Friday, 2 July 2010


Carlsbad was our first stop in New Mexico and to be honest there's not much to Carlsbad.
Really...This is the middle of nowhere...Almost...There is a Walmart and a handful of well-known fast food joints (snicker, snicker)

So why did we make the 7 ho
ur drive from San Antonio to endure dinner at Wendy's?

For just one big reason...Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Carlsbad Caverns is one of the natural wonders of the USA and
the largest cave system in the western hemisphere (the Big Room is the size of seven football fields) Initially we had planned to walk down the natural entrance and then take the elevator back up. However the ranger told us that there was no way that Lucy and Henry could manage the steep descent into the cave and that we HAD to take the elevator. [Incidentally Andrew wore thongs/flip flops so there was no chance he could walk down the natural entrance either - where has his SWAG training gone? We also forgot to take jumpers with us so we ended up spending $130 in the gift shop purchasing glow-in-the-dark bat sweaters because it was 50 degrees underground which felt a little cool compared to the 100+ temperatures at the surface]

The caves are amazing! Truly who could have surveyed this desert area and imagined such an underground labyrinth. The NPS has installed lighting throughout the main cavern so it is a very easy walk along a marked path. At one point Lucy shouted out 'look at those giants' and sure enough the stalagmites she was referring to were called 'th
e hall of giants'. I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking, though even then due to the dark conditions there are really no good photos of the experience - just memories.

Later that night we returned to the caves to witness the nightly bat feeding
. 300,000 bats live in a cave near the natural entrance. At dusk they explode like a plume of smoke into the night to feed on insects. At 7pm a crowd of us sat quietly awaiting their exit. The minutes ticked by and we were all nervously waiting as the rangers threatened to turn us out due to lightening. The lightening abated but the minutes continue to tick by and only a trickle of bats were flying around. Dark descended and the rangers exited us out of the park and we had not seen the bats. So disappointed and no other chance to see them.

We also visited the Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It was a great opportunity to (safely) walk through a desert area as well as see some cool animals. Lucy loved Lena the Javelina as well as the black bear who put on a playful display for us. We ma
naged to get a rattlesnake to rattle at us and we saw the wolves running around their cage. It was also here that the geocaching began for Lucy and she got right into it. I mean what 4 year old girl doesn't love choosing some junky trinket from a box hidden under a cactus?

Carlsbad, although truly in the middle of nowhere, is a must see if you're in the Southwest.


Carrie said...

Your trip looks fun. We always traveled with the children by car and they "conditioned" well and are now both good adult travlers. How many states have you been to now? I'll be watching to see if you ever make it to Lawrence, KS! Though, you may have come through on your Colorado trip. NE Kansas is much, MUCH prettier than Western Kansas, especially near the Nebraska border.

Fiona said...

Hi Carrie

i think we've been to 23 states now. i need to get a map out and start logging our trips. We haven't made it to Kansas yet! We might see you one day

Carrie said...

Oh good! If and when you do visit this state, go by way of Missouri and Nebraska (a South to North at the eastern edge). It's a much prettier route across Kansas than East to West.