving because not every angle is lit and it's a pretty steep path going down. I'm guessing there also just isn't as much to see at the top portion of the cavern...so it's a lot of darkness.

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Coming up...we go deeper into Carlsbad Caverns.
 
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Songbird76

Well-Known Member
July 30th-

Thankfully, we were able to get out of our room in the morning. The staff at the front desk all knew about our issues from the night before and had all kinds of theories...none involved a ghost. LOL None also made much sense. Loading up the car was the same kind of pain it was the night before, but without all of the dressed up people hanging about. There were just a few people drinking coffee and some kids playing chess. Outside, there were men working on the renovations. Logic would say to wait on painting the back of the hotel while the front entrance is closed, but they had guys with ladders along the way. I once again had to move the vehicle to a handicapped spot and we started loading the car. The guys on the ladders came down for our first few trips, but stayed up there as we were moving our last few bags. I'm sure they were praying not to get bumped and I was praying not to get paint dropped on me.

We said goodbye to our haunted hotel, grabbed some breakfast and gas at a convenience store in the little town area, and hit the road. I think we were all pretty tired of being on the road at this point, We were still excited to see new things, and there was this crazy part of me that wished we'd gone even farther west and extended the trip even longer. That's the crazy part of me LOL The rest of me was starting to feel like we'd been on the road for a million years and it was time to go.

While NM has a number of ski areas, Cloudcroft isn't really as well known for it. Ruidoso is the more popular spot in this portion of the state, but there was still a small ski area on our way down the mountain. It also still amazes me that you have these lush green mountains that see copious amounts of snow in the winter that are flanked by desert lands. I also felt awful...while my vehicle was a total bug magnet during this trip, my grill became a sad butterfly graveyard. I'll spare you the photos I took of today's carnage. Or maybe if I can figure out the whole spoiler button thingy...

51347432889_345c903b91_b.jpg

51345982477_29a71b2ea1_b.jpg

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Today's drive wasn't a long one. We had debated about making it a bit longer and going to Roswell, but I decided to take the advice of a number of friends and skipped it. I'm sure some people have enjoyed it, but I kept getting info from a number of different people who said it was a pure tourist trap. So, we skipped it and headed straight to Carlsbad, NM. It was only about a 2 hour drive. It took us through the town of Artesia which was also kind of neat. It's one of those towns that grew up around the oil industry. It had a number of cool statues and various things coming into the town that pays homage to all of the school athletes in town.

It wasn't a long drive to Carlsbad from this point. We passed a softball tournament on our way into town, which felt kind of odd. Like we're normally the ones at the tournament...not passing it. Oh well, we were all hungry and didn't want to waste a ton of time in a restaurant, so we went to Burger King. I know...exciting. After that, we passed our hotel for the night in the town of Carlsbad and then headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

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This is one that I've wanted to see since I was a kid. At some point, my parents got me a subscription to National Geographic Explorer and their write up on Carlsbad make it look like a really cool place to visit. My mom would sometimes say that I've already been to a national park cave (Mammoth in Kentucky), but I have so little memory of that. Funny, I remember Serpent Mound in OH, but barely any memories of the national park in KY. David had been to Carlsbad as a little kid, so he was excited to see it again. The drive in sort of takes you through some hills and then up to the top. He also insisted we dress for cooler temps inside the cavern. It was cooler in there but it was so humid and warm enough that I think you're seeing pics of some overdressed people.

Part of why we didn't rush straight here is that we had to buy tickets in advance to enter the cavern at a specified time. My parks pass got us into the park, but due to Covid, I had to buy separate passes for access to the actual cavern. It was only $1pp, but if you didn't have those passes, you weren't seeing the cavern. And since this check in was all done inside the visitor center, we got to see a number of really angry exchanges. I had to walk away from it. Slots opened up 30 days out, but the latest slot of each day was 1:30 and I think it was something like 250 people per hour. So, I'm sure some people just missed out even with trying. Side note- and I had to do this with Glacier too...because cell service is so limited at the various parks, I made sure to take screen shots of each of our QR code entry tickets for all of this stuff just so I had it at the parks that needed them. OK...back to the visitor center... I at least found a super cute ornament in the gift shop and the kids got their stamps. After Sam tried to figure out if she's a caver (yeah- Delta cases had spiked enough at this point that masks were mandatory again- in buildings and the cavern)...

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She's really slender, but I had these fears that it was designed for 5 year olds and she might get stuck in there. Thankfully, they are just cracking up...and obviously, she got out.

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...we headed outside and down to the ranger prepping everyone for cavern access.

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I took a few pics while we waited...

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Well I am definitely NOT a caver! I enjoy visiting them, but spelunking will never be a hobby.
 

ajrwdwgirl

Premium Member
I would not be going in that cave, not with bats. I hate them (I like that they eat insects)! I can't even look at pictures of them, they freak me out. So let me know if you have any pictures of bats coming up. (I might not have looked too close at the previous posts because I was afraid there would be bats.)
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Well I am definitely NOT a caver! I enjoy visiting them, but spelunking will never be a hobby.

While I have enjoyed the various caves we've visited, exploring new caves and new areas of caves is so not my thing. Just that whole not knowing of what could be lurking in the dark aspect just makes it too scary.
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I would not be going in that cave, not with bats. I hate them (I like that they eat insects)! I can't even look at pictures of them, they freak me out. So let me know if you have any pictures of bats coming up. (I might not have looked too close at the previous posts because I was afraid there would be bats.)

I can assure you, we did not see a single bat. I know they were there, but the only things with wings we saw were the cave swallows.
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Sorry...we have been incredibly busy and I haven't been able to get on the computers that work with this site. I initially had a whole write up that's gone missing, so I'm just going to give you a brief synopsis...

- lots of people flying through the cave while we took our time
- David constantly looking for things in the formations
- retro snack bar and bathrooms at the bottom
- David chatting with rangers because he remembers it differently from when he was a kid
- Not doing the full bottom trail because we were trying to work something else in this day.

And now, a photo and video dump! Carlsbad Caverns - July 30th

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HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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A few videos from various points while we were in there...




And time to head back up...

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I tried to get these two to take pics on the way out...

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*this one is always having to adjust masks!

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*while this one was completely uncooperative.

And back to the car...

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We passed a couple of guys getting into a verbal argument. We tried to stay out of it, but this older guy came flying up behind us on our drive out. Thankfully, he turned back around towards the park.


Coming up...we add in another national park, the family gets a lesson on the size of TX, and dinner plans.
 

Songbird76

Well-Known Member
Sorry...we have been incredibly busy and I haven't been able to get on the computers that work with this site. I initially had a whole write up that's gone missing, so I'm just going to give you a brief synopsis...

- lots of people flying through the cave while we took our time
- David constantly looking for things in the formations
- retro snack bar and bathrooms at the bottom
- David chatting with rangers because he remembers it differently from when he was a kid
- Not doing the full bottom trail because we were trying to work something else in this day.

And now, a photo and video dump! Carlsbad Caverns - July 30th

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Is it not a guided tour through there? I've never been through a cave without a guided tour. I didn't know that was a "thing". I don't think you can do that in Wind or Jewell cave. I honestly don't remember about Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, but we only did that one once, and I've been to Jewell and Wind caves several times each.
 

HouCuseChickie

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Is it not a guided tour through there? I've never been through a cave without a guided tour. I didn't know that was a "thing". I don't think you can do that in Wind or Jewell cave. I honestly don't remember about Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, but we only did that one once, and I've been to Jewell and Wind caves several times each.

I know for a while, all of the caves suspended guided tours. Carlsbad's ranger guided tours are obviously still suspended. I gathered this was the case for all, but I was just on Jewel's site and it looks like theirs were back to being offered this summer, but modified due to an elevator project. https://www.nps.gov/jeca/planyourvisit/guidedtours.htm I was wondering why one NPS cave would be offering them while another wouldn't and then it occurred to me that it also probably involves state Covid measures. South Dakota is extremely lax on Covid measures, while New Mexico has been extremely strict. So, I'm guessing it's a matter of NM handling things differently than SD...and those policies/mandates, or lack there of, extending to the parks.
 

unmitigated disaster

Well-Known Member
Is it not a guided tour through there? I've never been through a cave without a guided tour. I didn't know that was a "thing". I don't think you can do that in Wind or Jewell cave. I honestly don't remember about Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, but we only did that one once, and I've been to Jewell and Wind caves several times each.
We were at Carlsbad in the early 80s maybe and at that time at least you simply walked in. No tours (except the separate cave New Cave which is now Slaughter Canyon Cave) - but I remember them at Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and Mammoth Cave. Also Kartchner Caverns here.
 

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