Sunday, August 14, 2005

New Mexico

AUGUST 14 2005
Alamogordo, New Mexico

You are not going to believe what happened to us yesterday!

So we come out of the Bat Festival, which was absolutely amazing. We got up at 3:30, and got to the park just after 5 am. There were SO many people there. We got in line for breakfast and met this great older couple of ladies who gave us so many great ideas for our trip. We though we were going to miss the lantern tour because we were so late, but fortunately a younger couple decided to leave and gave us their tickets. SCORE!!!

As we were eating breakfast, the bats were beginning to swirl overhead, so we finished up and went over to the Bat Amphitheater. OMG. They say there’s something like 500,000 bats that call the cave home, but there have to be more than that. As the sun began to rise, all you could see was this line of black cloud that seemed t appear out of nowhere. As the bats doe down into the cave, you could HEAR the zipping of their wings as they buzzed by. It was louder than I had thought they would be.Afterwards, tickets in hand, we went into the cave for the lantern tour.

Let me tell you, it was really cool…for about 20 minutes. Then it was pitch black except for about 10 lanterns for 60 people. You couldn’t hear our tour guide so a good portion of out experience was just trudging along a winding downward path. But really, they only do this once a year, and only 120 people each time, so you really can’t complain.

After we’d descended 754 feet, we came into a lighted (FINALLY!) cavern, the Big Room. The stalactites/stalagmites were AMAZING. I really hope at least some of the pictures I took in there came out. That room made the hike completely worth it.Afterwards, we headed back to our campsite, had some breakfast, cleaned the car, packed, and got on the road. We drove from desert, through mountains and back into desert.

We picked out our campground and drove around for about 20 minutes, stopping twice before we found the perfect campsite. I mean, it had a shelter, picnic table, benches, a grill, and it was right next to the showers. Perfect. So, we sat down on the picnic bench, fixed some sandwiches, and had lunch. We pulled everything out of the car and set up camp. I mean, we did everything, the chairs, the gnomes, and we even got the chili pepper lights up. Liz spent ages getting them even, and I went over to sit on a bench to watch. She comes over to talk to me and freezes.

She points to the picnic table.

There, not 3 feet away, sleeping, is a rattlesnake.

Under the picnic table.

Where we just ate lunch.

And walked around about 20 times.


We back up quickly towards the car and realize that the keys are sitting on the top of the table. This is like a B-Grade movie, really it is.

After a quick argument, Liz goes over and quickly snags the keys. We drive up to the visitor center, see that it’s closed, and the ranger is driving in the opposite direction. We go to the campground host, who call the ranger out. He captures the snake with a pole, and believe me that was one pissed off rattlesnake. You could hear his rattle all over the campground. Our neighbors call over their kids to see a snake, and the ranger sets the snake free on the edge of the road.

Afterwards there was no way I was staying there. We’d tempted fate a bit two much. I mean, how many times did we pass that snake?

So now we are checked into a hotel in Alamogorda. We were supposed to see Whit Sands today, but we were rained out, so we spent the day lounging around the hotel, doing laundry and watching T.L.C. We can take a day off and not feel guilty, right? Now we’re trying to plan the next few days, and it’s not going so well. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I don’t to camp in the desert anymore. One rattlesnake is enough. But it’s throwing a wrench in our plans, because now we have to change the itinerary.

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