Thursday, February 5, 2009

Carlsbad, New Mexico

After we left Taos, Annette and I headed for Santa Fe. Santa Fe is such a gorgeous place one could spend many days poking around in its historical buildings, museums, art galleries and shops. We settled for a trip to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, the Cathedral, the Indian merchants along the Plaza, some of the many shops and galleries that line the quaint, narrow streets downtown. We stopped for a great lunch at the Plaza CafĂ©. We topped off meal with a taste of the apple pie that we bought to take back to the campground with us. The deserts were so inspiring that Annette actually asked for permission to go behind the counter to photograph them! This naturally resulted in our pieces of pie being somewhat more generous than normal. Now this was no ordinary apple pie: this apple pie was laced with pecans and a generous measure of cinnamon, topped with a wonderful caramel concoction. Then it was back to the campground to regroup for our trip down south to Carlsbad and warmer weather - and to eat the rest of our pie.

As we were leaving Santa Fe, we stopped at a Victoria’s Secret – and I survived Annette’s bra shopping expedition. (Her daughters will know what I mean!) New undies in hand, we started down route 285. Route 285 between Santa Fe and Carlsbad can only be described as desert and more desert. As we neared Carlsbad, I exclaimed to Annette, “Look, there’s a tree” which had us erupting in gales of laughter when we realized that sighting a tree was actually an event!

Yesterday we explored Carlsbad Caverns’ easily accessible “big room”. There are no words that I can use to describe the beauty of this awe-inspiring place. On the way down the 850 foot (75 storey) elevator ride from the visitor centre, the attendant called the cavern “nature’s Cathedral”. This was clearly an understatement. We took lots of pictures but, alas, I can’t seem to download either Annette’s photos or my own into the computer. Last night I spent a couple of hours reinstalling the software and actually reading the instructions all to no avail. I will try again in a couple of days when the urge to reject all modern technology leaves me.

As we left the Carlsbad Caverns we took a 9.5 mile loop tour of the desert. The desert can be a very beautiful place and certainly this drive showed it off to its advantage. Some of the cacti were beginning to bloom. It was warm enough to drive with the windows open. It was a lovely way to end our exploring day.

Back in Carlsbad we stopped at a restaurant that was recommended in the AAA Tour Book. We had what can only be described as the worst meal I have ever eaten. In fact, we did not eat much of it at all. Our server was very gracious and agreed that the food was overcooked, tasteless and poorly presented. She sent in the restaurant manager to see us. He was clearly not pleased to see what had come out of his kitchen. We told him that while out server was great, we were very disappointed with the quality of the meal. He took a look at what remained on our plates, assured us that this was not “how we run our business”, promptly picked up our tab and headed for the kitchen. After we finished our tea (we were afraid to try their desserts), we picked up some groceries and headed back to the campground.

Today we are driving north and west to White Sands, an area of pure white sand dunes made of gypsum sand. We’ll spend the night somewhere near there and begin the leisurely northward trek back to Albuquerque tomorrow. Sadly, Annette leaves from Calgary on Sunday.

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