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August 20th, 2013:

Caving

Long long ago (Spring Break in March of 2013) and far far away (Carlsbad, NM), we camped for 5 days with some other families from Dude’s Scout troop for a spring break trip. We had 3 campers and 5 tents . . . it was a BLAST! We stayed at an RV Park that had an indoor pool, so the kids had lots of fun in the evenings.

This was our first time camping with the troop as a family, and we had a blast! Hubby planned the entire trip, so we brought all the food while some other families brought the troop supplies (tables, double-burner propane stove, patrol boxes, etc.). It as 80% scouts and 20% modern camping. We divided into two patrols, and within those patrols, each family had a meal responsibility. It worked out VERY well! I’m an early riser, as is one of the other Dads, so each morning we were out in the chilly mornings. He was heating up the coffee and water for hot chocolate and oatmeal while I was getting out all the other breakfast food and setting up a table with lunch food so everyone could assemble their sack lunch for the day.

Here’s Princess on the first morning, enjoying some Cheerios out of the wind in the back of the 4Runner :-)

 

And the rest of the folks milling about trying to wake up, stay warm, eat breakfast, and pack lunch before 8:00 a.m. departure!

 

The first day, our patrol got to go on a cave tour that required a 45 minute moderate hike up quite a hill. It wasn’t too difficult, but it was nice that they gave us a lot of time so we didn’t hate the tour before it even started 😉 We stopped at the visitor center first for our briefing and to get fitted for gloves (to protect the fragile cave) and a helmet with a headlamp.

Our patrol on the way up:

 

The cave was VERY neat! There is a locked gate to block people from getting in and vandalizing. The really crazy thing? After we all go in, the lock the gate behind us! Sure hope the guides don’t get hurt or sick! :-) We got a briefing at the top while we were still in the light. Then we hiked down the trail following one guide and having the comfort of the other guide at the end of our group. Here’s a view of the cave entrance from just a couple yards down the trail. Thank goodness for headlamps!

 

Our guide was awesome and very knowledgeable. He was so good with the kids and so patient with all of their questions. Here they are listening while he explained the mining that had taken place and talked about all the trash and litter that the miners had left behind (samples were still there) and how it affected the cave.

 I don’t have many more photos from inside the cave because it was DARK! :-) We had to use some ropes to climb up hills and try really hard not to touch the fragile stuff. We got to see the largest pile of bat poop (guana) ever – it really was amazing, if you can believe it. In the guana pile you could see bat skeletons! Ewwwwwwww! There weren’t any bats that used that cave anymore – thank God! We also go to experience the total darkness when everyone turned off their headlamps, then the guide moved his hands and we saw a naturally fluorescent rock shining. Very cool!

We got to climb to an area of the cave where they actually shot some movie scenes, which was also very neat. While the cave tour was great, it was also nice to be back outside in the light and feeling a bit less vampireish. The boys give a thumbs up for an awesome cave tour!

 

 

I like this photo and hate this photo. It looks like a graduation picture!

 

 

The hike down the hill back to the vehicles where an awesome picnic lunch and much water and Gatorade awaited!

 

 

None of us wanted to go back to camp yet, and nobody was really interested in starting a hike at 2:00 p.m. on a hot day, so some of us decided to go to Texas! Why not? It was only a 10 minute drive down the highway :-)

Dude and Princess “run for the boarder!”

 

 

Look, Honey! It’s part of an alien spaceship that must have crash-landed here!

 

Back at camp, we all had an awesome dinner and an even awesomer time watching the boys clean up, do dishes, and dig a sump for the gray water :-) Apparently it takes 4 scouts to find the right spot and 3 to supervise while 1 digs :-)

 

 

As I look closer, I see the supervising scouts are young scouts, so I will say this is my Dude “training” the younger scouts on the proper location and technique for digging a successful and useful sump while camping :-)

We had 3 days to do “stuff” in Carlsbad, 2 of which had cave tours planned. On our patrol’s day off, we decided to once again shun some awesome hiking opportunities and drive to Roswell :-) We had a blast! I’m not sure I believe in aliens as much as I believe in ghosts, but the evidence is hokey and compelling at the same time. Here we are seeing what it would be like to be an alien landing on Earth.

 

The Scouts took a turn. Yes, that’s my very weird child acting like some kind of disco dancing dorky alien :-)

 

We all spent a good couple of hours at the museum before heading next door for a yummy taco buffet lunch. Then we were off to town! We’d seen some fun aliens on the side of the road on our way through town going to camp, so we decided to go check them out while we were there. On our way, we ran by the airport to see the giant 747 graveyard – one of the scouts is a huge fan of plans and flying and was beside himself when he to be so close!

On our drive thorugh town, we just couldn’t resist this guy – outside the Holiday Inn :-) ET phone home!

No, Princess! Don’t let them take you!

 

Another night of campfire cooking and swimming in the pool was enjoyed by all before a VERY windy night of trying to sleep :-) On our 3rd day, our patrol go to go on the Left Hand Tunnel tour by lantern-light. The tour itself isn’t quite as exciting as the previous tour, but it’s very cool because you carry candle-light lanterns as your only source of light just like they original explorers did.

 

After the tour, we spent a couple hours walking around the show cave – especially the Big Room. It was VERY cool! I took a bunch of photos, but they just don’t come out well. It’s like the Grand Canyon – you just have to be there in person :-)

Our final night at the campground was a fun one! The boys made camp ice cream:

 

And dutch oven peach cobbler for dessert:

 

While it was all awesome and wonderful, one of my favorite parts of this whole trip was watching the boys work together with everything, including doing the dishes:

 

All while the adults use the leftover coals from our pocket meals to warm their hands on a very chilly evening :-)

 

We’re really looking forward to the next family Scouting event! It’s always fun to meet people outside of the meetings and get to know them on a more personal level.