Day 65: Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains NP

The driver side window broke today and we have to keep it taped shut.

#vanlife

Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.

I like messing with mechanical stuff, and I thought I could fix it. Look at me trying to fix it so we can save ourselves a few hundred dollars. How is a window so expensive to fix?? BAHHHH!

Luckily for the van, I didn’t have time to hate it for too long because we were on our way to Carlsbad Caverns NP and I have wanted to go there for a couple of decades to watch the bats. Please note that this does not mean I wasn’t in a pissy mood. We were traveling through the southwest during a heat wave in a van with no A/C and one window was not functioning. I’m not a saint, folks.

When we got there we learned that the bats hadn’t arrived in full force yet and the night before they only saw 20 at the night flight. During migration, over 1,000,000 bats live in the caves! I can only imagine how spectacular those bat flights must be. We saw about 4,000 leave the cave to eat and that was still amazing. I love bats! We decided to come back the next day and hike the caverns.

Carlsbad is one of the few National Parks we’ve been to that has a dog kennel. Of course, Clementine did not want to go into the kennel and she is a 90lb beast who cannot be forced into a cage if she isn’t feeling like that’s where she wants to be. Chris can be talked into it though, and he crawled into the cage to coax Clem into joining him. Poor Clementine. But, in torturing our dog, we were able to hike all of the trails in the cavern 750 feet underground. I love caves! I imagine that they are like the ocean floor, only without water and fish and sand and…whatever…it’s still like an empty ocean. The silence and the physical pressure of being so far underground makes you feel like you are wearing ear plugs. I found myself saying things out loud just so I didn’t get claustrophobic. The hike was easy until we decided that we would climb up and out the natural entrance. Most people hike in and down and take the elevator back up because it is 1.25 miles and very steep. The equivalent of climbing 79 stories. It is recommended that only those in good physical condition attempt it. It was difficult, I stopped about 79 times, and teenagers ran past me, but I emerged sweaty and victorious. Chris made it too, but he didn’t complain as much as I did.

A tiny Chris is visible in this photo somewhere.

A big empty ocean filled with representations of naked body parts.

 

and ponds shaped like Africa.

And super happy exhausted hikers!

After Carlsbad, we headed out to Marfa via Guadalupe Mountains NP. This park is great for hardcore hikers without dogs. We are neither of those things. The view was still beautiful though. Guadalupe Mountains is the 50th most visited park out of 60.

 

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