Guadalupe National Park and Carlsbad Caverns NP

The next destination was Guadalupe National Park – about an 200 mile drive. We arrived as usual a bit later than I had anticipated and fortunately I was able to snag the last open campsite in the Pine Springs Campground. I had called that am and the ranger said they rarely fill up week-days so I was quite surprised. But I had not specifically asked about tent sites as they are usually all mixed in together. It was a very nice camping circle for tent campers as the sites were nestled in a vegetated area. The problem with the campsite was it was a walk-in site meaning I had to follow a path (probably only 1/10 mile) to site. It sounds simple enough except for being this sole person with two dogs. I had no compact arrangement of all the camping stuff and I must have made 5-6 trips dumping the stuff I thought we would need into bags . I did not want to carry the cooler and food boxes to the site. This became a problem later. The other issue was that it was on top of a knoll with very little in the way of shade trees or bushes – but in this case mostly  a need for tress to block the wind. It was WINDY!!! Very, very, very WINDY! So setting up the large tent was not an option. I opted for the two person tent which was challenging enough. I had to set big rocks in the corners to keep it down so I could actually get the poles in the sleeves and the tent up. A man in a campsite near me saw me struggling with putting the rain fly on as it kept trying to sail away on a journey to the bottom of the valley . He came over and helped me get it secured.

It was so windy that I wasn’t even going to attempt to cook but had my lunch meat and cheese on Wasa crackers for dinner (same as lunch at White Sands). Then the fun began of trying to get situated with my stuff, my cot, the dog beds, the cooking equipment and my clothes bag in a very small space. The dogs did not want to be in their beds but they wanted to park their little dirty furry bodies in my bed and root around in my sleeping bag. They were a bit unsettled with the wind. I didn’t want then in my bed so kept moving them but they were intent on playing the game of musical beds. Additionally I had not wanted to take the little bit of cheese and dog food back to he car, down the path in the dark. So I stowed them in the tent (which is something I never do in bear country – which this is not – though there are still lots of varmints that could pose a problem). Simba was on a mission then to get to that food. Now he had already had his dinner, polished off Kili’s and then had little bits from mine. So i got into another “game”of blocking Simba and then plopping him in his bed. I in no way shape or form wanted to go out in that biting chilly wind. Somehow things finally settled down (that is everything but the wind) and we slept the night. Morning was still windy but there was  a lovely sunrise and I managed coffee without getting blown over.

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Given the extreme wind advisories for the next night, I had no desire to spend another night on that windy knoll so we packed up – a bit more efficiently and had only three trips to get everything back to the cart. Then I fed not-so-pretty Priss two quarts of oil. She consumes oil just like I used to consume beer. Guzzle, guzzle. The goal for the day was to continue to explore Guadalupe and then on to Carlsbad Caverns.

I did not plan on taking the cave tour at Carlsbad as I had done that previously and it would have meant putting the dogs in the park kennel (which is a great service and I would have used it if I had never done that tour before. But I had hoped to have a picnic lunch in the park. When we arrived at the visitors center the temperature was in high forties and there was a cold biting stiff wind. It just about blew Simba away so that picnic was a non activity. We all happily rushed back into the nice warm car.

The last option to experience more of Carlsbad was to take the gravel scenic loop drive. One of the first stops was at the rattlesnake canyon trailhead. I certainly can’t imagine that anyone in their right mind would want to hike in a canyon with that name. And this desert territory is definitely rattlesnake country. But the drive was enjoyable and the scenery, though, not spectacular had its own uniquness.Carlsbad Cavern NP was founded to preserve the Carlsbad Cave as well as approximately 80 others in what I never realized was a Permian age fossil reef

Then I drove onto Ft Stockton Texas. The route down from Carlsbad, Hwy. 285 was probably on of the most horrific 80 miles I have driven on this whole trip. It was a very rough two lane highway which serviced many of the oil wells and it was packed within huge tanker truck for miles. I would just finally pass a couple and think it was clear sailing when right up ahead i see another huge one pull out onto the highway. Then there was construction of on oil pipeline which closed off one lane so at least twice we waited 10-15 minutes for the pilot car to lead us through. When we got into Pecos there was more construction and endless back-ups at traffic lights. Interstate 20 crosses there and once passed that, voila it was clear sailing. They could all fight each other on the highway. I really am grateful for interstates when I absolutely have to have them but mostly because they divert most of the traffic off the of secondary roads and then, on them, it is relatively clear sailing.

I had made a reservation at a Motel 6 again as everything was pricey in that town. When I arrived the desk clerk said they had no first floor room that I requested, as they were sold out days ago. SO I inquired about what was so popular about Ft. Stockton. He replied nothing. It’s the oil field workers that occupy them for days at a time. So this is the first time since traveling with the dogs that I had to cart everything up the stairs (a three tripper) including Simba. At least Kili can negotiate the stairs. Pretty Priss Prius fit right in with all dirty mud caked trucks parked around her. She had just as fine of a coat of dust as mud as any of them. I fit in a well with the oil workers with my dirty filthy camping clothes that are laden with dust and dirt. When I finally decided to take a shower around 9:00 , i kept waiting but there was no hot water. Guess everyone had a lot of mud and dirt to scrub off. So I decided to take a cold one as after calling it would take a while to get the water up and hot again. The biggest pain was taking the dogs down the stairs last thing at night and first thing in the morning and then doing the parking lot shuffle and merry-go-round. Since Motel 6 rooms are minimalist and thus no microwave I about panicked over the coffee issue but by now I have it all down pat. I use my jet boil to heat the water for my S’Buck’s Via. I figure it is no different than a gas stove that gets used indoors. So I had my hot coffee and oatmeal.

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