Whew! Back from our little vacation. Whines and I drove to Sonora, Texas and ducked into their caverns, wandered around Marfa, Texas, hit Carlsbad, NM and the Carlsbad Caverns, and then took the loong drive home.
The Caverns of Sonora are quite pretty, the nicest caves I've seen in Texas, I think. Lots of nice formations, a good tour, and some pretty stuff that you can't see in Innerspace and Natural Bridge. Also, of the four caves I've been to, this one has the narrowest trails, so you're really up close and personal with the formations.
Unfortunately, we went with Trevor, an 8-year-old, and his seven-year-old brother, who maintained a constant stream of "I wanna go now," "I wasn't touching anything I was like a quarter of a centimeter apart," and the occasional relevant statement, but more bird sounds than anything else. Constant. Really, really constant, no exaggeration constant. *sigh* Still, the caves were beautiful, and the tour gude was pleasant, and the terrain was unabashedly Texas. Which turns out to be just like New Mexico terrain, with slightly fewer yucca and slightly more green.
Marfa--I'd been to Marfa maybe eight years ago, and we spent a lot more time in the town itself than last time. It's a neat little art mecca in the middle of utter nowhere. A little like Austin with extra cactus and a train passing through every half hour. We stayed at a nice historical hotel called the Hotel Paisano, very 1920s, and puttered around town in the morning. Breakfast at "The Brown Recluse," a little coffee store and used bookstore (sign advertising "100% wind powered!"), then wandered up and down the main strip a bit. Lots of dreadlock-pony-tail people mixed in with the grizzled cowboy hat folk, so it felt like home. Tiny little town, though. Stopped by a neat little indy bookstore, picked up a book on molecular gastronomy and one on those people with hyenas on leashes in Africa. Great bookstore. Apparently "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will be Blood" were filmed in Marfa. I'll have to watch NCFOM again.
Sadly, no marfa light show for us. There was a thunderstorm, which is GOOD for the Marfa Mystery Lights, but it didn't let up :(
Thursday we drove to New Mexico, passing through any number of utterly dead small towns, and dropped by the caverns to take in one of the main tours--a 2.5-hour self-guided amble through "The Big Room." The underground space was staggeringly big, so, well-named. Up to Carlsbad proper for dinner (wretched little indy pizza buffet, Gatti's is better. Chucky Cheezes MIGHT be better), then flop in motel.
Friday morning, a fine repast of motel-provided frozen waffles, then, early trip to the Slaughter Canyon Caves. You really don't know how long a half-mile is until you hike it UP A MOUNTAIN--ouch! But worth it. The tour guide was a chatty, funny woman with a great Polish accent, and the rock formations were really impressive. This was one of Carlesbad's more "Adventure Tour" arrangements - a small group of people armed with flashlights, and no finishing work or rails on the cave trail. Lots of falling down on slick aged guano, and a great, if utterly exhausting, experience.
Headed back to see exciting Carlsbad that evening. Not a heck of a lot to see--lots of dead businesses, lots of construction-equipment-industrial stuff. One of the only drive-in movies left in the country, I'm a little sad that we didn't get to go to that one, but Whines opined that we had just spent 10 hours driving, we were GOING to spend eight hours driving, and he didn't want to be in the car anymore, thanks. I can respect that.
Saturday morning, home again. We failed to have breakfast in Carlsbad's "famous" "Whiner Diner", as they didn't open until 11:00 (??? Not much of a diner, then!) Fizzit and Itza suggested only eating at places you'd never eaten at, and we TRIED, but in this part of the country, it's too hard to find an inhabited restaurant, particularly an independent one.
Got home at maybe 7:30. Father had been hard at work that day, so besides happy dogs, a healthy garden, and a comfortable bed, we were rewarded with an almost complete set of bookshelves.
It's good to be home!