Well New Mexico redeemed itself with the awesome cave system at Carlsbad. There is an elevator that goes seven hundred and fifty feet down into the caves. We started with the good old fashion hike into the cave instead of taking the elevator. As we descended into the huge opening the kids’ excitement grew. Out came the flashlights even though the National Park has installed lights throughout the caves. Unfortunately the caves are something you have to experience for yourself because pictures don’t turn out well due to the lack of bright lights. We did manage to get some shots that reveal some of the wonders that are spread throughout the entire hike underground. We made it to the elevator around lunch time, so we went back up to have a picnic because you are not allowed to eat in the cave system.
After lunch we went back down to explore the big room. Being in the caves was surreal with new bizarre formations around every bend. We hiked every foot of trail that day and enjoyed every minute of it. The kids were able to finish their junior ranger books and get their badges. They then proceeded to get their cave scientist books to work on and the education about caves continued.
We decided to stay for a week just outside of Albuquerque to make sure we were not traveling on Thanksgiving day. Normally Sarah makes a large Thanksgiving day feast for us, but with a small oven it seemed like too much to ask her to make a feast this year. We decided to just go out to eat and the kids really wanted to eat at a buffet, so we went to a casino buffet for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a little strange going to a casino having lived in Nevada for most of our lives. The food was good though and everyone ate till they were stuffed, so mission accomplished. The kids made some Thanksgiving/Fall decorations to put up to get us in the mood. Sarah cut out leaves from construction paper and we wrote thing we are thankful for on them. It was a good holiday, though we missed spending it with family.
The tires seriously needed replaced!
Cars, like homes, always need maintenance and it can be tricky finding good auto shops while traveling. The plan was to replace the tires when we were in Texas, but we wore them out faster than anticipated. While driving in ABQ, as the locals call Albuquerque, we started having a bumpy ride and were worried the transmission was acting up. It turned out to be the rear passenger tire crying out that it was on it’s last leg. The next morning I slowly limped the car to the tire shop and went
Only a small dent in his bumper.
ahead and purchased four new tires. I had called and arranged it beforehand, so I didn’t think it would be a huge ordeal. Unfortunately the workers at the tire center seemed to be having a hard time doing their job right. Even with an appointment it took many hours because they accidentally ordered the wrong set of tires. Before the car entered the shop one of the workers drove someone’s car into ours. Lucky for us (but not them) it only damaged the other customers car. The shop was nice enough to give me forty dollars off for the inconvenience they had caused.
After all the hassle, at least the new tires are nice.
We also had to get an oil change while we were in Albuquerque and they also took a few hours even though our car was in the bay immediately! Apparently they didn’t have the right filter and had to have someone drive it over. So the lesson is, don’t get any auto work in Albuquerque or if you have to, then be prepared for a twenty minute job to take several hours.
Before leaving Arizona we made our last stop at Petrified Forest National Park. All of the national parks are so different and interesting. There is so much to learn from these wonderful lands and I am grateful that we have been able to visit so many. Petrified Forest is a very unique place. It is not the only place that petrified wood can be found; however, it is the largest concentrated area of petrified wood in the world. We were able to stay at a gift shop just outside the entrance to the park which was great because it was so close and had power for us! We needed it because it got pretty cold at night while we were there. The days were nice for hiking though so it all worked out.
Being afraid of heights my entire life, I was a little apprehensive about visiting the Grand Canyon with three small kids. When we first arrived at the canyon we were near the main visitor center and there were guard rails up. I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed the half a mile of rail. Then it ended and we were on the edge of a cliff with a drop several thousand feet. Sarah of course had no fear and was perfectly at ease going up to the edge. Luckily the kids listened to their crazy daddy and made sure they were not too close to the edge. The only time one of them even came close was right after a ranger talk when we met a family from the east coast doing the same thing we are. I looked over and Trip was a little too close for comfort and the other family’s dad thanked me for having him come stand right by me. Apparently he was also getting a little nervous about how close Trip was to the edge. Even with my fear of heights, the Grand Canyon was an amazing place to visit, pictures just can’t show how epic and majestic it is in real life.
We started off our Arizona visit in a KOA about an hour from the capitol city. We are not to impressed by the KOA’s and were hesitant to stay at another one (this was our second stay at one). It had a decent price for a KOA when we looked into it online, they typically have many amenities and are very family friendly; however, we quickly found out why the price was so good, they were still under construction on the pool and the playground, they also had none of the games that are usually standard at these campgrounds. It’s not that we really want these things, but we were expecting them here and had told the kids that there would be a playground. So we only stayed two nights, just long enough to go into Phoenix and tour the capitol museum. After our two nights we moved not to far away to the Lost Dutchman state park. It was a nice campground and very clean. We enjoyed our stay there, Chris even caught a lizard for Miles!