Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Upper and Lower Emerald Pools Hike in Zion

We were getting to the end of our Zion National Park vacation and decided to get shuttle passes one last time.

I wasn’t difficult, I logged in right at 9am and scored passes for the next day at 11am.

We did have to wait a few minutes for the shuttle, but not very long.

We took the shuttle to the Grotto where we exited for the Upper Emerald Pools trail.

The guidebook describes the hike as “Minor drop-offs. A sandy and rocky trail that climbs to the Upper Emerald Pool at the base of a cliff.” They feel the need to point out no swimming is allowed.

View along the trail looking toward the Virgin River

One of the rocky portions of the trail

The hike climbs about 200 feet in a 1-mile hike.

There are a couple of spots that are a little rocky and some spots are mildly steep.


The first part of the trail follows along above the Virgin River

Once we reached the Upper Pools, I had to laugh at the no swimming policy. At the time of year we were there, the Upper Pool is more of a large puddle. I’m sure during high rain and snow melt periods it’s a lot different.

The Upper Emerald Pools

Instead of heading back to the Grotto, we opted to take a turn and hike past the Lower Emerald Pools and to the Zion Lodge.

Once we reached the lower pools, it’s an easy paved hike, dropping about 69 feet in 1.2 miles.  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Zion Side Trip

When I was planning for our trip to Zion National Park, I noticed that we would be just about 100 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I’ve been to the South Rim several times, but never made the trek around the canyon to see the North Rim. We decided to make it a day trip.

We started out in the morning by driving out the West gate of the park. It’s quite the drive, a steep climb with lots of hair pin turns.

After leaving the tunnel (which is quite the engineering feat), the drive is pretty easy. We stopped for lunch at the Jacob Lake in Arizona, about ½ way to the Grand Canyon.

We were amazed at how much of the forest has burned recently.

After a little more driving we arrived at the entrance to the North Rim.

We drove to several look-out points and wandered around. It was much like the South Rim, just less crowded and 1000 feet higher elevation (we wandered out to point Imperial, at 8800 feet the highest point in the park)

The roads are pretty narrow, and the jerks in SUV’s and large trucks speeding around corners using both lanes can make for some white knuckle moments, but it was worth the drive.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The River Walk Trail

I made sure that for our second day we had a reservation for the shuttle bus in Zion National Park. To keep traffic down to a minimum, they don’t allow most visitors to drive into the park (the exception is visitors staying in the hotel in the park).

Making the reservation was easy, I made sure I was online the day before at 9 am sharp to get the tickets as soon as they went on sale. Each ticket cost $1.

When we got to the shuttle area, I overheard one person complaining that you had to get to the park at 6 am to get in line for a chance at a shuttle ticket. I’m not sure how she came up with that idea, but she was angry, and I wasn’t about to tell her she was wrong.

We planned on heading up to the Temple of Sinawava and taking the River Walk trail, and maybe trying part of the Narrows trail, which starts at the end of the River Walk. My nephew told me he had taken the Narrows trail a couple of years ago, and he suggested that we should give it a try.

Along the River Walk Trail

He also mentioned something about regretting not getting the boots before trying to walk in the river.

I had read, and the bus driver confirmed, that there was a toxic algae bloom in the rivers and that you should try to stay out of the water.

On the way up the canyon, we noticed that a lot of people had the same type of hiking boots. Turns out they had rented the hiking gear my nephew had mentioned.

The River Walk trail is mostly paved, but in several areas you can get off the cement trail and walk along the river.

Overall a nice hike, no real hills so it is a really easy trip.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Zion Day One

Zion National Park doesn’t allow automobiles in the park for most of the year. Visitors are required to ride on a park service shuttle bus or in one of the approved shuttles. Currently you must purchase a $1 ticket and make a reservation to board the bus.

The reservation can be made a few weeks in advance or after 9 a.m. the day before you want to go.

We missed the early reservation window, so I was up before 9 and on the computer at exactly 9 a.m. to secure our ride.

Since we didn’t have a reservation on the first day, so we went to the Northern Entrance of the park at the Kolob Canyons.

A stop along Kolob Canyon Road

We drove the Kolob Canyon Road to the scenic overlook at the end of the road. From there we hiked the Timber Creek Overlook trail.

The View from the Scenic Overlook

It’s not a long hike, but it was a great way to start our Zion adventure.

One of the rougher parts of the trail

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Arriving in Zion

As we left the Seven Magic Mountains, we had made it approximately half-way to our destination. The remainder of the drive was fairly uneventful, save for the credit card fraud we encountered just a few miles into Utah. Yep, my card got scanned and I got a fraud alert almost immediately.

A selection of merch at the gas station where my card got compromised. 

We arrived at the hotel about 7pm, checked in and then went to the front desk for suggestions on where to have dinner.

View of the hotel taken the next morning.

That’s when we found out that most of the restaurants in Springdale close at 9:30 pm. We headed to the steak house nearby, I figured that being the more expensive option, they may still have an opening.

We were told that we would need to wait, which we didn’t mind.

Turns out we made it just in time, the next couple got turned away.

The bacon wrapped meat loaf at the Switchback Grill.

It was a really good meal, we made up our minds to make a reservation and come back at least one more time.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Seven Magic Mountains

A couple of years ago, I noticed some very colorful rock stacks just off Interstate 15 just outside of Los Vegas, NV.

Since we didn’t have any real plans for stops along the way, we decided to pull off the main road and take a look. 

Two of the Seven Magic Mountains

According to the interpretive signs, the “Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now. What centers this amalgam of contradictions is the spiritual aspiration, one the bruises, elevates and transcends.”

Now, I don't consider myself to be an expert on art. In fact, I think I was about to be asked to leave the MOCA in LA for making a comment about a large installation piece during a tour. It was a joke, but the docent didn't find it particularly funny (although my wife did, and she is the only audience that matters).

I tried to elicit "continuities and solidarities between human and nature," but was left instead with a strong desire to find some colorful marshmallows. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Heading to Zion

So, after being locked down for months, after having three scheduled trips cancelled, we finally are hitting the road once again.

After Hawaii extended the two-week mandatory quarantine, we dropped that trip and made plans to head to Zion National Park in Utah.

There were several reasons that Zion made sense. First, it was on my list of places I really wanted to visit. Also, my wife has mentioned that she wants to see most, if not all, of our National Parks.

Looking at the Covid maps, the area around Zion is almost virus free. It doesn’t mean that there are no risks but driving to an area and partaking in outdoor activities seemed like a pretty safe plan.

When we left for the 5 ½ hour drive to Springdale, Utah, we planned on stopping several times along the road to get out of the car and stretch our legs.

The first stop was in Baker California, home to the “World’s Tallest Thermometer,” and yes, it’s a thing.

Instead of checking out the 134’ lighted thermometer, we headed over to the “Alien Jerky” store.

Even the lights in the parking lot are Aliens. 

As if a 134’ thermometer wasn’t kitschy enough, Baker is home to an “Area 51” inspired store that specializes in all types of dried meats. 

Detail of the hotdog stand

They must be making some money, as they are currently expanding by adding a themed hotel and hot dog stand.

The Hotdog stand isn't open yet, but looks like it may be soon.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Getting Ready To Hit The Road

It’s about time.
After having the last three trips we planned canceled, we are finally getting ready to hit the road.

We had planned on going to Vancouver right as the virus hit.

Then we had planned a flight to Florida and a Panama Canal cruise. When those both went south, we scheduled a trip back to Hawaii, which we haven’t been to since we were stationed there in the early 1980’s. 

The 18 year-old sexy version of me in Hawaii in the early 1980's. 

All those trips would have included an airplane flight. So, since that is still a bit shaky, we are hitting the road in our shiny new Jeep. 

I don’t remember the last time we did a long road trip, but it might have been when Kenny and I drove across the entire country, which I reprinted the blog entries a couple of months ago.

Canon at Shiloh from my trip to Washington DC.

Now we are getting ready for a slightly shorter trip, we are only trekking a mere 345 miles to Zion National Park.

I’m looking forward to the trip, but as usual I may be over planning a little.

I know the main activity at Zion is hiking. I have been walking as much as I can, but mostly on level ground. I don’t think that will be the case in Utah.

The first thing I bought was a paracord bracelet, with a compass, emergency whistle, small cutting edge and fire starter. When unwoven it gives you about 6 feet of 550 cord.

I then found a new first-aid kit. I used to have one when I shot a lot of off-road races. You never know when you’ll need some bandages and medical supplies. Better to have a complete kit.

Also, I injured my right ankle about two years ago, and I’m still having issues with it. So, I did some research and bought a new ankle brace.

And then I got to thinking, we are going to be hiking, and there won’t be a ready supply of safe drinking water, so I bought us new backpacks with hydration systems.

Then, I thought, I need a way to mount a GoPro camera to my backpack, so I bought a new camera strap mount.

I knew that I would want to have at least one camera (cuz I am a photographer after all). But I realized that my current camera strap would bind in the straps for my backpack. So, I found a camera mount that attached to the straps on the backpack.

I already had the GoPro 8 Black and the enhanced audio mod. I thought, well, maybe I needed a lav mic. I did pick one up, but the test audio was better with the GoPro audio mod.

Me with the new hydration system, GoPro 8 with backpack mount and Canon camera with backpack mount.

I then did some reading about the hiking trails around Zion and checked with all my friends and family that have been there for recommendations. One of the things I learned is that using “trekking poles” can reduce the strain on your knees and ankles, as well as helping prevent falls. So I bought us both new trek poles.

Now, I figured that getting lunch might be an issue. After all, we planned to be hiking in the “wilderness” so the nearest fast-food offerings might not fit with our plans. For that reason, I included paper plates, silverware, solo cups, an ice chest, and some other culinary comfort items into the plan.

Did I mention that we are staying in a hotel? Well, I’m running out of time, but I think we may have to stop at the Bass Pro Shop in Las Vegas to pick up some last minute gear/supplies.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Little History

Today I am in a pretty good mood, I have sent in the first draft of my book to the publisher.

I've been working on a book that is basically a pictorial history of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin.

Its not perfect, but I think it will be pretty popular, at least locally.

I don't know this guys name, but he was a cook at the US Army Armor and Desert Training Center in the 1950's. The AADTC is now the National Training Center

Saturday, July 18, 2020


I never finished the entry for the final leg of my journey to Washington DC and back. So even though its been several years, I guess I’ll finish it now.

The route from Kingman to home is actually pretty familiar territory. I’ve driving this part of Route 66 many times.

One of my favorite spots along the Mother Road is The Hackberry General Store. The best part is the pretty eclectic collection of “stuff” laying around the outside of the store.

A little further along the road is Roy’s Motel and Café in Amboy. When I first saw Roy’s it was pretty run-down. The motel rooms were in bad shape, the doors missing, paint almost gone. I’m sure the only ones living there were desert creatures.

In 2003 the motel and café were purchased by Albert Okura who has been slowly restoring the site.

From Amboy it was a uneventful drive the rest of the way home.

I was glad to be back, but was disappointed that my trip was cut short.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Almost Home

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Return Trip Day 5:

Today I was up and out of the hotel by about 8:30. Drove to old town Albuquerque and looked around. Seems like it would be a very interesting place, when the stores are open and the weather is nice.

Left and headed west along old Route 66. Drove for quite a while, stopped at several “trading posts” once I got near the Indian reservations.

I have noticed that if the billboard for an “Indian” shop advertises cheep tobacco, it is most likely run by actual Native Americans. If the store does not advertise tobacco, it is run by non-natives. The big deal here is at the non-native store, you are just a likely to find products made in China as made by real Native Americans. There are some exceptions, but they usually loudly proclaim their tribal affiliation on the signs. I, for one, like to buy my trinkets from the real deal.

As I approached Flagstaff, AZ, it started to snow, and it kept snowing. I got onto the highway and headed out of the area as fast as I safely could. They are expecting about 10 inches of snow today, 10-16 inches tomorrow and about 5 feet more by the end of the week.

Staying tonight on old 66 in Kingman, AZ. Tomorrow I head home. I can’t wait.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Birthday Tacos

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Return Trip Day 4:

Not a bad day today. I got up early and had breakfast at the hotel. Departed before the sun came up and headed out along Route 66. The weather was nice, a little cold, but bearable.

Sunrise in Texas

Route 66 follows Interstate 40 thru most of New Mexico, but when you hit the Pecos River, it turns north and heads into Santa Fe. From there, it turns south and goes into Albuquerque.

Another Old Rusty Car

All in all, a pretty decent drive, however, many of the owners of the vintage buildings on old 66 don’t want you to take pictures or get out and look at the buildings (in fact I think you’re supposed to close your eyes as you pass). Lots of fences around interesting items, but what can you do.

Old Neon Sign on Route 66
I got into Albuquerque about 4 pm and checked into the hotel. Walked down the street to a little Mexican restaurant and had carne asada tacos and Dos XX for dinner. It was pretty good.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Rain, Rain, Go Away

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Return Trip Day 3:

I left Arkansas about 9:30 am and headed toward Tulsa Oklahoma. The idea was to find Route 66 and photograph the sections of the Mother Road from Tulsa to Kingman Arizona.

I have already spent quite a bit of time shooting from Kingman to Santa Monica, California, and was hoping to be able to complete the highway from the Dust-bowl to the sea.

That would only leave from Chicago to Tulsa that I have not been able to travel. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Most of the day was drizzle and rain. Oh well, maybe next time.

Tonight I had dinner at the Big Texan, home of the 72oz steak. Didn’t even think about ordering it. I had a nice meal. It’s been just over 25 years since I ate at the Big Texan; it’s as good as the memory.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

In Search of Hiram

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Return Trip Day 2:

Today was truly interesting.

As I was driving yesterday I saw a sign for the Shiloh National Battlefield Park. Once I got to the hotel, I looked on the map and realized it was only about one hour away.

Now I would guess that the battle of Pittsburg Landing means little to nothing to most people. I however have been fascinated with the battle ever since learning that I am a direct descendant of a man who may have been the oldest participant in the battle.

Hiram Holiday was 78 years old when he volunteered to take the place of his son, John Roger Holiday, in the Union Army. It was a common practice at the time, they really didn’t care who showed up, as long as someone did.

Hiram ended up with the 61st Illinois Volunteers, who were a part of the Army of Tennessee under General Ulysses Grant. The 61st was assigned to General Prentiss’ 6th division. The 6th took a beating on the first day of the battle, eventually defending a piece of ground known as the “Hornets Nest.” When the Confederates couldn’t take the ground by infantry assault, they formed an artillery barrage that was the largest in American history, and lay siege to the area. Over 60 canon concentrated fire on the defenders of the Hornets’ Nest who held out long enough for Grant to establish a defensive position.

In a letter to his wife, Lester B. Fillay, writes of the battle:

“Doubtless you will have read this account of the terrible Battle before this comes to you. I will not relate particulars til I come home I will mention a few items, David Culver is mortally wounded, Capt Haggard was wounded and can’t be found. Also Capt Mann. There were 18 killed, 30 missing and 43 wounded in our regiment. Old Man Holliday is among the missing.”

The Hornets Nest

Hiram was captured, along with General Prentiss; he was taken to Camp Oglethorpe in Georgia, where he died from disease.

I walked around the battlefield, trooped the line along the sunken road, searching for a placard to the 61st. Finally about 1pm I came across one. It was on the far right flank of Prentiss’ line at a place called the Peach Grove.

The Marker in the Peach Grove to the 61st Illinois Infantry

It was almost surreal to walk the fields, knowing Hiram took his last breath as a free man in those very fields. I am so glad I took the detour.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

On the Road Again

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Return Trip Day 1:

After a couple of days in Washington, DC, I find myself once again on the road, this time without Kenny as a co-pilot. Even though he spent most of the drive to Washington texting and updating his facebook, I really miss having him in the passenger seat.

This morning I departed Alexandria, and headed west. I stopped in Manassas and had the car checked and the oil changed for the long trip. From there I headed into the Shenandoah Valley. I tried to go to the Shenandoah National Park, but unfortunately it’s closed for the winter.

The Bandstand in Front Royal

After speaking with some real friendly folks at the Front Royal Visitors Center, I decided to take the scenic route and drive along the Stonewall Jackson Highway (Yankees take note, even though they are really friendly, they did mention that in their view the war ain’t over just yet, wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

 It added about two hours to the trip, but it was well worth it. Driving through the farm land, past streams and rivers, and small towns, was a great reminder of how diverse this country is. And amazingly enough, if you get off the freeway and talk to some of the nice folks who inhabit the land between the coasts, you learn how some people and places are still friendly, even if you do have California license plates (of course I’m still leery of anyone with a banjo, ya just can’t be too safe).

There were a lot of old cars just off the Stonewall Jackson Highway
Tomorrow its off to Tennessee.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Welcome to Washington, Now Go Home

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Day 6:

We arrived in Alexandria, VA last night. Got settled into the hotel and went to check email. There was a message from the person I was supposed to start work for on Monday. She said she had gotten a call from the Deputy Garrison Commander of Fort Irwin and he would not support my assignment. The bottom line is I drop Kenny off at the airport tomorrow, and I’ll be heading back early next week.

Today we went to Washington DC. We spent some time in the newly remodeled Museum of American History, the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum.

Still Life from the National Gallery of Art

As I stared at the wonderful still life paintings from the Renaissance era, I noticed that many included some kind of protein, fruit, vegetables and various plates and serving dishes. I assumed in some cases, the artist was painting what would become that nights dinner.

I couldn't help but wonder what a current version of that painting would be considering the modern American diet.

Inspired, I created "Classico vita ancora con il pasto americano modern"

Modern Still Life with American Fast Food

Anyway, tomorrow we will go to the Dulles annex of the Air and Space before I drop Kenny off for his flight home.

The US Space Shuttle Enterprise in the Dulles Annex of the Air and Space Museum

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Of Ice and Men

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Day 5:

We slept in a little today, did not get up until almost 9 am. We woke to a drizzling New Orleans morning. We went to the French Quarter in search of breakfast. At one point, I said something to Kenny about not seeing any real eating establishments on Bourbon St. Kenny pointed out that there were several strip clubs, a brothel or two and bars galore. He also pointed out the gentleman losing his breakfast in the street. As he put it, Dad, we’re in the middle of the freaking red light district at 11 in the morning, what do you expect to see?

New Orleans

We left the Big Easy and headed North East. On the radio the disc jockey kept going on and on about the horrible weather. They announced all kinds of businesses and schools that would be closed today and tomorrow. It started to rain a little bit, but was nothing to get real concerned about.

As we moved out of range of that station, we switched to another station that kept talking about Snowpocalypse 2010. Kenny and I both were thinking “ you must be kidding.”

Later, once the sun went down, we realized that the roads were turning into a sheet of pure ice. We ended up driving at about 20 mph for several hours. When we approached one of the several accidents sites and realized that a police car had run off the road, I told Kenny it might be time to stop. We looked for a place to stay, but there were no hotels along that stretch of highway. I have to say, it was one of the more scary drives I have had.

We made it to Georgia and the roads instantly got much better. We made it to the hotel at a little after 12 pm. Tomorrow we should complete the last leg of our journey and arrive in Alexandria.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Texas Legends, Flat Tires and the Big Easy

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Day 4:

We got up at a decent hour, considering the time we arrived in San Antonio. When I took the first bag to the car, I noticed the driver’s side front tire was low. I asked at the desk and they directed me to the nearest gas station. For some reason I had a tough time getting air into the tire, but we got it filled and went to the Alamo.

I had been warned repeatedly not to get too excited about the Alamo. All of my friends who have been there let me know how small the site is. Even with the warnings, I was amazed at the scale of the site. Now, you have to realize, most of the fortifications have been destroyed, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not “museum” and all the other businesses around the current site all used to be part of the Alamo. That said, I still was in awe at the thought of what transpired on that piece of land and the effect on the American experiment.

The front of the church at the Alamo

We left the Alamo in a slight drizzle. I had looked closer at the tire, and decided to take the car to the nearest Sears and have the tire replaced (I had noticed some cracks in the side wall). We checked the GPS and headed off to the nearest Sears store. Unfortunately, it must have closed. We checked again and headed to the second choice the magical GPS provided. We found this one pretty easily. I told the clerk I wanted to replace the two front tires on the car, and we headed over to the adjacent mall to buy a couple of CD’s to listen to when the radio stations failed.

San Antonio's famous river-walk, sans water.

We looked around the mall for about 40 minutes and headed back over to the auto center. As we approached the auto center, we noticed the car had not moved (the clerk told us it would take about one hour to change the tires). We went inside and heard the clerk tell the mechanic that he had 35 minutes to finish up our car. Without a word, we walked out and went next store to “Freddies” for some chili fries (which by the way I highly recommend).

After about 30 minutes we went back to the auto center. We went inside to the waiting area, which has a view of the service bays, and I immediately noticed they had removed the back tires from my car. I went out to the clerk and asked him what they were doing. He told me, they had decided my rear tires were worse than the front tires and were replacing them instead. Needless to say, I expressed my dismay at the total lack of common sense they displayed. In the most polite way, I can assure you.

I asked the dumb shit what they could do to make up for the fact they had completely ignored what I asked them to do. He told me that he could do nothing except charge me full price for all four tires. After they finished, and I had paid, I asked DS if the manager was in. He told me the manager would be in the store in about eight days. He said the assistant manager was unavailable (which was funny, because there is a picture of the Asst. Manager in the waiting room and we saw him several times, he was working with a person from their alarm company on the alarm system). So I asked for contact information on the regional manager. Amazingly DS was suddenly able to refund part of the cost of my tires and he gave me credit for the remaining wear on the tires they removed.

After the great tire ordeal, we left San Antonio, and headed to New Orleans. Because of the delay leaving, we landed in Houston during rush hour, which added a little time to our trip. Amazingly it was the first heavy traffic we had seen in four days. We did not arrive in the Big Easy until about 11 pm. We tried to check into the Marriott, unfortunately, there are about four Marriott’s in a few blocks. We were in the JW Marriott, across the street from the one we tried to check into. Turns out to be a very nice place.

The view from the room at the Marriott

After checking in, we asked at the front desk where we should eat, they suggested Daisy Dukes across the street. Great choice, first because it’s open 24 hours, second, because deep fried breaded shrimp rule. Now its time to get some sleep. Tomorrow we are expecting to hit some bad weather for the first time since leaving home.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Aliens, Big Caverns and Long Drives

With the entire world closed, it looks like it may be awhile before I can do any traveling. With that in mind, I’m re-posting from my original blog. This section follows me and my son's trip from California to Washington DC for a temporary assignment. 

Day 3:

Woke up this morning in Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell looks like just about every other small to medium town in the mid-West. In fact, we noticed that most of the towns we drove thru are laid out the same. Main Street, city hall in the center with a park in front and business’ all around. The big difference in Roswell is the businesses around city hall all have an Alien theme. Also, as Kenny pointed out, the whole town smelled slightly of Methane. We shot a few pictures and went in search of breakfast.

We finally found a restaurant (not fast food) the next town south. Not bad, a little family run place. As we started to drive again, we discovered the source of the gas smell. There are hundreds of cattle ranches and dairies just South of Roswell. That solved one mystery, but still unresolved was how the can of gravy got into our luggage; I suspect extraterrestrial pranksters provided us with that sample of the finest of liquid refreshments.

We drove for several hours on a two-lane highway nothing but cows and oil wells on either side of the road. Finally we came to Carlsbad. We decided to take a side tour to the Carlsbad Caverns. Turned out to be a good idea, the caverns were really interesting.

The thing that impressed me the most about Carlsbad Caverns was the US Forest Service employees. Every one of them said hi to us and asked if we needed anything, or if we had any questions. The real star was the woman who helped us at the ticket window. She asked if we had any kind of discount cards, we didn’t. I mentioned to her that I should have one, because of my VA disability. She asked why I didn’t have the card, and when I explained that I haven’t been able to find out how to get one she gave me the paper work and we filled it out on the spot (Every time I asked the Forest Service they said I had to go to the VA, the VA said the Forest Service had to help me). I now have a lifetime pass to all of our National Parks, Yea!

From Carlsbad, we drove to San Antonio, Texas. We knew this would be the longest leg of the trip, but I thought it would never end. We finally arrived at the hotel at 11:30 PM. Now to get some sleep and tomorrow head over to the Alamo.