I had to borrow these images from the official site, because dorkbrain left her camera in her car (which stayed in Albuquerque). Anyway, if anyone for whatever reason decides to visit New Mexico at some point in their lives, Carlsbad Caverns is a must see. I was born and raised here and this was my first trip - I wish I would have gone long ago, because its simply amazing.
The story goes that 16 year old Jim White found this cave in 1898 after seeing the bats fly out in the evening. He was a rancher at the time, and he thought he was seeing smoke. For those of you that don't know, if you're a rancher and you see smoke, you investigate, because usually its grazing land that's burning. Anyway, he went down and started exploring by candlelight or kerosene lamp, and he'd mark his trail by burning a mark with his lamp. As I told Emily, you'd either have to be very brave, or a new level of stupid to lower yourself into complete darkness 750 feet down.
You take this elevator 750 feet underground, and enter this ginormous, beautiful cave with unbelievable formations. Its just simply, amazing.
We took a guided tour and were able to experience some of the deeper caves, and our guide shut all the lights off so we could understand what the natural state of the caves was like. Talk about "advanced darkness". Spongebob said it perfectly. You couldn't see your hand in front of your face.
There was a scenic byway to take on the way back down the hill, and since we were in the Jeep I took it. Boy was everyone irritated. I guess they just don't appreciate my sense of adventure. Maybe it was the fact that they all had to pee, and going over all those bumps off-roading wasn't exactly fun...who knows. We saw some incredible views from that road, and I ignored the grouching and grumbling.
Louie pooped out, so about mid-afternoon we dropped him (and the dogs) off at the hotel and headed back to the caves. We stopped at White's City to check out the old town and the museum (creepy, surreal, dead people, enough said - we got out of there quick), bought some cheesy souvenirs, and went back up to the cave entrance.
We toured the big room once more, which amounts to about a mile and a half of walking up and down paved trails, and marveled at nature. We headed back up to the natural cave entrance and waited for the evening bat flight. Bats are kinda stinky, we discovered, but they're cute. Little tiny things.
Next time, I'll bring the camera.