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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Hiking in Carlsbad Caverns, NM, and The Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX: October 22-23, 2021

The next morning there was little obvious evidence of the prior night's storm. The Rio Grande did have a bubble of about four times more water than the river had when we visited two days before and residents of the area were thankful that there was rain to catch in their water tanks.

On the way to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, we drove through Marfa for a very short drive by tour of various concrete art installations. From within our bus, it didn't look like any were worth spending time on. Outside of Marfa we did stop at the never open "Prada Marfa" building. Prada Marfa is just outside of Valentine, Texas, on one side of US Highway 90 and railroad tracks are on the other side. That's it, nothing else. According to the Atlas Obscura website: 

The brainchild of Berlin-based artistic team Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa was meant to be a “pop architectural land art project.” Built of a biodegradable adobe-like substance, the building is meant to slowly melt back into the Earth, serving as a surrealist commentary on Western materialism. Interesting, then, that Miuccia Prada herself was consulted on the project, handpicking the merchandise for the store’s interior and allowing Elmgreen and Dragset to use the Prada logo. Costing a sum total of $80,000 - or, put another way, about 40 Prada handbags - Prada Marfa’s grand opening occurred on October 1st, 2005, and the perplexed press spread the news all across the country.

With all the press coverage, it was only a few days before vandals converged on the site, breaking the windows, looting the store, and graffiting the walls. Elmgreen and Dragset came in and repaired the building, but this time around they’ve taken precautions: all of the store’s Prada wares are heavily alarmed, and stronger windows have been installed to protect the interior from forced entry. Additionally, the handbags have no bottoms and all of the shoes are right-footed. While the vandalism might be the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to Prada Marfa, the site still gets thousands of visitors a year, despite Route 90’s low traffic flow.

Most people buy the artists’ story, but a few vocal dissenters have flooded the internet with conspiracy theories. Some even argue that Prada Marfa is a trap set by aliens meant to attract potential abductees. Visitors beware.

Fortunately, we were not abducted and drove on to hike in Carlsbad Caverns.

The Descent into Carlsbad Caverns
Once inside the caverns the artificial lights gradually decreased in intensity to allow our eyes to adjust to almost total darkness. Visitors are instructed to keep their voices low or not talk because the sound carries easily in the caverns. At times, Dan and I felt we were the only ones inside. It was fantastic and the shapes were also fantastic: stalagmites, stalactites, cave pearls, lily pads, brimstone dams, popcorn formations, and helictites. 

We hiked The Big Room Trail in Carlsbad which is 1.5 miles and an easy 30' elevation gain. This trail follows the perimeter of the cave's largest room of 8.2 acres.

In some areas the formations were as intricate as the exterior of a Thai temple. Some of the "figures" looked like Buddhist sculptural figures especially with the "lily pads."

We overnighted in Carlsbad and the next morning headed back to Texas. Our hike on this last day was The McKittrick Canyon Trail in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park of Texas. The hike was a moderate 6.8 miles with a 300' elevation gain. We walked below the Capitan Reef mountain which was once part of an ocean reef (now a fossilized reef), along a spring fed creek through desert areas, and into a canyon woodlands ecosystem. We ate our bag lunches at the Grotto and headed back to the bus.

Hiking one of the dry stream beds with Capitan Mountain overhead
Deciduous trees were just beginning to show some fall color.

The Grotto
Our last overnight was the return to El Paso where the next morning we caught our flight back home. 


This, Hiking at Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains & Carlsbad Caverns, was our first Road Scholar trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our guides Erin Little and Joe Landreth and the knowledge they shared with us. I liked how varied this itinerary was as well. It was well organized and low stress. With Erin and Joe, there were just 12 of us on this tour.

Erin and her twin sister Erica Little own Big Bend Boating and Hiking Company in Terlingua. They can arrange float trips, canoeing, rafting depending on the depth of the river, hiking, day trips, backpacking trips. 

During our bus journeys when the scenery wasn't spectacular, Erin and Joe put on various DVDs that complemented the areas history. One of the most interesting for me was The River and The Wall. Five friends by bike, horse, canoe, hiking follow the Rio Grande as it flows from El Paso to the Gulf. The scenery is stunning, the wall not so stunning, and while the interviews are of ranchers, residents, environmentalists, farmers who are against the wall their opinions are valid and their voices need to be heeded.