Sunday, May 22, 2011

Carlsbad Caverns

Exhausted, we woke up about an hour later than we’d hoped. When we checked out of the hotel they gave out disgusting but filling pre-packaged glazed baked goods. Our late departure delayed our arrival at Carlsbad Caverns a bit but it may have actually worked out well since we discovered an opening on one of the tours. I knew Kristie really wanted to get to Oklahoma City today to see Richard and hang out with him so I was impressed when she jumped at the opportunity for a guided tour because I knew that would delay our arrival that evening. In a way that made me feel like things were healed a bit from last night and that she was interested in exploring with me.

We really did have a blast on the tour. This included a visit to remote areas of the cave and even a blackout in which we experienced total darkness and silence. It was so dark that you could not detect any movement of your hands right in front of your face. According to our guide, this was only possible deep in caverns and in ocean trenches. What a life experience! We also saw a ton of stalactite and stalagmite formations. It was spectacular. Following our tour, we explored the big room, which was larger than four football fields. There were awesome formations as well as a place called bottomless pit, and even a chapel like formation. Carlsbad was incredibly impressive. It was formed by sulfuric acid and water eating away at the remains of a coral sea. Then, years of water eroding and passing through the surface down into the caverns created enormous stalactite and stalagmite formations. There is also a natural flow of air through the caverns. This is believed to form the unique popcorn stalactite formations that abound in the cavern. The cave was discovered and explored by a 16 year old. He journeyed over 800 feet below the surface by candlelight and lantern light. Quite impressive compared to the lives of 16 year olds approximately 100 years later.

When we got to the surface Kristie called Richard to let him know we were hitting the road. In a very odd situation, he had previously offered to drive 5 hours out towards our approaching route and to meet us at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas. Kristie then made plans to drive with Richard in his car the five hours back to his place and for me to follow them or meet them at his place. I found the whole situation perplexingly weird but went along with it because it seemed to be something that Kristie wanted.

As we left New Mexico, we stopped to take a picture with the Texas state sign. Below the sign it stated “Drive Courteously. It’s the Texas way.” Kristie took that to heart and really cut down her speed from New Mexico as we traversed a small narrow farm road (with a speed limit of 70) along the TX border with NM. Well it was a good thing she did! About an hour into Texas, we were passed in the other direction by a TX Ranger. He then proceeded to casually turn around, and come back in our direction to pull us over.

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