On The Road Again – Part 3

So, after visiting the “World’s Largest Roadrunner”, we headed NW on Highway 285, a nice and lonely two lane road over mostly flat country. The weather was clear, visibility unlimited, and few cars to impede our progress.

There was a roadrunner crossing the road ahead of us. Small bird (smaller than the picture), dark colored; had to look quickly to see it.

We got to Pecos, TX, which is the home of the western rodeo. And a very large cantaloupe farm (which we missed). A small town, not even a McDonalds. I wanted to stop at the museum, which is right off the main (and seemingly only) drag, but as we pulled up to it we saw the “Closed” sign. I forgot to take a picture of it, or the old railroad station next to it.

Around the corner was the Chamber of Commerce, so I stopped in for a quick visit. Picked up a few brochures, and a couple of metal “Sheriff” badges. Not much else to see, so it was back on the road, continuing on 285 to Carlsbad, NM.

Just before Carlsbad, we took a shortcut on a small country road (County Road 720, if you are following along) to head to Highway 180/62 to Whites City, the gateway to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. A 20 minute drive up a windy two lane road to the Caverns was our next destination.

The Carlsbad Caverns are located on a mesa about 800 feet above the flat New Mexico landscape. The view from the parking lot is impressive. Whites City is at about 3500′ elevation, the Caverns are at about 4300′, and you can see for about 200 miles (it seems).

The Caverns are quite impressive, and quite a hike. You enter through a very large hole in the ground about 100′ wide, on a paved path that switchback’s down into the cave. Eventually, you’ll go down about 700 feet along those switchbacks, steep in places. Your ankles and calves really get sore with all that downhill walking.

The cave wasn’t as moist as I expected, but quite pretty. The various caverns are quite large and somewhat colorful. I’d show pictures, but you can see better ones at your favorite reference web site.

At the end of the hike, down in the bottom of the cave, you can go on a 1 1/2 mile hike back up to the surface, or take the elevator (!). With my physical shape (round is a shape), we decided on the elevator.

They are overhauling the visitor center, so you just get a couple of large trailers of information. But it is worth a visit. If you stick around until dusk, you can sit in an amphitheatre at the cave mouth and watch several hundred thousand bats fly out of the cave. We opted instead to travel on.

We Interrupt This Trip

… to alert my two regular readers of a post over on our “Security Dawg” site having to do with learning how to send text messages via you cell phone during emergencies or high-load times. Here’s the post: http://www.securitydawg.com/2007/08/cell-phone-overload-during-emergencies.html.

If there is ever an area emergency or locally important news story, you may find that the cell phone system gets quickly overloaded, and you can’t call home to tell people you are OK.

During those times, send a text message — they will go through just fine.

Of course, that means that you may need to learn how to send a text message. Just find the nearest teenager, offer them a free Starbucks, and have them teach you. You may find that skill useful in an emergency.

On the Road – Part 2

We pulled into San Antonio at about 11am, with the Mio GPS unit sending us directly and efficiently to the Alamo. We parked in the shopping mall parking lot and took a short walk to the Alamo.
It takes up a large city block, and includes the old church, some barracks, and a gift shop next to the church. The displays were quite interesting. Inside the gift shop is a scale model of the last fight, about 4×8 feet big. It shows the few Texan soldiers, along with lots of Mexican soldiers. You get a good sense of how much the Texans were outnumbered.
There was quite a crowd inside the gift shop, which had the usual touristy stuff, along with shirts and hats (ball caps, along with some straw hats). I picked up a ball cap with “The Alamo” logo (I figured I would need a hat for the next few stops on the road trip).
After wandering around the Alamo, we walked about three blocks to the “Riverwalk”. This is an area that has a branch of the river running through the town in sort of a loop, with a walkway (and shops, of course) on both sides of the river. There is a tour boat that you can take a ride on around the river loop, so we did the proper touristy thing and climbed on board (after about a half-hour wait).
The weather that day was hot and a bit humid, but the Riverwalk area has lots of shade, so it wasn’t too bad. The boat driver had a nice spiel during the ride.
After the Riverwalk ride, we left town via Interstate 10, heading west. Nice highway, going through slightly hilly country — that part of Texas is not as flat as you would expect.
We headed to Fort Stockton, “The Friendliest Town in Texas”. We planned on visiting the Fort Stockton Fort, but it didn’t seem to be open. It’s not that big of a town, and since it was Sunday, there wasn’t much open — most stores and ‘attractions’ were closed because it was Sunday.
Besides the fort, Fort Stockton is the home to the World’s Largest Roadrunner. His name is “Paisano Pete”, and it is 11 feet tall, 22 feet long. They claim it is a favorite snapshot subject in Fort Stockton.
I believe they are right.

On the Road Again

The past couple of weeks have seen a bit of ‘out of town’ experiences. And some laziness in updating these pages. Which is why these pages have changed (again). Blogger is being used to update the pages. The previous design was home-grown, but a bit too much trouble to update the way that I wanted. So I am going to use Blogger as the base, then make some design changes and enhancements. Comments are enabled here, but will be monitored.

It’s not that I’ve been lazy in the web site activity. I’ve got a more security-related site called the “Security Dawg” (http://www.securitydawg.com/ ). Much of the security stuff that is here will be updated and moved over to Security Dawg.

Then there’s the “Car Crash” site (http://www.carcrashpix.com/ ). That’s a new experiment with a picture-based web site. The experiences with that site will help with another picture-type site that I’m working on. That site is not quite ready for publication yet. Another experiment in picture-based site was one I put together when there was a big wildfire at Lake Tahoe, CA. It’s called Tahoe WildFire, and is at http://www.tahoewildfire.com/ ). I suspect that one will become more dormant. There are some impressive wildfire pictures there, though.

There’s also a couple of family-type sites. One has pictures, and a discussion forum area. The other is Blogger-based, but is probably going to change to a discussion forum base. They are family-based, so also won’t be published here.

In the meantime, this place (in it’s new Blogger format) will be updated more often that in the last few months. For the next several posts, you’ll get to put up with some “what I did on my summer vacation” type entries here over the next several days. There will be some pictures, so prepared to try to stay awake.

Our (Pam and I) travels started with flying to Houston, TX a couple of weeks ago. We managed to make it through the TSA security theatre. (Did you ever wonder why all of those dangerous liquids are tossed into a single garbage can next to the security lines? If the liquids are so dangerous, wouldn’t there be some Hazardous Material containers nearby?)

Anyhow, a nice visit with Pam’s sister in Katy, TX (a suburb just NW of Houston). The weather was warm, a bit humid, with thunderstorms a bit to the east. We were there for a few days visiting, with a side trip to Galveston.

If you happen to be in Galveston, on the road by the beach, go to a place called “Spot’s”. Great hamburgers there.

The interesting thing about the beach and ocean there is the color of the ocean. It’s very brown, due to the sediment from the Mississippi River to the east. Doesn’t seem to bother the locals, but it is much different than the ocean surf of California.

We were in Houston for 4 days, then left Sunday morning for the ‘road trip’ home. Pam’s sister had a 1999 Camry (V6, lots of extras) that CarMax was going to buy for $3500. Our 1998 Camry has 205K miles, still runs good, but the 1999 had only 120K miles. A few small repairs (timing belt, water pump, full brake job) for only $650, and we’ve got a car that will last a couple of years with minimal maintenance, no car payment, and low insurance cost.

With a GPS in hand (er, car) (I picked up a Mio C220 GPS unit for $179 at Circuit City before we left), we headed off to San Antonio.