Sunday, February 7, 2010

Texas!

I visited the VA hospital in El Paso to address my blood pressure.  And at the end of the visit, the doctor said not to worry about it so much.  It's not that high. Turns out that worrying about something can cause your BP to increase and I have been worrying (ironically) about my high BP.  So no more checking it 2-3 times per week.  I will continue to do the other things I mentioned in a previous post.

Meanwhile, in El Paso I stayed at the Fort Bliss RV park.  "No," they assured me, "we don't allow tent camping."  But I was fine.  Score one for the Autohome.  Bolt your tent to the roof of your van and now it's an RV.  It was a funny sight, my van parked amongst the giant RVs, mobile mansions, cruising castles, portable palaces....  I wanted to take a picture but the 70% chance of rain turned into a 100% chance I'd get soaked if I took a picture.

From El Paso I headed east, stopping at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Here, I once again qualified as a tent and camped in a nice spot.  Snow that afternoon turned to rain by morning.  I'm still trying to figure out how to get in and out of the Autohome when it's raining without letting a lot of rain in.  

One picture: while heating water for dinner, I took a quick shot.  Dinner was great, sitting in the door to the van with snow piling up.
From Southern States


Hollow Mountain
The next morning I headed over to Carlsbad Caverns.  I had been there once before but didn't have the time to spare to see the cavern.  Have you been?  It is a destination worth seeing.  You can take an elevator to the "Big Room" or walk from the surface.  Either way, you end up 750 below.  Why do they call it the Big Room?  It's 8.2 acres of open space, over 350,000 square feet.  375 feet from the lowest point to the highest point, in just one room.  It is huge and well worth the $6 admission.  Best deal the Park Service offers, I think.  I actually went back the next day to take an extra tour.  There I learned a lot about the cave's history.  Including how two rangers volunteered to be inside the cave while Project Gnome detonated a 3.2 kiloton nuclear bomb  1200 feet below the surface, and just 30 miles from the caverns.  Reportedly, they noticed nothing.
From Southern States

From Southern States

From Southern States

From Southern States

 This picture taken looking straight up at the stalactites.
From Southern States

From Southern States

This picture taken on a hike in the nearby  Guadalupe Mountains

From Southern States

I headed south, thinking I was going to Big Bend Nat'l Park, but I stopped in Van Horn, Texas, one of my favorite west Texas towns.  There really isn't much here and I picked a cheap hotel from the surprising number of options, based on proximity to one of the surprisingly few restaurants.  I thought it was one I'd stayed at before, confirmed by the lady checking me in who thought she recognized me.  I had stayed here before, on my way home from Christmas in Mesa, 2003.  Guess I made an impression.

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