Reese, Heather, and I went down to the Ballpark in Arlington to meet up with Brad, Reese’s godfather, to catch the Rangers game. It was good to see him again, and we had a great time. It was a really good game, a nail biter until the end, with yet another walk-off home run ending the game. We picked Reese up some swag, enjoyed some dollar hot dogs, and just in general enjoyed ourselves. Much thanks to Heather’s employer for letting us use the corporate seats, they were really, really good.
The last day, just a driving day, with no stops planned except for food and gas. We got cheated out of lunch due to crappy service at the restaurant we stopped at. No greeting, nobody offered to seat us, or even acknowledge that we were there. So the Green Frog, in Jacksboro, TX didn’t get our money. We finally pulled in to the driveway and got the car unloaded, at around 4:00. It was a great week, but I think we were all ready to be out of the car for a while…
After breakfast we walked to the park across the street where a farmers’ market had set up. We browsed through the tables, picking up a few things here and there, including some garlic for planting, some lamb jerky, and a bag of hot green chiles for Jason. Then, with the car loaded up, we started driving east, making our way over to Portales, NM. The drive is what it is, without much scenery to distract you, but there were no issues. We took the long way into Portales so that we could take Reese past Cannon Air Force Base, where his mother was stationed when she was in the military. After that, we stopped at the Taco Box across the street from where my old dorm was, to have lunch. I then took Reese and Heather on a tour of Eastern New Mexico University, where I did some of my undergraduate work.
With that done, we got back on the road for the last bit of driving for today. We pulled in to Jason and Vic’s place late in the afternoon and spent some time catching up before heading out to Cagle’s Steaks for dinner. More catching up, plus some good food, makes for a great evening and a great end to a trip.
We got an early start this morning because we wanted to get out to Petroglyph National Monument before it got too hot. The park is jointly managed by the city and the National Park Service, and has multiple entry points. We chose to do the shorter trails, a short way back down the road. The climb is moderately challenging, with paved walking paths and some rock steps, but the impressive number of petroglyphs makes it worth it. We spent about an hour hiking around, taking pictures, and covered all three trails at that location. It was a good thing we started early, because by the end it was starting to get warm.
After a quick stop at a Sonic for some cherry limeades, we drove over to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History to do some science type stuff. It’s a small, relatively new, museum, but has some great exhibits covering everything from the early research to the Manhattan Project, through to the Cold War and current events. We got to tie it back to last year’s trip out to Oak Ridge, which Reese remembered quite well. We did a little shopping at the gift shop and then headed to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for lunch and some more museum time.
The museum and exhibits were very well done, with lots of information about the different tribes, covering their history from before western contact through to today. They had a very good presentation about the various ways the Spanish and American governments mistreated them over time. Please go, take the time to read, listen, and learn. Many wrongs were done to these people, and it’s important that we learn from those episodes to keep them from happening again.
Once we were done there, we drove up to Kelly’s Brew Pub for dinner. It was a pretty good meal, but we were craving some dessert, so we decided to walk down the street to a frozen yogurt place. Until we saw the weather outside. The rain that has been following us all week finally caught up to us. We beat a hasty retreat to the car, arriving just in time to get hit by the first few drops of what turned out to be a few hours of severe storms. The wind had kicked up, to the point where trees were losing limbs, and the rain and street flooding made the drive back to the hotel quite the adventure. We did make it back in one piece, though slightly damp by the end of it.
Today was mostly a driving day, cruising up to Albuquerque, where we are to spend a couple days. We did make a short detour into Hatch, NM to do a little green chile shopping. I picked up some dried chiles and a shirt. Reese, on the other hand, sniffed a few of the chiles and decided they were too spicy. A short time after we got back on the highway, we pulled off to document Heather’s car rolling over 100,000 miles. Our next stop was in Socorro, NM to get some lunch. In keeping with the brewery sub-theme of the trip, we stopped for lunch at Socorro Springs Brewing Company. They served some really delicious food, mostly foodie takes on American and New Mexican cuisine, with their own spin on them. Their tap selection was good, but since we were just passing through, I kept myself to a single beer, a hefe in this case. With full bellies, we got back out on the road and finished the drive in to Albuquerque.
We got in to town and made for the Hotel Blue, where we’d be staying for the next two nights. It’s a little boutique hotel close to Old Town, and from what we’ve seen so far, we like it. They offer a free shuttle to and from Old Town, as well as the airport, which we were happy to take advantage of. We spent some time walking around Old Town, doing a little shopping, and enjoying ourselves. Dinner tonight was at La Crêpe Michel, a small French cafe in Old Town. If you’re in the area and in the mood, we really recommend that you check it out. Even Reese, certainly not the most adventurous eater, enjoyed his meal. After dinner we took the shuttle back to the hotel and went to bed.
Today was another busy day. After finishing breakfast and packing the car, we started out for Alamogordo. Our route took us through Cloudcroft, and the highest point of the trip at almost 9,000 feet above sea level. On the way down, on the outskirts of Alamogordo, we stopped at McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch and did a little shopping. We snagged some seasoned pistachios as well as some wine.
From there we headed over to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. We toured the outside exhibits, including a Mercury capsule, and finished just as it started to rain. This seems to be becoming a recurring theme on the trip. So, we headed inside and walked through the museum, checking out the impressive collection of space related artifacts. We tried our hands at the shuttle landing simulator and crashed it every single time. Finally, we stopped at the gift shop and picked up a gyroscope and a sled for Reese. We did a mad dash to the car, getting soaked in the process, and drove down into town to grab some lunch. The rain slacked off while we were eating, but the water levels continued to rise. By the time we left, the parking lot was flooded and the main drag was a river. We did manage to get ourselves out and pointed towards White Sands.
Arriving at White Sands National Monument, we slathered on the sunscreen, paid our admissions fees, and started in to the park. The first stop was the elevated walkway through the dunes. Reese really enjoyed it, especially figuring out that walking on the synthetic planks worked up a pretty good static charge. He and I spent most of the walk back zapping each other. Unfortunately, the rain that we had left behind was starting to catch up to us, so we made our way to the end of the road to find some good dunes for sledding. We did manage to get back there and do a few runs before the wind started kicking up and sandblasting us. At that point we decided to beat a hasty retreat and headed out of the park and over to Las Cruces, our stop for the night.
We got checked in to the hotel, unloaded the car, and went out for dinner at the High Desert Brewing Company. The food was great, as was the beer, but we were pretty tired, so we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.
We got up, grabbed some breakfast at the hotel, and headed towards Carlsbad. We got going a little earlier than we thought, and made good time on the drive, so we decided to stop at Living Desert State Park. It’s a small park, and was undergoing some maintenance. While we couldn’t do everything there, we did get to enjoy some of the walking tour. On it we got to see lots of plants and animals from the area, as well as learning about the local geology.
After finishing up there, we went over to Red Chimney Barbecue for lunch. The food was amazing, even Reese liked it. If you’re in the area, you should check them out. It probably won’t be a wasted trip.
With full bellies, we made our way out to Carlsbad Caverns. This was the highlight of the trip and Reese was really looking forward to it. We had reserved the King’s Palace tour, a ranger lead tour of parts of the cave that aren’t available if you just pay for the the general admission ticket. With all of the rain they’ve been getting, there was more dripping than I remember from the last time. Reese really enjoyed the tour, and we spent a lot of time taking pictures, both on the tour and afterwards in the main cavern. When we were done underground, we took the elevator back up and did a little shopping and grabbed some dinner before heading over to the amphitheater to watch the bats come out. We had a short wait there, but were treated to quite a few bats emerging. A number of them even flew over our seats, instead of just heading out in their usual direction.
We then hopped back in the car and returned to Artesia, stopping at Kaleidoscoops in Carlsbad for some ice cream. It was a long day, and we’re all beat, but we had a really good time. Tomorrow we’re heading to Alamogordo and White Sands…
This was the longest day of the trip, and about the most boring. We left San Antonio after breakfast and drove west down I-10, through the hill country to Fort Stockton, where we picked up US-285 for the rest of the way in to Artesia, NM. We’re staying at a great little B&B called the Heritage Inn. The last time we were out this way we stayed there because the hotels in Carlsbad are insanely expensive, and Artesia is about 30 minutes away. We got ourselves settled in the room and then walked over to The Wellhead, a really good brewpub, for dinner and some libations. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and turned in.
We got up early this morning, finished off the cinnamon rolls we’d picked up, and got the car packed. It’s pretty full, but everything fits and Reese isn’t playing the part of a Tetris brick in the back seat. After saying our goodbyes, we hit the road for San Antonio. The drive was pretty uneventful, though we got there a little early and our room wasn’t ready yet. We walked down to the River Walk to get some lunch, nosed around a little, and then went back to the hotel to grab our cameras before heading over to The Alamo to teach Reese a little about Texas history. We walked around the grounds, took some pictures, made Reese read just about every sign and plaque we could find, and did a little shopping in the gift store. After that we went back to the hotel, dragged everything up to the room, and relaxed for a little while before heading back to the River Walk for some dinner. After dinner, we took Reese on one of the barge cruises down the river. He seemed to enjoy himself, even though we got sprinkled on a little. Finally, we went back to the hotel where I helped him work on the first post in his blog before we called it a night. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day, we’re driving from here to Artesia, NM…
Heather and I drove down to Houston today to meet up with Reese, who’s been staying with his nana for the week. The drive was pretty uneventful, the highlights being a stop at the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana to pick up some baked goods, some mediocre barbecue for lunch, and a freeway closing wreck just outside of Huntsville. Other than that, we arrived late in the afternoon, got to see my son, and got caught up with Darleen and Mitch. Tomorrow we head for San Antonio…