Thursday, May 12, 2011

Carlsbad Caverns, Chihuahuan Desert, and the Hot Enchilada

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

[2010 Out West Road Trip.  Travels with Carol.]

In March 2010, my mother, Carol, and I took a road trip from Missouri to New Mexico, in search of sun and warmth. Here is Day 6 of our road trip. 

Monday, 8 march 10 

We packed our lunches for the day at Carlsbad Caverns. Carol bought a lifetime senior pass for national parks which allowed me to skate in free on her skirt tails. Or shirt tails. Or whatever. We took the elevator down 750 feet to do the self-guided tour of the Big Room. We then walked the 1.1 mile tour. It was damn dark. Carol felt a little sense of ... vertigo? At times, I believe I felt similarly. A fellow traveler, who also felt it, opined that it was due to lack of oxygen. Or having dropped 750 feet. Or the 45,000-year-old guano fumes. Regardless, it didn't delay our tour. It probably took us about two hours. An awful lot to see, or not see, depending on the available light. We agreed Matt Hodges would probably love to visit the cave, albeit on one of the tours requiring crawling through mud.  
When we came up into the light of day, Carol had a nice phone conversation with her niece, Laura. Then we ate our lunch in the car in the parking lot as it was unbelievably windy. I mean windy. From atop the escarpment (which is what we now know the Living Desert Zoo and Garden sits on) where lies the cavern visitor center, you can look out over a vast plain. In the not-too-far distance, you can see the Guadelupe Mountains. Bountiful clouds hovered over the mountains, along with what were evidently great washes of blowing dust. 
After finishing our packed lunches, we took off on the 9.x-mile Chihuahua Desert drive. As I drove, Carol read aloud from the brochure guide at each numbered stop along the route.  We saw the  ubiquitous prickly pear, plus cholla, yucca, ocotillo, juniper, sotol, and other spiny flora.   

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Finally, we headed back to the town of Carlsbad where we went, once again, to the local Walmart, this time for things like band aids, Q-tips, tea, and other boring items.
We dined at a local Mexican restaurant. Carol hankered after a quesadilla, thinking of how good Shilo Girl's are, and I selected the "plain spinach cheese enchiladas." Plain, it turns out, means no meat, which was fine. I got mine with the green sauce. Hot. This place actually had refried beans worth eating.  The heat from the green sauce had a cumulative effect, so by the end of my meal, my lips were afire. Carol decided to have a taste of my enchiladas, so I prepared to scrape off the green sauce from a piece, but she chose to have a bite of the sauce. I tried to warn her off but .... oh, it was painful to watch. And long. She reached for a glass of water, but I counseled her to have a drink of her margarita instead, and that helped some. And then, wretch that I am, had to laugh. Hard.
Photo credit: Darwinino
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
She laughed VERY hard!  I did say very hard, didn't I?  Almost gave the enchiladas back to her.  I've now confirmed I do not like Mexican food and that along with biscuits and gravy I can now wipe them from my consciousness.  Chinese food is nudging its way into the group also. The yesterday tour was unique tho exhausting and I refused to take the occasional shortcuts the self-guided tour offered afraid I would miss something a bit more spectacular then the vaulted ceilings dripping with looked like huge blobs of cement.  Far different from our crystal stalagmite and stalactite caves, this gave the effect of being in a giant stationary cement mixer with superb lighting here and there.  The winding and narrow paths were bordered by waist-high metal banisters and when the paths rose higher I put my hands on both sides and sort of pulled myself up the incline.  The cave is limestone which explains the cement effect.   

At Walmart, Mzuri and I each bought garments to wear when we arrive at some sulphur springs which may be tomorrow.  I, a pair of stretchy navy slacks and scissors to cut the legs into shorts and Mzuri trekking over to the swim suit section to purchase swim shorts (I didn't know swim suits were a part of Walmart's sartorial specialties).   When we shop we usually separate.  Every morning Mzuri makes fresh coffee and serves me while I'm flipping thru the television stations.  So far she has driven the entire way and other than a sneaking feeling that creeps over me that I may forget how to drive or lose my nerve about getting into that bumper car society I do enjoy just vegetating in the passenger set with my feet resting on the paper debris we gather here and there.  Beautiful sunny weather here although windy.


I laughed so hard I started to cry.  I can only imagine how hard you were laughing.  I'm thinking about how I would have reacted with the green sauce, but I learned from someone that I had worked with that the green was hotter than the red.

Mom, if you like grilled beef, chicken, pork and vegetables I would suggest ordering fajitas.  They are sooooo good.  And you can forego the tortilla that comes with them.  Because I know how you don't like that soft tortilla.
The best is a fajita quesadilla.

Or fajita taco salad.  That is what I usually get when we have Mexican.  But yes fajita quesadillas are good as well, I have had those at Chili's.

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