The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Next Up....Carlsbad Caverns

Friday morning we left Fort Stockton heading northwest to Carlsbad Caverns on Hwy 285....not a great highway to start with and you share with a lot of trucks. Nevertheless, we made it safely to the Caverns just after lunchtime. It wasn't cold outside but we knew it would be quite cool in the cave so light jackets are advised. You have many choices of how to do Carlsbad Cavern. We chose to take the elevator all the way down and do a self tour of the Big Room Cavern. You can choose to hike in through the Natural Entrance but it is a long hike and steep....not our cup of tea. You can also do Ranger tours of other parts of the caverns but you need to make reservations ahead of time. It is great to have a National Park Pass and even better if you have the Senior Pass as the Big Room tour is.....free. They do have parking for RVs in the first lot.

This is a very neat sculpture in the lobby representing bats flying out of the caverns. The bats cave is off limits so you don't have to worry about bats during your tour.

There is lighting in different spots in the cavern. You do a circular tour that is about 1.3 miles. There is a short cut if that is too far for you to walk. We did the whole tour.

If you look at each of the pictures, some are better than others, but you can see that the cave is not the same all the way through even in this very large room.




These are called the lions tails. 




This looked like sheets of paint....very different from the other stalactites which were sharply pointed.


It was a lot of fun deciding what the different formations looked like.


This is a ladder used by earlier explorers down into the lower caves.  Never in a million years....

After our tour of the caverns, we headed north to the SKP Ranch. Birdie and I belong to Escapees and Mary Jane was able to come as our guest. We had a wonderful night with electric, water, and sewer hookups for $14/night plus electric. My electric bill was $ .70. The park is very nice. We were able ro rent lots that owners were currently not using. It's a beautiful park and the residents are very friendly. They have great reverse osmosis water now and the wifi is also good. This was my first night at an SKP park and it won't be the last.

Saturday morning we were off to Valley of Fires BLM park near Carrizozo NM.

On the Road Again......Ft Stockton TX

On the road again and, oh, it feels so good. My friend Birdie headed out Monday because she had a stop to make in Kerrville for new tires and maybe some other minor work. Mary Jane and I met at 9 AM on Wednesday and headed to meet up with Birdie. We initially planned to meet up in Junction, TX, on I-10. Birdie finished up early on Monday so she went on to Ft Stockton. My reservation for South Llano River State Park in Junction was cancelled due to flooding at the park and, it was only noon when we arrived there so we decided to keep right on trucking down the road. We caught up with Birdie in Fort Stockton just in time for supper. She fixed a fantastic pizza and, yes, we do use our RV ovens. We decided to stay two nights in Fort Stockton so we could see the sites. My son and DH insist there aren't any but you'll see that isn't right. We stayed at the Parkview RV and Mobile Home Park.  It isn't fancy with a lot of amenities but it is quiet and offers electric, water, and sewer and it is a Passport America park so it was only $13/night. They do have a laundry.
 
 
The next morning we headed to the Visitor's Center is an old a train station built in 1911. The staff is friendly and have lots of information available for tourists.


Also, on the grounds is a replica of Comanche Springs.

Comanche Springs was an important location on the Comanche War Trail.

Comanche Springs was once one of the largest artesian springs in Texas pumping 60 million gallons of water per day. The springs were used by a number of Indian tribes as well as settlers passing through the area. Water was critical to travelers who planned their travel from water hole to water hole rather than just a straight line. A distance of 20 to 25 miles per day was considered a good day when traveling.

Camp Stockton was established in 1858. It was abandoned during the Civil War and re-established in 1867. Two regiments of cavalry composed of  "colored" men were led by Col Robert Hatch manned the fort. The Indians admired the colored troops strength and stamina and called them the Buffalo soldiers.

This is a replica of the Comanche Springs as they looked when flowing. Due to heavy irrigation use pulling water from the aquifer supplying the springs, the real springs flow only in the winter when irrigation is not in use.

Next we headed toward Old Town Fort Stockton. You can get a map at the Visitor's station which provides a driving tour of all the important sites.

Our first stop was Fort Stockton itself. Contrary to movie images, most forts at least in the southwest did not have stockades. You could see anyone approaching the fort due to the dust they would raise and the wide open views across the plains. This wagon at the fort was used in a number of John Wayne western movies.

This is the Guard House. Up to 15 or 20 men would often be put in a room designs for only a couple. The one cell for solitary confinements had no windows or air vents and there was no heat for the cells either.


Birdie and Mary Jane are walking towards the Officers Quarters.


The enlisted men were housed in barracks like these.

After we visited the fort and the fort museum, we had lunch at B's Diner in Old Town. Obviously a locals favorite, the food was good and the service very friendly. We had the brisket and sausage special for $10 serve yourself including sides, a salad bar, and dessert. Their hamburger has also won many awards.

After lunch we stopped at the Grey Mule Saloon for a wine tasting. That was fun too.

Right across the street, we visited the Annie Riggs Museum. Annie was the daughter and sister of sheriffs. Her first marriage in 1877 to James Johnson, the first sheriff of Pecos County, didn't last.  While married to James, she ran the Johnson Hotel, a popular boarding house. She then married Barney Riggs in 1891, a gunman who was released from prison when he saved the warden's life during a prison riot. She opened the Riggs Hotel and ran it as a boarding hotel. She also divorced Riggs who was later killed by her son-in-law in self-defense while negotiating the divorce.  Annie was quite a woman.

The Riggs Hotel is now the Annie Riggs Museum.

The rooms all open either onto a private courtyard or onto a large wrap-around porch.

Each room contains different items from the time period.

Transportation of the day.


This is the old jailhouse.


St Stephens Episcopal Church.

The Hovey School Building complete with outhouse.

This is the famous Fort Stockton Roadrunner statue.


Friday morning on our way to Carlsbad Caverns........