After two days of touring Santa Fe and eating all of the green chile we could manage, we pushed south towards Texas.
Our first stop just outside of the city was Tent Rocks - a must do for anyone visiting the area and very accessible from downtown. Drizzle (and some snow) made for a chilly but beautiful hike casting a different light onto the striated walls of the slot canyon.
We continued on via Roswell (not worth the stop) to Carlsbad where we grabbed some groceries and then settled in for a very windy night of camping on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land between the city and the entrance to the caverns.
With gusts topping out at 60 miles per hour, we spent the evening tucked in the tent enjoying beers brought along from Santa Fe Brewing Company and hoping that we would make it through the night. We did. Winds calmed, the sun rose and we headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Monument for some pretty structured spelunking.
In what is becoming a recurring refrain on this trip - the Caverns were even more impressive and expansive than we expected. Room after room of the most amazing formations at a scale impossible to capture through photos.
Abbey's family history is tightly woven through the national parks of this region. After World War II, her grandfather graduated from the University of Colorado (also our alma mater) with a degree in civil engineering. He went to work for the National Park Service as part of the team that installed the elevator that took us the 754 feet from the surface to the cavern floor at Carlsbad and the water system that would provide necessary infrastructure for explorations of our next stop, Big Bend. In so many ways we are following his footprints as we visit the many places he touched on this trip.