Day 32 - October 2nd, 2014
We took a day off to drive up to Carlsbad Caverns. The caverns were about 30 miles from where we were camped and SO worth the drive. The baby, Caedmon, was not feeling so good so Craig (daddy) stayed out in the bus with him while Katie, Kenadi, CJ, Corban, and Caleb explored. The ranger gave the boys a junior ranger handbook to fill out while we were there so they would learn even more. We took an audio tour as well so that gave us lots of great information. Although we had been to Linville Caverns at home in NC, this was NOTHING to compare. We walked down the "natural entrance" which was a 750 foot drop in about a mile of walking. It was switchback with fairly steep grades going right along the edge of the cavern. Once you got to the bottom the cavern opened up into the "Big Room" which is the biggest room in a cavern in North America. For those of you who are Winston-Salem folks, I would estimate the room was 4 to 5 times the size of WSFirst's sanctuary and over 500 feet high. The path wrapped around the circumference of the room and was 1.25 miles long!!! There were HUGE stalagmites and stalactites as well as the beautiful formations that they called "drapes" which swept down from the ceiling like flowing curtains. Some of the stalactites were so big they looked like large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. In many places the "mites" and "tites" had grown together forming ornate columns that stood hundreds of feet tall. We learned about the minerals found in the caves and well as the bats. We tried to take as many pictures as possible, but because of the lighting down below the pictures can not even begin to do it justice. I highly encourage anyone who passes through this area to visit!
We stayed for the "bat flight program" that began right as the sun set. At the opening of the cavern there was an amphitheater where people gathered and a ranger talked for a few minutes about the bats. At about 6:45 all of the sudden the first group of bats began to fly out of the cavern. A silence fell over the crowd and for 40 solid minutes bats flew out of the cavern. As they flew out the formed a spiral that swirled around like a bat tornado before the flew off in groups going out to eat. They told us that even though the largest part of the bats had flown away, smaller groups would continue to come out all night. The rangers estimate that approximately 400,000 bats call Carlsbad Caverns home during the summer and early fall each year. They did not allow photos or video so we can't share, but it was a truly amazing sight!
Day 33 -October 3rd, 2014
We left the parking lot of Pine Spring Campground later than normal. The "bike crew" of CJ and Craig left headed toward Orla, TX while the "bus crew" of Katie, Kenadi, and the little boys headed into the town of Carlsbad to go to the store, pump out the sewage of the bus, and find a doctor for the littlest brother. After about 4 hours all of the "chores" had been accomplished and the "bus crew" headed back to join up with the "bike crew". We were thankful to find an RV park in Carlsbad that allowed us to pump out for free and a doctor who took our insurance and was able to give Caed medicine he would need to feel better!
On the ride the "bike crew" rode 61 miles without seeing one store (or any other sign of life other than oil rigs)!! They crossed into the central time zone along the way and stopped for a quick photo opp. CJ had to take his first road side "natural" break and Craig ran over a LIVE rattle snake but thankfully they didn't take pictures of either. They finally pedalled into Orla (which was really just a cross roads with an water station where they filled tankers for fracking) around 5pm. They found a small break room where the truck drivers hung out and thanks to Armando the cook they were able to get some food and water while they waited on the bus to get there.
Right as the sun was setting we all met back together in Orla, TX parked the bus in a gravel parking lot where the truckers told us to, and went to sleep!
Day 34 - October 4th, 2014
This morning the guys pulled out of Orla right about 9am. At one break along the route they counted 7 huge flames of oil wells burning off the extra gases within eyesight. Each mile they rode they could see at least one big oil drill. They rode 32 miles before they saw the first signs of civilization. Total they rode 38 miles into Pecos, TX and made it into town before lunch. We found a car museum in town that the boys thought was just awesome! Then we headed on over to Kings Road RV Park to set up. Thanks to the owner for donating us a spot for the night! Everyone settled in for a nap in our "bedroom". As you can see from the picture it kind of every man for himself when it comes to bed space! After a rest, we took everyone from town's advice and went to eat at La Fiesta for supper. It was only a two block walk from the tv park and it was GREAT! Thanks to the owners there for donating half of our dinner and to all of the people who CJ talked to while we were there that gave donations for the NCCS!! For tonight we are going to enjoy HOT showers and go to sleep with full bellies and without the sound of big trucks rolling by. We are thankful!