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Drove from Brantley Lake back down through Carlsbad and beyond, the planned destination; Carlsbad Caverns.  Bid surprise, it was free.  The geezer pass gets un into the park for $00.oo and the self guided tours are no charge.  Can’t beat that at all!.  There are a number of ranger guided tours that require advance reservations, day before most of the time I believe.  Some of those are scattered about within the park, in other words you do not ‘get in’ all the caves from a single point of entry.  Anyway we did not intend to commit the required time to do more than the self guided and the natural entrance tours.  Turned out we arrived too late in the day for the Natural Entrance tour.  Oh well, always next time.IMG_3359.jpg

So our tour begins at a very nice visitor center that includes a restaurant, interpretive center, dog kennels (you can not leave your pet in a vehicle) and the elevators to the cave.  It is a 75 story elevator ride to this part of the cave.IMG_3387.jpgIMG_33851.jpg IMG_3384.jpgIMG_3391.jpg

The BIG ROOM really is BIG.  Equivalent to 14 stadiums in size, takes a route in excess of a one mile loop.  There is a lot of history and some interesting facts about explorations and exploitations.  Bat Guano mining was huge and something like 100,000 tons of guano were taken from the cave over the years.  Jim White was a cowboy credited with much of the early exploration and guano mining and later helping get the caverns established as a National Park.IMG_3416.jpgIMG_3423.jpgIMG_3419.jpg

Prehistoric activity was substantial and it is amazing that the ancients extracted tons of material from deep within the cave.  Primitive tools have been found in crevasses.  Foot prints can still be seen and a mummified body was found under a large boulder that is believed to have shifted while the individual was digging at it’s base and crushed him.  We were told they gathered (mined) crystal, for what purpose is not fully understood.  That activity stopped abruptly around the time of the birth of Christ, and again, archeologist’s can’t say why.  I was hoping to find additional info on line but came up with ZIP and the only thing the visitor center had was a video that I had no interest in buying.  Kind of wish I had now.

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View album HERE then click any picture for slide show.

There continue to be rather large discoveries found inside the cave.  Recently there was another huge space discovered and mapped.  The enormity of this cave system is amazing.  Mammoth Cave is believed to be larger but who knows, a few more discoveries of uncharted passages and this could be the biggie.

The next day we checked out the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State ParkIMG_3482.jpg

The admission is very reasonable, I believe it was only $5.00 each.  That was very worth it.  I was somewhat apprehensive about seeing the caged animals pacing the cages and being distressed but that did not seem to generally be the case.  Habitats were good sized and the animals seemed to be mostly content.  I did not read it anywhere but we were told the animals are rescue and if that is the case good.  There were few picture opportunities due to the wire fencing on many of the enclosures.

Mexican WolfIMG_3493.jpg

This guy was in a large open enclosure like any world class ZOO.  He had at least four buddies in there with him.

A very elusive and fast Road RunnerIMG_3480.jpg

Prairie Dogs

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Soft Shell Turtle

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Bison

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That was some of the must do, must see bucket list stuff we had to do.  As I had said previously, I was somewhat preoccupied thinking about the truck issues but we still had a great time.  There is so much more to Carlsbad Caverns than what we did this trip through and maybe next time we will devote much more to exploring it.

Easter Sunday

Rain and wind caused us to extend our stay yet another day at Brantley Lake SP.  Easter Sunday turned out to be back to the typical beautiful sunny mild climate we have become accustomed to around this great southwest.

After our Coffee and a quick breakfast we readied the rig and pulled to the dry camp.  Filled the fresh water tanks, emptied the black and grey, pulled the jacks and rolled out.  We arrived and found two other campers there!  No biggie, we will be here for ten days if the plan holds and I would be surprised if we are here with others the whole time.  There sure are a bunch more stars visible out here.

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View album HERE then click any picture for slide show.

This is our first REAL dry camp (Boondock).  We did the two week shakedown at the COE Tailwater campground on Lake Barren in KY back in Sept / Oct ‘12, but we had water and a dump inside the park.  All elect and water at the campsite was shut off for the winter and we were in the park with the camp host and park staff close by in case the rig had any issues.  Everything went ACES and I expect these next few days to go quite well also.  We have a strong 4G Verizon signal on the hot spot, Sprint phones, not so much.  We will post more on this spot next time, for now, G’Night and hope you all had a Happy Easter.

Oh, almost forgot.  The truck did very well on the 30 or so miles to this camp, she seemed to have more torque than before and the new thermostat kept the temp well below 190 degrees.  Did I say relieved?  Anyway so far so good.

Remember, TurnWhenTheRoadDoes