The universe intervened on the roadtrip last night, and after driving for an hour without finding anywhere suitable to spend the night White Sands was removed from the itinerary; I probably should have known that overnight parking areas would be limited near a national monument surrounded by a government missile testing range, but I’m not often accused of having an overabundance of brain matter.
Missing White Sands probably worked out for the best as Carlsbad was further away than I realized, and despite waking up before 7AM, arrival time at the park wasn’t until after 10AM. From there the fun began: Ryan loves him some caves. Photos of Carlsbad can’t do it justice – the cave formations are probably more amazing than any other easily-accessible cave in the world, but the most awe-inspiring thing (to me) is how big it is. There are multiple rooms with ceilings well over a hundred feet high, and the aptly-named “Big Room” is 4000 feet long and 625 feet wide at its widest point; it’s tough to imagine how something like this could be engineered by man, much less occur naturally.
After four hours of romping through the cave it was time to leave, and I’m now making a beeline for Louisiana, although a large state that smells strongly of oil lies in-between. I haven’t quite figured out what the route across Texas will be, but it’s likely to take most of the day tomorrow, after which this roadtrip will be in uncharted territories and hopefully involve much more exploring and much less driving.