It was hot yesterday when I finally found Carlsbad, NM. So I decided to enjoy some air conditioning at the Wal-Mart and naturally I have to start harassing the locals. I hadn't been in there 30 seconds when I made a smart-aleck comment about evils of pizza to a man who was shopping at the local Wal-Mart. Within 5 minutes he offered me a job as a ditch digger and irrigator at his farm. I was about to take him up on the offer but then realized that I had already driven for 8 hours and was pretty tired. The job was going to take 12 hours and I didn't pack my work boots, besides, I didn't know much about irrigating. Since the day-laborer job thing was not in the cards, Mr. Grandi opted to take me out to dinner instead, which certainly beat eating a can of tuna in the back of the minivan.
Billy turns out to be a 4th generation farmer in Carlsbad, his family owns a lot of property and they farm alfalfa, hay, cows and a lot of other stuff. Irrigation is a whole complex issue. I can confidently now say the price of cattle is very strong and if that China market would just open up life would be good (if you were a cattle farmer). After dinner we went down the flume, which is another word for aqueduct. The flume carries the canal water across a ravine from the lake to the farms. The lake is created by the dammed Pecos River. Billy is an accomplished singer and song writer and game me my own private concert at the flume. Pretty cool, huh.
Billy let me sleep on the farm near the cattle which was a whole lot quieter than in the Wal-Mart parking lot, then he kindly took me out to breakfast too. Before breakfast was over I had met most of the men in the town thanks to Billy's introductions. Billy gave me one of his CD's so I will have something to which to listen during the next few weeks, or months.
This morning I proceeded on to the Caverns. Let me tell you something, those are some big ass caverns. If you haven't been there you can't imagine how big this place is. I promise you, my pictures could never do this place justice, it is hard to take pictures in a cavern with a cheap digital camera because the flash doesn't do you much good. I met a bus driver from Dallas named Mario and we had a nice chat about bus driving. Here are some pics.
The only downside of the caverns is that the bathrooms in the caverns are more non-functional than functional. We have trillions to go to war with Iraq but we can't get a toilet to flush in our national parks....pathetic. Don't worry, the complaint letter was filed promptly.
I am still in Carlsbad because it is terribly windy today and I want the wind to calm down before I start my ascent on Guadalupe. Phone is turned off because reception comes and goes, which wears down the battery. Leave a message if you need me.