Big Trip 2... Day 7... July 5, 2007… Thursday
0615 Wake up and shower. Head over to the house for coffee. Once I’ve had my coffee it should be time to wake everyone else up and start packing.
0815 Finishing breakfast… Looks like we’re not leaving at 8:15 after all. Which is exactly why I moved our scheduled departure from 0830 to 0815. This way we won’t be as behind when we leave late!
0845 On the road.
0855 Stop in Kerrville for coffee and last bathroom before we get on the endless highway of nothingness also known as I10W in West Texas. We were going to get a last Jack in the Box stop but it’s too early for cheese fries so I decide to skip it. Darn it! I only got one JITB stop on this trip!
0920 Speed Limit is 80 mph. Too bad the van only wants to go 75 with the luggage box on top.
0923 Melissa checks in with Bill. Apparently they had a tornado warning back home yesterday. There was also an incident with the fireworks. Something broke and the fireworks shot into the crowd instead of into the air. Lots of burn victims. Yikes! (We found out a few days later that it was a problem with that particular company’s fireworks and it happened in a few other places as well.)
0934 We had been testing the GPS on a “keep the direction of travel at the top of the screen” option. We both decided it was better to keep true north at the top of the screen. I felt lost because the screen kept flipping around and I had no idea which was I was headed anymore. I could see it being helpful when making a lot of quick turns in a town because I have a hard time imagining which way I am based on which way the arrow is pointing and then knowing which way to turn. Ron is definitely a true north all the time guy though.
0942 Movie time. “Everyone’s Hero”. Bella’s favorite part of this movie is when the talking baseball falls down the stairs and says “My head! My butt! My head! My butt!” all the way down. Consequently I will always think of that line whenever I think of that movie.
1034 Mile Marker 400, Sonora, TX. There is a rodeo, an airport, and a Sonic. Ptetty much everything a west TX town needs! Only 147 miles to our turn.
1040 Rest stop. Bathroom break for Ron, Sheila, and Bella. 275 miles to Carlsbad. 385 miles to our hotel in Roswell.
1119 Felisa: “When are we going to get there?” Mom: “Not for a long time. Texas is very big.” Felisa: “Oh rats!” And then she starts a chorus of “A long time. A long long long long… long time” for a couple minutes.
1157 Big windmills
12:00 p.m. The kids are all asleep now. Because it’s almost time to stop, of course!
12:05 p.m. Oil wells.
12:06 p.m. Vegetation is very cactus-y out here.
12:07 p.m. Thinking about things I would want in my house… graywater recycling, rain barrels, a garden, and solar and wind energy supplementation.
12:15 p.m. Turn on the GPS radar to find a Sonic. It lists Burrito Inn, Rosita’s, Mi Casita, Pepito’s and nothing else. Ron says, “Are you sure we’re not in Mexico? Did we take a wrong turn somewhere?!” (Earlier we passed by our “closest to Mexico” point in the journey)
12:16 p.m. Obituaries on the radio. Sure don’t hear that back home!
12:31 p.m. Found a Sonic on the GPS after all. Exit at Fort Stockton, TX.
12:35 p.m. Sonic. Sign says Bathrooms in the back so we went around to the back. We went in the door and wow – we’re in the kitchen! It’s like getting a bonus field trip!
12:50 p.m. Gas $3.25/gallon. Melissa lost her cell phone again and ends up practically standing on her head, trying to find it. Which she does… in plain sight near where she was looking originally. Too bad she didn’t see it sooner – could’ve saved herself a lot of effort!
12:54 p.m. Carlsbad is 136 miles away.
1:06 p.m. Random stop sign in the middle of nowhere.
1:08 p.m. Melissa: “This is the straightest road I have ever seen!”
1:20 p.m. Ron spies some good ranch hands fixing the barb wire fence on a hot Texas afternoon… they were driving a 4-wheeler instead of riding a horse but we’ll still give them credit.
1:30 p.m. If Melissa had gotten her permit before we left, she could’ve had a driving lesson. Where better to start than on the longest, straightest, emptiest road ever?!
1:31 p.m. The definintion in the clouds is so awesome out here. GPS says we are at 2600 ft. elevation.
1:32 p.m. Crossing Toyah Lake. But it’s dry. No flooding going on in this part of Texas, that’s for sure!
1:36 p.m. Pecos, TX.
1:40 p.m. There are more people at Walmart than there were at the courthouse.
1:41 p.m. Stop at the West of the Pecos Museum.
Everyone’s favorite parts of the museum…
Ryan: Gun Room and Pecos Bill room
Bella: Pictures of “Miss Pecos” through the years, lining the wall as we went up the stairs.
Felisa: “I don’t want to say my favorite part of the museum!”
Melissa: Green dress
Ron: the Saloon
Sheila: Crazy hair curler machine.
I thought the museum was very interesting. It was very local and yet covered most of US History. It showed how the history we all know applied to this particular town/area. For example, the historical event of television in the home was represented by a display of someone’s first TV table which held the first TV in town and told how the neighbors would all gather at that home to watch together. The World War II display held uniforms, letters, and other items that belonged to veterans from Pecos. It was fascinating to see this different perspective of US History. The Smithsonian Museum of American History has all the same events but on a grander, less personal level. Every item on display at the Pecos museum had belonged to a local resident.
Also at the museum: A telegraph… from a girl who was disappointed that her beau would not be coming to town as soon as she had hoped and who was very disappointed. Ron said it’s just like a text message and that some things never change!
And… Ryan bought a train whistle with his money from Grandma D, because Mr. Wyman had one.
2:32 p.m. Leaving Pecos. Next stop, Carlsbad Caverns.
3:07 p.m. Orla, TX. A faded sign in Orla read Long Way To Anywhere From Orla. We went around the corner and saw a blue highway sign which read Next Fuel Service 60 miles and then 90 miles. Guess they weren’t kidding and we really are in the middle of nowhere!
3:20 p.m. Tasting the famous Pecos cantaloupe jelly beans that Ron bought at the museum gift shop. Tastes just like cantaloupe – amazing!
2:24 p.m. Time change! Which means we have more time to spend at the caves.
2:25 p.m. SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT! Just ran into a swarm of bugs. Yuck!
2:26 p.m. Look – another car on the highway! It’s amazing how many miles and miles of open space there are out here.
2:35 p.m. We can see the Guadalupe Mountains and NM from here. We’re about 6 miles from the state line.
2:41 p.m. NEW MEXICO!!!
Ron says “We’re in the countryside of NM now”
2:50 p.m. The GPS tried to send us to the caverns via “unnamed road” and now it’s sending us down a road to Slaughter Canyon… No thanks! We changed the route to what looks like the main entrance.
2:56 p.m. Carlsbad Cavern Park Entrance
3:00 p.m. Minnesota truck ahead of us is going too slow… we’re going to miss the last cave tour!
3:04 p.m. Ryan and Bella are talking about cracked open heads. Ryan’s talking about Allie’s brother, Owen, and Bella is talking about Ansley’s brother and they just aren’t listening to what the other one is saying. This is an example of how NOT to communicate.
3:08 p.m. Parked. Hurrying to get in before the Natural Entrance closes at 3:30 but we need to stop at the potty first because there won’t be any bathrooms in the cave and everyone needs to pee. Ron is frustrated because he wants to walk down into the caves instead of taking the elevator. I think we should take the elevator anyway because the Big Room tour is supposed to take 1.5 hours and the Natural Entrance walk is another 45 minutes added on. I don’t think Felisa will be willing to walk that far or be underground for that long. Ron says “But I drove 2000 miles to get here” I say “I’m not carrying a whiny baby”. I won this time but if we ever come back, we’ll be walking the whole way – no elevators!
Favorite Parts of the Cave:
Ryan: Giant Dome
Bella: the pools
Felisa: “Don’t do mine.” (is this kid still 2 years old or is she 3 years old? Why won’t she cooperate with my site reviews?!?)
Melissa: Bottomless Pit
Ron: Cave Man
Sheila: Crystal Spring Dome
At the end of the walk we all stopped to go potty… because we can. Who knew there would be bathrooms in a cave?! And as Ron says: “Why not? How oftern do you get to use a bathroom 600 feet underground?!)
5:08 p.m. Headed back down. From the top we could see Texas where we were earlier. Elevation at the cave entrance is 4447 ft and the Big Room of the Cave was 750 feet below that.
5:19 p.m. 20 miles to the town of Carlsbad.
5:29 p.m. Sprinkling on us… just enough to count as rain for the day. Which means it has rained every day so far.
5:40 p.m. Pizza Hut for dinner. When we got there, anther car pulled in next to us. Amazingly enough, the family inside that car waited for us to unload before opening their doors. I didn’t think anyone ever did that anymore. Another reason to move out of the impolite, rush-rush DC region.
6:48 p.m. Leaving Pizza Hut. My turn to drive.
7:15 p.m. Listening to the news on the radio, talking about the heat wave and the jet-stream hugging the Canadian border. Ryan said we should get a hotel room in Canada tonight. A few minutes later we pass a car from Canada. Whoa – weird!
9:18 p.m. Arrive at hotel in Roswell. Roswell smells like cows – must be all those feed lots we passed on the south side of town. Decide to skip the evening’s alien festivities and go to the pool instead. While we were at the pool, Melissa and I found a black bug in the hot tub. We rescued it and left it on the side. It crawled around for a few minutes then it slipped on the edge of the drain strip between the pool and the hot tub. Oops! We sat there on the edge for a few minutes then Ron sent me to the pool with Felisa so he could warm up in the hot tub. When I got over to the steps, I felt something tickling my hand. I looked down and there was the black bug! It must have managed to crawl out of the drain and onto my hand. I left it on the window ledge with good luck wishes. After all, I had seen it use 2 of its lives already and how many lives do bugs get anyway?!
10:00 p.m. Pool is closing…Get the kids upstairs and changed for bed.
11:00 p.m. The girls are asleep. Ryan is still awake. He objects when we change the channel so I tell him it’s 11:00 and would he please just go to sleep already! Melissa is taking a shower. Ron asks what’s taking so long and I said she’s a teenage – she’s grooming. Did she take her cell phone in the shower with her? he asks? Of course – what if her boyfriend calls and she misses it?!