Destination 2: Carlsbad Caverns, NM

6.16.2010

[On the way to Texas, in Arizona]

I thought we were heading directly to Carlsbad Caverns, NM from Phoenix, AZ but my parents made a game-time decision to make a pit stop in El Paso, TX for a night. There wasn't much to see or do (other than swim at the hotel pool), but we had a delicious Mexican meal. I went on yelp.com Monday night to see what we could do in El Paso and came across L & J Cafe. The reviews raved about this place and how it is the best Mexican food out there. A couple reviews did warn us that the cafe wasn't much of a "looker" from the outside, especially since it was across the street from a cemetery. When I warned the family of that, Dad replied with, "The best food is always across from cemeteries." I thought this was a prelude to a joke about eating dead people (you should hear what he has to say about our kitchen table!) but he meant it. Apparently, there's another restaurant that he loves that is also across from a cemetery.

Anyway, this cafe proved Dad's theory correct. Mom and I ordered a sample platter, which came with tacos, quesadillas, taquitos and enchiladas; Dad ordered two beef tacos; Daniel ordered a hamburger; Mary ordered a quesadilla and french fries; and Robert...well, Robert had a peanut butter sandwich that Mom made him in the car. That boy has no idea what kind of food he's missing out on.

[Robert and his peanut butter sandwich]


[And our DELICIOUS Mexican food...mmmm]


All I can say is: the food was the best Mexican food I've ever had. That's coming from someone who went to Anaheim High School, ate home-cooked Mexican food before school dances, ate Mexican sandwiches at football games, etc. Mom agrees too. Everyone, except for Mary, was thoroughly satisfied with the food. It was definitely a winner.

We crashed pretty early that night. The hotel offered a free continental breakfast the next morning so we wanted to be sure to get on top of that! Well, sure enough, we were unaware that there was a time change, and at 8:50 a.m., ten minutes before breakfast ended, Dad announced that breakfast was almost over. If you've never experienced 6 people get up and ready in a matter of seconds, you should have been there this morning. By 8:52, we were out the door and practically walk-jogging to the lobby. Coffee was gone but cereal, toast and bagels were still out...whew!

After breakfast, we loaded everything back into the van for a 5-6 hour drive to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The drive wasn't that bad...we all slept for the majority of it. We arrived around 2 p.m. and made our way into the underground caves around 2:30. We did a self-guided tour that took about 1 1/2 hours and was about 1 mile long. The caves were spectacular...I've never seen something so massive, beautifully sculptured and natural. The best part of it all was knowing that it all happened naturally.

[Carlsbad Caverns National Park]

[Family Road Trip bracelets! That's Robert and Daniel]

[Ranger Daniel & Jr. Ranger Robert]

[Popcorn Stalactites]

[In the "Big Room"]

[A GIANT stalagmite]

[Some of these sculptures really began to resemble humans...]

After the tour, we ate an early dinner, hung around a little bit, watched a few educational videos and presentations about geology, bats and caves. We were trying to kill time so that the real treat could occur. At 7:45 p.m. all of the bats in the cave (a part prohibited from the public) left at dusk to search for food. We witnessed 200,000+ bats swirl out of the cave counterclockwise and fly into the endless skies above. It was spectacular, to say the least!

At around 9 p.m., we got back into the car and made a 2 1/2 hour trek to Pecos, TX, which is where I'm at now. I'm not sure what the plan is tomorrow...I just know it involves a long drive to some location in the seemingly never-ending lonestar state.

I can't believe how fast the days are going by. It's taking some time getting used to being in the car so much, but I can't even differentiate between car rides anymore. Even though we're all within close proximity, and at times I feel driven to the edge, I can't help but smile at how happy the family is. The kids are constantly singing, making up their own tunes and laughing at their own jokes that only they understand. It's something that puts a smile on my face, even when I'm trying to take a nap.

Until next time in Texas somewhere, have a beautiful day <3

4 comments :

Simply Tanya said...

Yelp is the best! That mexican food looked amazing. Corn tortilla quesadillas?! Who would have thought? Okay enough about the food. This roadtrip looks like it is going splendid so far! I love your posts and read them often. I will be heading for Missouri tomorrow so I will in a sense be closer to you :)

toddandjeanne said...

What a blast!!! Beautiful pictures too. Thanks for sharing.

VINO ON A VOYAGE said...

Those pics are awesome! It sounds like you're having a great time out there! I loved your closing paragraph about the kiddos laughing at jokes only they understand. =] Definitely good stuff! Those cave pics totally brings me back to good times! Thanks!! =] PS. I caught up on your blog and thing it's great!!!! I love it.

Candice said...

I am thoroughly enjoying reading about the happenings on your roadtrip (esp. roberts obsession w. pb haha) & all the fantastic photos. Can't wait for the rest to come. MISS & LOVE YOU!!! <3

xoxo