Fort Stockton to Carlsbad.

Angela needed to get out of the desert and the only options were to backtrack or head north. Due to poor sleep we weren’t able to get underway until late in the morning, which meant crossing the desert during the hottest times.

We didn’t have much trouble on this, however. She noted that it felt like she was in a blast furnace, but it was dry and we were stopping regularly to drink water. One of those stops was at the interchange of US Routes 285 and 62-180, which is curious spot as you’re a few hundred feet inside of the Mountain timezone (a sign listed that we were leaving Central) but not yet in New Mexico (we could see the Welcome to Texas sign from there.)

The blast furnace continued until we turned off 285 to go to the caverns, and it gradually abated as we gained altitude on the road through the canyon just behind the upraised ancient reef that contains Carlsbad Cavern.

In the cavern was a good time to cool off, though it did not feel so cold as most I’ve been in. It turns out the cavern is very dry; 95% of its speleothems are inactive as no water flows to/through/over them.

When leaving I looked for hotels in Carlsbad; though it was a rather short mileage day at perhaps 200, it was across open desert so we were worn out. I found a place in downtown Carlsbad called The Trinity Hotel, which proved to be spectacular.