Thursday, July 06, 2006

Travel Log - The Ranch Part 1

The first day we drove to Phoenix and stayed overnight in a hotel (which really means to us that the kids get to swim and we get breakfast handled in the lobby!).

Day two found us driving on through Tucson, El Paso, and on to Carlsbad, NM. My Uncle Ken and his wife Deana live about 20 minutes outside of Carlsbad, just minutes from the Carlsbad Caverns.

Along the way we drove through lots of Indian Reservations, so we stopped at one "trading post" for a bathroom break and enjoyed browsing. Jay ended up with a trunkload of fireworks (surprise, surprise) and the kids got their first of several trip souvenirs (amazing what they can find when limited to under $3 apiece).

When we arrived at the ranch it was dark, which was unfortunate since the kids were really antsy by that time. They wanted to run and tumble and they simply couldn't since we were a guest in Deana's mother's home (she was away in Albuquerque so we had the house to ourselves), and it was definitely not set up for small children! I rearranged many of her fine things to save them. She is a kind and trusting soul to have welcomed our circus there and we are grateful.

Ken and Deana live next door and are building a 3rd house on the property where they intend to move eventually. Ken is doing most of the work himself and it is truly beautiful. He also renovated their current house, which is an original homestead house from the mid 1800s.

Here are the kids and I with Ken and Deana in front of their historic home. You'll notice the sweaters (on some of us, anyway!)...we never expected it to be in the 60s and rainy, but it was. This was a relief for the parents who had been sweltering for weeks but sad for the kids who wanted to dive right into the swimming hole and ride the horses who were bogged down in mud from the 9 inches of rain they had received the day before.

So, while we waited for the weather to warm, we went to the Carlsbad Caverns. These caves are really something. Limestone statues, essentially, deep underground in areas the size of football fields and larger. Huge, high decorated ceilings with such an unassuming entrance. The first person to walk into these caverns must have been flabbergasted. The guides told us to be quiet underground and whisper, and the kids were amazingly good about respecting this as we embarked along the mile or so walk that would take us around the "big room".

Tony, in his backpack carrier, decided that he was immune from this rule, however. My normally quiet, content baby decided that this was the right time to register a protest of some sort and, about a quarter of a mile in, began shrieking with all his might. For those of you who have been to the caverns, you can imagine what this was like. Quiet, dark caverns, full of tourists listening to their rented headphones describing each formation, were hideously marred by piercing, unrelenting shrieks that reverberated through all the caverns. Joey, looking alarmed, said, "Are we going to have an avalanche?!"

I tried everything. I took him out of the carrier, I bounced, I whispered, I sang. Nothing worked. So, we did what any sensible people would do. We started to run. All 6 of us with Tony in arms began sprinting across the remaining 3/4 of a mile walkway, to get to the end. Not the best way to see the caverns, I must say. Tourists were looking at us like we were completely nuts. And I guess we were. About half way around we found a series of benches so I stopped and nursed him, which eventually calmed him down. We did get to see the last part of the big room with Tony now blissfully asleep in this carrier.

Carlsbad Caverns, Di Silvestri style.


Melissa said...

I just found your blog (through rosetta stone) and I'm loving it.

The image of you all racing through the caverns is just too much...thanks for a great laugh!

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Thank you! I love writing this blog and am delighted to know that people are reading it. Thanks for your comment!