Carlsbad Caverns

We went to Carlsbad Caverns this weekend.

  • The caves are beautiful and totally worth your time to see.
  • The bat departure at sunset can be disappointing.  The bats are silent and when we saw them, they flew out 30 at a time.  (Maybe sometimes there are larger waves, since there are about 200,000 bats in there.)  After a while it was too dark for some of us to see.  Anyway, don’t expect a roiling, screeching vortex of bats like you see in Batman…although you can expect to see Batman…or at least a guy in a Batman costume.
  • Only 2 out of 4 elevators are operational right now.  The others have not worked for 2 years (under repair).  Try to hike out of the cave before 3:30 or you’ll be in a huge line for the elevators to get out.
  • Get your hotel as far ahead of time as you can.  They book fast and it’s supply and demand after that.  Expect to pay $200 a night if you book the week of.

so they loaded up the truck and went to Moriarty

I was curious where you could go near Albuquerque to buy and set off normal fireworks…as opposed to those sad little 4-foot fountains that are legal in Albuquerque.  As I recall my childhood, half the joy of fireworks was that they were loud, dangerous, and awesome.  According to this video, Moriarty is the place near Albuquerque for fireworks.  There are a couple of big fireworks stores there selling actual firecrackers, rockets, etc.  From what I can tell, they’re legal in Moriarty.  (Hey, they wouldn’t make laws that would destroy two large local businesses, would they?)  Of course, don’t bring such fireworks back into Albuquerque for legal reasons.

UPDATE:  Ah, I see that Moriarty will only allow you to set off fireworks in City Park.  Meh.

Desert trip

This weekend, we went on a little trip to southern New Mexico in the Deming area.

We went on the tour of a ghost town, Shakespeare, NM.  It was named by an English miner who even called a couple of streets Stratford and Avon.  Buildings were small back then.  At one point, a guy tried to start a boom there by planting gems out in the desert.  People became suspicious when they found gems that wouldn’t be found in the area.

We also went to see City of Rocks…a bunch of tall rocks out in the middle of the desert.  Great place for hide-and-seek.

On the way back, we dropped by Elephant Butte lake and went swimming a little.  The water was great, once you got used to it.  If you’re taking a 2-wheel drive vehicle there, avoid the sand at all costs!  We got stuck a couple of times and I’m paranoid of driving through anything that looks like sand now.  Sadly, the main beach area is mainly crowded with huge RVs that take up as much space as possible.  Are all lakes like that?

Tatooine house

We saw this dome house in Clovis and met the guys building it.  It’s made of foam, concrete, and re-bar.  They said that with all the foam they put in, you don’t have to turn on the heater for months after the weather gets cold.  It’s very good at holding heat, they said.  Those are people on the left to give you an idea of the scale.

Eclipse

We got to watch the eclipse yesterday.  The best method we found was to wear sunglasses, pull the van into the driveway, open the back doors which had tinted windows, and look through all 4 tinted windows at once.  We were able to look right at it.  Unfortunately, the camera just made it look like a regular sun even with all that tinting.

cattails, Blockbuster, low end videocard

A few miscellaneous things…

We went walking along the Rio Grande near Tingley Beach the other day and I had forgotten how cattails can be explosive when they’re ripe.  Sean was having fun with the fuzzy ‘splosions.  In case you’re unfamiliar with Albuquerque, “Tingley Beach” is just some ponds near the river.  The model yacht club sails their boats there on Saturdays and the geese are all over the place.  Between the main ponds and the river are a couple of secret ponds with lots of neat plants and a little swampy mud pass area for the kids to fall into.

We tried Blockbuster instead of Netflix.  It seemed nice because they offered games for the same price.  Unfortunately, they’re so incredibly slow that it’s not even worth it.  There are no Blockbusters in Albuquerque to do the “manual trade-in” anyway.

There is nothing sadder for a PC gamer than to have to buy a low-end video card.  In our media PC, the PCIe x1 slot for the TV card and PCIe x 16 slot for the video card are right next to each other.  So, the cards are right up against each other…giving little ventilation to the video card and a very short life.  Thus, I ran out to Best Buy the other night to buy a low-end video card to replace it.  How many polygons per second?  Who cares?  It’s just a video card that does the minimum…wasting away there.

 

action-packed drive

We were driving through the city last night during a heavy lightning/rain storm.  We started out in the northeast heights.  There were some pretty close strikes near us as we fueled up and drove.  The closest struck a nearby power line and we saw a green flash of light.  Sparks flew and a nearby neighborhood lost their power.  Of course, by the time we got all the way back home to our house on the edge of the desert, not a drop had fallen…although it did later a bit.

The hydrocortisone…it does nothing

We just got back from a nice visit with Vanessa’s relatives, who’d gathered in Kansas.  Many had travelled there from California, New Jersey, Wisconsin, etc.  The kids had a good time with cousins.  They even roasted a pig!  We saw fireflies outside.  I learned that I am 100% delicious chigger food.  The kids were playing outside in the same grass I was walking through, but the chiggers infested my ankles instead.  The chigger is a tiny mite like a tick.  It forms a straw in your skin, which is what itches.  It keeps on itching and itching and itching and itching and itching.

desert camping and lasers

We went camping in the desert near Deming with a few other families from church this past weekend.  I’d never camped in the desert before, so it was interesting.  During the night, the moon was out so we could see without lights while walking out of the tent.  In the heat of the day, we just lounged in the shade, as you don’t feel like doing much.  Our friend out there had made a kind of obstacle course and zip line, which was great fun.

My friend brought several lasers.  With the 20 mW green laser, he was able to point at stars and the beam showed up as far as you could see.  He also had a 1 W ultraviolet laser.  It had a very wide beam and was really cool to see.  I like those things, but one shot into a reflective surface, and you could really injure an eye…so I’ve just stuck with the tiny cheapo red lasers.  In fact, after I got one of the cheap ones, I told my son, who was 5 at the time…Rule # 1:  don’t point it into your eye.  Even then, I found him in the back of the car pointing it right into his eye from an inch away.