High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How The West Was Fun (Shady's Trip) Part 1 - Holy Stalagmite, Batman!













These posts will be simple. There won't be much text.
The pictures speak for themselves and pop songs will
help tell the story of our getaway to the left coast.


When we planned the itinerary a couple of months ago,
Mrs. Shady's California dreamin' went something like this:

My California daydreams were somewhat different:

When I made the mistake of revealing my
sight seeing aspirations to Mrs. Shady,
she had this to say (and I quote):

See how this works?
Okay, I will now explain


We flew from Orlando to a city
that I last visited 27 years ago:

Houston was a layover on the way
to our first destination, El Paso.

We stayed at the historic Camino Real Hotel
in downtown El Paso.  Built in 1912, the hotel
has been beautifully restored.

The hotel and surrounded buildings
are clean, modern and attractive.

I'm leaning on the lamp post 
at the corner of the street
In case a certain little lady comes by
Oh me, oh my
In case a certain little lady comes by

The hotel lounge has a stunning
domed stained glass ceiling.

Our room was on the 16th floor.
Below is the view from our room.
I got my first case of vertigo.
It wouldn't be my last.

To learn scholarly facts and stuff
about the town of El Paso, click here:

During our stay in El Paso we took a day trip.

Traveling east along the Texas panhandle,
we drove through the Guadalupe Mountains
National Park, where stands the magnificent
El Capitan, the 8th highest peak in Texas.

Crossing into southeastern New Mexico, we arrived
at our destination, the bat cave, Carlsbad Cavern.

Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico

An elevator transports visitors to the cavern,
dropping 750 feet, the height of a 75 story
building, in less than a minute.

The temperature outside was 100.
The temperature in the cave: 58.

The cavern is home to
hundreds of thousands of bats.

Holy crap, Batman, a flittermouse colony
that size can produce tons of guano!

Precisely, Robin.  Nevertheless, we must
speak softly and do nothing to disturb them.
It's called professional courtesy.

To learn more scholarly facts and junk
about Carlsbad Cavern, click here:







 How The West Was Fun! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. What a beautiful ceiling in that hotel lobby! I remember visiting some caves with my family when I was younger, maybe 10 years ago, and finding the formations inside so very intriguing. Can't wait to see how else the west was fun in pt 2.

    1. Hello, Anneka, my dear Australian friend! Yessum, that hotel ceiling was indeed spectacular. The lobby, lounge and restaurant were all luxurious - marble floors, huge chandeliers, a grand winding staircase to the second floor and many other features. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Carlsbad Cavern. It was very dark down there and you needed to stay on the paved pathway. An interesting piece of trivia is that a veteran motion picture lighting director was hired to light the cave in an aesthetically pleasing manner to give visitors the best view of the various formations. This was the first time I had even been in a cavern and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see the Carlsbad bat cave.

      Thank you very much, dear friend Anneka, for taking a look at Part 1 of my western U.S. trip. Good night to you down there in western Australia and I hope to see you next Sunday when I publish Part 2!

  2. Hi Shady. I've never been to El Paso. I've been to Austin, Houston (ages ago) and maybe Dallas (even more ages ago.)

    I enjoyed your pics and I'm glad you are back. :)

    1. Hi, sweet Susie! First, I want to thank you for showing up for my 6th anniversary celebration three weeks ago. If just three hours of riding in a car is all you can handle, you would not have liked the three 7-8 hour drives we took in the course of our vacation getaway.

      I had never been to El Paso before either. I simply picked it on a whim and we decided to fly there and check it out. The first day we had lunch in a Mexican style cafe in the old part of the city close to the border. The temperature outside was 100 and there was no a/c in the place but they served delicious food.

      Thank you very much for your continuing friendship as I begin year 7 here on SDM&M. Enjoy your Sunday, dear Susie, and I'll be over to visit your blog soon!

  3. Glad to have you back Shady, I enjoyed reading about your trip!

    1. Hi, Sarah! First, I want to thank you for being here last time for my 6th anniversary post. I missed you and all my blog friends and I'm glad to be back. Your friendship and support mean the world to me!

      I'm glad you enjoyed the highlights of the first part of our western vacation. Now stay tuned for Part 2 coming up one week from today. Until then, have a great week, dear friend Sarah!

  4. It looks like you had a great trip! I have to admit I'm jealous :) We haven't been able to take any trips this year for various reasons. We hope to take a big week-long trip to DC next year though! Enjoyed seeing all the photos and can't wait for the next two posts!

    1. Hi, Ashton! I want to begin by thanking you for leaving a comment on my 6th anniversary post. You are one of my oldest blog friends and I am grateful to have you as I enter my 7th year here on SDM&M.

      Mrs. Shady and I agree that we had a wonderful time during our long trip across the country. I had never been west of Houston before. Washington D.C. is one of Mrs. Shady's favorite cities and I know you will have an enjoyable vacation there next year. You might want to pick a season other than summer, though, because it can get as hot as the desert southwest up there.

      Thank you for your loyal friendship and support these many years, dear Ashton. I'm happy to know you're getting into this series and I invite you back here next Sunday for Part 2 of How The West Was Fun!

  5. So Mrs. Shady wanted some romance with the man she loves (I assume that's you, but you know what they say about assume), and you wanted to ogle girls in bikinis. Sounds pretty much like Willy Dunne Wooters and me. He wants starry nights filled with kisses and holding hands, and I want to stare at the young studs and dream of Cougarville. I'm glad you told me about the cavern. The elevator and the bats have me ready to scream just from reading about them. Not that I'm going anyplace, but as I don't go, I'll be sure to stay away from there. Welcome home.

    1. Love love love, Janie Junebug! Thank you for the warm welcome home and thank you once again for being here last time to help me celebrate my 6th blogiversary.

      You are correct, my dear. One should never assume. In this case, however, you had it right. I left for SoCal with a song in my heart and a thong in my mind (and maybe a wardrobe malfunction or two :) Seems like you're a female version of that old rascal Shady. I wish you would have been there to see me get mobbed in Malibu by a gaggle of gals who mistook me for John Stamos. :)

      You have a fear of elevators and bats and dark caves? Did you know it's merely an old wives' tale that bats dive bomb women and get tangled in their hair? The notion is believed to have originated because the sweet smell of hairspray attracts mosquitoes and other insects and they in turn attract bats that swoop down to feed on them.

      Thank you again, dear sweet Janie. A warm welcome from you means a lot to me and I'm glad to be back home. Enjoy your week, my friend!

  6. Welcome back, were sorely missed! I love your Houston photos, gosh it sure is grand and modern as you say. I have been thru there quite a few times, but only to get to Galveston. I would actually like to stop there one day and visit.

    I'm afraid I'll have to come back, because your other photos are being contrary and not posting for me. I did see one of the caverns tho, I am on blogger and logged in, don't know what the problem is! Till later, it's good to have you back!

    1. Hello, Suzanne! I'm happy to be back, thank you dear friend! Doggone it, I knew that my videos usually load slowly on your machine, but now you're saying that my pictures are not loading either? I'm so sorry. I hope you will come back and try again.

      I didn't post any Houston pictures, dearie. They were pictures of our hotel in "the west Texas town of El Paso," the first place we stayed. I hope you get to see those images along with the pics we snapped down in spooky Carlsbad Cavern.

      Anyway, I want to acknowledge you and Karo once again for being such great friends and for coming to my 6th blog anniversary bash. I promise to do my best to keep you entertained in year #7. Enjoy the week ahead, dear friend Suzanne!

    2. OK Shadylicious, I made it back. I thought your hotel pics were in Houston, but, as I made it back, I do see El Paso...what a really nice place to stay anyway! I did get to see your caverns, oh gosh, how fascinating. They are so excitingly creepy!

      And, you chose the best songs to accompany the tour...I especially like Arthur Brown's 'Fire'-way to go Mrs. Shady! I know that song is weird, but, you have to love some of the weird ones, don't you?

      And, who could deny 'David Lee Roth' and his cover of 'California Girls'? He really covers song with class, I'd say!

      Looks like a very memorable trip so far-and, your photos are all great. From lamp posts to mountains, you've covered a lot of territory Shady! Have a restful week. Thank you for sharing your trip! See you soon! ♫

    3. Hi, Suzanne! Welcome back. I'm pleased to learn that you finally got my post loaded and were able to see where Mrs. Shady and I went on the first part of our trip.

      "Excitingly creepy" is a good way to describe Carlsbad Caverns (or Shady Del Knight for that matter :) The audio tour explained that a Hollywood movie lighting director designed the lighting set-up in the caves and seasoned spelunkers were hired to distribute the lamps to remote spots according to the director's instructions. Every time a lamp burns out a specially trained spelunker needs to replace it.

      I'm so glad you got the full gist of Part 1, dear friend. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming up one week from today. Until then, have a great week, dear Suzanne!

  7. Shady!!! Janie Junebug and I were lamenting your absence just the other day!

    It sounds like you had a great 1/3 of a trip. Boy, El Paso sure is flat (I'm near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, myself). That might have given me a bit o' vertigo, too.

    Welcome back!

    1. Hello, dear friend Cherdo! I am well aware that you and Janie were lamenting my absence the other day. I saw what you both wrote about me on your blog and really appreciate having such great friends. It's nice to be missed and nice to be back.

      (Please check your inbox for the email I sent you. Check your junk and spam bins, too. Let me know if I need to resend my message to an address other than the one posted on your blog.)

      Yessum, we had a wonderful trip out west and this was just the first third of it. That view from the 16th floor of our hotel gave me vertigo but that was nothing compared to what I was about to see in the second part of our journey. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming next Sunday.

      Thank you very much for coming over to welcome me back today, dear friend Cherdo, and for giving me such a nice send off three weeks ago on my 6th anniversary post. I feel very lucky to have found you this year, dearie. Take care!

  8. hi, hey, hello and welcome back, my adventuring friend! my why an experience you've had, and this is just the first part! first off, i just really enjoyed your take on vacation photo sharing. your humorous lines and proper placement of catchy tunes had me chuckling all the way through.
    there is a united states map hanging over my desk on which my laptop sits. ( i found the map in a 1976 copy of National Geographic) i frequently glanced up, tracing your travels across the states, and you can be sure that i will continue to do so throughout these posts.
    i've always wanted to visit El Paso. what beautiful buildings and natural wonders there are. those two things are definitely my favorite to explore. old buildings (magnificent or not) and breathtaking highs and lows on and in the earth.
    wow! that cave is impressive... i do have to wonder, did you or Mrs. Shady feel claustrophobic at all while traversing underground?
    there's not a lot i love better than great music and great adventure... definitely looking forward to more!
    welcome back and thank you for sharing.
    -Abigail and Daisy

    1. Hello, dear Abigail and Daisy! How are my two favorite people in Kansas? This is a very special comment from you, my dear friend. I can't tell you how delighted I am to know that someone your age gets and appreciates my humor as well as my music.

      What a coincidence! I love maps as much as you and I have a large U.S. map on the wall right in front of my computer. I refer to it often and sometimes just gaze at it and imagine what the terrain is like in various areas I have never seen. In fact, I used my map to come up with the route Mrs. S and I ultimately took on this getaway. Your map will come in handy as you continue to follow this series because I will provide plenty of details about the highways we traveled.

      My special friend, I saw more breathtaking highs and lows on this trip than any other in my lifetime. If that's your thang, I'm glad to have you along for the ride. I tend to get claustrophobic in small cramped spaces but Carlsbad Cavern is immense. The tour audio stated that it is located in an area where earth tremors are uncommon and therefore the risk of a cave-in was minimal. That put my mind at ease. So did the cool temperature, the paved walkway, the guard rails, the mood lighting and abundant signs pointing the way back to the elevator. The exhibit is very visitor friendly.

      Thank you, dear A & D, for your comment on my 6th anniversary post and for showing up today to welcome me back to the blog world. I feel very fortunate to have met you this year and look forward to entertaining you and keeping you smiling and laughing in year #7. Have a great week, dear Abigail!

  9. Welcome home Mr.&Mrs Shady! Thanks for the cool pix of El Paso....that hotel is amazingly beautiful! I've been through Texas (the panhandle) as a kiddo and again as an adult taking my own offspring for a trip but never to any big cities there. As a little gal I remember hoping to see a real cowboy when we went through Texas. It wasn't to be...just tons of flat landscape! Caves were always on the tour when we were growing up. Dad wasn't a dummy..he knew they were cool (temps I mean!) plus interesting enough to keep us kids occupied! That one certainly looks like a great stop! I've always loved caves and even thought of joining the spelunking club in high school. (We really had that club! Yes, I was a nerdy person, not anything like Liz Taylor!) The music was perfect for this trip and I can't wait to hear about the rest of the adventure. If this were your class assignment called "what I did on my Summer vacation", you'd get an A! Have a great week, glad you're back safe and sound!

    1. Hi, YaYa! Thank you for attending my 6 year blog anniversary last time and for joining me now on my journey out west. (No, I didn't make it up to Portland, sorry to say.)

      Yessum, the hotel was luxurious. When we first arrived, hot and weary from two plane flights and the drive from the airport, we spent an hour or two sitting in the lobby soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the air conditioning. El Paso is surrounded by mesa (I suppose they are called) and there is a high elevation lookout point offering a great view of the city. Of course, I already had a great view from the 16th floor of the hotel which was one level below the penthouse suites.

      I'm excited to learn that you are a spelunker. As you probably know, the guided tour at Carlsbad cautioned people not to touch the cave formations because the oil from hands is transferred onto them and causes discoloration and stunts their natural growth. Many of the stalactites hung down so low that I almost needed to duck under them. It was awesome!

      Thank you ever so much, dear friend YaYa, for coming along on my journey. Have a great week and join me next time for Part 2!

  10. Hey, Dude! I've been wanting to visit Carlsbad Caverns ever since I saw them in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" with Pat Boone, James Mason, and Lorenzo Lamas's mommy, Arlene Dahl, as a kid. I'm glad you go to savor the southwest, which I've found preferable over the rest of the country since a summer session at UCLA, while still enrolled at Penn State. I only wish you had called me while you were in my backyard (or e-mailed me in advance.) I live less than an hour from El Paso, in Las Cruces. I go there several times a year for specialist visits and do prefer their Mexican food over the New Mexican food here. New Mexican means that the chiles are hot as hell, not the tame Anaheims you buy in cans. I could easily have met you and your lovely wife for coffee. Good choices of songs.

    Dell Rat Ron

    1. Hi, Ron! Who knew you were still lurking out there? Mercy sakes alive, good buddy, looks like we got us a convoy and I'm about to put the hammer down! I'm very happy that you stopped by, Ron, and I hope you will join me for the rest of my wild west vacation series and beyond.

      Redheaded beauty Arlene Dahl was one of my favorite actresses. Just think, with Arlene in your arms there was never a Dahl moment. :) I haven't thought about her in years, or Lorenzo for that matter. Do you remember him hosting the mid 80s music series Dancin' to the Hits?

      Yessir, Mrs. S and I enjoyed our tour of the southwest. FYI - we spent so much time touring red states that we were about to turn blue when we entered California! :) (I realize New Mexico is purple but I never let facts get in the way of a good joke.) The only down side was the unrelenting heat we encountered on most of the trip. The daytime high was rarely less than 100. Maybe it was kinda dumb for us to plan a trip through the desert in late July,

      Ron, I know where you live, but we were on a very tight schedule, one that already made allowances for side trips. We actually drove past Las Cruces when we left El Paso on the next leg of our journey. Please come back and read all about it next Sunday.

      Thanks again for your visit and comment, Ron. Have a great week and please stick around for more music, memories (madness) and fun in year 7 of SDM&M!

  11. Tom,
    I don't know anything about Dancin' with the Hits but I enjoyed the series Renegade for, I believe, the three years it ran on TV. The heat is tough but the lack of humidity is a blessing. I always had difficulty breathing due to sinus problems in Pa. First summer in L.A. was such a relief, despite the smog. As you noticed with El Capitan (I was unaware of---still haven't taken a trip through the Guadalupes or to Carlsbad Caverns) the rock formations are awesome. If you travelled Route 40 from Gallup to Albuquerque you would have seen an awesome portion of the continental divide. There's just something magical about nature in this desert environment. Few mosquitoes, too!


    1. Hi again, Ron! You're right. The rock formations we drove past were spectacular. During our travels we found the temps a lot higher but you make a valid point that, mercifully, the humidity was much lower than it is in Florida, Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing or feeling any mosquitoes during our entire trip.

      Yes, on the next leg of our journey we spent some time on Route 40. You'll see exactly where we went and what we did in Part 2 next Sunday.

      Thanks for reporting in again, good buddy. I hope you soon get your sound fixed so that you can enjoy the great music along with the pictures and words. I always looked forward to your comments, Ron, and I have missed them these last couple of years. The stories you have to share are very important to SDM&M and I can't wait to have you back here full time. Take care!

  12. Hi Traveler! I'm glad you and Mrs. Shady came back safe and sound from crazy California.

    Love the hotel. So beautiful. The dome stained glass feature is amazing. I've never seen El Paso, but the rock formation looked just like the ones in Utah and Arizona. Rocks and mesas like this are awe-inspiring.

    I've never been in a cavern like that. I'd love to one day. There is one in Washington State nearby. I don't like bats. Christine has tons of bats swooping around at her new home in the forest.

    I'm excited to see the other places you visited. I'm afraid my computer wouldn't work for the songs! I don't know why.

    1. Hi, dear friend Belle! Welcome to year #7 of Shady Dell Music & Memories! You have been with me more than HALF that time and I can't thank you enough for your loyal support!

      Yessum, it was a beautiful hotel there in El Paso. I had never stayed on a floor that high before. It made me dizzy to stand near the window of our room.

      It's been many years since I've seen anything other than flat Florida land and it was a treat to view hills, mesas, mountains and awesome rock formations practically everywhere I went.

      I hope you get the chance to explore the cavern in Washington. At Carlsbad I didn't see or hear a single bat. I assume they were all in their roost sleeping during the daytime. They must be sound sleepers because there were lots of kids taking the tour with us and they made noise even though the guide requested that everyone speak in a whisper so as not to disturb the creepy critters.

      Please stick around for Parts 2 and 3 coming up next Sunday and the next. I didn't get to drive through the Redlands/San Bernadino area but came pretty close to it, much closer than I've ever been before. I have a lot more to show you and I think you'll enjoy our pictures.

      Thank you again, dear sweet Belle, for coming down for a visit. I hope to see you next time. Until then, please take care and God bless!

  13. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 12, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    Mother and I enjoyed your travelogue and it you and Mrs. Shady obviously had a good time exploring. We certainly live in a beautiful country with varied climates and amazing scenery.

    We noted that The Camino Real Hotel was built the same year as Mother's birth. That magnificent dome looks like a Louis Comfort Tiffany design to me but apparently it's never been proven. I would have gotten a serious sore neck from looking up at it if I had been there because I love Tiffany's work.

    Did you and Mrs. S. also take meals in that dining room with the high ceiling and massive chandeliers? You don't have to do much to imagine that room with men in tux and Gibson Girls in elaborate dresses with bustles, do you?

    So all those bats in Carlsbad were sleeping amidst the tourists? That's amazing, and also fortunate for you guys. If you scared them you'd probably have worn some of that guano!:)

    Mother said she can't imagine that many bats in one spot. She had just one bat get into her house somehow last week and she said that was enough for her! It was flying frantically all around the house until my it eventually found its way outside.

    It's a shame these animals get such bad press, because if not for them and other "scary" species like spiders, we'd be overrun with insects. Many brown bat colonies in PA are dying from a strange disease that scientists can't seem to contain.

    I actually visited Carlsbad Caverns as a kid - via Viewmaster! Every holiday, I got a new reel with a story or Wonder of the World as a gift. I loved those three-dimensional scenes and the one of Carlsbad Caverns was a favorite! (Obviously I was an easily entertained child...)

    A teacher once taught us how to remember the difference between stalagmites and stalactites. He said to just remember it's like having ants in your pants: When the mites come up, the tights go down.

    As usual, the music accompanying the photos and text was funny and fitting, and it will be fun to learn about the rest of your trip.

    1. Hi, dear Kathleen! Thank you for taking time out for a visit this evening and for leaving another extraordinary comment! I'm thrilled to know that you show my posts to Mother and that she enjoys them.

      To answer your question, we did not eat in that grand dining room of the hotel. Many of the entrees were priced in the $30 to $50 range and I...uh..WE didn't feel like spending that much money (a mutual decision). I ended up buying Mrs. Shady a bag of salted nuts out of a gas station vending machine. :)

      As I told Belle, I didn't see or hear a single bat while exploring Carlsbad Cavern. I also did not see, smell or touch any guano that I know of. Everyone was told to use a hushed tone of voice when communicating, but people were there with young children who quickly got bored and were getting fidgety and making noise. Noises from raised voices, coughing or sneezing echo through the whole cavern. I'm sorry to learn that bat colonies in PA are being decimated by a disease.

      Hey, I had a Viewmaster, too, and I'm pretty sure I had a reel that showed Carlsbad. I also had a cool one that depicted the demise of the dinosaurs. I'll tell you this, Kathleen, many of those stalagmites and stalactites were gigantic. Some were shaped like animals and fairies and one looked just like the Sphinx. I'm so glad we went there!

      Thank you again for breaking away from your busy life to pay me a visit, dear friend Kathleen. Say hello to Mother for me and please stay tuned for lots more pretty pictures that will help illustrate How The West Was Fun!

  14. What fun! I love this musical dedication to your vacation! And I do love exploring caves! We have a lovely set of caves in Sydney called the Janoleon caves and their really lovely, no bats, but lots of limestone. The hotel you stayed it so lovely! It's hard to think they were building hotels that big at the turn of the century. It must have been a very busy hotel for them the need to supply so many rooms. can't wait to see the next episode!

    1. Hi, dear Catherine! This is a very pleasant surprise. I'm very happy to see you! I'm pleased to know you had fun reading and listening to Part 1 of my series about my recent journey west.

      I never heard of the Jenolan Caves there in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales and thank you for introducing me to them. I Googled them and learned that they are the oldest discovered open caves in the world. I also found many breathtaking pictures of them. Thank you again for that tip!

      Yessum, the hotel in El Paso was luxurious and we thoroughly enjoyed lingering in the spacious air conditioned lobby and sleeping in our room way up there on the 16th floor.

      Thank you ever so much for paying me a visit, dear Cat. You know how much I appreciate your friendship and support. Stay close. Part 2 of the series is coming up this Sunday and Part 3 the following Sunday. I know you'll enjoy seeing the rest of the pictures we took on our cross country trip.

      Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend Catherine!

  15. What a lovely trip you had! I'm just returning from a vacation myself and finally, I can check out yours!
    I love the CA coast and know it well because my son resides there (I was also born in Orange County). I've never been to El Paso but, after seeing your pics , I would love to see it. The Hotel and city sites were lovely. The domed ceiling was spectacular! The nature views of the Mts., Parks and caves were captured beautifully, too! Looks like you enjoyed "HOT" weather then, were able to cool off in the caverns. Did you actually see bats in the caves? I couldn't tell but I did enjoy "the Bat" song! Boy! Mother Nature sure is Beautiful! Can't wait for the next portion of your trip!
    Toni Deroche

    1. Hi, dear Toni! Welcome back to SDM&M! I missed you while you were away on your own trip. Yessum, that hotel was loaded with charm and we felt very comfortable staying there. The city of El Paso is clean, boasts a low crime rate and everywhere we went the people were extremely hospitable. That domed ceiling was above the bar/lounge adjacent to the main lobby. I was shocked to hear classic oldies playing nonstop on the P-A system there in the lobby. Can you imagine what a treat that was for me?

      Yessum, the temperature dropped at least 50 degrees from the time we entered the Carlsbad Cavern visitor's center until we stepped out of the elevator 750 feet down in the heart of the cave. It was very refreshing!

      Thank you again for playing catch up with this post, dear friend Toni!

  16. Houston! El Paso! My parts of the world! We just returned from our own vacation, and went right through El Paso. And we were at Carlsbad Caverns two days ago, where I learned it is not wise to hike the natural cave entrance, 754 steep and slippery feet down, with flip flops on. It was amazing, though, and i'm so glad you all got to go!

    1. Hi, Shelly! I had a feeling you were on the go again. I'm very happy to see you and delighted to know that we shared some of the same experiences a couple of weeks apart. What a coincidence!

      It was 100 degrees when we visited Carlsbad Cavern. We had every intention of following in the footsteps of the early explorers and walking down the outside of the mountain to the entrance. However, by the time we got to the first stop where the ranger speaks and lets you know there is a tough, steep, mile long hike still ahead, I realized it was turning into a death march and convinced Mrs. Shady to climb back up to the visitors center and take the elevator. I'm glad we did because, as you know, there's another two hours of walking and climbing once you are inside the cave and that was plenty of exercise for us. By the way, I dropped my Ace comb somewhere in the Cavern. Did you happen to find it? :)

      Thank you very much for catching up on my vacation series, dear friend Shelly!


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