Brantley Lake State Park – Carlsbad, NM

Day 116

Friday, January 31, 2020 – After a pretty restless night in the Texas Rest Area on Interstate 40, you know a sound machine can only drown out so much truck noise, Lucas did a little legos while I made coffee. I received this little stainless steel pour over and travel mug set from my friend, Kathryn, as a farewell gift. I LOVE it! Once ready for the day, Matthew checked over the rig while Lucas and I went for one more round at the playground. 

After a pit stop at a truck stop for breakfast, we hit the road towards New Mexico. We had been warned against traveling Route 285 from Pecos, TX to Carlsbad, NM. It’s known as Death Highway and goes through oil country. Between the large trucks driving fast and inexperienced truck drivers, there are many accidents. The oil and gas industry has exploded in this area over the past couple of years. We opted for Route 18 which, in hindsight, may not have been much better.

It was pretty desolate aside from the oil and gas wells. There were a LOT of oil rail cars. One section had over 90 cars (see photo below). Soon after we entered New Mexico it started snowing. At one time, the road was mostly covered and I’d guess there were 2 inches of snow on the ground. It was really beautiful! Our first snow of the winter! Lucas loved it but was sad when we soon drove out of it. While stopped for fuel a bit later, I was able to collect a small snowball for him from the front of the RV. 🙂

We decided to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park before going to our campground as it was on the south side of the city and our campground on the northwest. What an incredible place. I don’t have much experience with caverns, I think I visited one in Colorado Springs that was pretty claustrophobic, so wasn’t sure what to expect.

It was suggested that we hike into the caverns and bring the elevator out. The hike took about an hour as we descended the height of the Empire State Building (New York City) which I think is 80 stories. There were a few times I had to tell myself to breath and keep calm. I just couldn’t dwell on the fact that we were that far under ground. Once down inside, we walked the loop around the upper cave which took about 45 minutes. There is a lower cave that is only accessible for guided tours. It’s so amazing to see what lies under that mountain. Lucas completed the Junior Ranger program and received Badge # 12. 

On our way back through Carlsbad, we stopped to fill our propane tanks and stock up on groceries at Walmart. After shopping at small stores for the last 3 weeks, Walmart feels like a palace! 

We arrive at Brantley Lake State Park around 4:15. I had ordered a few items from Amazon and as we were driving the 3 mile road back to the park, we were following the UPS truck. Sure enough, he was delivering our package! It’s a good thing we met at the office because I learned they don’t accept UPS packages on behalf of visitors. Each park has different rules on packages and it was be very confusing.

After we were set up, we headed out to walk the park. This park doesn’t have a lot to offer as far as character but we were okay with that. We needed a few slow days. While on our walk, we spotted a Virginia vehicle so we chatted for a bit. They were from southwestern Virginia and working on becoming Texas residents after traveling around the US for several months. 

Matthew got our WIFI router up and running. WOW, it is so nice to have WIFI at our campsite! You may recall that this is something he’s been trying to resolve for about a month.

Day 117

Saturday, February 1, 2020 – Starting the morning slow with no where to be. Lucas is happy playing in the dirt of our campsite while I get to work drafting blog posts. Most of my journaling is up to date on the laptop, just need WIFI to post it on WordPress and add the photos. Photos being the time consumer. But I love pictures, as you can tell. 

Later in the day we went for a leisurely walk. So refreshing to just BE today.

Day 118

Sunday, February 2, 2020 – After breakfast we decided to wander around the park and pick up trash. There isn’t much but little bits here and there and a lot of cigarette ends around our campsite. We lost count at 25! We chatted with a few people as we went. It was a bit chilly but with the sun, it felt warm. 

Today is Super Bowl Sunday! Matthew has been a lifelong San Francisco 49’ers fan so GO NINERs! I made some homemade queso and gluten free soft pretzel bites – those weren’t so good. But we enjoyed the game even though the outcome wasn’t what we had hoped!

Day 119

Monday, February 3, 2020 – I needed to go into Carlsbad today – about 15 miles away. My parents left for Puerto Rico today for a 2 months assignment as House Parents for construction crews that come to assist with rebuilding. This is their 4th trip since Hurricane Maria in 2017. Prior to leaving they mailed a package as they collect some of our non-official mail. I also wanted to pick up groceries for the week ahead. 

Package contents: mail, pixy sticks (What were you thinking, Mom??) and a few other treats. 😉

Tomorrow we are traveling to Alamogordo, NM and plan to meet up with our friends from FL again.

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