Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Brantley Lake State Park in Carlsbad, New Mexico

It was hard to leave the beautiful whites sands, but we have a schedule. No people in the ranger station here either, what’s up with that New Mexico?!? We found our site, set up, and rested a bit to watch the bats exit the cave to feed at Carlsbad Caverns.

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We rested for a purpose! The flight of bats at dusk is a miraculous sight! We just happen to be here during the perfect season. Right now there are more bats here than at any other time of the year. Awesome! So we arrived to watch the flight at 5:30pm, the bats had exited the night before at 8:22pm. We thought it would be earlier than that so we had time to kill. We also tried to schedule a guided tour of the cave but they closed at 5pm. Killing time turned out to be easy. The Visitor’s Center was recently revamped. There is a restaurant, gift shop, book shop, historical information on formation and biology including bats, and a movie from the Discovery Channel about the cave. Before the bat show a Ranger gives a talk about the importance of the habitat of the cave and the impact of humans on the bats. She also discussed the different types of bats in the world. You are not allowed to take pictures of the bats, so we left the camera in the truck. It was pretty awesome, hundreds of them fly out at a time and then they just keep coming out. There were thousands of them. After we had our fill of bat-time we headed back to the camper. We were ravenously hungry and it was too late to cook so we stop at IHOP for a “quick-meal.” No, this IHOP seems to be brand new, all employees brand-spankn’-new including the cooking staff….so the “quick-meal” turned out to be over an hour.

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We woke up really early to head over to the cave because we were worried that the tours would sell out. The cave is self-guided but there are areas that the public is not allowed to travel without a guide. We wanted to see some of these secret areas. Jacob is obsessed with taking pictures inside caves, he LOVES it! We have like 500 pictures of this cave, and I’m probably underestimating. We really enjoyed this cave. It is HUGE, with a lot of walking, so much walking that there is a restroom, snack bar, gift shop, and an optional elevator. There used to be a hot-food cafeteria down there, in a cave! I don’t even understand how they did that, seems like it would do a lot of damage to the cave. Now there is just a cooler with drinks, sandwiches, and salads. Jacob even bought a cool shirt dow there.

Before our tour of the King’s Palace at 1pm we wandered around the cave on our own. It’s pretty cool to be able to walk around a cave without a guide. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a cave without a guide. We were also pretty alone, there were not many people in the cave which was really nice.

The tour was nice. The area we toured was used in the first Journey to the Center of the Earth film, which I’m pretty sure I have never seen. On a bit of a rant; I don’t understand people in dark places who think it’s ok to use a flash on their camera?!? Hello my eyes just adjusted to the darkness then you come and screw it up! WTH! Do they honestly think there flash is not hurting other peoples eyes? There was a guy in our group with a huge flash, bigger than normal and normal is bad enough in a cave, and he took a billion pictures. I wanted to grab it and throw it down an endless pit.

Jacob knows that you don’t use a flash in a cave, if he did it would not end well for him. He has perfected his technique and I think the shots are great. And that is why I keep him! But as I was making the collages for the blog I noticed that this cave is kind of scary looking in pictures. It reminds me of the movie Legend, where the devil lives…spooky!

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Our west coast trip is planned and we’re leaving soon!

Once a again we are going on a long vacation.  Our planning is complete, all the campsites are booked, and I’m getting everything ready to hit the road again!  We are so fortunate to be able to take off and get out of town for 6 WEEKS, that’s crazy, right?

dr-seuss oh the places you'll go

Let me tell ya, planning a trip of this magnitude takes a lot of organized planning and budgeting.  We have a beautiful spreadsheet that includes, but is not limited to; dates, cities, states, campground, websites, travel time, distance, things to do, rates, accommodations, budget, and fuel cost.

Here is a list of all of our stops.

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There are so many things to see and do in all of these places.  I want to make a separate trip to each, ahhh one day…. maybe with some kids 😀

Why would we be wasting time in Robert?  I actually messed up on the image, Tickfaw State Park is in Springfield, LA and I was too lazy to correct it.

rachel-dratch

This is pretty much the face I made when I typed that.

 

Jacob has some work to do in Robert and we are leaving as soon as he is finished. Sooooo to avoid him having to drive home after work we decided to just camp near by.  It’s a beautiful campground with boardwalk trails through the swampy forest.

Back to our journey west, I cannot describe to you how excited I am to see this side of the country.  I know the landscape will BLOW my mind!  I am going to take a ridiculous amount of pictures and savor every inch of scenery!   I have been pinning things to do like crazy on Pinterest, I know we won’t have time for most of it.  Of all the places on this list I have only been to Colorado, basically just Boulder.  I am so excited to be able to spend time with Jacob there because I absolutely adored being there.

When I was in college I decided to take a field course in Boulder.  It was such a wonderful experience and great adventure for me on my own.  My mom thought I was either crazy or really brave.  I flew, not only for the first time ever but also completely alone, to a place I had never been to meet people I had never met.  Honestly, looking back, it was a little bit crazy.  After arriving in the Denver airport, which is beautiful by the way, I had to take public transportation to Boulder.  This was a little scary, being from New Orleans I tender stay away from city buses.  I do enjoy streetcars though maybe because they have multiple exit points, but the buses freak me out!  Public Transportation is TOTALLY different in Denver/Boulder everything is clean and tons of people ride their bikes to work and use the bus system to travel long distances…it’s awesome!  There is a completely different lifestyle in Boulder and you can feel it.  There air is cleaner, more people walk or bike, and there is an appreciation for nature that is lost in so many places.  Not once did I feel like I needed a gun or clench my pepper-spray ready to take action.  I even stayed in a Hostel for a night, and even after seeing several movies that make you never want to come close to one of those I never felt like my life was in jeopardy.  Overall I cannot find one negative thing to say about Boulder it was a welcoming, beautifully scenic, place perfect for a wandering traveler looking a fun and adventurous destination.  This a place that is in tune with nature and the people at least try to minimize their global foot-print, I can really appreciate that way of life and wouldn’t mind living there….but I don’t do cold weather, so I’ll just stay put.

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Me in Colorado holding the biggest dandelion I have ever seen.

I know there are not many people that see this blog, but if you have any ideas on “must-do activities” in one of our stops please give us a shout out!  I know even with all the pins on Pinterest I’ve probably missed a great deal of awesome things to do.  Also if you know of a blogger that is taking or has been on the same trip we would love to follow them too.

In closing, as I think about the wonderful things and people that have come into my life this song appeared in my thoughts.  And of course I can’t stop myself from singing it repeated!

oh the lord

Johnny Appleseed