Texas, Texas, Texas... Monday, March 11th
Okay, so what do you do when Plan A falls to pieces? Dig deep for Plan B! We'd hoped to get into Stephen S. Austin St Park in TX after leaving Louisiana. No dice - they were full. Long story short, we called every Texas state park between Houston and El Paso and not a single one had availability. Not a one! And we discovered why: spring break. Don't bother going to Texas in March if you want to spend time in one of their state parks (and they have excellent state parks) unless you have reservations long in advance. How disappointing. We fly by the seat of our pants and sometimes we pay a price for that.
The good news is: When one door doesn't open, another one does. As many times as we've plied I-10, we'd never stopped at Sonora Caverns. Well, besides the cavern, they have a fairly nice campground, plus guinea fowl and peacocks roaming the grounds for outdoor entertainment! We spent a most enjoyable, quiet nite there under a black sky full of stars. On Monday, we signed up for the first tour of the day. And what an awesome place this is. Truly.
Tergel, Smartie, and guineas!
They kept us company at our site. We counted at least 15 or them. Very gregarious (loud) critters.
* * * * * * * * * *
The approx 2-hour Crystal Palace tour follows a 2-mile trail that winds thru the cave. This is a warm cavern, unlike all the others we've been in, with a constant temp of 70 degrees and 98% humidity. So, we dressed in shorts and short-sleeved shirts for our 8:45 am tour, even tho the outside temp was 35 degrees, which means we moved fast from Tergel to the Visitor Center! Lots of stair-climbing was involved, too. But, the time flew by. And, you know what, for two people who have a touch (or a bit more than a touch) of claustrophobia and an uneasiness in the dark (me), we've come a long way. No longer skittish about going underground, we seek out these beautiful gems.
So, out of the 150 or so photos taken, how to pick a few pictures to try and show the beauty of these caverns? I'll do my best. I'll make all of them extra large! Using a slow shutter speed worked best, hence the color of many photos is somewhat distorted. Most of the cavern features were much lighter in color.
This photo is NOT upside down. This is the way these crystals grew from the ceiling!
Far below the earth's surface, our guide, Dave, gives our group more details about the cave.
An entire wall and ceiling of helictites - kinda reminded me of my hair some mornings.
Can't remember what these large "pom poms" were really called, but we'd never seen the likes before.
Stalagmites, stalactites, draperies, cave bacon, fins, helictites, columns, and more: Sonora Caverns has it all - these gorgeous translucent and phosphorescent formations cover the walls, ceilings and floors. We were in awe!
When our tour was over at 11 am, we buckled up Tergel and drove all the way from Sonora past El Paso to Anthony, TX. We couldn't go a single mile further! Found a very clean American RV Park, located behind Camping World, which is between Exit 2 and Exit 0 on I-10. In other words, we were almost out of Texas, and done with I-10 - hooray! Just over the line is New Mexico.