Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Yoo 716 - Guadalupe Mountains National Park (and the EVENING BAT FLIGHT AT CARLSBAD)

Towards the end of September we stuffed our car full of gear for a dog, a baby, and 3 adults to survive 10 days on the road. It was especially challenging because we were planning on camping most nights. And we still needed room for the dog, baby, and 3 adults in the car while driving.

I had to get creative with the packing list and Greg had to play tetris with the trunk but we made it work. Though if you ever ask Dylan how comfortable she was, remember she only had to pay 75 cents for the trip. It was going to be free but we were scrounging up coins to pay cash for a campsite one night and she had to help supplement.

Despite this, getting out of Texas was the actual hard part. Over seven hours of driving and we were still in Texas! Peanut stretched the drive into nine hours because she only has so much tolerance for her car seat. The second you take her out she's cute as can be. But we survived terrible highway 285 and a wrong turn in Orla, TX (we didn't turn, that was the problem) and made it to our first way point: Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

I think I would like this park. It's hard to tell seeing as how we did absolutely zero hiking because Roscoe isn't allowed on trails. I really really wanted to hike up to Guadalupe Peak (the tallest point in Texas) as it's one of the few remaining items on my Texas bucket list, but it wasn't to be. No convenient dog boarding options!

But it was still a fun place for Skylar's first night camping. We luckily snagged one of the last tent sites on a busy weekend! The tent pads were too small for our super tent so we had to rig a "two-thirds" pitch and hope for a calm night.

Dinner was terrible because we forgot the salt and cheese. I know we bought the cheese because I remember seeing it on the counter. Dylan swears she packed the cheese. We never found the cheese on the trip and still haven't found it anywhere in the house so the case of the missing cheese remains unsolved. But dinner needed the cheese. All the while we were smelling the hot dogs roasting at a neighbor's campsite and looking at each other like, "Why did we try to get fancy with our food??" At least we had peanut butter M&Ms and Starbursts to reward ourselves for eating all the veggies.

Then we drove up to Carlsbad Caverns for the sunset and evening bat flight program. The problem was, I went into the evening bat flight with high expectations. Greg had visited as a boy scout and all through our relationship I've heard about THE EVENING BAT FLIGHT AT CARLSBAD(!!!).

Dating: "Want to go see the bats at Natural Bridge Caverns?" "It's not Carlsbad."

First anniversary (bats at South Congress bridge in Austin): "This is so cool!" "Carlsbad has way more bats."

Everyday life: "These tacos are delicious!" "I guess, but they're not the evening bat flight at Carlsbad."

If only I was exaggerating. Also probably relevant, Dylan and I had just watched Batman Begins (...and Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises...) to further pump ourselves up for the all-consuming tornado of bats that was going to erupt from the depths of the earth in THE EVENING BAT FLIGHT AT CARLSBAD. Also also, Dylan is terrified of bats so at a very minimum I was hoping to enjoy her reaction.

And that's where I'm coming from when I say I was disappointed.

Greg hung out in the parking lot on Roscoe duty while Dylan and I (and Skylar!) walked to the cave entrance. They're really serious about silence during the program and Skylar quietly watched the ranger presentation while we waited for the (all-consuming tornado of) bats. And then it was time. First, a trickle. "Oooooooh! Bats!" And then...a trickle. Minutes later? Still trickling. Any second now...nope. Skylar was the first to voice her frustration and at the evil-eye cue of a park ranger, I got up and walked around with her off by the bathrooms. I still had a perfect view of the trail of bats disappearing off into the sunset.

It was pretty. And went on for close to half an hour. But it didn't quite live up to the hype. And Dylan didn't even get squeamish. We walked back to the car and I had one word for Greg.


In his defense, he was 12 at the time and maybe there were more bats. I don't know. It's my fault for setting expectations off the mind of a 12-year-old boy. I hope I didn't mar his childhood memory too bad with my post EVENING BAT FLIGHT AT CARLSBAD teasing. All the way back to camp.

And then we slept. Peanut all thru the night! I had the genius idea of using the bin that we store all of our sleeping/tent gear in as her crib. I cut a cheap foam camping pad to size, covered it in a pillow, and voila! No need for the bulky pack 'n play. Though that only worked on this trip because it was already a bit of a squeeze. She slept better than I did though. My sleeping pad had a slow leak that I thought I had fixed. Around midnight I discovered that I hadn't.

All funny memories. Even if Roscoe was giving me the stank eye by morning. "Yeah, tomorrow night you guys can just leave me in the car with the air conditioner on. And the whole backseat to myself, thanks."

He still doesn't love camping in Texas.

Have a great day :-)

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