Let’s Go To Carlsbad Caverns

Somehow, through methods, an idea for a day trip to the desert outside Los Angeles turned into an road trip all the way out to the New Mexico-Texas border.

I had been to Carlsbad Caverns on my own a few years ago and it was perfect for our Atomic Tour leanings so I wanted to take Tara there. Our Atomic Tour was a month-long road trip a few years ago anchored by all the iconic destinations of the 50s like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. So we took five days and saw Carlsbad Caverns. Why not?

 

Day One: Los Angeles to Tucson

We couldn’t leave until the afternoon so there’s only a few photos from day one before we lost light. We passed Coachella out in the desert. You people have fun with that. Enjoy your stroke.

A friendly reminder at the George S. Patton Memorial Museum in Indio, CA.

A friendly reminder at the George S. Patton Memorial Museum in Indio, CA.

Patton and his dog at the George S. Patton Memorial Museum.

Patton and his dog at the George S. Patton Memorial Museum.

A couple of Tucson's amazing neon signs.

A couple of Tucson’s amazing neon signs.

A skull covered in CDs. Thanks AOL.

A skull covered in CDs. Thanks AOL.

Day Two: Tucson to Carlsbad

After a detour to Tombstone (pretty disappointing) we visited Rattlesnake Crafts (as seen on NBC’s “Today” show) then headed towards Carlsbad visiting lots of abandoned businesses, buildings and even whole towns along the way.

How desert communities receive their newspapers.

How desert communities receive their newspapers.

A couple of grave markers from Boot Hill in Tombstone.

A couple of grave markers from Boot Hill in Tombstone.

On the way to the Rattlesnake guy's shop.

On the way to the Rattlesnake guy’s shop.

Under no management.

Under no management.

A tipi house in the near dead town of Bowie, AZ.

A tipi house in the near dead town of Bowie, AZ.

The underside of an awning in Bowie, AZ.

The underside of an awning in Bowie, AZ.

Day Three: Carlsbad

After touring the caverns Tara had to file a Grantland story so I drove out to the middle of nowhere to see the Gnome Project ground zero site. It’s miles and miles in from the nearest regional highway on a rough dirt road that’s poorly rendered in GPS apps. I hit a patch of deep, loose sand and just like that Minty Burns (that’s our car) was hopelessly stuck. Sand is way more evil than snow.

There was an oil rig up the road and every trucker was super nice and offered to help but no one could figure out where to hook a hook to what appeared to be an all-plastic car. So I asked one of them to explain where exactly I was to AAA over the phone and waited for help. After the car was pulled out we discovered, somehow, I managed to put the car on a sand butte. The wheels were just hovering over the ground. Impressive bit of stupidity on my part.

So after that I found the plaque (I over shot it by one road) and after walking to it (being very afraid of sand now) I took a couple pictures then I heard the angry cattle and saw the deep stares. I slowly walked away assuming with my luck one was going to charge and gore me. I survived.

This is the only picture from inside Carlsbad Caverns I'm going to bother to show you. I've yet to take or see a photo that captures the scope of this place. Go see it for yourself!

This is the only picture from inside Carlsbad Caverns I’m going to bother to show you. I’ve yet to take or see a photo that captures the scope of this place. Go see it for yourself!

Outside Carlsbad Cavern in Whites City, NM.

Outside Carlsbad Cavern in Whites City, NM.

Minty Burns is stuck in a tiny patch of soft sand in the middle of nowhere.

Minty Burns is stuck in a tiny patch of soft sand in the middle of nowhere.

These shoes used to be dark before I got my car stuck in the sand.

These shoes used to be dark before I got my car stuck in the sand.

Marcus, who was working at the nearby oil rig, tried to help me get my car out of the sand.

Marcus, who was working at the nearby oil rig, tried to help me get my car out of the sand.

This is what I came out to see. Kinda not worth it.

This is what I came out to see. Kinda not worth it.

I didn't see that the field was full of cattle until I walked out to the plaque. He was angry. I didn't linger.

I didn’t see that the field was full of cattle until I walked out to the plaque. He was angry. I didn’t linger.

Days Four & Five: Carlsbad to Flagstaff to Los Angeles

Last time we passed through Roswell we went to the “serious” UFO museum. This time we went to the super stupid one with aliens taking poops. Don’t you ever change Roswell. After that we hit the Smokey Bear Historical Park and gravesite in Capitan, the Very Large Array (you may remember it from the movie Contact) and Pie Town. The next day we powered home back through California following the old Route 66.

Area 51 is a good way to spend three dollars and see shit like aliens taking a shit.

Area 51 is a good way to spend three dollars and see shit like aliens taking a shit.

Ma'am, I think you've had enough.

Ma’am, I think you’ve had enough.

The Best of Route 66: McDonald's.

The Best of Route 66: McDonald’s.

Great sign for a long gone restaurant in Magedena, NM.

Great sign for a long gone restaurant in Magedena, NM.

Did you know that officially he's Smokey Bear, not Smokey The Bear? That Trivial Pursuit trick question was bullshit!

Did you know that officially he's Smokey Bear, not Smokey The Bear? That Trivial Pursuit trick question was bullshit!

Could not figure out where the visitor center was for this place. The only road to the VLA was gated and locked.

Could not figure out where the visitor center was for this place. The only road to the Very Large Array was gated and locked.

Neat name and we saw multiple pie shops there but everything closed before we arrived.

Neat name and we saw multiple pie shops there but everything closed before we arrived.

A couple of signs from Pie Town.

A couple of signs from Pie Town.

Guys. It's Pie.

Guys. It’s Pie. Note the alien driver.

Note the bullet holes.

Note the bullet holes.

A spiffy-looking gas station somewhere near the California-Arizona border.

A spiffy-looking gas station somewhere near the California-Arizona border.

A golf ball house in Yucca, CA.

A golf ball house in Yucca, CA.