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Discussion in 'Stock 2011 - 2019 Ford Explorer Discussion' started by VinceL, April 27, 2012.

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  1. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    Day 14:

    This was another big driving day. We left Albuquerque at 10:49am (on a side note, we planned this vacation to be as relaxing as possible, and tried to get as late starts as possible, there was no getting up at 6:00am to get on the road. The earliest I think we got up was 7:30 for one day.), and headed south to Carlsbad. Of course, on our way down we had to stop at...

    The International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell:

    [​IMG]

    Oh yeah baby, we made sure to stop! It was appropriately awesome. They only charge $5.00 to get in, and it is worth every penny. It is beyond description, it simply has to be experienced. The gift shop is worth the price of admission alone.

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    Here are some interior shots of the museum quality displays on hand:
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    Oooh, a life size diorama:
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    Always time for an artist's depiction:
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    And how about some fan art:
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    Roswell was a great little town, where everything was alien themed - they really seemed to be having fun with it.

    We really got a kick out of the street lamps:
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    It didn't matter what the business was, they were able to tie in the aliens in one way or another. It was awesome.

    Then we stopped at the coolest McDonald's ever:

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    It had an awesome playplace and it was just neat inside. We all ended up crawling through the hamster maze, and all I can say is that I am too damn old to do that stuff :D It was fun though.

    We made it to Carlsbad at 6:25pm. It was an easy drive and it was nice getting in early. One fuel-up with 22.8mpg with the odometer reading 13642.3.
     
    Last edited: October 2, 2012
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  3. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    Day 15:

    Today's destination is Carlsbad Caverns. We took the natural entrance so that we could get the full experience. For those unfamiliar, you can go in and get out of the cavern by either the natural entrance or an elevator.

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    Going down into a big hole in the ground is an interesting experience:

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    Descending further into the abyss:
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    Bid farewell to the sky:
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    And welcome the stench of bat guano!! Yeow!!

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    Taking shots in low-light situations is always a challenge with a hand-held camera, but I tried to do my best so please pardon the blurries :)

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    This was a curious accident of adjusting the zoom while the shutter was still open:
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    Here you go, 750 feet down! As you can see, we decided to take the elevator up:
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    The thing that really strikes you is just how amazingly enormous the caverns are. We have visited the Natural Bridge Caverns outside San Antonio a number of times and took the chance to compare the two cavern systems. For being two big holes in the ground, they actually differ quite a bit. Carlsbad is simply huge, far larger in scale than the Natural Bridge. It also has some interesting geological characteristics that the Natural Bridge does not. Natural Bridge caverns in our opinion are more beautiful, with more delicate structures, and being more compact in size, everything is a bit closer and easier to appreciate. Both are definitely worth visiting as they offer unique experiences.

    After grabbing a bite to eat here:

    [​IMG]

    We headed to Sitting Bull Falls next. The drive in was interesting - long, on a narrow and winding road, with obstructions:

    We saw this sign couple of times:
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    And then we saw this:
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    Looks like the sign was right :D

    The canyon leading to the falls was pretty spectacular:
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    As were the falls themselves:
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    The drive back to the hotel was uneventful, only encountering a few more cows, lol.

    No fuel-up for today! Yay :)
     
    Last edited: September 18, 2012
  4. langla4

    langla4 Member

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    that first picture is great. reminds me of how much fun it is to buy a new car!

    Enjoy!
     
  5. gdecamp

    gdecamp Active Member

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    Once again nice job Vince! I am enjoying this.

    I am heading to New Mexico first week of December but flying there from Long Island. Heading to Bosque del Apache to take some bird pics, which is near Roswell. One place that is also nice near Roswell. maybe 150 miles or so, is White Sands which is near where they tested the first A bomb. To avoid leaking the secret of the American atomic bomb project, local residents were not warned or evacuated in advance of, or following, the test. I guess it sounded like a good idea at the time. :eek:. White Sands is an awesome place for photos. I will be there also that week.

    I know you are well past that now though so enjoy your trip!
     
    Last edited: September 18, 2012
  6. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    I keep forgetting to post this picture, so here it is...finally!

    [​IMG]

    We had the Ghost packed to the gills! Funny thing is, I had never seen the use for those elastic cargo nets. Well now I do :)
     
  7. 2TimingTom

    2TimingTom Well-Known Member

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    When I worked for Cessna, they sent all the prototypes down to Roswell for extensive testing. When they came back, they all had that alien head sticker just aft of the cabin door- one for each trip that jet made down there.

    And my current company, Lockheed, has done some testing at White Sands.

    Carlsbad looks pretty neat. Just outside of Co Springs is a place called Cave of the Winds. I thought it was pretty neat. It was my first time in a cave like that. The building where you buy tickets is built right on the edge of the cliff- that had me puckering up pretty good as we stood in line on the balcony......
     
  8. boltsfan17

    boltsfan17 Active Member

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    Vince,

    As usual, awesome pictures. It's amazing how there is so much to see here at home in the U.S. Traveling abroad is fun, but it's so much fun doing road trips around the country.

    You need to do more road trips so you can keep us all entertained with your trip report and excellent photos....lol
     
  9. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! :D I'm not sure we would have the energy to do this too often. Between the planning, the paying, and the doing - it was an exhausting (super-mega-fun, though) process. But you are right, there is so much here in the 48 that we haven't seen. Toss in Alaska and Hawaii and you have a lifetime's worth of adventures. We have a lot of awesome memories from this and our three other road trips. And fret not, any time the Explorer is pressed into vacation duty, you will see it here :)
     
  10. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    We tried to add the Cave of the Winds to our itinerary, but unfortunately, we ran short of time and wouldn't have been able to devote enough time to enjoy it. Seems like it would have been a neat addition to the trip though.
     
  11. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    Day 16:

    Time to pack up and head out of Carlsbad. We hopped into the car a little after 10:00am and made our way out of town.

    Along the way we kept seeing these:
    [​IMG]
    We kept asking ourselves 'should we be worried?' lol

    Saw a couple of these too:
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    Fortunately for us, we didn't see any runaway trucks!

    Another handy little informational sign:
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    Cloudcroft was a neat little town, in an artsy/touristy kind of way. There must have been some sort of festival because the place was PACKED!!

    It was a lovely drive through the mountains, and we got some more tunnel action to Christopher's delight:
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    And what is this...what do I see in the distance?
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    Could it be....could it really be some:
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    White sand?

    Oh yes!
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    gdecamp, you didn't think we really were going to leave it out, did you? :D

    The sand was the strangest thing. It was fine like beach sand, but it stuck together. You could walk on it (albeit carefully), and not disturb it. Of course that started a game, in the lines of Kungfu. Walk across the rice paper...

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    The end of the road so to speak (the paved one that is :))
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    Time to frolic in the sand:
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    Christopher was having an absolute ball running all over, and then trying to pick up a wad of sand and have it stay together.

    One of the curious things about the sand, and what makes it stick together, is the extremely high water table. We climbed half way up a decent sized dune, and after digging down only 2 or 3 inches, we came across damp sand.

    More vanity shots, hehe:
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    After playing in the sand, we headed off to visit the White Sands Missile Range Missile Park:
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    We liked the following informational sign:
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    We did make it to the missile park, which was pretty cool. Standing next to Pershing and Pershing II missiles was a strange feeling. To know that these things were cold war relics, and powerful enough to devastate whatever was in their path. Pretty awe inspiring.

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    All but one or two of the items on display was accompanied by an informational panel giving a brief history and historical significance. It really fed my inner nerd :)

    Like gdecamp mentioned, White Sands Missile Range was home to the first a-bomb test. The Trinity Site is open to the public twice a year, on the first Saturday in April and October according to my research. That would be a pretty neat place to visit. Yet another "We need to stop there next time" situation... UPDATE: October 6th is when it will be open this year (check THIS SITE for details).

    After trudging around the park and snapping a ton of photos (which are all on Stephen's camera, so they will be posted later), we headed to Alamogordo for some dinner and rest.

    One fuel-up at 23.34mpg and an odometer reading of 14086.3 miles.
     
    Last edited: October 18, 2012
  12. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    I'll have to mess with those pics in the white sands. I must've tweaked the white balance and metering the wrong way. The pics look dim... guess I'll just have to bust out the Photo Elements to fix 'em.
     
  13. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    Day 17:

    Today we will be driving from Alamogordo to San Angelo, Tx via El Paso. At this point the vacation was pretty much over. We left Alamogordo at 10:32am to get to El Paso in time for my three traveling companions to make their flight back to Houston. We made it with plenty of time.

    On the way we came across MORE warning signs:
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    Eek, no hitchhikers for us!

    We finally made our way into Texas:
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    I was on driving duty and almost missed the sign. Everyone in the car was pointing and yapping at me, so I conducted one of my patented Vince moves. A quick check of traffic and a rather liberal application of braking, in conjunction with a little swerve action, put the car in the perfect position for photos :D

    Here is our view as we approach El Paso:
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    And getting ready to drop of my posse:
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    After I dropped of the crew, I headed out to San Angelo where I stayed overnight. It was a beautiful drive getting there. I am used to seeing I-10 east of San Antonio, and it is nothing to write home about. Coming out of El Paso and working my way west, the scenery livened up quite a bit and it was a lovely drive.

    As I made my way northeast to San Angelo, I passed the town of Big Lake. Something in my mind got me to thinking, where had I heard that name before? Then it hit me. Big Lake the city is home to Big Lake the lake. Big Lake is one of the only two natural lakes in Texas (the other being Caddo Lake, which isn't completely natural anymore due to a damn being added to it). Unfortunately, the natural springs that feed Big Lake have been tapped to provide water for everything but the lake. As a result, the lake is dry, only filling when rainfall is heavy enough.

    The biggest component of my scenery along the way consisted of the pump-jack. Those things are EVERY where. I guess that's what happens when cruising through the Permian Basin.

    I made it into San Angelo at 7:03pm. I settled into my hotel and then went to have a crappy steak at Outback (the shrimp were good though).

    Two fuel-ups to report with 22.11mpg and 21.8mpg and an odometer reading of 14563.2 miles so far.

    Check back tomorrow for the final installment and all of the stats of our trip :)
     
  14. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    That's strange Vince. The last picture with the Gray Ghost against the dunes as a backdrop looks okay. Did you adjust anything before or after that one? I like the pic with the end of the road. If I posted that here, I am 100% certain I could say that was snow and get away with it. :thumbsup:

    Peter
     
  15. LeFurg

    LeFurg Member

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  16. LeFurg

    LeFurg Member

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    Looking at all the pics, That looks like a cool trip. It'd be neat to see all that.
     
  17. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    A couple of them look fine, but to my eye, the whites are more gray/blue on a majority of the others. They just don't have the pop that some of the other pics have. I'm wondering if a polarizing filter would help with that? I'm still learning about all of this stuff!
     
  18. boltsfan17

    boltsfan17 Active Member

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    Things like snow, sand, or white sand like that will throw off the exposure meter in your camera. You usually have to practice around going a few stops down or up to get the right exposure. Those pictures don't look bad at all, but they can be easily fixed in photoshop. Did you happen to shoot with raw or just jpeg?
     
  19. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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  20. VinceL

    VinceL Well-Known Member

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    I suspected that the metering might be goofy. I couldn't tell that they were turning out like that because it was so darned bright outside. My camera tends to overexpose with default settings, so I have the exposure compensation tweaked a bit. Since we don't have white sand or snow around here, I'll have to find some place to practice.

    I shoot jpeg. I have toyed with shooting RAW, but haven't taken the time to learn how to manipulate them most effectively. Maybe I'll finally get around to taking the next step and start shooting in the RAW :)
     
  21. cnsheets

    cnsheets Active Member

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    I know nothing about photography, so is that anything like shooting in the BUFF?:eek:
     

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