Thursday, May 17, 2007
Roswell to Carlsbad and the Caverns
Ray and I drove south to Carlsbad, NM today. It was a damp, overcast day. Traffic in this part of the country is scant, but the roads were very good. It was misting all the way to Carlsbad. In short it was a great day to spend time underground - and that that we did. Arriving about noon, we checked into the Carlsbad Inn Motel and then went 18 miles further south to the Carlsbad National Park Caverns. What a treat! We started by descending 754 feet on one of the four elevators which the NPS has drilled into the limestone which makes up most of the country side.
We booked ourselves on a tour at 2pm so that we would have time to have lunch at the cafe almost 800 feet beneath the surface. It was a great experience, even if a bit cool and damp. It's always 56 degrees in the caves. The cavern actually breathes too. Every 32 hours the air completely changes.
We spent a delightful 5 hours on the tour of the King's Palace and exploring the Big Room. The "room" is the area of 14 football fields and is the largest underground room in the western hemisphere. I took many pictures, but the place is so vast that the photos just can't capture the real sense of this beautiful place. Unlike most caves or caverns, the Carlsbad Caverns were the result of sulfuric acid eating through the limestone as a result of chemical reaction of receding water, minerals and oil in the ground.
We learned much about the quarter million bats that live in the caves, but because it was raining and foggy we decided not to wait until dusk to see if they would fly out for their usual evening feast of insects. Any living thing with any smarts was under cover, so we joined in and went back to the motel for dinner.
Tomorrow we are off to Ft. Davis, Texas.