Day 7: Eunice, NM -> BLM Land near Carlsbad, NM
Miles driven: 108.1 (total: 1706.6)
A windy morning kept the heat at bay slightly longer than the previous morning, but made packing up frustrating (notice the sleeping bag and pillow on the ground in the first picture). After being joined by some curious ducks for breakfast, I drove to Carlsbad, New Mexico and used their public library (with excellent air conditioning!) to catch up on instagram posts and mirror them to my blog.
I then headed to National Park #2 of the trip, Carlsbad Caverns. I wasn't able to enter the cave because all of the reservations are taken for the next few days, but I did stay for the sunset bat flight program, and am glad that I did. Approximately 300,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats arose in a swirling vortex before heading Southwest to feed for the evening. I watched the continuous flow of bats for an hour before it became too dark to see them.
One advantage of camping out West is the significant amount of Bureau of Land Management-administered land which allows free camping. I set up camp at one of many sites just a few miles from Carlsbad Caverns. While getting ready for bed my site neighbors asked if I had a bottle opener, and I ended up sharing a beer and an hour of conversation with them before going to sleep under the stars again.