There was a melancholy feeling when we hitched up the camper and pulled away from Medina Lake RV Park. After all it was our home for more than seven weeks. We have many fond memories of our time there. But those feelings were soon replaced by a giddy anticipation of new adventures that lie ahead.
We picked-up our westward journey along I-10 right where we left off and made it as far as Ozona, the “Biggest Little Town in the World”, where we stayed on private property for three nights. It was through Boondockers Welcome that we found this quiet hilltop location. The hosting couple were very friendly and accommodating. We enjoyed our daily chats where we learned so much about the local area and its history.
We did a little exploring around town. There was a old-time town square with shops and restaurants. In the center of the square is a lovely park shaded by large pecan trees where we stopped to eat a take-out lunch. There are statues and historic plaques depicting the rich history of the area. Overlooking the park is the iconic Crockett County Courthouse.
Outside of town are thousands of acres of untouched land. We took a drive along U.S. Highway 290 to see the dramatic views of the Pecos River Valley. The historic Chihuahua Trail passed through this area. The view from Sheffield overlook gave us a glimpse of what lies ahead.
Moving on after three nights in Ozona we finally made it out of Texas. We stayed at White City RV Park in New Mexico. It’s really not much more than a parking lot with RV hookups, but it does have one thing going for it … it’s location. Located just outside the front entrance to Carlsbad Caverns it’s a popular and hard to get location under normal circumstances. However, with the current national park closures we had no problems making reservations.
You might be wondering why we came here. The park is closed…right? Well, not entirely. Yes, all the buildings are closed. The visitor center, the gift shops, the bathrooms are all closed. Even the main attraction, the cavern tours are closed. But the gates are open and we found plenty to explore and see.
It’s a rare experience to have a national park all to yourself. On our early morning drive up to the cavern we stopped at every pullout and walked out to all the historic and scenic locations, never once passing another human. At the top we walked down to the entrance of the cavern where we saw the Amphitheater (more on that later). We drove the one-way 9.5 mile unpaved Desert Loop through Walnut Canyon again stopping at all the points of interest along the way.
In the afternoon, we went to the Black River Recreation Area where we found the Cottonwood Day Use Area. In among the cottonwood trees are picnic tables, a wildlife viewing platform, a toilet and an old fashion swimming hole where locals residence spend their summer afternoons.
Not far away, in an obscure area of the national park, we also found Rattlesnake Springs. It’s a true hidden oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert. The crystal clear spring has provided a water source for thousands of years.
We drove back up to the amphitheater at the Carlsbad Cavern entrance just before sunset for what turned out to be an incredible experience and the highlight of our stay. Grammi read that a colony of Brazilian free-tailed bats reside in the cave from spring through fall and we should not miss the nightly out-flight event.
When we arrived there were only two other people there. So the four of us sat patiently in the amphitheater watching the Cave Swallows dart in and out of the cave entrance. As the sun began to set over the cliffs, an eerie quiet came upon us as the chirping Cave Swallows disappeared. Then a faint sound started coming from deep inside the cave alerting us the bat flight was about to beginning. Suddenly a cloud of bats came out of the cave and flew in a spiraling circle upward and then flew away in what looked much like a swarm of bees. A breeze from the thousands of swirling flying bats gave a slightly pungent odor from within the cave.
It was a continuous wave of bats. We sat mesmerized until it became so dark we couldn’t see anymore, although we could still hear them over our heads. We had read there are upwards of a half a million bats in the colony and it can take about three hours for them all to leave the cave. We did not take any photos of the event. There were signs posted everywhere warning not to use any electronic devises including cellphones and cameras as this has an adverse effect on the bats flight. I did a search on Youtube and found a few videos posted that gives an accurate view of what we saw. Here is a link to one of the videos: https://youtu.be/yLufIO5fZ6o
The next morning we took a day trip to Sitting Bull Falls in the Lincoln National Forest. It was more than an hours drive over a bumpy road through the scrubland. It was certainly worth the trip to see this beautiful 150 foot falls. The cool mist was refreshing on this warm, sunny day. We sat and put our feet in the pool at the base as we enjoyed the picnic lunch that grammi packed. The relaxing sounds of cascading water soothed the soul.
I have no regrets coming here to Carlsbad Caverns at this time. Of course, it would of been nice to have taken a tour of the caverns but now we have a reason to return someday. The things we did do and the sight we saw made this a special experience for us.
Please like this blogpost and leave a comment.
Until next time…Stay Safe.