Monday, May 23, 2011

TRIP PART 2

May 10--Tuesday: There were two things we wanted to see in Carlsbad. First was the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. We got there early and it wasn’t open yet, so we drove down toward what looked like a huge bridge but turned out to be an aqueduct, part of the first system to bring water to the area. Nearby stood one of the first dwellings ever in the Carlsbad area, which had served at times as a personal home and at one point as a dentist’s office. After that, we returned to the Living Desert where we saw a lot of local plants, cacti and sage and juniper, among many others. We also saw wolves, buffalo, javelina, pronghorn antelope, elk, desert tortoises, a gray fox, two golden eagles and a bald headed eagle that had lost most of one wing, and a hawk, as well as other birds. The animals were caged, of course, but many were either rescue animals, like the eagle, or part of a conservation effort, like the tortoises.

After that we went to Carlsbad caverns. It was a pretty long drive from the town, through rising hills, but once we got there and went in it was simply magnificent. It took us well over an hour just to walk around inside, and both Lana and I agreed that it was the single best experience of our trip. I have one photo of it on the blog today, but Lana will have many more over time and I’ll let you know when she puts those up. Just let me say, it’s well worth a visit.

On the way out we stopped at one other site. Down the hill from the caverns was a place in the cliffs where Native Americans had lived at various times. There was a stream nearby, dry at the moment. I took some photos and will run them at some point, but there wasn’t much to see, just a narrow overhang and rock beneath. I thought for a long time about what hard living that would be. Put our hotel woes into perspective.

We finally had dinner at a barbecue place in Carlsbad and it was pretty decent. That was nice after the previous night’s fiasco. I finally got a few minutes to read on my Kindle and started Sidney Williams’ new thriller, Midnight Eyes.

May 11--Wednesday: We were up early and drove all the way into Arizona, ending up stopping in a little town called St. Johns. This was the worst hotel we’d seen yet, and the most expensive, but the day we had getting there made up for it. We first stopped at the Hubbard Museum of the American West, in Ruidoso Downs. We saw a Colt 45 that Billy the Kid had once owned, and a bunch of other guns (see pics). We saw a Conestoga wagon, which weighs in at 3000 pounds and will haul 5000 pounds. We saw a Pony Express saddle with all its mail pouches. There were historic saddles, spurs, and plenty of Indian artifacts. I took copious notes for background color if I decide to do another western. We had a great breakfast at a little places called Jorges. I had steak and eggs and hash browns. Yum.

We then drove up through tree-green mountains, through a town called Ruidoso. It’s a ski town in season and was just beautiful. Lana and both agreed that it would be a very interesting place to live. By afternoon we were down to the Rio Grande, which had been diverted in one area to form a nature sanctuary called Bosque del Apache. This was an amazing place. Even though it was off season, we still saw huge numbers of birds, as well as a mule deer and a bull snake. We saw two turkeys, a bunch of herons, egrets, ducks, coots and swallows, along with a pheasant and some weird black ibises. After that, as we drove on, we saw a herd of 20 or more elk, and several pronghorn antelopes. We also stopped and took pictures at the Very Large Array. We crossed the Continental Divide, and we saw a tumbleweed blowing right down the road at us. At last I knew we were in the west.


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34 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Wow, you should consider writing travel books next.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patty, lol, there's a genre I've never tried.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Always wanted to see Carlsbad Caverns. The VLA are impressive, aren't they? Bet my icon looks real familiar now.

laughingwolf said...

i agree w/patty... you write, lana supplies the pics... something to do in your dotage, as you tour around in your 'airstream'...

just include a dog, best alarm system for the money!

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, we got some more VLA pics that were even better on our way back through.

Laughingwolf, you're right. I think I might just do that.

Merisi said...

The Rio Grande was one of my favorite sights in the Four Corners states. Never made it to Carlsbad Caverns.

Good to read that you and Lana enjoyed such a beautiful trip together!

Hanny said...

I was down in that area once before when I was young. I'd love to go again now that I'm older and better able to appreciate it.

Richard Prosch said...

Wow --good post. Never really thought about how heavy some of those old covered wagons were. Now I feel extra sorry for the beasts that pulled them.

Deka Black said...

I just LOVE the eagle headshots since i was a little kid. ^^

Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi, It was so nice to see the waters used to make a great home for animals.

Hanny, I think it was just the right time for me. I could really appreciate everything I saw.

Richard Prosch, Yes indeed. Oxen get a bad rap but man they could haul some loads.

Deka Black, this one was definitely very regal looking. It was hard to see it missing half its wing.

The Golden Eagle said...

Did you mention golden eagles? Now you've really got my attention. :)

Carlsbad Caverns sounds amazing. Again, great pictures!

BernardL said...

Very good travelogue. Pictures & commentary well done as usual. :)

Steve Malley said...

SO freaking jealous, but in a good way! :)

One phrase caught me, though... Whaddayamean *IF* you write another Western?? I want more!

Ron Scheer said...

The weight of those wagons must account for the deep ruts along the Oregon Trail, which I understand is still visible today...As for caves, I don't like them. I don't even like underground garages. I'll spend enough time underground when the time comes...Good food and a good hotel beat even the best sightseeing, if you ask me.

Erik Donald France said...

Sounds (reads) magnificent(ly). Ups and downs and travels around.

By chance, I recovered three small boxes of slides from the Western Trip I took with my sister Linda in the 80s. These will be fun to work with again.

Charles Gramlich said...

Golden Eagle, there were two golden eagles at the Living zoo. Very cool.

BernardL,thanks man.

Steve Malley, I do plan to but there hardly seems time to write everything I'd like to write.

Ron Scheer, But carlsbad was so quiet and cool, so far underground. I enjoyed it quite a lot, though there were plenty of places in it I would not have wanted to crawl into.

Erik Donald France, Cool. I'll look forward to maybe seeing some of that stuff eh.

David J. West said...

I've been wanting to visit Carlsbad Caverns for a long time-gonna do it one of these days. I look forward to more of Lana's pics.

David Cranmer said...

I have some eagle photos I'll try to post later this week. And exploring caverns is such fun. I can't wait to take my daughter in a few years because we have quite a few in this region. I second Patti's comment, Charles. You really place a person right there in your adventure.

ivan said...

That eagle is so cool it looks almost American...I could could almost see E Pluribus Unum emblazoned on its chest. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

David J. West, it was worth the visit, man.

David Cranmer, thanks. I appreciate that. Glad to hear it.

ivan, I know, it could have been the model for the American bird.

Jess said...

Welcome home! Glad you two had fun. Wish I had a good country fried steak. :)

the walking man said...

The Carlsbad caverns if anyone is within 100 miles it is well worth the drive to go through it. Just fascinating. Wasn't it where Jesse James had a hid out if I remember correctly?

There is also something to be said for crossing the continental divide, they should give you a paper or something to say you had been there and got over it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jess, I had one in Texas that completely filled my plate, and it was a pretty good size plate. they had to put all the fixin's in other bowls.

Mark, I should have gotten a t-shirt saying "I ate at the best Mexican-chinese place in Carlsbad and survived."

Cloudia said...

You had me at steak and hasbrowns!



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Mary Witzl said...

This made me so nostalgic for the West. Our family spent a happy month traveling around the States; Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming were three of our favorites.

Oscar said...

I'm enjoying your travel posts. Ruidoso is also famous for quarter-horse racing at Ruidoso Downs.

Scott said...

Charles,

Sounds like a great trip for the most part. Did you stop and see 'The Thing'?

Travis Cody said...

Oh my folks have been to that museum!

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, me too. I want more.

Mary Witzl, I definitely want to see Montana and Wyoming some time. Used to think I'd want to move to Wyoming.

Oscar, we saw the signs for that, and it was actually in Ruidoso Downs that we stopped for breakfast.

Scott, "the thing?" hum, it's late at night and I'm not sure. Maybe so. maybe not. :)

Travis Cody,really? cool. It was pretty neat place.

Drizel said...

WOWI, sounds so super kewl. Have fun:)

Charles Gramlich said...

Drizel, thankee.

X. Dell said...

Sounds like the cavern was the highlight of your trip, and the steak and eggs were the best meal of the trip.

Charles Gramlich said...

X-Dell, we later had a couple of even better meals but the steak and eggs were very good

Jodi MacArthur said...

Ha. I never made it to those carlsbad caverns. Picture is awesome. I love your description of the nature sanctuary in AZ. Amazing! I agree with Patti. Perhaps you should be writing travel books.