A week after my last post, I took a few days off & travelled to Carlsbad, New Mexico with my daughter & 3 granddaughters. We had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, within a week after returning to the Dallas area, I caught another of those nasty sinus infections that have flu like symptoms & linger forever. Hence, the lack of postings for nearly a month.
The main attraction of Carlsbad is, of course, the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It is about a 9 hour drive from Dallas & it is the change in geography & geology. Dallas is on the western edge of the Austin Chalk Formation. It is an open woodland. Leaving Dallas, you make that transition from woodland to the Southern Plains & then to the part of the Southern Plains that the Spanish called the “Llano Estacado”, the staked plains. This area is also called “the caprock” & “the Permian Basin”. And for me personally, it is “home.” The tall grasses of the prairies are replaced with shorter grasses. The terrain then becomes a mixture of plains & desert as the the Southern Plains empties into the great Chihuahuan Desert. A part of the desert is the Guadalupe Mountains & it is where these mountains begin that you find the Carlsbad Caverns.
If you have never been to the Carlsbad Caverns, it is a delightful place to visit. However, if you’ve never lived in the desert, don’t visit the park in late July & all of August. While the interior of the caverns remains a constant 56 degrees, the above ground temperatures hover between 105 & 120 degrees that time of year.
Hope this wasn’t too many pictures. We took lots more. It is a fascinating place. It takes a good hour & a half to hike to the bottom & the King’s Palace Tour is an hour and a half. We spent almost 5 hours underground. You aren’t supposed to walk out. The elevators take a little over a minute to take you to the top. We walked down, did a little exploration on our own, rode the elevator to the top, ate lunch, & then took the elevator back down for our guided tour.
The magic happens in the evening at dusk when about 250,000 bats emerge from the caverns. To keep from interfering with the bats’ echo mapping system, electronic cameras & recorders are not allowed, so we have no pictures of bats swarming just a few feet above our heads.