Friday, December 11, 2009

Carlsbad Caverns

Today we went to the Carlsbad Caverns...unbelievable! Did you know that the caverns were discovered by a man named Jim White when he was 16 years old? He was a farmhand and was mending fences, when he saw what looked like smoke. When he went to the source, he discovered that the smoke was really a 'cloud' of bats coming from a huge hole in the ground! His curiosity got the better of him, so over many years, he inched his way down into the cavern, using homemade latters, rope, and torches (he used a tea kettle filled with oil and a roll of burlap as a wick for a lantern). Today, the Bat Flight occurs every evening during the summer until late October, when they migrate to Mexico for the winter. Unfortunately, we missed their flight out of the caverns...maybe another time! (The picture on the right is one of the pools in the caverns; the picture on the right is the Natural Entrance which goes through the bat cave)

We started with a self-guided tour down to the Big Room via the Natural Entrance (right through the bat bats tho...remember they have migrated?). We could've taken the elevator instead, but we were ready for the hike. The Big Room is about 750 feet below the surface of the earth so the trail zigzagged from side to side to prevent it from being too steep. The hike was really very pleasant and the caverns are amazing! The Natural Entrance tour ends in the Big Room, where we did another self-guided tour. The Big Room is over 2 acres! Again..amazing! The temperature is about 56 degrees year round and the air comes from the Natural Entrance 750 feet up...the cold air flows down and the hot air rises. (The picture on the left is the Queen's Draperies)

Finally, we did a ranger-guided tour called the King's Palace tour, which included 4 rooms: the King's Palace, the Papoose Room (the picture on the right), the Queen's Chamber, and the Green River Room. We saw all sorts of formations: stalactites, stalagmites, popcorn, and draperies, to name a few. At one point we all sat on the wall and the ranger turned off the lights...just to show us how dark it really is when you're 830 ft underground. Believe me, it's lighter when you close your eyes than it was down was DARK! Your eyes don't even adjust to the don't see A THING!

We thoroughly enjoyed the Caverns and if I was braver, we would've done a few other tours that require kneepads, gloves, and helmuts with lights on them...they involve rope ladders and crawling through water...don't think so!

Tomorrow we head back to Las Cruces for 3 days and then on to our next adventure in Benson AZ! We're ready to move on now!

Love to all!

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