We left Lafayette, LA and stopped at the Rest Stop and Travel Information Center along I10 in Orange, Texas on the Louisianan Texas border. A 600 foot Boardwalk extends into the Swamp which is part of the Tony Housman State Park and Wildlife Management Area.

blue elbow swamp

Blue Elbow Swamp

After a brief walk and rest room visit we continued on stopping in Houston and got the last site in the campground where we walked before settling in for the evening. While this was off season there appeared to be a large number of workmen probably from the oil fields living in the campground.

The next morning, February 6th we continued on to San Antonio for the weekend. In San Antonio we took the bus to the River Walk, had breakfast, took the River barge tour and walked five miles along the river. When we were in Albuquerque NM, for the balloon festival we went to a great Sea food restaurant called Pappaduex. I did not know until we were in San Antonio looking for where to go for dinner that it was a chain chain. That night we tried to goto dinner but couldn't find the place. Oh it was there all right but after driving around the block several times and that block took 15 minutes to return to the Restaurants location, we discovered it was there but the sign was out as were lights in the restaurant. When we pulled in a Security Guy told us that they had had a power failure and were closed to business. They were of course the only ones on the block that had no power. It was disappointing but not a good enough reason to remain another night.

After the weekend we left San Antonio on the ninth and drove to the Caverns of Sonoma which Debby had found in a guide book. While the Caverns are near interstate 10 there was nothing else around as it is a very rural area without campgrounds except at the caverns for miles around. Because of the caverns there isn't even a dump at the campground just electric and water but it was OK for a one night stop and they did have public toilets for anyone wishing to use them. We toured the caverns upon arrival and then pulled into a site in the campground for the night.


cavernscavern pool

From the Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caverns_of_Sonora

"The first quarter-mile of the cave was known to local ranch-hands by the early 1900s. It was known by the name Mayfield Cave, after the landowner, Stanley Mayfield.[3] In 1955, the landowner gave permission to four caver's from Dallas, who discovered a further seven miles, including what are now considered the most scenic areas.[3] The cave has been operated commercially by the Mayfield family since July 16, 1960.[4] Today, 2 mi (3.2 km) of trail have been developed from the 7 mi (11 km) of explored cave. The development of the trails was done by Jack Burch, starting in 1959[4]and completing in 1979. Burch revolutionized cavern development worldwide with his "conservation through commercialization" approach to the project.
The cave is formed in 100-million-year-old (Cretaceous) Segovia Limestone, of the Edwards Group. The formation of the cave itself probably occurred between 1.5 to 5 million years ago. The cave is formed primarily along a fault, which allowed gases to rise up from depths of around 1.5 mi (2.4 km) to then depths of about 300 ft (91 m). At this depth, the gases mixed with water in the aquifer. The resulting highly acidic water dissolved out the limestone, forming the cave. Between 1 and 3 million years ago, the water drained from the cave. The famous mineral formations, known as speleologists, all formed after the water drained from the cave."

The man who took us on tour decided I looked like the Jack Burch who had developed the trails and he wanted my picture with a coke to show the family. Supposedly Jack Burch only drank coke so I accommodated him even though I didn't get a discount.

barber chairme in barber chair

The place was like a museum with a lot of old stuff around

old wagon and freezerstuff

outside campgroundcampground


I have posted more cavern pictures at my photo gallery just click the link



Some people we met in the campground told us they had come from Carlsbad Caverns and it was a worthwhile experience. So the next day we drove North to the Caverns in New Mexico.

Carlsbad Caverns NP Sign

We got there in time to take a self guided tour in the big room and returned the next day for a Ranger lead tour which was primarily in a part of the caverns not generally open to the public. As you can see Carlsbad Caverns are quite different from Sonora Caverns and anything we have ever seen. You walk upright through massive rooms.

Debby in Caverncaverns



roof imagescaverns

Following the tour we walked up and out of the cavern up 800 feet over a mile and a quarter distance

looking downOut of Carlsbad Caverns

The Terrain in New Mexico above the Carlsbad Caverns are very different then the terrain in the Texas Hill Country where the Sonora Caverns are located and the store in White certainly has different goods for sale.

outside cavernslong Johns

The next day we drove about 35 miles to The Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas.

Guadalupe Mountains NPGuadalupe Mountains NP

We saw a slide presentation about the park and walked about a quarter of a mile to the ruins of the Butterfield Stage Station.

Memorial for stage Lineruins

ruinsDebby at Ruins

There are several old ranches in the park. One was on a long dirt road and the other was closed because of water damage. It would have been nice to walk on one of the park trials but it was cold and windy and there are no hook ups in the campground as a result we really didn't want to spend the night.

So we drove down through El Paso and stopped for the night in Las Cruces, New Mexico . After setting up we walked to the historic city of Messila , toured the old district, sampled some local salsa and bought some locally grown pecans.

We have been in Messila twice but as interesting as the town is I didn't find it too photogenic and only took these pictures.

Buterfield Stage LineMessila

Billy the Kid

The next day we went for breakfast at a really good Mexican Restaurant in Messila and then went a short distance out of town to Dripping Springs and La Cueva for a hike.

MountainsBLM Sign

The ruins of both a dude ranch and sanatorium were there

Dude ranchdude ranch


The trail to La Cueva (cave) was not long but what you can't see in the picture is that path climbs a 45 degree angle rock which may be clearer in the distant view.

Path to La CuevaPath to La Cueva

La Cueva is not really not really deep almost a shallow hole in the rock wall

La CuevaLa Cueva

had been home to a hermit monk who had a very interesting life as well as a cruel death.

The Hermit


Born of noble parents in Italy, probably in 180, Agostini- Justiniani may have studied for the priesthood but refused his vows and then spent many years walking trough Europe, South America, Mexico and Cuba. He had a photographic portrait made in New York City in 1859.

At age 62 he walked with the wagon train of Eugenio Romero from Kansas to Las Vegas, New Mexico and lived for awhile in Romeroville before settling on Cerro Tecolate northwest of Las Vegas. The hill has since become known as "Hermit's Peak". He had known Penitentes in Spain and got on well with them in New Mexico, for they were in awe of his healing powers and believed in his sanctity. A Sociedad Del Ermitano" still makes rosaries of native plants to honor his memory at Easter time.

In 1867, he accompanied the wagon train of Don Ramon Gonzales to Messila to look up Colonel Albert J. Fountain on a legal mater, then walked to San Antonio,Texas and the. To a cave near Juarez, Mexico. In 1869 he visited often wit the Barela Family on the plaza in Mesilla, sometimes preaching in their home. He told the Barela family of his plans to live in La Cueva. When the Barelas warned him of the dangers of staying there alone he is supposed to have said, "I shall make a fire in front of my cave every Friday evening while I shall be alive. If the fire fails to appear it will be because I have been killed. I shall bless you daily in my prayers."

Among the many aware of El Ermitano's miraculous healing powers was Antonio Garcia who transported people with illnesses up to La Cuerva for healing. The Hermit must have found abundant herbs nearby to effect his cures.

One Friday night in the Spring of 1869 the fire failed to appear at La Cueva. Antonio Garcia led a posse up the mountain to find the Hermit lying face down in his crucifix with a knife in his back. He was wearing a penitential "metal girdle full of spikes." El Ermitano is buried in the Messilla cemetery. The stone reads (in Spanish); "John Mary Justiniano, Hermit of the Old and New World. He died the 17th of April, 1869 at 69 Years and 49 Years a Hermit." The Hermit's murder was one of many unsolved murders in the late 1800's in Dona Ana County.

This interpretive sign was made possible by donations at the A.B. Cox Visitors Center. Please stay on he trail and viewing platform so the f agile cultural deposits are not damaged and do not pick up or remove artifacts from the site "

We were planning to goto Arizona the next day but a flat tire had us stay another day. I removed the tire and drove back into Texas about 50 miles to have it fixed. The arraignment I had made with our road side service company was for them to send someone to the trailer to install the repaired tire. I can remove them but 16 G rated tires are more then I can lift to replace. Would you believe the only one the Road Service Company could find to put the tire on was the guy who fixed the flat. None the less it was good that I had done it the way I had as he couldn't have fixed the flat at my location and would have had to take it back fix it and return to our campground 50 miles away. With the Flat fixed we drove to Arizona the next day