We left White Sands and travelled through the Lincoln National Forest up to an elevation of 8500 feet (which explained the terrible mileage on BigB), then came to the endless plains that reminded us of “High Plains Drifter.” I can’t imagine who put up all that fencing that goes on forever. And as Bob commented, “that needs to be maintained.”
We stopped by a quirky ranch known as Runyon Ranch, we bought some lemon lime roasted pistachios and marveled at the pet zoo; it turned out to be a cross between and ranch and circus – there were billy goats, donkies, sheep, a zebra, water buffalo and a camel. We could only speculate how they came in possession of the exotic beasts.
What was equally entertaining was the cacophony of animal sounds that ensued during feeding time – it was a bit of a cross-cultural experience. It’s a place you must stop by if you’re in the hood.
We reached the Carlsbad KOA to settle in for the night. We had reserved our time at the caverns that is now required by the National Parks. It was already in the high 70’s pushing to the mid to high 80’s so the cavern was actually welcoming at a comfortable and humid 55 degrees (my sinuses were appreciative as they had been protesting against the high desert dryness).
To say that the cavern is massive is an understatement – pictures barely convey the scale of this cavernous masterpiece. The lighting is subdued and does not overcompensate thus enhancing the scale and mood. The cavern is 750 feet below the surface and you take the winding path down, and down… and down as the wonderment reveals itself.
There is something about caves, regardless of the size, that give you comfort and you can envision setting up shop here; possibly a primordial need for safety from man-eating dinosaurs.
As a tourist you are only getting a nibble of the expanse that goes on for miles. The path is well-paved though somewhat dim and thankfully there are railings to guide the way.
It’s akin to a massive geode but without the bling factor. The stalactites and stalagmites are truly massive. There are ante rooms that look like they could be doll houses with it’s own cast of alien characters.
I continually swirled around in awe – you need to look behind as much as forward. If you decide to climb back out of the caverns be prepared for a workout; we opted for the elevator instead. My thighs certainly got a workout on the downhill trek.
Bless the souls who preserve these masterpieces to maintain our sense of wonder and awe.