Monday, March 22, 2010

National Parks

Well - the last two days have been dedicated to two of this country’s many National Parks (NP’s) and has been quite interesting - in many respects.

Friday, March 19th, we headed to Guadalupe Mountains National Park which is about 130 miles east of El Paso, about 50 miles west of Carlsbad, is actually in Texas but borders New Mexico - AND there is NOTHING else around! The only RV “park” any where around is the one in the NP trail head parking lot - has NO hook-ups (meaning no water, electricity or sewer!) - and is available on a first come first serve basis. Knowing all of this, we headed here anyway with full fresh water and propane tanks, empty black and grey water tanks and plenty of food! We did plan an early arrival hoping we would be one of the first to arrive on a Friday afternoon so we could get a spot to park. Luckily (I think) we were. Wally, our camp host, was over to greet us immediately and to point out the campground registration ‘bucket’ where Gary had to leave his Sr. Pass information and $8 for our camp spot for the next two nights!! Yes, I did say $8 for the two nights. Of course the amenities (no water, electricity or sewer) were reflective of the $4/night fee. Nevertheless - Gary loves the fact that his Sr. Pass is getting such deals and getting us into all the NP’s FREE!! We LOVE being SR’s:-))

Welcome to the Guadalupe National Park

After set-up (which did NOT take long since we had nothing to hook-up:-(), we did our usual trek to the Visitor Center to get the lay of the land. With fists full of maps and literature and advice from the Rangers, we selected our hike for the afternoon - Devil’s Hall Trail. This was abut 2.5 miles (5 miles round-trip) into Pine Springs Canyon and a natural rock staircase.

The Devil's Hall was not devilish at all

Short break along the creek

Hold up that tree, please

Nice masonry

Lots of beautiful views along the way

We came upon a Ranger on the hike and learned that we were to have wind gusts up to 60 miles an hour during the night and 30% possibility of snow! SO - when we returned to Magic our evening went like this:

Gary BBQ’d a flank steak outside (doesn’t use any electricity or propane) while I quickly fixed corn on the cob and rice inside (using propane only). The wind was already buffeting Magic around - so ALL the ‘slides’ came in and we ate at the small kitchen table by candle light (no electricity). As soon as the dishes were done, we retreated to the bed (remember all slides were in) and watched March Madness from there in the dark. We had a GREAT evening:-)!!

This morning we DID wake up to SNOW (we only thought we left that behind in Park City!)!!

After 60 mph winds we woke up to snow in the campground

Our destination today was Carlsbad Caverns NP (another stamp in our NP Passport:-)), a spectacular cave system that achieved ‘World Heritage Site’ status in 1995. We descended through the Natural Entrance, which took us down about 800 feet in one mile. On this walk we saw such notables as Devil’s Spring, Whale’s Mouth and Iceberg Rock. This then brought us to the “Big Room” where we saw the Lion’s Tail, Hall of Giants, Bottomless Pit and Rock of Ages (which was NOT Gary!). Hard to believe anything this HUGE is all underground. We also had to keep reminding ourselves that we were in a natural wonder and NOT a Disneyland ride!?!?!

The cavern was warm and comfortable after the below freezing temps outside

Not sure what we would have done if the lights went out.

More gorgeous works of nature

One more stop on the way back to our ‘camp ground’ - the Pinery. Yet another Butterfield Trail stagecoach station at the foot of the Guadalupe Mountains.

The stage lines covered the southwest. Everywhere we go there is another marker.

Tomorrow on our way to Big Bend NP in the southwest corner of Texas. We DO have reservations at an RV Park there that has FULL hook-ups:-)!!

More in a few days - E & G

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