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Archive for the ‘Photo Travels’ Category


I know, I know. I’ve been remiss in sharing pictures on the farm here lately, in addition to updating the could-it-be-finally-ending-tale As The Silo Turns. No worries, friends, those updates shall be coming. I’m working on carving out time to sit and post the pictures and updates.

Fall, as anyone who lives on a farm knows, is busy. There’s a lot to do to get ready for winter, and now that it’s finally getting cooler, we are able to get outside again and do more than mowing the yards. I’ve got all kinds of painting to do out there still, coop work, etc etc. Trail riding season is again upon us, which also means consistently cooler weather to be able to ride in. Whooppeee!

I enjoy the weather here *a lot* more than I did in NM- no longer are we like cockroaches, coming out when it’s dark because it’s the only tolerable time of day. 😆 There were a few days when I had to think about the heat with the chickens, but overall, it’s been a good summer- temps were not too extreme, although I’m still not lovin’ any kind of real heat.

One of the things I love about NC, in addition to being closer to my family, is that the east coast is LOADED with history. When my oldest brother and his family came out to visit for spring break, it was time to head to the Outer Banks. Now, while there are 4 main islands (Roanoke, Bodie, Hatteras, Ocracoke) in this 200 mile stretch, there are other islands that are no longer very distinct (Pea, maybe Portsmouth??), hurricanes and normal erosion are taking a toll.

It was a no-brainer to want to head to Roanoke Island. You may or may not have heard of The Lost Colony. I’m not going to talk about that today. 😆 Nope, I’m not.

I’m also not going to talk about Kill Devil Hills or Kitty Hawk. Nor will I speak of Bodie Island, specifically, the lighthouse there. Nope, nope nope. 🙂 I’ll go into detail on those in separate postings, because it’s worth it.

That first trip, though, truly whet our appetites. Those destinations took about 2 1/2 hours to get to, but we didn’t have time to get to Hatteras Island, where I really wanted to go. 220px-Bodie_Island_Lighthouse_2008The Bodie Island Light Station was very cool to see, even though we didn’t take a tour. But the Cape Hatteras Light Station was one I absolutely DID NOT want to miss, despite a car full of girls, mostly teenage, who only wanted to go to the beach. 😀

While both the Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras light stations are part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, island driving the 47 miles will take about an hour from one to the other. The Bodie Island Light Station requires a guided tour, which takes about 45 minutes {moaning and groaning}. And, there was a wait for the tour that day {eye rolling, moaning and groaning}.

Despite the whining from the peanut gallery, Mama was bound and determined to head out for the additional hour of travel to take the self-guided tour of the Cape Hatteras Light Station. 😆

Interestingly, Hatteras Island seemed to be the one that had the most Hurricane Aurthur damage. While it wasn’t designated a “disaster area,” there was enough damage that there were piles of debris along the roadside, waiting to get picked up. Lots of needed roof repair, but nothing horrifically damaging, thank goodness.

And it was very, very cool. It was sooooo cool, I’d do it again. Even more than once again. It’s that awesome.

 

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Principal keeper and double keeper's quarters

Principal keeper and double keeper’s quarters

 

This light station is full of all kinds of awesomeness. The original 1803 lighthouse had to be demolished because it needed too many repairs, thanks in large part to the Civil War. In 1860, Congress gave the green light for a new lighthouse, and appropriated funds. Construction began in 1868. Remarkably, it was built ON TIME and ON BUDGET, in just 18 months, with over a million bricks hand-laid. Can you imagine?!

Its history is tangled with the Civil War, in more ways than one. Knowing the Diamond Shoals, aka ‘The Graveyard of the Atlantic’ to be deadly, the Confederacy absconded with the fresnel lens for the light. Yep. They sure did. The retreating Confederates took the light station lens with them when they retreated from the Union forces.

This resulted in the sinking of 40 Union ships, including the USS Monitor during the time the light was out. I want to say I remember the Park Ranger saying it was about 4 months of no light, which is astonishing. The National Park Service estimates about 1,000 ships have sunk out there, including German U-boats. It’s a big deal.

The Outer Banks, including the Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island Light Stations were both “safe havens” for slaves. If they could get to the island, they would be emancipated. This resulted in The Freedmen’s Colony. While pretty short-lived at around 2 years, this was a critical turning point for the country.

So anyhow, after the Civil War, the Cape Hatteras Light Station was pretty rough.  It was beat all to heck from the war. It was missing the lens. And it needed to be moved. Because of its condition, it was in danger of falling into the ocean during a storm, which had been creeping up on the light station’s location. So, they moved it.

While it was the first move inland, it wasn’t the last. The first move took it 600 feet to the north from the 1803 lighthouse location. After the new station was completed and lit December 1, 1870. February 1871, the original lighthouse was demolished.

The new lighthouse, at the time, was the tallest brick lighthouse in the world. Today, it’s still the tallest in brick lighthouse in the US.

Just over a hundred years later {!!!!}, in 1999, the decision was made to move it. Yep. You read that right. They needed to move it- again.

The issue was, mother nature was reclaiming the ground, and well, it wouldn’t be in the around if they kept dilly-dallying and didn’t DO something to save it. So, they moved it. This time, the move took them 2,900 feet to the southwest.

Wanna know how they did it? Remember the theory of the ancients using kind of a sledge track and rolling timbers? Yep. That. All the modern technology at their disposal, and they ended up using the ‘old-fashioned’ way. 😆 Ok, so they had modern materials, I’ll give you that.

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Pretty nifty, eh?  Thing is, it took 23 days to move it 2,900 feet. 23. Days.  Can you imagine?!

They don’t figure it’ll need to be moved for a hundred more years. But not to worry- they own a sizable chunk of land, so they don’t think they will run out of space to move it to. !!!!!!!!

The tour to climb all 269 steps to the top is unguided, and they only allow small groups to go up at any one time to avoid bottle-necking. There are free tours of the Double Keeper’s Quarters, and you will get loads of fantastic information in the Museum of the Sea inside.

Now, while I could have stayed and really dug into the museum portion, I was getting a whole barrel-full of grumpiness, from girls who were convinced I was gypping them out of their beach time because it was going to rain. {Ok, so there were a few sporadic sprinkles here and there, but sheesh- it was only 11 am!!!} 🙄 🙄

We I wanted to try and find the original lighthouse location, but I’m not sure we ever did. We did find the beach across the street, though, and that’s where we spent our afternoon.

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I was thrilled that our friend living in our little house was going to be home and able to put chickens to bed. That meant we didn’t have to rush home to lock them up by 9 pm. We managed to rumble home around 11:30 pm and then get our chores wrapped up, but it was so, so worth it.

Providing we’re here long enough, I’m hoping to get back to the Outer Banks and explore everything else we haven’t gotten to. I could EASILY spend a solid two weeks or more out there, because there’s so much to do besides going to the beach.

If you ever get the chance to make it to the eastern coast, the Outer Banks is a *must see* destination.

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I think I mentioned it before, but when you live on a farm, there are never-ending things to do, even if you aren’t actually farming. 😉

You may recall that when we moved, we ended up with 5 abandoned horses in our front yard. A few months later, we did the horsey shuffle. It actually was remarkably like the Hokey Pokey, but with horses. At the end of the day, no one had gotten really injured and we all still had our teeth, so that was a win. 😆 And our roster was set.

Around Thanksgiving, our kitty went missing. We later discovered her deceased. 😦 When her brother had to be put down for intestinal cancer, we had gotten Little Dog. As luck would have it, a short-haired border collie became available from a gentleman who used them with his cattle and had gotten a large amount from a breeder/trainer friend of his who decided he was too old and passed on his border collie ‘stock.’ Anyhow. Puppy was the runt of the litter and he felt would be too small to handle the cattle, so he was trying to find her a good home. We got her the next day.

Christmas rolled around, and we were still missing having a cat. I don’t think in the last 20+ years we’ve gone very long without some kind of cat. We like our kittens in pairs. Then chicken math hit, and we got three babies from the same litter. {Actually, I have a whole category on Chicken Math………… :lol:} That’s how we ended up with Los Tres Amigos.

At some point, we had a lovely orange kitty come and visit us for several months. He’s actually been over at our horse trainer‘s house for the last several weeks. I wonder if he got tired of the dogs barking at him. We hope he comes back because we miss him………

Then we got the bantams and I ordered my large fowl and guineas. 😀

Two weeks ago, my newly “adopted” 19 year-old daughter/neighbor came by on her way home from the vet’s office where she worked. Someone had dumped off a litter of 4 kittens to be put down. Well, there was no way she was going to let that happen! So she took them home. Seeing as the little girls were outside, she thought she’d stop and show them the babies.

When she left a while later, she had one kitten with her. 😆 We kept the other 3 3-week-old kitties. So, we’ve been busy bottle feeding, ect. I had no idea that when they are that little, you need to stimulate them to go to the bathroom. 😯

Because the other kitties became solely indoor kitties, we are thinking these will be our barn kitties. I’ve got some great pics in with the other kitties and today in with the chicks. Hilarious!

This morning, the post office called at 6:15 am to let me know my chickies were here. I was back home around 7 am with all live chickies!!! ♥♥♥

{And you wonder why I’m not writing much…………….  :lol:}

We’re missing guineas, which will come next month.

Don’t laugh or roll your eyes, but here’s what we have right now:

3 dogs

5 horses

6.5 cats

14 bantams

40 large fowl

4 kids

2 completely crazy parents; {one obviously more crazy than the other 😉 }

And a partridge in a pear tree. {No, not really, silly- not yet, anyhow. 😉 } 😆

Because y’all have been so patient with me, here are some pictures. I’ve added a category for Around the Farm stuff, which will probably end up being mostly pictures. You’ve been warned! 😀

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Go Navy!

Creepy quiet those are- didn't bother the horses and the dogs never even barked!

Creepy quiet those are- didn’t bother the horses and the dogs never even barked!

Fog rolls in an hovers over the fields.

Fog rolls in and hovers over the fields.

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How many horses do you see?

How many horses do you see?

From the balcony off the bedroom.

From the balcony off the bedroom.

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Finally enough weight to be ridden!

Finally enough weight to be ridden!

My girl. ♥

My girl. ♥

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So there you have it- a taste of 6 months on the farm! 😀

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Another thing to know about me is that I have chronically itchy feet.

Yep. I do.

I am pretty sure in a former life I was a gypsy. 😆

What a contradiction, eh? An introverted traveler. 😀

Seriously, though, traveling is in my blood- so much so, that one of my more frequent dreams {besides running when I’ve been slacking; like now, for example :lol:} is driving. Usually in the dream, it’s highway driving. Before we moved, that highway driving was the single highway driving out north east; the route to anything northeast of here. That was the road “to the green,” as I fondly thought of it. And I was driving it in my dreams a few times a week. 😆

It then, should come as no surprise that I’ve been known to drive around seemingly aimlessly; just for the point of driving. 😀 In reality, there has always been a method to my madness. 😀

Before we moved, I spend serious time on the local roads, trying to find the right spot to build. We actually had found a 5 acre plot several years ago, that we had decided to build on until we tested the water. Yikes.

Having a whole-house RO (reverse osmosis) system was not what we wanted to do with a large chunk of the budget, because that was in addition to the other necessary water treatment processes.  Replacing all the pipes in a few years due to the off-the-chart mineral content in the water –IF you could get water- wasn’t in the budget, either.

Nonetheless, I did what I could to obtain quotes. One of the only groups who did those kinds of things gave a cost somewhere around $40,000 {if I remember right} for the necessary systems, and then went on to seriously advise me against it. Turns out, the water in that rocky volcanic part of the country was very nearly untreatable if you had to get an Artesian well.

Now, there are some that may argue, but honestly, there is a REASON no one is building out there, AND there’s a real reason that the city hasn’t gotten permits to set more water meters. Basically, you are on your own and it’s a crap shoot.  And YES, we had the water tested by a professional who just happens to be a good friend, {waving to J :lol:}

It was probably a given that we would have also had to have an Artesian well. Did I mention that one of the deepest Artesian wells in Roswell is a mile and a half deep? I doubt we would have had to go that deep, but it was still a crap shoot that we would even hit anything {despite the surveys being provided}. The combination was unfortunate, and we decided not to build.

You might be wondering why, if there is nothing out there in the desert and the water so bad on that side of town, why not build on the other side of town?

We had a few requirements. We didn’t want to see junk. If you’re anywhere out in the country, you no doubt know what I’m talking about {and this is no offense to those living in trailer homes! :D}. One of the biggest things when you buy and sell a home is location. You can change your house; your neighbors can change, but you cannot change your location. You also can’t change the people around you who are living on their country properties.

And- it’s important to protect the value of your investment, unless you plan on living out the rest of your days in the home, which we, of course, we were not {as in, first chance we had to get out of the desert, we would take- even though it didn’t come for 17 years :lol:}. So yes, we were {and are} picky about what kind of a view we have. It’s a priority that the surrounding homes are similar in structure so that appraisals come back right.

On the west side of town, the water wasn’t so much an issue, but there the issue was the ground. The ground was notorious for moving, based on the high clay content. When I say ‘moving,’ you can assume I mean ‘causing your home to crack terribly.’

I remember being freaked out when we first moved there, because all the houses had cracks- cracks in the walls, cracks in the ceilings. Every single house had cracks.

In fact, the one main pool installer’s company had said they would no longer put in any fiberglass pools on that side of town because they had a tendency to, um, lift and stuff, which meant they had a ton of warranty work to do. They weren’t also keen on doing gunite pools, but it was better than the alternative.

But I digress. The main point there is that the water was better on the west side of town, but the ground moved more. And after years {yes, literally years} of driving around and around the country roads, I pretty well knew them all inside and out.

Did I mention that they are mostly straight lines? When you are in the desert and don’t have things like trees and water to build around, it’s very easy to lay roads out on grids. 😆

Yesterday, I decided to get familiar with my surroundings. 😆

I don’t mind saying that I went out with the intent of getting lost and seeing where a few specific roads went.

I am here to say that my sense of direction is non-existent, even if the compass in my truck tells what direction I’m going in. 😆

The roads out here are wind-y, y’all! They start out in one direction, and before you know it, you’ve gone all the other 3 directions and you haven’t seen a cross road! It is bizarre!

I started out my travels on a road that headed north. Somehow, it totally turned east and south and then I turned around, made the loop, and went right past where we started. I kid you not.

The ‘big thing’ of the day that I was looking for was the lake. When we were out at the house the second time, the lovely elderly neighbor man came to see what we were doing say hi. The realtor hadn’t gotten there yet, so we got to talking a bit.

Apparently, there is a lake out here somewhere that is private, but if you lived right around it in the area, you could join the private club. From the sounds of it, you could do a lifetime membership for cheap and because the original members were all near his age, it sounded like we’d pretty nearly have the place to ourselves. He didn’t draw a map, but he gave us directions.

Ya. Like I knew any of the road names by that point? We hadn’t even been here a week! 😆

But, I was bound and determined to find it the day before yesterday. Off I went, with a full tank of gas and two little girls in the back seat.

I’m very glad to say I found the state park 13 miles away after close to an hour of driving. 😆

I did, though, finally find the lake. At least I think it’s the one he was talking about.

It is fantastic!

There was even a little waterfall {didn’t get a picture}, and there was not just the lake, but also river access. I can see some kayaks in our future!

As I was making the pass numerous times, I noticed the bones in the road. I had never seen such a thing; a whole skeleton picked clean and lying in the middle of the road. Finally about the 5th time, I stopped and took pictures. Because the head was missing, I’m not really sure what this is.

Any guesses?

Sadly, by the time Hunny and I went back to the lake after work, someone had driven through them and smashed them all up. 😦 I’m glad I took a picture when I did.

Because life is a soundtrack, I bring you Roll The Bones, courtesy of Rush…………..

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VzAKpPJTqQ%5D

{Although, honestly, ‘bones in the road’ kept making me think of “Pants on the Ground” so you’ll have to suffer through that one too. My gift to you:  😆 }

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw0a12geN3Q%5D

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*sigh* I assume it’s because I’m using a satellite connection that I had this all written out and only a single word got saved. Since I have nothing better to do, apparently, I’ll attempt to reconstruct the entire thing………………

It was late when we pulled into the park. Pitch black, actually. And the security gate was firmly down. While Hunny was getting annoyed because he was tired, I was pretty sure our packet was waiting for us outside the office.

I was really relieved as I spotted it. I gave it to him, telling him the code was in there somewhere. He finally found it, and off we went, in the absolute dark, in a strange park, to find our site.

We finally found it about 20 minutes later, only to discover they had drawn our approach into the site backwards. Now, some people may not care about this. But when we have utilities to connect, {like sewer, for example}, stuff like this pretty important.

He flipped a u-ey and drove all the way back around the park while I stayed put and illuminated the site. Even though we are well prepared to unhitch at night, we decided the night before that having another vehicle gave better light that our massive flashlights and hitch lights.

We ran out of stack-its trying to get level, which we never did. Hunny decided he would find a different level site in the morning.

To say we were exhausted was an understatement. The early part of the day was spent in the torrential rain; the last bit to get out of Jackson took us well over 20 minutes to go 2 miles, due to heavy traffic and construction squeezing it into a single lane.

Let me tell you- if people weren’t so greedy and rude, thinking they could pass everyone in the merging lane only to end up sitting because others won’t let them in- traffic would never get to a stand-still like that, as semis try to force people out of their way. Just sayin’.

We were tired and annoyed by the time we got there only to drive aimlessly in the dark because sites and roads were not clearly marked and THEN to have to turn around because they drove us in backwards- well, we were a bit grumpy.

I don’t recall in recent memory *ever* being so glad to stay put a day. Normally, I want to go and get there and get it over with. But I was so, so glad we had a day off the road to rest.

When we travel, I try to keep us under 500 miles a day towing, and then give rest days if we have some back-to-back long days. The only time we’ll consistently go over is if it’s a straight shot and we know the roads, like to our one spot in Texas (another Yogi). We were really ready for a break after having two days of close to 500 miles. And it didn’t help that we were losing time, either, because even though we were still on Mountain time, the other states weren’t.

One of *the best things* about this whole trip was taking a break that day; in this location.

We had been working the kids hard. And I do mean HARD.

Originally, we had planned on leaving on Monday. Then it got pushed to Tuesday. Sunday night, for example, I had planned a quick re-grout of the kitchen. Turns out, Hunny’s way with the grinder was waaaaay faster than mine; but we blew grout dust all over. He got a good roll on just after 8 pm. This, of course, resulted in a few broken tile. Guess what I was doing at 11 pm? Yep. Sticking tile so I could grout the next day.

At some point, we realized we’d never actually leave if we attempted to get everything done on the list. Fortunately, we had someone coming to help once we were gone, and my in-laws totally stepped in the gap for us. I am pretty sure we’d still be there if they hadn’t been willing to help.

After I sent everyone to bed late that night, it was around 12 am when I realized the hanging work light in the attic was still on. So, I got the oldest out of bed so he could go up and turn it off, since I had no intention of crashing through the attic floor. We were back at it by 7 ish the next morning.

As part of my OCD bedtime ritual, I walk the house and make sure the doors are locked; the windows are all actually shut {I do have kids, after all :lol:} and the freezer in the garage is closed because if it doesn’t close all the way- well, you can imagine what happens.

You can probably also imagine me trying not to cry at 12:30 am the night before we were actually leaving when I saw the puddle of blood on the garage floor. It was too late.

My choice was- leave it or clean it, all the while hoping some my side of beef was salvageable, since it was pretty new. We were not that lucky. We hadn’t packed the meats yet, and while we managed to save some hamburger and some roasts; everything else was pretty much soup.

In the end, I decided I needed to clean up then, because I knew I’d have a frozen sheet of blood puddle in the bottom of my freezer, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a date-worthy project. Plus, if melty ice cream was an indication, I really didn’t want to deal with the blood dripping down the sides once it froze.

*Sigh.*

I probably would have cried if I hadn’t been too exhausted. If I’d had the time, I would have cooked it all up the next few days. But I didn’t, so it got pitched. 😥

To say we all needed a break is really kind of an understatement. To sweeten the deal, a friend lived 20 miles away and brought her kids to play. It was hard to believe that after knowing and working together online for about 10 years that we had never actually met in person. We had a great time!

If you’ve done a lot of travelling, you’ll know that there are always things that happen. Most of that is the beating vehicles (like RVs, for example) take on the road. All in all, we’ve come out ok, with no more bruises than we expected. We’ve got a bunk house closet fix to deal with, and that’s about it.

Hunny had decided he was just going to level us more on the site we were at. He didn’t get very far. Turns out, he boiled his battery out, which meant 18 miles to get a new one. Thank goodness we had planned on taking the day off!

So. Now that I’ve rambled on and on, it’s time to wake up and see some pictures. Yay! 😆

Yogi on the Lake Jellystone Campground Park Resort, Pelahatchie, Mississppi: splash pad, pool, playground, tennis, activity center, putt-putt golf, cabins, rv and tent sites- all of which we basically had to ourselves. one of the best things about homeschooling is once the other kids go back to jail you pretty well have most places to yourself, unless you meet up with other homeschoolers. 😆

Splash Pad

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Bridges are a part of life. If you’re alive, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

There are bridges from person to person- sometimes one will extend a ‘bridge’ to someone else, and wait to see if they cross it. {Or maybe that’s an olive branch.  :lol:}

Sometimes, there are bridges in our own lives- paths that connect one part of our lives to another. Usually, I think we don’t see these until we’ve crossed over and look back.

I usually don’t mind bridges, although it’s ever-present in my mind when travelling that you could get pushed over the side, like by semis or debris on the road, etc. I can’t help it; it’s just one of those things I think about when we’re travelling.

There are bridges, however, that really give me the heebie jeebies. {Ok, maybe I ought to make this confession, so it’ll put this in context: I do not like heights. Tight, windy mountain passes- like through the Wolf Creek Pass (that’s the trip when I fell down the mountain…………) especially get my heart rate going, and I will also admit that I have spent a significant portion of some drives with my eyes closed and praying} ESPECIALLY bridges over gorges. Or canyons. Or large bodies of water. Suspension bridges are really unsettling- I am convinced I can feel them swaying, because it always seems I’m on them when it’s windy.

I. Do. Not. Like. Them. 😀

No, really, I don’t.

I can appreciate them, however. A friend recently posted about a trip she had taken to Astoria, Oregon. When I saw the bridge she had shared a picture of, I thought I might have stayed under that bridge overnight.

No, sillies, not as a troll. There was a hotel. 😆

Sure enough, after checking the itinerary, I was able to confirm that we stayed in the hotel under the bridge on the trip that nearly killed me.

Wait. What? Didn’t I tell you about that trip?

Oh dear. That was the trip with many names. {The Trip from Hell……….. The Trip That Nearly Killed Me Dead…………… The Trip That Shall Never Be Spoken of Again and That Most Certainly Shall Never Be Repeated Ever, Ever Again…………} Without additional adjectives, let’s just call it The Trip.

The Trip came about over a deep desire of my parents to go on a family vacation for their 50th anniversary. Here’s the deal: they would pay for airfare, travel accommodations and lodging expenses for the duration of the two-week family tour down the west coast. We were responsible for paying for our food.

Sound good?

Here’s the part I left out- it was a chartered bus tour. All the way from Seattle down to San Francisco, in two weeks, stopping at 5 national parks and 7 state parks, with additional ‘natural areas’ and other points of interest, like the Oregon State Aquarium and Pike Place Market and a factory tour of Boeing and a ferry ride across Puget Sound. And leaving the hotel at 5:45 am to visit the tide pools at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Tons and tons and tons of stops. 

It was a chartered bus tour. With all 8 of us siblings and spouses (less mine) and 20 grandchildren. 10 of those children were 8 and under. On a bus. For two weeks. Getting on the bus most days around 6 am to leave the hotel and checking into the next one around 8 pmish.

Yes, that’s over 12 hours a day, much of it on the bus, driving down the Oregon coast; stopping 3 plus times a day for points of interest, sometimes for food; most often eating at least lunch on the bus (which had provided us with coolers, so we hit a Wal-Mart the first evening out on the road, and then after that, there were grocery stores that were 1/2 a mile one could walk to, if interested, after getting to the hotel after 8 pm).

We did one week of the tour and flew home in Redding, Ca. I am 100% certain that had I not gotten home when I did, I would have ended up in the hospital. As it was, Hunny took one look at me once we were off the plane and wanted to take me to the ER. Honestly, I was too tired to go, and just wanted to get home and sleep. We had planned to go first thing in the morning. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, as I was able to de-juice some overnight, but it took me over a solid week of being in bed except to go to the bathroom to get most of the fluid out.

I have *never* been that swollen, nor do I intend to ever again. I was so swollen, the sides of my ankles were nearly dragging on the ground {and no, I actually am not exaggerating}. It goes without saying that my flip-flops were nearly impossible to get on in the morning, and once on, were not coming off because I knew if I took them off, I would not be able to get them back on later in the day………… 

It is really unsettling to have people stare at you because you are disfigured- even my face was swollen- they can tell something is clearly wrong with you. {And so now you understand why I didn’t go on the European version of this trip they all took this last June…………..}

But I digress. We’re talking about bridges. 😆 And one bridge in particular.

As it turns out, I do have a few pictures from staying the night under that bridge. Pretty neat to be under it, and it makes for spectacular photography. I am pretty sure, however, that I had my eyes closed while we were driving over it. 😆

Here are pictures of my view from the ground. 😀

You can see that I managed to get part of the bus seat in the picture. 🙂

Because life is a soundtrack, I leave you with Simon and Garfunkle’s Bridge Over Troubled Water…….. 😆

 

Or wait. Maybe we ought to go with Red Hot Chili Peppers Under the Bridge instead………… 😆

 

 

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Down 750 feet in one minute. Down some more, for a total of 830 feet, underground.

Where can one get this exhilarating experience?

Grab your gear, and let’s go spelunking!

Or don’t grab your gear and just sit back and enjoy some really bad pictures I took yesterday……………… 😆

(Yes, I really DO have a life on occasion, and sometimes that happens on the actual weekend, which is why you’ve no doubt noticed my lack of Trefextra weekend writing.  :lol:)

My brother and his family (wife and four kids, all of whom are pretty evenly matched with mine age-wise) are on a trip out west. As all of our kids have gotten older, I think we’re finding ourselves in a “last vacation before they go off and leave us forever and ever and ever” mode. Ok, well, at least the older ones are getting close to graduating from high school, which means our time is limited to drag them around while they’ll put up with us.

Surprisingly, we rated a visit. 😀 I’ve tried to convince myself that they came to get the “farm chicken experience” before getting their “dude ranch experience” in Phoenix tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the reason. 😉

No, really, they came to see us.  😆 And lucky for us, they were willing to carpool with us down to Carlsbad Caverns. We’ve been there a few times before, but have never taken this particular tour.

Before you whiz past my drivel to get to the awful pictures, can I just say one thing?

If you have a bucket list, this national park should be on it. I promise you- there is nothing else like it, anywhere in the world. Really. Even if you’ve gone to other National Park caves, like Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, you will not see anything like this anywhere else. (my brother and his family just went to Mammoth Cave last summer, and they all agree that Carlsbad Caverns was very different much more interesting, fwiw)

Even though we’ve been there several times, it never gets old. There is no physical way to remember everything, and honestly, it’s just so incredible, you can’t see everything in one shot. You could spend a lifetime in there and still see something new each time.

Yep. This isn’t just your average deep, dark hole. Obviously, I could go and on and on, but I’ve already spent 6 hours sifting through pictures and re-sizing so I can share them here. And, unless you get there in person, there is no way to get depth and scale, which is unfortunate.

Before we get started, here are some links you’ll want to check out later:

Carlsbad Caverns, National Park

Cavern History

So. You can either ride the elevator down or hike down. We were planning on hiking out, so we decided to take the elevator down so we wouldn’t miss our tour. The hike in or out is 1.25 miles, and covers a depth of 750 feet.

To give you perspective, this is the equivalent of a 75 story building. There are guidelines for hiking in or out, as you can imagine, because they are not real happy if they have to hike down and rescue someone. The hike both ways takes about 45 minutes to an hour, so if you have a scheduled tour, you’ll want to be sure to take your travel time into account.

The people coming down were all saying there was no way they were going to hike out. The rangers told us they’ve had to rescue more people who were hiking down than hiking out, which I thought was interesting.

When you get to the bottom, you’ll think you are in a space ship of some sort.

They do sell some stuff, but we didn’t hang around, so I’m not sure if they sell anything different down in the cave than what they are selling in the gift shop on the surface. They used to have a little cafeteria down there, from what we’ve heard, but we have never seen any food available. Be sure to eat and go to the bathroom before you hit the trail.

Because we were doing the guided tour, we bypassed the self tour, and did that after. A few years ago, they closed off the rooms on the King’s Palace tour because people were destroying the stalactites. They did a count, and in a period of 3 years, over 10,000 stalactite points had been taken or otherwise damaged. The ranger told us that they continue to get end pieces mailed back to them, years after they had been snapped off. Sad.

Let’s go over some verbiage:

Stalactites: hangy downies

Stalagmites: growing uppies

Soda Straws: baby hangy downies

Like my technical terms?  😆 If you want actual definitions, here you go: National Parks Glossary- Definitions and Images.

One of the first things we saw was a dead bat, still hanging on the wall.

See the scary face?

I would NOT want to be under that when it came crashing down!

Looking straight up at the ceiling

Scary-faced dude

Can you see the hippo?

This is an actual ladder used by the guy who discovered the caverns.

Wormhole in the ceiling....well, that's what I'm calling it. 😉

Surprisingly, there are insects that live way down there in the dark. In this case, it’s a cricket, and what happens to it is straight out of the movie Alien. Don’t read this next part if you are easily freaked or grossed out.

This cricket is drawn to the water that’s down in the cave pools. This is the same water that the horsehair worm lays its eggs in. The water- with the worm eggs- is drunk by the cricket. When the worm is mature, it sends a homing beacon of sorts to the cricket, which is then inclined to go back to the pool. When it gets to the water, the worm explodes out of the host bug, emerging from its innards. Of course, the host bug is killed.

Apparently, there is a kind of roach that is affected this way as well. Since roaches (in addition to candida {aka yeast}) will no doubt be on this earth long after every other form of life has expired, I am not too worried about some of them getting possessed and exploding.

Nope, I am not making this up. If you’re not too grossed out yet, you can read more about it here.

Moving on!  😆

This was a single large dome mushroomy structure; I just went around to get pictures of all side, because it was just that amazing! There was water pooled all underneath it, although I’m not sure you can see it well on pictures of this size.

What you can’t see in the top picture is that it looks like a stage with a bunch of dolls; hence the name. 🙂

At some point, we had finished the self tour area, too, and it was time to leave. We had already been there over 3 hours, and the natives kids were getting hungry. It was time to figure out who was going to hike out….

Now, bear in mind that it’s been in the low 90s the last few days. Because the cave stays a constant 56 degrees, I was wearing capri jeans and a hoodie. (You’ll be proud of me, though- I left the gloves at home :D) I was not looking forward to being sweaty in 56 degrees and then emerging into 90 plus heat. Not much a person could do about it, though. The hike up was not too bad overall, we didn’t think.

This reminded me of being in Seattle………  except going uphill all the way, of course…….

As we were nearing the top and could see daylight, we could hear the incoming folks saying,” Wow, look at how cool it is down here already!” Yep. It was pretty darn hot when we got to the top.

One thing we learned was that bat guano (bat poop, which used to mined there) smells a bit like chicken poo. 😆  I have to say, though, I took a poll, and most of the kids agreed that our chicken poo wasn’t as strong smelling as the guano.  😀

Cave entrance/exit on the surface........

Amphitheater for watching the bats fly out at dusk during the summer. Very cool stuff!

Desert landscape, fwiw.

That's the Visitor's Center over there; you can see the distance from the cave entrance.

It is DEFINITELY worth the drive or the flight, no matter where you are coming from. What I really like about this is that there are numerous tours you can take, or you can just do the self-guided tour. As we were coming out, there was another tour headed in, completely geared up with hard hats with headlamp, elbow and knee pads. When I grow up, I might have to think about trying that one!  :mrgreen:

All told, we figure we we traveled about 4 miles total. No one confessed admitted to being exhausted from the walking, but we all did sleep well last night.

Whew!  Did you make it to the end without falling asleep? Thanks for letting me share my pictures of nature’s finest, um, garden gnomes. 😉

I’ve kept some of these pictures pretty large, so you might be able to see more detail (like the water, for example) if you click on them and view them in another window.

Here are some more links you might find interesting:

Cave activities

Natural features and ecosystems– you will not regret the time you spend on this section!

Good Professional pictures

I didn’t take pictures, but you may have heard there was a fire last year that resulted in the park closing for a little bit. While you can see the burn scars, much of the plant life is coming back, and there is new growth.

If you have a National Park near you, be sure to get out and visit. You’d be surprised what you might find in your backyard!

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