Annaroo here, back with another installment of Roo Trippin. This is likely the last road trip before our new baby arrives. Last year, we headed east for a tour of the south and a few months a go we took a quick adventure north to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Now, it is time to head west for cactus, friends, and hopefully some ocean.
After watching daddy jigsaw all the luggage in the car we loaded up for the adventure ahead.
Being the expert roadtripper that I am, I immediately asked for food and entertainment. We settled on animal crackers and Peter and the Wolf music. I ask for the ‘wolf song’ as often as I think of it, mom likes this version, on Spotify, narrated by David Bowie.
As we headed west, I assumed we would be out of Texas by the end of the wolf song, but boy was I wrong. Texas is big. Mom and dad played this song, that describes the endless Texas highway well.
Despite a close call with an empty gas tank, we made it halfway to the border for a picnic lunch and play time. Dad seemed stressed, but now he knows you can go 15+ miles with the gas tank on empty. It’s good my parents learned this lesson on the first day, because I estimate seeing, a lot of open road in the next couple weeks.
We visited mommy and daddy’s rocket friends who provided fun and cheer in this tiny Texas town.
After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were on our way north to this trip’s first National Park, Guadalupe Mountains.
We enjoyed the stuffed animal zoo in the visitor’s center, packed a lunch, and loaded me in my backpack chariot before heading to Devil’s Hall trail. We were amazed by the beautiful rocks, big cactus, and the surprising numbers of wildflowers. Mom and dad kept saying words like stratification, ancient, and limestone, so I think they liked it too. The trail is sprinkled with shade and we were able to eat lunch at a rock playground halfway through the 4 mile hike.
About 5 minutes before the end of the trail, daddy’s shoe broke. The sole of his 6-year-old hiking boot flapped away from his foot in true cartoon fashion. We ripped the rest of the sole off and decided it was time to head back. Not more than 50 paces later the other shoe followed suit and flapped like a flag in the wind. We were all laughing at the series of events and daddy’s feet had quite the task hiking 2 miles with his shoes tearing apart.
We will definitely be back to Guadalupe Mountains soon, and are determined to enjoy Mckittrick Canyon next time.
With all the excitement of the next attraction, I decided to skip my nap, play games and ask questions the entire way. The two parks are only 45 minutes from one another and we enjoyed traveling up the winding roads in the shadows of the massive rock mountains. After a few laps in the parking lot for our license plate game, we made it to the Carlsbad Caverns visitor center.
We skipped the hour decent in to the caverns from the natural opening and opted for the elevator. It felt like cheating taking the elevator down 78 floors, but with my short toddler legs and mommy’s baby belly it was the right choice. We saw the famous cavern lunchroom before entering The Big Room. It didn’t take long to realize why this was called a big room.
The caverns were huge, almost overwhelming, in all they had to offer. There were formations that looked like popcorn, bacon, soda straws, and columns. I performed my most important task, not touching any of the formations, well. The mile-and-a-half self guided hike of the caverns took almost 2 hours as mom and dad stopped to take in every new formation.
After a bathroom break 800 feet under the ground, we found the sunlight and a magnet for our collection. It was time to find tonight’s bed. We were tempted to stay for the caverns bat flight, but decided that we have had our fair share of bats in Texas at places like Austin’s Congress Bridge and Braken Cave.
We found a great hotel with a pool, which mom and dad, said could be my bath for the night. After settling in from our busy day, it is fair to say, we were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
White Sands Monument
The next day was Sunday, so we visited a beautiful historic church in Carlsbad, NM before hitting the road again, this time for White Sands Monument. On the way there we drove through Lincoln National forest, which is a treat in and of itself and a stark contrast to the Chilalluan desert.
White Sands National Monument was a different world as well. We hit the adobe visitor center and filled up our water bottles before setting off into the dunes. Securing a shady picnic table for lunch, we couldn’t wait to put our toes in the sand. We hiked through the dunes and sat on the sand for what felt like hours. I even took a turn on a sand sled and made my way down the dunes in style. Unlike The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, this gypsum sand was relatively cool to the touch and we explored in our bare feet.
We originally planned to camp near the park, but we instead used the current momentum and the sleepy afternoon time to drive into Tucson, Arizona. To mom and dad’s dismay, my sixth sense for car movement did wake me up at a border check point.
Three days, three states, three time zones, and three national parks. Check back for the next volume soon.
Send Me On My Way- Rusted Root