Spelunking, American Style

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
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Trip End Oct 01, 2008


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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Thursday, September 11, 2008

After a few days in Santa Fe, we checked out the news and decided it wasn't a great idea to rush into Texas with a hurricane bearing down on the state. So we looked at the map to see what there was to see in southern New Mexico and decided to spend a night at Carlsbad Caverns so we could see the famous caves.

When we got there last night, we passed up a few campgrounds and hotels further up the highway after seeing some funny signs for Whites City, the closest town to the caverns. We were hoping for a kitschy campground or motel that might have some retro charm. Well, it was retro, but not in the good way. More in the, let's not maintain this for 50 years, kind of way. Their 'restaurant' closed at 7pm and had food poisoning written all over it so we headed for the park and cooked ourselves tuna pasta over the campstove at a picnic table.

We had heard there was a 'bat flight' at the caverns every evening, so at 6:30 we made our way to the amphitheatre they built at the natural entrance to the cave and sat waiting in anticipation. I was expecting maybe a few hundred bats, perhaps 1000. Well, we were pretty amazed to see hundreds of thousands of them come swirling out in a fantastic display which lasted for well over an hour. So long, in fact, that we had to leave before it was over because it started getting too dark to see them. At times, the sky was filled with dark clouds of bats.

Then this morning we happily left our dingy motel room to head over to the caves for some spelunking, American style. When I say 'American style', I mean with a parking lot, elevators, paved paths and a gift shop. Perhaps not the most authentic spelunking experience, but it was at least partially wheelchair accessible so I got to see my first cave. We spent about an hour exploring the absolutely massive 'big room', taking in all the stalactites and stalagmites and trying not to think about how deep underground we were.
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