We arrived at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
a little before before noon on Wednesday. Unfortunately, we just missed the noon tour of the King's Palace. We bought tickets for the next King's Palace tour which was scheduled at 3 p.m. There was plenty to do while we waited for our tour time.
We visited the gift shop and let all of the boys make a souvenir pressed penny. The boys enjoyed looking at everything in the gift shop.
There was a really neat interactive area for kids. J1, Boogs, and J3 spent a long time using this screen to create their own cave formations. This helped them identify various formations when we went down into the cavern.
Boogs crawled through the small cave tunnel several times. He said he would be okay having to crawl through something that small in the cavern.
Each of the boys took a turn posing as spelunkers.
One table had several skulls, skins, and some spelunker equipment on it.
We went down 750 feet to walk the 1.6 mile Self-Guided tour. It was a cool 56 degrees F in the cave.
I wish my photos could have captured how amazing the cave formations looked in real life.
After our Self-guided tour, we ate at the cafe 750 feet underground. The kids were ready to get back to the surface. J4 said he wanted to ride the elevator up so he could see the cars and chew some blue gum.
After eating, we still had a bit of time before our tour. I noticed a little girl working on a Jr. Ranger booklet. So, we went to the information desk and got Jr. Ranger booklets for all of the boys. When the boys found out they could earn a patch for completing at least half of the booklet, they were very excited to get to work. They were a little sad to have to put the booklets away when the King's Palace Tour began.
The cave formations on the King's Palace tour were spectacular. We enjoyed listening to Ranger Jim tell us the history of the cave. He was an excellent tour guide. Boogs was fascinated by Ranger Jim's stories about closing down the cavern after the last tour each day. Ranger Jim said,"I sometimes feel like there is something down here with me even though I know it is just my brain trying to trick me. So, I sing Michael Jackson and Beyonce songs while I am turning off the lights. It helps chase the goobers away." That statement led to Boogs starting a ten minute discussion on the death of Michael Jackson and prescription medications. It was an unusual discussion to be having deep in a cavern.
Ranger Jim had J2 help him out with a demonstration, J2 became part of a water molecule. Ranger Jim gave J3 his jacket to help him warm up on the tour.
I am so glad we stayed for the King's Palace Tour. It was really neat to learn so much about the history of the discovery and maintenance of the caverns. After the tour, the boys worked on their Jr. Ranger booklets. They were able to complete enough of their booklets to take the Jr. Ranger Pledge to help learn about and protect the natural world around them. The boys had to raise their hands and repeat after Ranger Jim to take the pledge. Ranger Jim added on "... I will not argue in the car and I will listen to my mom..." Boogs stopped repeating the words and said, "Hey, I read the real pledge and I know that is not part of it." Ranger Jim signed their booklets in English and Chinese then gave each boy a Carlsbad Caverns Jr. Ranger Patch. They happily added it to the other patches we have collected on this trip.
On the way out of the park road, we had to stop and get a picture with the aliens before leaving New Mexico to return to Texas. I would have loved to spend a couple of days in the Carlsbad area.
We stopped for dinner at a little diner called Happy's. The owner had a huge toy collection on display. After dinner, we piled in the car to drive for 5 to 6 hours. We had planned on taking the noon tour at the caverns so we could leave earlier in the day. With our later tour and dinner, we did not leave Carlsbad until almost 7 p.m. Our next campsite reservation was at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas. We drove until midnight and then decided that it was just too late to try and drive another two hours to Glen Rose. All of the boys were asleep. Daphne and I were laughing and talking during the entire drive. I think we were getting a little delirious with being tired because we started laughing at the most ridiculous things. We'd spent the last two nights in tents with lightning, thunder, and strong winds. We started cracking ourselves up by listing the silly things that had happened on the trip that annoyed our children even though the trip was "for the kids". We needed to pull over and set up camp somewhere.
We checked online for the closest campsite and ended up at Abilene State Park a little after 1 a.m. Daphne and I set up the two tents with pillows and sleeping bags while the kids were asleep in the car. It was not a lot of fun setting up camp with only the car's headlights to show us what we were doing. I ended up tripping, falling, and getting road rash on my palms, knees, and foot. My toe bled so bad that the inside of my shoe became slippery with blood while we were setting up camp. After we carried the kids into the tent I went and bandaged my wounds. It started raining shortly after we went to sleep. We checked and Abilene was under a flash flood warning. There was a little bit of water inside my tent when I got up at 6, but the rain had stopped. Three of the boys woke up and I fed them. Then it started raining again. I let the boys play in the car to stay out of the rain. Then it started pouring. Daphne called me from the tent. Water was coming up through the tent seams along the floor of the tent. She sent me a video of her pushing the tent floor, it looked like a waterbed. When the rain went back down to a drizzle, we put the last two boys in the car and took down our tents as quickly as possible.
The tents were standing in about two inches of water. What a mess! The pillows and sleeping bags were soaked. There was no way things were going to dry before we had to set up camp for that night so we decided to call it quits and head home. Heading home was harder than we imagined it would be. The low water crossings were flooded. We drove through one low water crossing with about 8 inches of water flowing across the road. It made me very, very nervous to drive through it. Then we came to a second low water crossing. After looking at it for a few minutes, we decided not to press our luck. We started backing up the car to try and find a place to turn around. Another car drove up, the woman in the car said that there had been construction for the last six months to fix the flooding on this section of road. She was not very happy about the situation. She told us an alternate route to take us to the highway. We started backing up again and then four pick-up trucks drove up to the low water crossing. We waited to see if they made it across.
The pick-up truck on the left side of the street made it across but he almost stalled in the middle of the flooded area. At the deepest part, the water came up to the top of his wheel wells. Scary!
The weather was mostly cloudy and drizzling all the way home. We were sad for our trip to end early, be we had a great time in spite of a few little things going wrong. Everyone got along most of the time, the kids were pleasant in the car, we experienced new things, saw great sites, and had fun together.
This is what the boys looked like on the last leg of our trip. We had to cram wet sleeping bags into the back of my car. They survived the trip and hopefully have some fond memories of it. I know I do.
For Daphne -it is all for the kids (ha)
"They went for a walk while I am in here soaking to death."
"Mama it's raining. It's perfect."
Turn around don't drown.
"The water ran red."
They can't wear backpacks because of the crick in their necks.
Beef jerky bags are amazing!
"Cheetos drool makes me puke."
"This makes me very, very, very, very nervous."
Rain of bugs.
Caution, Tarantulas Crossing the Road
"I can't back up!"
"Why do you two gag so much?"
Watch out for mud puddles in the dark!
Daphne, thanks for joining us on this crazy adventure. I can't wait for the next one.
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