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Category: Places We’ve Been

Places we have been.

Carlsbad, NM

Carlsbad, NM

As we started planning our trip back eastward, we looked at Lajitas near Big Bend. The problem we ran into was that the week we planned to be there was in the middle of spring break and we could only get a few consecutive days. That area was a bit out of the way to only have a few days so we decided to go to Carlsbad, NM instead. This turned out to be a good idea because March is a slow time for area activities including Carlsbad Caverns. In fact, crowds there are only 1/3 what they would be in the summer at about 2000 per day. We were told those numbers can be as low as 200 per day in January and February.

When we arrived at the Cavern, they offered two self-guided options both for the same price. On the web site it wasn’t clear but it looked like you had to pick one and then not see the other area. Actually, you can do both for the same price. We decided to start on the Natural Entrance Trail – an approximately a 1.25 mile hike down sometimes steep trails to 750 feet below the surface. An alternative to this is to take the elevator down but you would miss so much if you did. At the end of the trail you end up at the snack bar and elevator area where you can join the Big Room Trail which is another 1.25 miles. Where the first trail was a bit more confining than the big room, it’s all relative as the Natural Entrance Trail still goes through some very large areas of the cavern with very interesting things to see along the way. Once in the Big Room you really do get a sense of the size and grandeur of this treasure. We were told that 6 football fields would fit inside the Big Room. Unfortunately, pictures do not capture what it’s like to be in the Cavern. Due to low light levels I would have needed a tripod to capture many of the sights (they allow you to bring one but I didn’t ) so many of the pictures aren’t great. We were here many, many years ago with our kids for a vacation. It was so great to see it all again!

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El Paso, TX

El Paso, TX

We stayed in the Anthony/El Paso West KOA for three days while travelling East toward the Round Rock area. We also needed to get an annual Texas safety inspection for our RV on entry back into Texas and Uncle Bob’s Garage nearby was a convenient stop on the way to the park. We were surprised we didn’t find too many good RV parks in the area for our size rig but the KOA turned out to work well for us so we stayed for three nights. As with the past few places, windy weather and rain kept us from doing a lot but we did get in one pretty good day to see some sights.

Our first stop was at the U.S. Border Patrol Museum. Having already spent some time near the border with Mexico in New Mexico and Arizona and hearing first hand what people living in the area thought about the current border crisis, this museum provided additional context to the origins and history of the Border Patrol and it was free! We found out about not only the problems with people but also drugs being smuggled as well as learning about agents who have paid the ultimate price trying to protect our country. We also learned about some of the methods and technologies they use in doing their jobs. Later in the day we actually saw immigrants being taken into custody by border patrol in El Paso while we were driving along the Loop 375 Border Highway.

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Las Cruces, NM

Las Cruces, NM

We spent a week in Las Cruces in early March and enjoyed our stay in the Hacienda RV Resort in the heart of the city. We had THE BEST Mexican food at Nopalito Restaurant and have discovered yummy Prickly Pear Margaritas! We liked them so much we had to buy some Prickly Pear syrup so we could make our own.

We only had a couple of days to explore and get some shopping done because of weather. During several days with wild wind and dust storms we had to just hunker down, keep the windows closed and wait them out. At one point we had wind gusts over 60 MPH!

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Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone, AZ

A nostalgic trip into the past … Ed Schieffelin was briefly a scout for the U. S. Army headquartered at Camp Huachuca. Schieffelin frequently searched the wilderness nearby looking for valuable ore samples. When friend and fellow Army Scout Al Sieber learned what Schieffelin was up to, he is quoted as telling him, “The only rock you will find out there will be your own tombstone”, or, according to another version of the story, “Better take your coffin with you, Ed; you will only find your tombstone there, and nothing else”. On finding silver, Schieffelin filed his first claim and fittingly named his stake Tombstone. Soon, word got out, more claims were filed nearby and the town of Tombstone was born. It became one of the last boomtowns in the American frontier and at one time was one of the largest cities in the western United States.

On the evening of March 15, 1881, three Cowboys attempted to rob a stagecoach en route from Tombstone to Benson, Arizona. The driver Eli “Budd” Philpot and a passenger named Peter Roerig were both shot and killed. Deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp and his temporary deputies and brothers Wyatt Earp and Morgan Earp pursued the Cowboys suspected of the murders. This set off a chain of events that culminated on October 26, 1881, in a gunfight in a vacant lot owned by famous photographer C. S. Fly near, not at the O. K. Corral as popularly known, during which the lawmen and Doc Holliday killed Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, and Billy Clanton. This incident known now as the gunfight at the O. K. Corral is likely what the town is now best known for.

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Rodeo, NM

Rodeo, NM

As we traveled south and west through New Mexico and Arizona we found Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo, NM and decided to stay there for a week. We weren’t too sure what to expect as Rodeo is literally in the middle of nowhere but we were intrigued by the idea of a ‘Dark Sky’ location. It was also a chance to visit some of the nearby small towns of Rodeo, New Mexico and Portal and Paradise in Arizona.

Rusty’s has a unique layout for the park. The pull-thrus are each 200′ long and each one supports 2 RV sites. Unlike other parks, the RV’s are in separate lanes instead of back to back. Due to the length of the pull-thru there ends up being plenty of privacy between RV’s sharing the pull-thru and the distance between adjacent pull-thrus is far so there was plenty of room. Being a dark sky location had it’s challenges for us as they didn’t want any white outside lights on at night. It was so dark you could get lost walking around at night – even if you stayed at your own site. The reason for all this is that about half of the people staying in the park were amateur astronomers and astrophotographers with very large expensive telescopes. We found that the more sophisticated ones could be operated from inside their coach and could even be programmed to aim at points of interest automatically throughout the night and record what they saw. Some of the pictures we saw were fantastic. Unfortunately, it was pretty cold on the few nights there were clear skies while we were there so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside looking at the stars ourselves.

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