Sunday, November 2, 2014


Monday morning we packed up and headed out of Brantley Lake State Park. It was a nice visit there we are glad we had changed parks.

We stopped briefly at the Home Depot in Carlsbad 15 miles south - I had almost completed the Angel Peak post at Bottomless Lakes but had been unable to publish it. We then went on down the main strip for gas only to realize that we left our step back at HD. Thank goodness it was still there…..

Then on to Carlsbad Caverns - the entrance into the Park is 18 miles south of Carlsbad then you drive in 7 miles to the Visitor Center.

Derek and I were here back in 2008 - our thought was that it would be fun for Cassia to see and experience.

Nice ride up to the caves.

Out front of the Visitor Center. We had lunch before we went in. 

The cost is $10 per person except for under the age of 15. In 2008 it was $5.

A pretty neat overview of the caves.

The choice is yours to enter the cave from the natural entrance or the elevator. We like to take the natural entrance and return via the elevator. Back when we were youngish, in 2008, Derek and I actually walked back up through the natural entrance - the whole way down this time I wondered how we did that.

This was the 'whale mouth'. So - here is the thing about taking pictures in the caves - it's really hit or miss, especially with a point and shoot camera. Carlsbad Caverns is definitely an experience that could never be communicated through photos.

And I'm not even a cave person. When we left in 2008 I was awestruck and thought to myself that I hoped that everyone had a chance to visit at least once in their lives. So - if you are anywhere near Carlsbad Caverns and can get there I hope you do - even if you aren't a 'cave' person. 

Back in 2008 I took hundreds of pictures only to go back and realize that hardly any of them worked out. I was more selective this time. I found that taking pictures directly with a light near by worked much better than a general picture. 

The Lion's Tail.

The Chandelier in the Big Room - not the best picture but one of the main attractions there.

I just couldn't imagine!

Beam us up Scotty.

The caves are great - however, we really enjoy the last 10 minutes or so at the end. 

And then we were done - I'm not sure how long it took us to complete the 2.5 miles - 4 km - walk - a couple of hours. The descent down - 2 km - is equivalent to 79 stories - you sure feel it in the knees.

At the bottom you will find the restrooms, cafeteria and a shop. 

And… a mail box.

From the time we had told Cassia that we would walk down and take the elevator back up all she wanted to do was get to the elevator. Hmmmmm - so the caves aren't really all that interesting to a five year old. Lesson learned - good thing Cassia was free. I hope that we can bring her back when she is older or that she returns on her own one day.

Driving back through the park.

From the caverns we headed south on the 180. We had noticed that there was a road - 652 - right at the border that would take us over to the 285. I didn't take pictures but it was paved and a good cut through  route.

The only issue we had was that it was a gas worker road - lots of work trucks and semis. This only got worse when we turned south onto the 285 heading to Pecos. Sad - the trucks drive like crazy and garbage lines the road. About a mile after we turned our "new" fuel pump quit on us. It was hot but not that hot and we had only come about 60 miles so we were pretty choked. So - we pulled off and waited an hour before we carried on. Upon reaching Pecos we stopped for gas and decided to let the truck cool down. Hmmmmm - what is wrong with the van - the fuel pump was definitely an issue but now the engine light was on. Sheesh.

Due to the congestion of Pecos we decided to carry on to Fort Stockton - maybe the fuel pump would be happier with the end of the day temperatures instead - we had about 50 miles to go - we were really hoping we would make it.

A tense drive but the sunset was amazing.

One of the reason's we were heading to Fort Stockton was because it had a Lowe's. Pulling in along the main street we found a Lowe's alright but a Lowe's grocery store. This is the second time we have been caught by this - darn - no wifi for the night. So, we headed back to Walmart - we weren't alone - obviously a popular overnight stop with the Snowbirds - there were about 12 rigs that night.

Wednesday we were up and on our way by 7:00am - we realized that until we could get the fuel pump looked at we would have to travel in cooler temperatures.

So - we were headed across west Texas…..



  1. We loved the Caverns too bad not for Cassia.
    We walked the natural entrance too, it si hard on the legs. Fort Stockton Walmart will be one of our stops heading through Texas as well.

    1. Glad that you guys have been there! Ha! I would imagine you won't be alone at the Walmart - a bit loud but that comes with the territory.

  2. The caverns should be on everyones bucket list! Years ago, I went to Merrimac Caverns in Missouri, and thought it was THE coolest thing on earth! Then I went to Carlsbad comparison really! Darn.....wondering whats up with the van this year...???

    Safe Travels.........

    1. So true BlackSheep! Hopefully the new pump will make a difference - if not - who knows….

  3. Try putting some clothes pins on the fuel lines

    1. I'm with del day - not sure what to do with the clothes pins...

  4. Cloths pins......what is
    I know that trick works......if the problem is vapor lock I don't know if new pump would fix problem.

    Check to see if fuel lines have been bumped close to heat source like exhaust or engine block.

    1. Vapour lock was ruled out - although it was mentioned many times and we did check that out. Seems that the fuel pumps we were getting were working too hard and over heated. That's the theory now - we have been fine so far with the new pump from Ford.

  5. Hello again and a happy trails to the Wood Clan!

    Your journey will take you _____ this year? Nancy said you got pretty close to our obese city (we missed you) and are headed to Mexico for the winter, is that so? If so that sounds very exciting!

    My camera (paid $125 in the day) also lags when taking pictures in low-light, unfortunately we'll need to spend about $800 for a good low light DSLR (ouch), not this year!

    Your bad luck with the fuel pump has me wondering about mine. I thought when a fuel pump went out it just quits leaving you stranded in all the wrong places like a hot as hell dessert in the middle of who knows where? Sounds like maybe a fuel filter if you limped into town, they get clogged and start giving you issues, but will usually let you slowly get somewhere. I know these post are delayed so I hope it was an easy fix for Derek. Now I'm going to find my fuel pump and filter to make sure things are good!

    Glad to see you guys are all safe, very nice postings, thank you for sharing.

    Brian in Austin

    1. Hey Brian! Good to hear from you! We were close but not close enough - from Kerrville we headed south. Yes, Mexico again this year - just too cold last year in the USA. Exciting indeed!

      True about the cameras - ours is good for everything else so that's ok.

      The fuel pump did just quit thus we sat on the side of the highway. It was only cutting out when the air temperature was hot - just fine in cool weather. Not an easy or cheap fix but it's done and we hope we are ok from here on out.

      Still going to Steve G's bible studies?

  6. Great shots of the natural entrance approach. We only used the elevator in both directions. The caverns are a must do for everyone.

    1. Hi Contessa! Thanks! The elevator makes a lot of sense - the natural entrance is challenging although nice to see the formations all the way down.


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