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Today brought us UFOs, stalagmites and I-10 through west Texas. The day once again started with a continental breakfast (no waffles today). We figure with a basic breakfast in our stomachs we can get by on two meals a day. It has worked so far. This is the first day we didn’t have to drive very far to arrive at our first destination. We were headed down the street to the International UFO Museum only eight or so blocks away.
Roswell is a neat little town. In fact, it isn’t as little as I had thought. I was impressed with the size. Driving around town, we couldn’t help but notice how many aliens appear everywhere. The town really has embraced it’s reputation. I didn’t know what to expect with the UFO museum and wasn’t overwhelmed.
The museum itself sits on the main drag in downtown Roswell. It sits in a fairly old nondescript downtown shopping building. I found the museum a little on the wordy side, mostly featuring articles about the Roswell incident. It lacked any interactive displays, and once again I had trouble getting Shawn Reece interested. The exciting news is that they have acquired land down the street to build a new state of the art futuristic looking building which will house many newer, more interactive displays. We spent probably about thirty minutes in the museum before it was time to move on.
Our next destination for the day was much anticipated and a true success. When I first read about Carlsbad Caverns and saw some pictures I couldn’t wait to go. It is a surreal feeling to be walking 800 feet below the surface in a spectacular cave. In Carlsbad Caverns there are basically two ways you can go, the “Natural Entrance” or the “Big Room”. If you go directly to the “Big Room” you take an elevator straight down from the visitor’s center. We decided however, to enter via the “Natural Entrance” which basically entails climbing down to the “Big Room” via a 1.5 mile hike descending about 800 feet below the surface. This was exciting and definitely the right choice for us.
The hike down started at the entrance to the cave where 1.5 million bats live in the summer. At sunset the bats fly out of the cave to hunt insects in waves of thousands. We really wanted to see this nightly event, unfortunately we didn’t have time to stay until sunset. Fortunately, a few bats were flying overhead for us to see and one of the them even left behind a souvenir in Jasmine’s hair! As we hiked down into the cave we eventually left daylight behind. I can tell you that I didn’t realize how much an 800 foot descent is, but even stretched out over a mile and a half, it was quite a bit. At least we got our exercise for the day!
We eventually reached the “Big Room” and were satisfied that we hiked our way down in lieu of taking the elevators. The “Big Room” itself is a vast cave that goes on for about a mile. The complete hike around is a little over a mile and a half in a loop and features some incredible rock formations. This cave is truly a must see and is definitely deserving of being a National Park. It is also listed as a World Heritage Site and I can see why. If you are ever in southeastern New Mexico, then a visit to Carlsbad Caverns should be on the itinerary.
In order to reach San Antonio by tomorrow we needed to get some distance between us and Carlsbad Caverns, so we decided to book a hotel in the town of Sonora, Texas about 300 miles away. The highways to Sonora had very little traffic and the increased speed limits in Texas made this leg fly by. We arrived in Sonora with little trouble at about 10pm Texas time after adjusting the clock an hour at the border crossing. Tomorrow we head up to Austin for some sightseeing and authentic Texas BBQ and then on to San Antonio where we are going settle down for a couple of days. The whole trip tomorrow is about 250 miles so we will be driving a bit less than the last three days. Once again, we saw 5 McDonalds today. Talk to everyone soon!
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The Coomer Family
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