|Texas Oil Rig|
|This sign at a used car dealership caught Scott's attention - notice the gun!|
We finally arrived in Carlsbad for our visit to Carlsbad Caverns. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about this hotel. Last night I made the mistake of looking at the reviews on tripadvisor.com. I saw words like “infestation” and “theft.” I don’t know why I looked – we had already booked a room. After reading the reviews, we decided to call Travelocity to see what the cancellation policy was for this specific reservation. You guessed it… nonrefundable! So we decided to just wait and see for ourselves when we got there. After all, we would only be there overnight, right? We were pathetic as we drove into the town. You would have thought we were driving to our doom! We were all on the edge of our seats just waiting for the axe to drop! And I have to admit that I was sending up some heavy-duty prayers that it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought it was going to be.
As we drove into the town, we were seeing some newer hotels and thought it wouldn’t be so bad after all. I kept waiting for the lady on our navigation system to say, “You have arrived.” She never did. We drove right on past those newer hotels. Five minutes later, the lady on our navigation system decided to speak up to tell us we had arrived at our destination. I wanted to throw her out the window! We drove into the parking lot and decided to do a “drive-by” before we checked in. As you can see from the photo below of the back of the hotel, it was not looking good. Nobody really said a word... we just drove on out of the parking lot toward the Carlsbad Visitor Center to get information about the evening bat flight at Carlsbad Caverns. I guess we thought we would delay the inevitable for a bit longer.
|Anybody need a sink?|
|This was at 4:00 PM.|
Our room was on the third floor of a three story hotel, and we have two month's worth of luggage to bring inside. And there were no luggage carts. Why, you ask, would there be no luggage carts? Well, a hotel doesn't really need luggage carts IF THEY DON'T HAVE AN ELEVATOR! We had originally thought we would just leave most of our belongings in the van just in case there really was a bed bug issue that I missed with my trusty flashlight, but a couple of the reviews mentioned that their cars had been broken into, and there was a very visible sign in the parking lot that warned that the hotel was not responsible for valuables stolen from your car. So guess what happens next. Two months worth of luggage lugged upstairs piece by piece by piece. Looking on the bright side of that... at least I got some exercise.
Then the process began! After finding out about the possible "infestation" issue, we stopped off to buy some heavy duty, extra large, contractor grade garbage bags. Every single item that came into the room was bagged. If Emilee could have stuck herself inside one of those garbage sacks, she would have! After bug-proofing our luggage, we were off to see the bat flight!
When we got the park gate, the ranger told us we had to go directly to the outdoor theater at the top of the mountain. Because the grounds were still hot, we couldn't stop on the road or pull into any of the stop-offs, which they had actually blocked off. Since we had never been to Carlsbad Caverns before, we didn't know what we expected to see, but it certainly wasn't what we saw. On our drive up the mountain, most of the surrounding landscape was black. When we arrived at the top you could see that the firefighters had concentrated their effort on keeping the structures from burning down, and there were still firefighters working to make sure that hotspots didn't cause the fire to start back up in the area. Even though we didn't see any active fire where we were, they told us it was only 60% contained at that time and that more than 30,000 acres inside the park had burned.
|Burned landscape in Carlsbad Caverns National Park|
|Cave opening where bats fly out every evening to feed.|
|Ready to watch some bats leave the cave!|
Stay tuned for part two of our tours inside the cave. Some of the most amazing things we have ever seen! Although the pictures don't do it justice, I'll post lots of them. This will definitely be one of our favorite stops!