Day 35- Carlsbad Cavern, NM- Sonora, TX * Day 36- Sonora, TX- Bandera, TX
Excited about our adventure today, we all woke ready to get out early. White’s City RV Park, as seedy as it appeared, was perfect for our one night stay. I was able get onto the WiFi of the nearby store and stream a show from outside of our camper to pick up a few virtual tips, and we were conveniently situated right outside of the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
We drove the switchbacks up the mountain to the visitors center. We arrived just before eight thirty when the ticket office opened. Our tour was scheduled for ten, so we walked around the gift shops and read up on the cavern history in the museum. The time passed quickly and we were soon on our way.
The tour was self guided which allowed us to go as slow as we needed to safely distance from the other ten o’clock tourists. Our minds were instantly blown as this was undoubtedly the largest cavern we have ever explored. As we made our way seven hundred fifty feet below the surface, we gasped in amazement of the formations that became visible around each corner. And the deeper and deeper we hiked, the more amazing the formations became. It was absolutely stunning. The caverns boasted the largest speleothems we have ever seen. The draperies and chandeliers were both elegant and grandiose, and the cave pools below us were crystal clear, reflecting the formations above as if they were mirrors. Before we knew it, we had hiked over four miles before noon.
We visited the gift store once again for August to pick up a couple books that were mysteries based in some national parks he has visited. I love how much he loves to read. It makes me feel ok about the screen time he gets knowing that he balances it with reading. As we left the caverns to head for Sonora, August read his new books and excitedly shared with us the things he remembered from Cades Cove that the author spoke of in one of the books. I feel proud to have the opportunity to show him our country. He’s already starting to show a great knowledge and appreciation for the lands we have explored.
We arrived in Sonora Thursday evening. The office was closed so we just found and open site and popped up. There were peacocks and turkeys fighting over the food beneath a nearby deer feeder, and just before the sun went down, the deer emerged from the woods to feed. The turkeys and peacocks scoffed at the deer, but the deer paid them no mind. We cooked dinner, showered, and relaxed into the warm Texas night surrounded by wildlife. All was right.
In the shower, I remembered a sign I had seen in the bathroom in Roswell that read, “Every good memory comes from the end of an old dirt road,” and I was inspired to start writing a song. I thought about all the dirt roads we had driven in the past five weeks and all the amazing experiences they have led us too. I pulled out August’s Baby Taylor and picked out the chords as I sang the melody underneath another starry sky. I felt good about this one. With everyone else asleep, I stared into the sky one last time before putting myself to bed.
We awoke naturally to no alarms on what I would later realize was Friday. The campground was on the site of the Sonora Cavern which we planned to explore that morning. I made my way to the office after a quick PB&J breakfast sandwich to pay for our campsite and secure our eleven fifteen tour slot.
Our tour consisted of six people including the three of us, our tour guide, and an older couple from just down the road in Del Rio. It was cool to be exploring different caverns two days in a row because we were able to see how vastly different the formations are due to the varying mineral makeup. The Sonora formations were all composed of calcite which produces beautiful glowing speleothems including helictites that we had never seen before. The popcorn and Christmas tree formations were also unique to Sonora. Two caverns in two days- we are literally happy campers.
We loaded up yet again for another drive day as we are approaching the end of our journey. Maggie found a new app called hip camp which put us on a cool campground called Boulderdash just outside of Bandera, TX. We arrived to find a five spot campground with a very cool vibe. We popped up and quickly met our neighbors who, for the very first time, were all around our age. We decided to stay here for two nights to get a beak from the driving, and knowing that, we dipped into the ice chest and distantly celebrated our hip camp with our new friends. We drank and talked and laughed for hours. August made friends with twin eight year olds that belonged to our Canadian neighbors. When Maggie said it was time for bed, we were two rosé bottles and a twelve pack lighter. We went to bed drunk and happy.
As I laid in my bunk, I reflected on our journey so far. What I think makes me most proud is the ability that Maggie, August, and I have to put ourselves out there and go places we’ve never been before with an open mind, an open heart, and a never ending sense of adventure. We are getting close to the end of this trip, but every stop is a new place to take in the beauty of the earth and it’s people. There is happiness in everything around us and it is seeping into our souls. This is our life now.
Be good to yourselves and each other.