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Oct 16, 17 - Carlsbad Caverns NP, on to Fredericksburg

Marvelous walk down into the Caverns, driving through oil exploration Texas, Walmart overnight, Fredericksburg

sunny 24 °C

Oct 16 - We booted out of El Paso about 9:00am with a planned very quick 1/2 day visit to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, before heading deep into the heart of Texas.

The 150 mile drive up to Carlsbad was through lovely west Texas desert, climbing up into the Guadalupe Mountains. Beautiful scenery along the way. We arrived at Carlsbad just after noon, which gave us almost exactly enough time to do the walk down into the Caverns through the Natural Gate.

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The entrance to the canyon warns of steep grades ahead. They were not kidding:

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You descend 750 feet in just over a mile of downhill walking. The early part of the trail is dimly lit, as a precaution against animals venturing into the caverns and becoming trapped. So, it is cautious walking for the first half mile, as you cannot see the trail at your feet, There are hand rails and they advise you to hold on. Good advice!

Eventually, as you get deeper the lighting improves and your eyes adjust to the minimum lighting. It is a good thing Jenny has a good camera as my little point and shoot was useless down here in the dim lighting. We did the full walk through of the caverns, a full three hours of walking through magnificent chamber after chamber. After the 750 foot descent you arrive at the service area, with an elevator to the surface.

In total we walked about 5 miles in our time here. Good exercise. Other than that, we'll let the photos give you an idea of the beauty to behold down here.

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This is our 4th cavern experience. We did Wind Cave NP in South Dakota, Mammoth Cave NP in Kentucky, as well as Mulu Cave in Sarawak, Borneo. All are spectacular, but none have the ease of access of Carlsbad. Here you can walk a paved path through miles of the caverns. This is well worth the visit. If you have more time, there are hikes on the surface and you can take the guided King's Palace Tour, which takes you even deeper into the caverns.

We left Carlsbad at 4:00pm expecting to spend the night at the Walmart in Pecos Texas. And here is where our day got a bit crazy!

We drove over to US Highway 285, which runs from Carlsbad, NM through to Pecos TX and on south. As soon as we hit this highway we knew we were into something. In every direction there was oil exploration and production facilities. Pipeline construction in every direction, small feeder pipelines, into bigger and bigger pipelines criss-crossing the area. Trucks carrying fluids for fracking in seemingly endless lines along the highway. Oil drill rigs to the left and the right, as far as the eye could see. Salt water treatment centers for used water and fresh water centers for those about to frack. Amazing! Crazy!

The speed limit along the road was 75 mph and everyone was going at that flat out pace. Several facilities were in shift change and cars and pick-up trucks were swarming onto the highway in both directions. Crazy traffic and we pretty well had to pull TaJ along at 70 mph just to keep from being a traffic impediment. Our gas mileage on this run was a terrible 12 mpg.

We got to Pecos at 7:00pm and it was obvious from the moment we turned into the Walmart parking lot that we would have to find somewhere else to stay for the night. Not a space in the entire parking lot, it was full to the brim with shoppers. No RV's at all.

We added another hour to our travels and drove on Fort Stockton, where we arrived at a much emptier parking lot. We grabbed a pizza from the Dominos next door and crashed for the night. Remarkably quiet for a 24 hour Walmart. We awoke refreshed.

Oct 17 - Our destination for the day...Fredicksburg TX, right in the center of the state, over by Austin. We plan a 3 night stop here to tour the town called the best small town in Texas. It was a 250 mile drive, mostly on I-10, through miles and miles of wind turbine farms, as well as the obligatory oil fields.

The KOA in Fredericksburg is just OK, a bit aged and the internet is crappy. We arrived mid afternoon, did some shopping and had a supper of fresh Gulf of Mexico shrimp and a salad. This place has wineries, breweries and lots of history. We will find plenty to do here for two days.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:48 Archived in USA Tagged oil carlsbad_caverns fredericksburg highway_285_traffic Comments (2)

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