New Mexico - Jan 21 - 24

Only 4 days between posts?  

Either:

A.  Things have been so exciting

OR

B.  Texas has been hit by an ice storm and we are trapped for a day inside BigCountry 

It's actually a bit of both. Our last two NM highlights deserve their own attention.

One last sunset at Rockhound state park


There were only about 25 spots at Rockhound and the kids managed to meet half of our fellow campers. It was the most "friendly" park we've visited and we are thankful for all those we met.


And since there were only 25 guests, and turn-over is about 2 per day....it was unfortunate this happened when we went to depart and lighten our load (for those of you who travel by RV, you'll know what this picture is about!)


Even the bulls were friendly (and we are glad we didn't have a red paint job) 


We drove north to Las Cruces and through the White Sands Missile Range without incident.  

Before this trip we were not familiar with the White Sands National Monument.



It's the largest gypsum dune field in the world and was a very unique and fun place to spend an afternoon!













Another celebrity citing as we departed!!;)



We stayed the night with our friend, Walmart, in Alamogordo and departed early for a drive through Lincoln National forest on highway 82.  This included a 16 mile climb on a 2 lane highway with 6%-7% grade.  No problem as long as you don't look down at the computer generated instant MPG reading that is showing 2.5mpg....

At the highest point (around 9000 ft), there is a resort town called Cloudcroft.  It it obviously off-season but looks like it would be a fun place to visit in the summer or when there is enough snow for their ski hills.






We arrived just outside Carlsbad Cavern National Park by 2pm and rushed to get BigCountry parked at White City (about 8 miles down the mountain from the Cavern at the entrance to the National Park.) 

FWIW, we were curious as to the difference between a National Monument (White Sands) and a National Park.  There are other differences, but from what we were told, the main difference is a National Monument can be designated by a Presidential Executive Order, whereas a National Park requires Congressional action.  Carlsbad was a National Monument for 8 years before it became a National Park.

If you haven't been to Carlsbad Caverns, you should put it on your bucket list.  It's massive, amazing, and educational.  There are many different guided tours conducted by experienced Park Rangers, as well as, self guided tours.  We spent the first afternoon walking the 1 mile or so around the Big Room.  There is a 75 story elevator that takes you from the top of the mountain down into the cavern.  




Pictures (ours at least) don't do the Cavern justice. On the pic below, if you look closely, there is a large rope hanging down.  That rope is 200 feet long!!!  They attached that rope to a stalactite on the roof using balloons.  The first guy to ascend the rope had to hope it would hold!


The next morning, we took a guided tour of the Left Hand Tunnel.  We chose this tour because it's conducted via candle lanterns.  Sadly....the good camera was with us, but the battery was 8 miles down the mountain.



And we ended our visit by taking the elevator back up and walking down the 1 mile natural entrance. 





Overall, we felt our 3 different tours of the park was a perfect combination for the kids.  One interesting observation - as we were walking down the Natural Entrance (keep in mind this is after spending 4 hours below), Anna started asking "who made all this?"  At first, we thought she was referring to the walking path and stainless-steel railings.  Then we realized she was talking of the cavern itself.  After being to Disney, Sea World etc, it's probably challenging for a 6 year old to differentiate between man made and God made.  This one is certainly a wonder from God!  When we came back up the elevator and showed her the mountain we were standing on, it seemed to click.

Unfortunately, a cold-front involving sleet/ice was moving into NM and TX and we needed to high tail it.  We pulled out of the National Park at 1pm, and drove 400 miles without a stop until we reached Kerrville (again our friendly Walmart). We wanted to stay in Kerrville to wait out the weather, but the forecast was for 17F in Kerrville v. 27F in San Antonio, only an hour away.  After a quick night sleep we departed at sunrise.  Our friends Linda, Scott, Jack, and Tyler, whom we'd met in Bensen, AZ, had tipped us off that there was a nice park north of San Antonio with an indoor heated pool.  Sounded like a great place to wait out the stretch of weather.

We enjoyed a movie night with them - boys in front and girls in back:)




And sure enough, the ice did come last night. Now, we can't feel too bad for ourselves, knowing our friends and family have been enduring -20 below+ and crazy snow for months, but we did notice there is a difference in heat between the upper and lower levels in BigCountry when we use only our space heater:)





It will be warm soon and we are looking forward to visiting San Antonio.  We'll try to write more often, but with less content next time:)  God bless to all!

PS - found this pic today but it's from our time in AZ. This is the back of our friends Morris and Greta's RV.  They are a first-class couple that cracks us up!







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