Sunday, July 4, 2010

Caverns and More

There is a scenic drive approaching the Carlsbad Caverns. Slowly winding its way through the desert brush, it comes to an end at the visitor center at the top of a hill where one can see for miles.
Our family opted to hike into the caverns using the natural entrance instead of riding the elevator down to the "Big Room" where most of the the well-known famous sights are located.
The hike begins at this large hole and continues to twist ever deeper along steep paths that are dimly lit.
This photo looks back up at the big hole where we entered. Soon, we were far from this light as we hiked deeper into the cave. The hike takes about an hour and is quite hard on the knees.

Taking pictures in the dim lighting of the cave proved to be difficult, especially for a newbie like me. I tried so many different things and wound up with a lot of really bad photos. This one below is of the "Whale's Mouth" which is a rock formation that looks like teeth that has a light within lighting up the inside of the mouth. A little overexposure turns it into more of a fire-breathing whale.
At least I got a couple of decent photos, too.

We only did the smallest loop (about 30 minutes) in the Big Room because the boys were wiped out after the hike down. It was a shame to miss out on so many of the most famous sights on the longer part of the loop that goes around the Big Room, but we chose sanity overwhiny, screaming children. It was the right choice.

We left the caverns and checked into our hotel in Carlsbad. Let me just say that the majority of hotels there have only a 2 out of 5 star rating online. I found the only one with a 3 out of 5 star rating and after spending one night there, I would hate to see what the others are like. The only pro our hotel had was that our room had 3 queen beds in it. Perfect for a family of our size. More hotels need to do that! But it would have also been nice if the pool worked, there were no ants in the bathroom, and no dead gnats covering the counters. You win some, you lose some.

We then went to my grandparents house for a fabulous dinner and great visit. My grandmother is in her 80's and still works 5 days a week at a plumbing shop. And she can whip up a feast. The boys climbed all over my poor grandpa, but he didn't seem to mind. We loved spending time with them.
After dinner, we drove back out to the caverns to see the evening bat flight. Hundreds of thousands of bats leave the cave at dusk through the giant hole where we began our hike earlier in the day. But, it was drizzling and super cloudy/foggy so we did not see much at all. It was too bad because I think the kids would have really been thrilled.

The next morning we searched in vain for a donut shop to get breakfast to take to my grandparents house. Finally I typed "pastries" into the Iphone and it brought up The Blue House Bakery and Cafe. If you ever visit Carlsbad, promise me you will go to this shop. It is way too cool to be in that city, and if we had one near our house I would be there every morning. It had the most delectable pastries and coffee imaginable.

We visited with my grandparents a bit longer then headed back to my mom's house for a night before heading home. My mom took me shopping and since I realized I am not in any of these vacation photos, I'm putting in this one of me in the cute dress I found while shopping with my mom.
It was a fun mini-vacation for the whole family. I hope we can do it again sometime soon.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Sounds like such a fun family trip. Sorry the hotel was less than great! I'm glad the kids enjoyed the caverns...I have never been there and it might be fun to take our boys one day.