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Somewhere between Juarez, Mexico and Lubbock, Texas is the absolute coolest place I have ever seen in my life – Carlsbad Caverns (more about that tomorrow). Before or after one has seen these caverns, however, there is the matter of still being somewhere between Juarez and Lubbock.

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Meep. Meep. Non-ACME road runner.

Earlier I bid a speedy adieu to Roswell with no dropped kerchiefs or shed tears and rolled into Carlsbad, New Mexico. In a confusing move, the caverns are actually about an hour away from the town of the same name. I realized this only after meandering around the plants and animals of the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park for two (very enjoyable) hours and almost missing last call at the caverns.

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Brazilian Old Man cactus in the warm and wonderful LDZ&G greenhouse

I’m not really into zoos. At all. Being December, there weren’t a whole lot of animals out and about, but I didn’t feel sad for the animals I did see (unlike at the Oregon Zoo in Portland). The cougars and Mexican grey wolves definitely could have used more space, but the prairie dogs and javelinas and most everybody else looked pretty content.

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This bat, though incredibly overgrown, seems happy, and that makes me happy.

They have animals and plants naturally found in the northern reaches of the Chihuahua Desert, thus minimizing needs for moronic things like Anchorage’s elephant treadmill.

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This sign says that while cute, cougars will bite your damn face off. It also says, “Cougars may mate in any season, when their blood-curdling screams may be heard…”

Unfortunately, snakes also are found in the Chihuahua Desert, and if there’s one thing I despise, it’s a snake carrying a syringe…Mostly I just hate the two equally, and in combination, I don’t even know what I’d do – probably pass out immediately.

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GET AWAY FROM THAT RATTLAH! TOO CLOSE! Just looking at this picture gives me spine chills and the jimmy legs.

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Perhaps if you stopped touching the spikes, you would stop pulling your hand back and saying, “Ow.”

So what I’m saying is, if you head to the caverns, you’re probably going to have a little time to fill in the town of Carlsbad. This place was a couple dollars and had adorable prairie dogs, well-groomed paths and a finger-painting bear cub – all things I require in my tourist destinations.