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Austin is sort of like the bread of a Texas club sandwich in that I was here once before San Antonio and then once again after, with a little dollop of San Diego in between for some Halloween festivities. A special shot-out to my good friend Shannon (and her family) who really showed us the true meaning of southern hospitality!

Mediocre Enchantment

Halfway between Eastern Texas and Austin is a quaint little town called Fredericksburg, TX. It’s like one of those little towns you see in movies where everyone knows each other. A few miles outside of town is a hiking spot called Enchanted Rock. I should have known that I was going to be under-enchanted when I saw toddlers on the hike. I would like to propose that they rename it to Mediocre Mound. I’ll tell ya what WAS enchanting though… just randomly stumbling across the Benini Studio and Sculpture ranch! The mechanical bull at the entrance gate was the pièce de résistance.

Texas Sunset

Midway through my 6-hour drive from Carlsbad Caverns into the heart of Texas, I pulled off on the side of the road as dusk settled in and climbed onto the roof of the RV to watch the sun set and listen to the crickets chirp.

Deep From Within The Womb Of Mother Earth

Just when I thought nothing could be more grand than the Grand Canyon itself, I found myself 750 feet below the surface of Carlsbad, New Mexico. Simply astounding. The astonishment began the night before when I attended the bat migration presentation. Sitting in an amphitheater looking down into one of the 2 natural openings to the cave, we sat and listened to one of the park rangers talk about the many fascinating details of the Mexican Free-tailed Bats that call these caverns home. And just like clockwork, all of a sudden hundreds of thousands of bats suddenly started spiraling out of the mouth of the cave in a counterclockwise aerial dance. It was like a giant plume of smoke just suddenly started billowing from the earth below. These flying mammals would be soaring merely a few feet above our heads as they warmed up their wings and headed off into the beautiful orange/red/yellow/purple/blue sky behind them in search of dinner. Here’s a video that someone else took of the event on a previous night:

Following that epic experience, the next day it was time to get my spelunk on. First up was a ranger-lead tour of the Kings Palace cavern. A pretty timid hike, but absolutely amazing scenery down below. At one point the rangers practiced a “black-out” by turning off ALL of the lights. If you’ve never experience 100% darkness, you should. Not being able to see your hand in front of your face is a pretty surreal experience. And somewhat calming too. It’s so dark that your eyes will NEVER adjust because there’s simply NO light down there. As fate would have it (and due to the gale force winds on the surface) that practice actually came in quite handy as the winds blew down a power line and knocked out all of the power in the cave!! Some emergency lights kicked in and the generator fired up about 10 minutes later, but some people were clearly not too happy about it. Especially those stuck in limbo 500 feet up an elevator shaft!

After that lil adventure it was time for a more serious exploration, down into Lower Cave — the caverns below the caverns. This one required a helmet, gloves, lantern, good shoes and a sense of adventure as we would be descending down ladders, ropes, and rock slides. As you might imagine, the scenery down here was even more impressive. The pictures below won’t even come close to representing the magic of Carlsbad Caverns. You ABSOLUTELY must come here for yourself. And give yourself a couple of days to come back and see it all.

Well There You Have It

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