Friday, November 21, 2008

Feeling Batty

Today we took a drive out to the Carlsbad Caverns. It's located about 20 miles from our campground. It was a cool morning, in the 40's, and the breeze had a bit of a chill to it. But the drive to the caverns was beautiful, and the sun soon warmed us up in the truck. We were able to get into the caverns for free with Jim's "Old Man" pass, as I like to call it. The official name is Interagency Senior Pass. Jim was eligible for it when he turned 62. It cost a total of $10 and is good for life. He can get into any National Park for free, and up to 3 people who are with him. That's one reason why I married him. Ha, ha. Regular cost into the caverns is $6.00 for adults.

There are many ways to see the caverns; we chose the easy route. We took the elevator down 700+ feet and then toured the Big Room. This is a one mile easy walk that takes approximately 1 1/2 hours, depending upon how many pictures you may take. It took us about 2 hours. The guide who rode down the elevator with us shared funny little anecdotes and told us to be sure to use our "library" voices in the cavern because our voices will carry. I didn't think about that till later, when I handed Jim my vest. He already was carrying my coat AND the camera case. I told him that I was working up a sweat with all the walking, stopping, and taking pictures, and that by the time we get to the end of the tour, I'd be naked. Just call me the naked photographer! Then I realized how loud I was talking and I started to laugh. I tried to tell Jim what I was laughing about but then I began snorting. That didn't help matters because then I had to pee. Jim asked me if he needed to call for help which just set me to laughing even more. I stumbled down the path snorting and cackling. Whose the first person I should meet coming right at me? A ranger, don't cha know? "Hey, how are you doing?" He asked me. I giggled "OK" and prayed I wouldn't wet my pants as we continued on.

The rest of the tour was uneventful. Thankfully there was a bathroom at the end of the walkway. We decided to grab lunch in the restaurant upstairs because then we were going to go on the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive. The sandwiches were decent, but the little cup of the "today's special" salad was yucky.

If we were here anytime from late May-mid October, we'd have been able to witness one of the biggest attractions at the caverns - the "Bat Flight". And I ain't talking about Batman here, folks. I'm talking bats - billions and billions of them. Ok, so I exaggerate. But lots and lots of them. They cling to the roof of the caverns just a half mile down, waiting for the evening. When sundown begins, the bats start their nightly foray in search of food. "By the thousands they spiral upward into the night sky. There is amphitheater seating available to those who want to set aside the superstitions surrounding these unique creatures and enjoy their dance," per the caverns brochure. I'm sorry we were not able to see such a wonderful event.

The Walnut Canyon Desert Drive is a 9.5 mile long one-way loop drive through desert landscape. The gravel road twists and turns, and goes up and down hills past prickly pear cactus, Santa Rita cactus, century plants, to name a few. Jim had to stop several times for me to hop out for a photo op.

We finished with the caverns and drove all the way back into town, directly to the Pecos River Flume. The flume was originally built of wood, but after a flood in 1902, it was rebuilt in concrete. At the time of its 1903 construction, it was the largest concrete structure in the world. The aqueduct is still in use today carrying Pecos River water from Lake Avalon across the river as part of the Carlsbad Irrigation District. The flume was once featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not as the river that crosses itself.

The funny sign of the day hanging in front of a storage place.

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