Thursday, April 17, 2008

Carlsbad Caverns

Today we moved to the north side of Lake Greeson (Arkansas), but since there's nothing new to write, I'm going to backtrack. Near the end of March while we were parked on BLM land between Carlsbad Caverns NP and Guadalupe Mountains NP, we took a day to 'do' the cave. We have both been to many caverns, but Carlsbad is unique in its shear size. I love the fact that you can walk down a paved, switchback path to explore huge rooms 800 feet below the surface. We were too early in the year to see the thousands of bats that exit the cave each evening at dusk in search of insects. Last time I was there in October and only saw about 25 bats - I figured they were weak and infirmed and too tired to make the winter migration to Mexico.

Here I am at the Natural Entrance preparing for my decent into the dark. This is also where the bats exit when they are in residence. There is a definite odor of bat guano. When Ron was here 50 years ago, he not only walked down, but also back up. Now they have elevators.

We lucked out and were able to take a guided tour of the Kings Palace and Queens Chamber rooms. Here is Ron on the tour.

My little 'point and shoot' camera was not able to capture the awesome beauty of the rooms, so I have to make do with individual formations. Most are dry and not growing at this time, but here is one that is wet. The cavern decorations are formed drop by drop. Drops containing calcite descend into the cave, deposit calcite crystal, and billions of drops later, you have a formation. (That's the short version.) Ron, who has an active imagination, saw a face in this one.

This stalagmite picked up some nice color due to the presence of minerals.

This stalactite is named the lions tail. Cute, huh?

This one they named 'Rock of Ages.'

I like the way this one looked like an upside down root system.

Back on the surface, the Torrey Yucca were blooming.

When we arrived back home, the neighbors were waiting to hear all about our adventures.