Carlsbad Caverns

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
Carlsbad RV Park

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday, April 14th

Today we headed out from the campground at San Angelo, TX for Carlsbad, NM. The ride was about 4.5 hours long and on top of that we stopped at Walmart to do some shopping. So it took us a while to get here, but with the time change we got here around 5pm. We did some rearranging in the RV to fit the stuff we bought, listened to the Phillies, changed out Nash's bandage and made some dinner. Nash is doing really well, his foot doesn't seem to be bothering him much.  Hopefully his cuts will be all cured up soon so that he doesn't have to wear the bandage anymore. 

Since we had cable tonight we decided to watch some Thursday night shows.

Friday, April 15th

We got up nice and early today at 6:30am so that we could head out to the caverns for our tour, which started at 9am. They told us that we needed to be there a half hour early and we weren't sure exactly how long it would take us to get there so we wanted to head out by 7:30am.  From the entrance of the park it was a 7 mile ride to the Visitor's Center.  This was a pretty ride within itself before we even went down in the caverns. The tour we decided to do today was the Left Hand Tunnel Tour, which is a 2 hour off trail tour lit by lanterns that we carried. There were 15 people on our tour and our guide was Ranger Rick. The tour was guided by lanterns and was more of a history tour to show us how some of the original cave explorer's would have had to walk through the caves. It was really interesting and cool to only have lanterns light our way. There was absolutely no artificial lighting in the cave we were in. Ranger Rick showed us some stuff earlier explorer's left behind when surveying the area and was extremely informative. We also got to see some fossils and some bat bodies during the tour. A pretty cool part of the tour was when we all blew out our lanterns and were in total darkness. It was so dark in the cave we couldn't even see our hands in front of our face, it was like my eyes were closed.

After finishing up our guided tour we did a self-guided tour of the Big Room.  The Big Room tour is about a 1.5 miles long and full of great things to see. We tried to take lots of pictures, but they definitely don't look as good as in person. It was a huge room full of tons of stuff to look.  When we finished the Big Room tour we took the elevator 750 feet back to the top and then walked out the end of the Visitor's Center to start the trail down to the Natural Entrance. The Natural Entrance is a winding trail that brings in through a big opening in to the cave. This trail is also about 1.5 miles long and connects you at the bottom to the Big Room. This trail is pretty steep most of the way down. You are basically walking down 750 feet instead of taking the elevator down. This is how the first explorers would have entered before they put in an elevator. And obviously they didn't have the cement trail there either so it would have been much harder than what we did today. The cave is 56 degrees and was pretty chilly the whole time. Jared and I were definitely hot though by the end of the Natural Entrance trail.

When we finished up we headed back to the RV for a late lunch in the parking lot and then we drove back to the campground.  We both decided to take a nap since we were exhausted from getting up early and hiking through the caverns all day.  It was like we had to get up for work again this morning. It was horrible. After our nap we ate some leftovers for dinner, listened to the Phillies, played a game, and watched some TV.  

Saturday, April 15th

Today we got up early again to head out for the Slaughter Canyon Cave Tour.  The Slaughter Canyon Cave tour actually doesn't start at the Visitor's Center like the other tours. We had to travel further than where you turn for the Visitor's Center and enter the park through a different entrance. After entering the park area it felt like forever before we got to the parking lot. Once we finally got the lot we had to hike up to the entrance to the cave. They said that it is a strenuous hike that would take 30-45 minutes to complete. It was actually a strenuous hike up, but we did it in about 25 minutes. We hiked at a fast pace, but we did stop for pictures along the way.  We actually really liked the hike part of the tour and it was a great combination with the Slaughter Canyon Cave tour. The Slaughter Canyon Cave tour is a 1.25 mile tour that doesn't have any paved walkways or electricity. The only light inside was from our flashlights and headlamps. There were about 20 people on our tour. It was really dark inside the whole tour, but it was pretty cool to go through that way. This cave was used years ago as a mining cave for bat guano (yes bat poop).  There must have been tons of bats that roosted here at some point in time because there was a section of the tour when the bat guano was actually above our heads.  The bat guano actually got so high that bats wouldn't even be comfortable roosting there anymore.  Bats need to have a good amount of space below them for when they take off in flight. Besides all of the bat guano there was also a lot of stalagmites and stalactites. They weren't still being made though so they aren't as nice and white as some of the other ones. There are some that are really white though. We also had to use a rope to pull us up a really slippery part of the trail. After getting up we all sat down to check out the Christmas Tree and we all turned off our flashlights to be in complete darkness.

After finishing up the tour we hiked back down to the RV and then  headed out to wash the RV.  After washing the RV we drove around Carlsbad a little bit checking it out. There isn't to much going on so then since it was 3:30pm we decided to have a late lunch/early dinner at Chili's (we used my gift cards from my birthday, thanks again!!). 

When we got back to the RV we got cleaned up and then changed out Nash's bandage again. It was pretty dirty from his walks outside, but all is looking good underneath. It doesn't seem to be bothering him at all any more. We put a bandage back on it just to keep the raw skin protected from the dirt.

Tomorrow we are heading to Roswell, NM.
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