Saturday, September 10, 2011

Road Trip - Day 19

It was a bit chilly when we woke up...

The original plan was to hit the Living Desert Museum and Zoo, the come back and stay another night here, then head to Carlsbad Caverns the next morning. However, we weren't huge fans of this campground, particularly the little scorpions that Brooklyn found... So we decided to pack up that morning and do both the Zoo and Carlsbad in the same day, PLUS drive to our next campsite. A little daunting? Yes. But after the previous boring day, we were up for the challenge!

Russ has slowly been teaching the kids how to help set up and put away the camper, and we've got it down to a science at this rate. Sam does the big crank, Brooklyn takes care of all of the little cranks, putting the little pieces of wood away, and closing up the latches. Makes it much easier for Russ and I to run around and tuck everything in. Both Russ and I were surprised at how much help they turned out to be! Ha!

First stop, the Living Desert Museum and Zoo in Carlsbad, NM.

It was kind of a neat little zoo. I'm glad we went first thing in the the time we left it was sweltering! And it was only 10:30am!

Anyways...when we first started going through the zoo part, I was a bit nervous as there were these birds and animals in very small cages, and not seeming quite so happy. However, I finally realized that each of these animals has been injured and were in rehabilitation. For example, this bald eagle could not fly. Brooklyn was ecstatic that she was able to see both the bald and the golden eagle so close.
Favorite parts of the zoo:
Brooklyn: "All of the big birds, especially the golden and bald eagle. And the big elk with the huge antlers and the bison and snakes."
Sam: "
My part was looking at lizards and sideeeeers." (Not sure what sideeeers is...)
Russ: The crystallized gypsum.
Trista: The Mexican Wolves and the cougar that was pacing and got real close.

Then we started out for the Caverns. Along the way, Brooklyn decided she was in quite the talkative first I think she was thinking out loud, but then I started asking questions, and then she realized I was typing what she said, and then it turned into quite the dialog about what she thinks about her are a few experts:

I think I’m going to be a cowgirl….don’t type cow woman…cowgirl."
I think I’ll go to college in 6 years. I don’t know where yet though, maybe in the wild wild west. I think I’m going to study maybe inside a horse maybe..."
"Maybe I can be an explorer or anything. Yeah. Maybe I can just be a gypsy."
"Oh yeah! And I think I’m gonna have some a lot and a lot of chickens and I think I’m going to sell eggs. And eat eggs. And that’ll be my job. And I’ll make $65 in one year. And I think I have a gate there and when the gate is open I’ll have a sign there too. And the sign will say EGGS FREE FOR SALE!"

Brooklyn's thoughts entertained us all the way to the Caverns. The craziest part about visiting the park was that Russ and I were just there 8 years ago. And things were SO different--no jobs, no kids, not married...just crazy how much things have changed in such a short amount of time!

And of course we had to do the face-in-the-hole photo.
The first thing we did was go up on the observation deck of the museum. You got sweeping 360 degree views of the entire desert. And I didn't take a photo because it was pretty much exactly what you imagine...a giant desert. One unique thing was that there had recently been an large fire--it burned up thousands of acres. You could look out and see how close it had come to the little village that is near the caverns. Our ranger said that it came within 3 feet of her house, and at one point the thermometer in her kitchen window that read the outside temperature read over 230 degrees. Crazy.

Anyways, then it was time for the caverns. We'd been psyching the kids up for weeks, and they had been TALKING about it for the big moment where here and Brooklyn didn't really seemed all that impressed. Yup, I see the giant hole. Yup, thousands of bats inside. Pitch darkness, no problem. Cool as a cucumber (not that she looks it in this photo, lol).

It took Brook a good 20 minutes of walking to finally become immersed in it as she tends to do.

It was at this point where she said, "Hey look, that looks like a whale's head!" that she was totally into it. And can you guess what this structure was named?? ...Whale's Head. No joke. (Ugh...dumb Blogger isn't letting me put the photo in. GRRR.)

I was grateful for the rangers posted every so often, awaiting questions, as I couldn't answer most of the ones she had. I was a pretty proud mama though when the ranger was answering her, " did all of this happen?!" question and the woman said something to the effect of, "well these rocks are all made up of sea stuff like sponges, you know, like Spongebob Squarepants." Brooklyn looked at her like she had a third eye. I said, "You know, like coral...that kind of sponge." "OHHHH!!!" That's my girl.

I was impressed with how well the kids did. I didn't get much complaining from Brooklyn about the 2+ miles they'd walked until the very end. Poor Sam though, Russ and I took turns carrying him for the last quarter of the trek. I'm sure it had nothing to do with skipping his nap, seeing a zoo AND the Caverns...

I couldn't resist a photo of "the twins". Hehe. Oh come on, you know you would have taken a picture too.

We were about to the end and a few of us were running out of gas...

So. I have become very anal about having a Plan over the past few years. I planned out this entire trip from how long we'd be eating at certain restaurants to what exhibits to see when at the zoo. No, we didn't always stick exactly to everything, but it was good to have the guideline. Well. This was my first time deviating from the Plan. (Insert nervous gasp here.)

Like I mentioned earlier, the plan had been to camp at the previous camp site for two nights instead of one. Well, my first problem lay in the fact that I never wrote down the exact name of our next campground we were going to. I just thought I'd figure it out on the 3 1/2 hour drive to the area where it would be. Ugh. What a nightmare. I couldn't figure anything out on Russ's dinky little phone.

So it's dark out. We've gone up to some 6000' in elevation into the mountains. It's cold. We follow the winding, narrow forest road, wondering if we're going to be able to get back out when we finally find the first campground. Closed. Closed?? Huh?? Let's keep driving...and it dead ends into another closed campground. I hop out to go look at the information board that is absolutely bare.

Someone comes out of the camper that is parked in the Camp Host's spot, asking if I needed help. Go figure, ALL camps in the area had closed for the season just two days ago. Sigh. He gave us directions back the way we came to another individually owned campground that might be open.

Did I mention that it was cold and dark? And that I forgot to pack anyone more than a thin, long-sleeved shirt? Ahem.

So we decided that we don't want to backtrack and it's only a half hour to the nearest campground in the direction we'd go tomorrow anyways...let's try that. Back DOWN the mountain, into the desert again...into the city...and hey, lookie there. The GPS routed to the Camp Headquarters where THERE IS NO LIVING SOUL AT 8PM. Doh.

Russ and I give up. We haven't felt the need to find a hotel (even though Sandia will reimburse us some of the cost) thus far, but at this point we FELT THE NEED. So we headed to the nearest Super 8...which was right next to some very exciting rodeo grounds...go figure, nothing available.

Okay, let's check out this Holiday Inn. Nope, some military reunion. You're kidding. Both the kids and adults are so tired we're ready to cry at this point.

Fine. WHAT ABOUT THE BLOODY HAMPTON YOU have anything available??? I said, "We'd like a room with double beds." And she says, "We don't have any queen doubles available, but I do have a King." Fantastic--two king beds? WE'LL TAKE IT.

We get to the room....oh....she meant one king bed.

So yes, I shared the bed with two sick kids while Russ slept like a baby on the floor. Good times.

No comments:

Post a Comment