|National park photo|
|Peering through spaces in the rock|
|Eldy walking the Big Room self-guided tour|
|My photo of the" doll's theater"|
This was a tour that was entirely and easily climbed, following a guard rail path the entire time. There are other tours where you need kneepads, flashlight, and no fear of darkness to clamber around rocks, crawl through crevices, etc. I did have to ask before the tour started if there had ever been any seismic activity in the caverns (there hasn't been), and has anybody ever been left behind at night, when they turn out the lights? Yes, there has...kids being mischievious. (They were fined). They do a "sweep" after the last tour has come up in the elevator. Wait a minute, one more question...has anything ever broken off while people are touring the caves? As in fallen off and hurt someone? No, they replied, not ever in 100 years. The only breaking of anything has been the dumb people who broke off a piece of formation for a souvenir. I liked the way Jeremy explained the ignorance of people vandalizing OUR national parks and how it affects all of us. Touching the formations damages them, transferring oils to the surface and discoloring the rock. He told us that the King's Palace used to be a self-guided tour, but that in three years' time, 10,000 pieces had been broken off the formations from people taking "souvenirs" and so they made it a ranger guided tour. How sad is that!? He definitely had the proper reverence for the beauty of this place and tried to transmit his feelings to the public. We were very impressed with him.
Then, towards the end of the tour, Jeremy decided to show us how dark a cave really is. He turned off the lights for what seemed an eternity but was really only about three minutes. He then proceeded to talk about insects in the caverns. Yes, there are spiders, and "they are about THIS big," demonstrating their size with his fingers, which of course nobody could see, and there are crickets "which are about THIS big" demonstrating again, and we still were in the dark...by this time, I was clutching Eldy's arm pretty tightly. I think I even said a couple of times, "YOU CAN TURN THE LIGHTS ON ANY TIME NOW"...each time a little more loudly, and finally, on came the lights. WHEW! (I wasn't the only one clutching the arm of my nearest and dearest partner!) Jeremy also told us about how they have found evidence of caffeine, antifreeze, and oil in the cave waters down 800 feet below the surface..how did it get there? From the surface parking lot, one drop at a time, percolating through the rock. Three to six months for a drop to make it down below the surface, into the rocks, dripping into the pools below the earth. They have since resurfaced the parking lot with a special filtering surface to keep contaminants from leaking into the natural cave system. Makes you think twice about pouring something out onto the ground, doesn't it? It sure did for us!
|"Totem pole"-national park photo|
The lighting throughout the entire cave system was one of the coolest things about the cave..the wiring is hidden, each major formation is spectacularly lighted with angled views of the spectacular formations, you don't really see the lights themselves, it's very subtle how they are placed..it's dim but with every corner you round, another formation is highlighted. The lighting naturally makes you feel like you are in God's cathedral, and nobody talks above a whisper while moving through the caves unless you are a person who hasn't a clue and doesn't realize your voice carries a 1/4 of a mile in normal tones. There are audio tours for 3.00 where you can hear information if you don't want to take a ranger guided tour.
The photos today are about half mine, and half national park royalty free photos. It's hard to get a really good photo showing the grandeur of the caverns. It was truly awe-inspiring! Sorry for the long blog today, but we want to remember this day, it was very special! (PS. Carlsbad Caverns National Park entrance fee is FREE to seniors with the Golden Age Pass.)