Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM: 3/25 – 3/28/19

Before we left Texas Monday morning, we had to make an unplanned stop to see Dr. Cerone, my friend Jack’s dentist.  On Friday while I was flossing my teeth, a three-year old crown popped out of my mouth.  It was too late on Friday to get an appointment and there were no weekend hours.  It wasn’t an emergency as I had no pain.  You may think why am I sharing this on my blog.  I am sharing it because life happens on the road, too.  I am not particularly fond of finding a doctor/dentist while traveling around the country.  It helps if someone has been recommended, and in this case Dr. Cerone was.  The office was located in Southlake, Texas.  Southlake is a rich, beautiful area with many mansions lining the country road.  The employees and the dentist were first class.  If I lived in Texas, he would be my new dentist.  I should have taken some pictures of the area, but this was my only photo today.

D597078C-E2E4-4BE6-99D9-E1DBC2A6CE0EWe headed back to Fort Worth to get our trailer and then proceeded northwest on ___. We stopped in Abilene for the night.  The drive to reach our next destination, Carlsbad Caverns, was too far to make today.  Besides, we don’t like setting up in the dark if we don’t have to.  We found a quiet, free spot to park overnight at Seabee Park in Abilene.

076E0249-980B-455F-8A8B-F479E1173A60To the left was the wetlands/marsh inlet section of Lake Fort Phantom Hill.

1EC5F499-B747-416D-A67D-1E1A0EB840C5I wouldn’t do my yoga outside because of all the ant hills.  This is just a small section that I photographed.  They were all over the place!!  I don’t like ants sharing my yoga mat.

f3db9ebf-46c4-4a0c-8501-753fffedbb31-e1554004638972.jpegTuesday, March 26, was a long day of driving in the car.  We headed west and passed Carlsbad Caverns National Park, our destination, so that we could boondock at Chosa Campghrounds which was located outside of the national park and White City, NM.

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3D48C24C-8F19-451C-91ED-E151495BC2B0Scott captured a beautiful sunrise from our parking spot that morning.

D99DE8B9-D59E-41BC-8643-ED3DC9D24A1BShortly after, we drove the truck 30 minutes to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  There was a group of seven young people just ahead of us so we got a rare non-selfie shot of us at this landmark.

BD7B1874-F216-41E2-9351-B82F8118A688When we got to the Visitor’s Center, we were only able to get on one guided tour to the King’s Palace that began at 1:15 p.m.  All the other guided tours were booked way in advance, so we took what we could get.  Scott caught me busy in the museum.

3CFF73A1-E7B7-4EE5-B8CB-60640B9393BCAs you walk away from the Visitor’s Center and down the path to enter the Bat Cave, there are beautiful cacti surrounding the walkway.

We started on a self-guided tour of the Big Room, an 800 foot descent from the top of the Bat Cave.  Here is Scott walking ahead of me so that I could provide some depth perception.  He is standing in the amphitheater where you can watch the bats fly out at nighttime.  The dark hole behind him dead center is this species entrance/exit.

6AC6FBF1-577C-4129-BFE3-F2F70529FB5FThis entrance is closed from to spectators from March to October due to bat migration from Mexico.  Many people come at nighttime to sit and wait for the creatures to come out by the thousands.  It was March 27, and the entrance was still accessible.  Lucky us!  Scott got a closer look of the Bat Cave opening with his camera.

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5DF5E576-A77A-4418-BC73-E672081F15F4Since I was ahead of Scott, I was able to get a shot of him not far from the opening.  The picture is dark, but get ready because caves are DARK.

64BA5D7D-9971-4F44-80DC-978976EB7530About 300 steps further down into the cave, I stopped to take a short video clip of the sounds I could hear.  Listen and see what you think it is.

If you guessed bats, you are wrong.  They are swallows and they stay close to the opening, whereas the bats will go deeper into the cave.  We continued on and saw this sign. Remember the TV show?

FDCC0BB5-AC5A-45AC-B705-4842614D3AB9Many of the formations inside the cave were named based upon what people thought they saw.  Below is the Whale’s Mouth and the Lion’s Tail.

The cave is illuminated with many spotlights that shine on the walls of the cave.  Here are a great shot that Scott took with his camera.  It really captures the essence of raw stalagmites (come up from the floor), stalactites (come down from the ceiling), columns (go from top to bottom) and the draperies (which look exactly like their name).

77C2D57D-3797-434B-BEE9-55F7FC8ADA73At one point, we saw an original replica of a ladder that was once use to climb down and back up the cavern.  No thanks.

43D8EF61-8312-41EB-92EB-FCAB9B46FD36After our self-guided tour, we took the elevator back up to the top and had lunch in the Visitor Center’s restaurant.  Then, we walked around for a while to warm up before the next descent into the chilly, dark cave.  It wasn’t long before we had to meet our tour guide at the bottom of the cave to begin the guided tour of King’s Palace.  Our tour guide, Daniel, suggested that everyone use the restroom before the two hour tour began.  Who would imagine a fully modern bathroom in a cave 800 feet under the ground.

CD99401D-44F3-4F29-BA0B-582048E49244In order to see the King’s Palace, you have to be with a guide.  The entrance way is locked to any self-guided tourists.  Scott didn’t take any pictures during this tour, and mine are quite dark.  All I can tell you is that he had the forty of us sit along a stone bench inside the King’s Quarters and he turned off all the lights.  Amazingly, we were all as quiet as mice for the approximate 60 seconds of darkness.  I could hear the slow drip, drip of water close by.  It was eeiry and cool at the same time.  Daniel is standing before us in the next picture just before he turned the lights out.

 

C6006BE6-B40A-4E34-9D77-51CE226269C9When the tour ending, we could either take the elevator back up 80 stories or take the same path on foot back up through the Big Room.  What would you have chosen?

B5FA7482-2B67-47EF-AEF9-4030D787C2C0When we got back to the top, we saw a few young girls in the museum by a cavern replica telling us that their dad was able to fit through the small opening.  Scott is such a good sport.

8E9022BB-CAC9-481F-A418-89E13CF9BA46

 

 

 

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