2001 Family Vacation con't: Days 3 & 4 (edited 8/7. I just realized I had the wrong days. Just call me blonde)
Today we visit Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. This was our first time to this National Park. Mike said it is now his favorite one. In 2000 when we went on our National Park vacation we had bought an annual pass. The pass was good for one year which would be until the end of August 2001. So it was still valid when we went on vacation in 2001. All we had to pay for at Carlsbad Caverns was the radio & ear phones for an audio tour. If you have never been to this National Park, you should go. The pictures don't do this place justice. It is just gorgeous. Just watch out for bat droppings.
And next we end up in San Antonio, Texas. Beautiful place, friendly people. But too humid. Texas was a heat bath. How do people live in such humidity?
Monday, July 9, 2001:
Objectives: Carlsbad Caverns is our main goal for the day. We will probably spend most of the day here. After visiting the caverns, it will be a drive through west Texas. We will be staying the night in a little town in Pecos county called Fort Stockton. It's a historic site, and has a huge roadrunner statue thing somewhere in the town.
Our Experience: We stayed in a hotel in Whites City, New Mexico which had a small water park. Carlsbad Caverns is absolutely fantastic. It was probably the best national park most of us have ever been to. The first night we arrived we went up to the amphitheatre just outside the caves to watch the bats nightly flight out of the caves to search for dinner. It was one of the neatest things we have ever seen. The next morning we entered the cave through the natural entrance which took us down about 750 feet. You can also get into the cavern in an elevator, but we wanted to go the natural route. The only problem is all the bat droppings. Once inside we saw many different formations in the cave. The best part of the caverns was in the Big Room. We just did our own self guided tour but rented some audio guide thingamagig to guide us through the caves & give us info on what we were seeing.
We left Carlsbad around 4:00 PM, and headed south into Texas. While passing through the city of Pecos, we were hit with a pretty gnarly thunderstorm, which had a ton of lightning and lots of blowing dust. We were all getting nervous because we did not know if the storm was capable of producing a tornado or what. Luckily for us, it didn't. The sky was very ominous looking however, with lightning flashes, heavy rain, and blinding dust all around us. Living in southern California we never get storms like this. At last we finally made it to Fort Stockton in once piece. It is a small town with only 8,000 people in the middle of nowhere.
Jesse playing in the water park at our hotel in Whites City.
Jesse sliding down the water slide.
Down into the caves we go! 750 feet below!
The gang heading down into Carlsbad Caverns.
Stalactites in Carlsbad Caverns.
Stalagmites in Carlsbad Caverns.
Brandon, Jesse, and Kim standing next to a column.
Jamee and Mike Y. in Carlsbad Caverns.
Mike making sure we did not get lost.
The underground beauty of the Big Room at Carlsbad.
A so called `frozen waterfall' made of stalactites.
Looks like coral reefs, but made of rock and over 700 feet down.
Some of the largest columns and stalactites in the caverns.
Back into Texas. Californians might find this one challenging (the drive friendly part).
Strong thunderstorm squall with huge dust clouds. I hope there isn't a tornado in there somewhere.
Inside the dust bowl caused by the storms winds.
Tuesday, July 10, 2001:
Objectives: Spend some of the day doing whatever there is to do in Fort Stockton, Texas. After that, we will be back on the road heading towards San Antonio. We will be staying in San Antonio for a few days.
Our Experience: We left Fort Stockton early. So we saw nothing there as nothing opened up until after we left. We drove to San Antonio & along the way stopped at this small gas station/store/restaurant in the middle of nowhere for a pit stop & eat lunch. It was your typical small town Texas eatery (at least it was as we had imagined a typical Texas small town eatery would be like). Jesse & Mike played a game of pool while we waited for our hamburgers. We arrived in San Antonio about 2pm. We went downtown & saw the Alamo and went to the River Walk. We ate dinner at a restaurant called The Taste of Texas. They served Mexican & American food. It was good, but the fajitas in California are better. The restaurant was at the edge of the river on River Walk, Afterwards we went on a river cruise around the river & learned a lot about San Antonio. River Walk is really neat. There are hotels, restaurants & even a mall at the rivers edge that runs through town. We were going to see the IMAX movie about the Alamo but ran out of time. So far our experience in Texas has been good. Jesse put it best, "Everyone is so nice here, just like me." And he is right, we haven't met one person in Texas who has given us a bad impression. Everyone goes out of their way to help you, etc. But every Texan says "Y'all" and they are very proud of their state.
Standing outside in a courtyard at the Alamo.
Us standing in front of the Alamo. They won't let you take photos inside.
Jesse standing in front of the Alamo. He said it was too bright to look at the camera for photos.
Here we are in front of the San Antonio River Walk.
Jamee, Mike, Brandon, and Kim on a Yanaguana cruise.
Jesse and Mike as we're cruising the River Walk in a Yanaguana ride.
Estrellas Del Rio Mexican dancing show at River Walk.
This is our tour guide who did not want to see his picture on the
Internet (so of course, we had to put it there ;)
Tomorrow I will post days 4 & 5. Day 4 is our day at Schlitterbahn water park just outside of San Antonio. It was rated the number one water park in the USA the year we went. And day 5 was our last day in San Antonio. So be sure to check back every day for a new adventure.
And is you missed days 1 & 2 of this vacation, you can click here to see my post about where we have already been.
Have you ever visited Carlsbad Caverns or The Alamo or the River Walk in San Antonio? If so, let me know what where your favorite things. I'd love to hear your thoughts and memories as well.