There are so many unique elements to the world of National Parks throughout the US, a big part of my journey is to visit and embrace as many as I can. And yes I have the National Park Passport Book…I am that excited little kid going into the visitors center to stamp my entry day for the magnificent natural culture that is America’s National Parks!
The dichotomy that exist is as vast as the countryside itself. In just three days I went from above ground treasure to magical underground worlds. I started in New Mexico and then into Texas…
First up – the White Sands of New Mexico in the Tularosa Basin are 275 sq miles of gypsum sand desert. I did the sunset walking tour which is free and you learn the history of the area and can walk the entire hour barefoot if you would like, and as the sun goes down man does it get cold! But before the walk began I hit the dunes with a circular sled (pictured in my gallery the round green thing strapped to the bike) that KOA Alamogordo loaned me – it was a blast!
The day before I was playing in the dunes and now at 700+ feet below the surface I am traveling into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. I left Alamogordo early as I had a big ride planned and would be traveling to my cousins in Alpine, TX. I had figured about an hour and half to enjoy the site and then back on the road. Once I turned on the 285 to head south the winds kicked in, it was a good break to arrive at the caverns. I bought my ticket (which is actually free-sort of I have the $80 a year NP pass that has already paid for itself in the 10+ parks and sites I have visited) and turned the corner to head down only to be greeted by a ranger on his walkie-talkie. “sorry the electric just went out, we had to turn on the backup generator it should just be a short while.” This turned into 30 min. I was getting worried because I knew I only had so much light to ride, so I ask again to another woman, “oh not long, maybe fifteen minutes, maybe an hour.” An hour! So I took in the 17 min. free video and had some lunch, and checked again. “Someone ran into an electric pole outside the park they are trying to get us back up and running.”
This crazy wind probably threw someone off the road, but how long would it be – do I stay and wait or leave to be sure to get to my destination before dark….I decided to use the restroom one more time and walk really slowly…coming back in I heard a ranger tell another couple that the rangers are in there making sure all lights are functioning! Fantastic I turned to the elevators with the other couple and by this time the visitor center was packed but they had not made an announcement on speakers just through walkie talkies so we were the only three in the elevator and as luck would have it they had to use the restroom, so as I entered and for the first 15 – 20 minutes I was the only person in the caverns….the only noise was the dripping water and the sound of my own footsteps! Not very often you get a solo tour of Carlsbad Caverns, it was wonderous and my pictures people-less definitely worth the wait.
Then the next day back above land in Texas for towering boulders and vast river carved mountain crevasses of Big Bend National Park. It is a driving loop to enter and exit
the park with little roads that you can take to end destinations (like the picture below) and it was recommended to take the 22 mile road to the canyon by the ranger as I entered. I asked about gas and there was some about 70 miles in so I was good. It was completely worth it and a perfect day to visit. The day before they had some heavy rains and much of the road was flooded and covered with mud, I only had to cross dry mud and no roads were closed. As you travel through the loop of the main part of the park it is easy to put in 100 miles and you will see a variety from jagged rocks to canyons, hill like mountains and more…and not to be missed were the four tarantulas that crossed the roads as I rode through!
See more of these natural wonders in the BT2BT online photo gallery – Gallery Week 7 & 8- http://www.BT2BT.smugmug.com