M-A's Musings and Travels

A place where I can ponder and remember wonderful trips, camping excursions and hiking adventures.

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Name:Mari-Anne
Location:Whitefish, Montana

Friday, April 22, 2005

Day 13 - Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns
What a tremendous experience! As one of the Park Rangers put it when she saw the caves for the first time, "It was absolutely overwhelming!" The stalagmite and stalactite formations were so many and varied and one seemed more impossible than the previous one. The drive itself up to the Visitor's center was a study in exquisite desert vegetation with every imaginable cactus variety on display.

Carlsbad Caverns
One wondered how in the world these caverns were ever discovered since there was no sign of them on the drive up, but we learned that early pioneers had been struck by the multitude of bats which frequently emerged in this area. We learned that a formation which is created from the top is called a stalactite and one formed from the bottom is a stalagmite. Then, depending on the advancement of the formation, there are soda straws, draperies, columns, popcorn to just name a few. They were all so expertly illuminated in various hues.

Carlsbad Caverns
We elected to take the elevator down into the Big Room, which was huge - equal to the size of three football fields! We were also struck, immediately, by the drop in temperature from the much hotter outside temperature. It is consistently 56 degrees in the caves. At first it seemed cool, but as we walked on, it got actually rather warm (and you should have seen how frizzy my permed hair turned out!)

NOTE: while on our way to the caverns we found we hade a “message” on our cellular phone—panic! We stopped at a convenience store to call our phone number to retrieve the message, but had a difficult time. I was finally able to find the right combination, only to learn it was a wrong number. A sad woman was leaving a message for her mother and commiserating over some family tragedy. Sad.

Bear CampgroundFrom Carlsbad, we headed first north to Artesia and then directly west toward Alamogordo, up into the Sacramento mountains. We were crossing our fingers that one of the national forest service campgrounds would be open. But we had no such luck. Instead, we camped by the gate which closed off one of the campgrounds which was off the main road by a comfortable distance and which, very conveniently, was right next to the "john" which was open and fully stocked with amenities (i.e. toilet paper). There were actually two other tenters in another section of the closed off campground even though there was some snow on the ground.

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