Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Our trip to Carlsbad Caverns

This past Saturday Chris and I took a trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park with our full-time RVer friends Rockin' The Road with Mike and Kat.

When we first arrived at the caverns we were trying to figure out how to get a picture of the 4 of us with the National Park sign. That is when the Nature's Head Composting toilet that has been sitting in our trunk for the past 5 months finally paid off.

Cousin Eddie aka Chris with our lovely toilet tripod.
Hey if you look at the above picture it didn't come out too bad. haha Okay now back to the caverns.

When we arrived we decided we would do the 1.25 mile self guided tour of The Big Room. There are two ways to get there. One is by taking the elevator down 750 feet or you can do the steep hike down 1.25 miles to the natural entrance. We decided to take the elevator.

Mike and Kat heading into the cave

There are so many cool textures and formations

It's hard to capture the height and depth
The Big Room is the largest known natural limestone chamber in the Western Hemisphere. The area of the cave is comparable to 14 football fields. It is pretty amazing. This is our third cave tour and hands down the best we have seen. It also had the best paved walking trail. Most are super slippery.

There are a couple markers through out the trail with information or you can rent an audio guide for a minimal fee at the visitor center.

Chris next to the "Rock of Ages"

Mike and Kat
The caverns were beautiful and we had a great time exploring.  Have you been? If so what tour did you do? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Big Bend National Park- Day 2

We kind of had a late start on our second day at the park. If you missed our blog post on day one you can read about it here.

We had a lot of things we were planning on doing but we didn't end up getting to all of them. We decided to start off by heading to the Chisos Basin area and hiking part of the Lost Mine Trail. This part of the park is Bear and Mountain Lion country.

Mountain lions and bears...oh my!
Once we turned on Chisos Basin Road we had to stop and get some pictures. It was a beautiful drive. The road has some steep grades and turns. If you are planning on camping in your RV and taking this road, it must be under 24 feet and no trailers larger than 20 feet.

I couldn't resist
Lost Mine Trail

This trail is considered moderate and is a 4.8 mile round trip.

It started off with a couple more warnings about the mountain lions and bears and what to do if you encounter either of them. It also mentioned to not bring small children on the trail. As we were hiking though, we of course passed a family with small children, lol.

We didn't have much time and heard that at the 1 mile marker there were some beautiful views of Casa Grande and Juniper Canyon so we stopped there.

Not bad
Chris approved.

We didn't see any mountain lions or bears but saw a couple butterflies. Not quite the same.

Chisos Mountains Lodge Restaurant

We were hungry and there really aren't many restaurants in Marathon so we decided to have a late lunch in the park. I had a veggie burger and Chris had a blue cheeseburger.

The food was just okay but the view from our table was pretty nice.

They have this old phone booth in the shop on the way out of the restaurant. The blue sign said it was for "entertainment only". I decided to amuse myself by getting a picture with it.

My "hold on I'm on the phone face"
Fossil Discovery Exhibit

This is a new exhibit that just opened in January 2017. We didn't know what it was but we decided to stop and check it out on our way out of the park.

We found out that around 130 million years ago Big Bend was a giant shallow sea. It kept evolving over time and around 70 million years ago it was a swampy environment inhabited by dinosaurs and giant alligators.

Fossil of the Deinosuchus  which means terrible crocodile.
According to their website "Big Bend National Park has over 70 Cretaceous era fossils, the most of any national park in the country".

There was a small trail to an overlook where you can see the mountains.

The layers of the mountain depict a timeline of the different periods (see pictures below with the  explanations).

Even though we had two days to explore, we feel like we just barely scratched the surface.

We would love to go back and stay at the park sometime. Have you been? If so what were some of your favorite things?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Big Bend National Park- Day I

This past week we stayed in Marathon, TX (check out our post about it here). From there we took a couple day trips to Big Bend National Park. The entire Chisos Mountain range is located inside of the park as well as a large part of the Chihuahuan Desert. It felt very vast.

The hour long drive to Big Bend from Marathon was quite lovely but also very quiet. We had forgotten that there was no wifi or cell coverage close to the park so we couldn't use our Pandora or Amazon music for our long driving day. There are no radio stations either. I pretty much sang any annoying song that came to mind and I don't think Chris was feeling it. So needless to say for our 2nd trip up there we made sure to bring the small amount of CDs we have left.

When we first arrived we made a quick stop at the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center (there are 5 in the park) but this one the first one upon entering.

We verified everything we had planned on doing for the day and found that the map of the park we were given at the gate was sufficient to find what we needed. Onward to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive!

Chris was intensely admiring the beauty of the park...hence the peaking over his sunglasses, lol.

There were a lot of spots where you could pull over and take pictures. We decided we needed a picture of the beautiful Chisos Mountains.

There were a lot of cacti even some purple ones which we had never seen before.

Here are a couple of things we were able to do during our time at the park.

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

It was so pretty my pictures just don't do it justice.

We stopped at Mule Ears View point and Tuff Canyon to snap a quick picture.

Mule Ears Peak

Tuff Canyon
Sam Nail Ranch

This was one of the hiking trails along the Ross Maxwell drive.  It was only a .3 mile hike and in all honesty I wouldn't suggest stopping for it. It was supposed to be good for birding but we didn't see many birds. The views on the way to the trail were prettier than the actual trail.

On the way back to the car
Santa Elena Canyon Trail

Santa Elena Canyon

Bluebonnets in front of the canyon
This trail is short, pretty easy and only a 1.4 mile hike.

I do feel I should point out there weren't clear markers at the beginning of the trail but we eventually found our way.

The right side is the US, the left side is Mexico and it is separated by the Rio Grande River. Chris was sad we didn't have a kayak.

At the end of the trail it was time for a quick selfie and then we were ready to hike back.

We loved the amazing views of the Rio Grande.

After our hike it was already 4 and we still had an hour and half drive home which meant we had to get home to take care of our pups. If you are planning on taking your dogs be warned they can come into the park but aren't allowed on any of the trails.

Tomorrow we will be sharing our adventures of day 2 at Big Bend.

Have you been? If so what were some of you favorite things?