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Prologue: Possibly the most famous caverns in the world. . .that is, below its crust. I, myself, never felt entirely comforting doing the spelunking kind of exploration, but I did enjoy touring the main and secondary caverns in this national park, and one or two tours crawling on my belly. For the most part, Carlsbad Caverns is an easy tour, when walking. I highly suggest visiting this locale if you're ever in this part of New Mexico. Just head for these towering heights, the Guadalupe Mountains and prepare yourself for one of the most awesome underground cavern networks on the planet. . .bar none!

Location/Geography: Southeastern New Mexico, Eddy County. Guadalupe Mountains (8,749 feet), on a plateau at the south side of Walnut Canyon. Entrance is 18 miles southwest of the closest town, Carlsbad. Area: 46,766 acres (73 square miles).

Spotlight: Bats, galore! An subterranean haven of colossal chambers called rooms. Donʼt touch anything along the way! One of the premier caves in North America; also premier for an exhilarating evening bat show (in season).

Snapshot: Carlsbad Caverns, “The Show Cave Tour,” begins rather dramatically, there in the Underground Lunchroom some 750 feet below the entrance. Approximately two-thirds of the park has been set aside as a wilderness are to preserve the fragile habitat of these subterranean environs. The interior of the caverns is illuminated (to some degree) and highlight the formations. Carlsbad includes a large cave chamber––the Big Room. This natural limestone chamber is nearly 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide and 350 feet high at the highest point. Itʼs the third largest chamber in North America and the seventh largest in the world. (The largest chamber is in Malaysia, called the Sarawak Chamber.) There are well over two dozen chambers––rooms––to explore. Most tours are guided, although there are some sectors of Carlsbad that can be self-guided. These are also the more squeeze-tighter places, such that spelunkers (commonly called "cavers") enjoy exploring, often on their bellies. The town of Carlsbad, New Mexico, which lends its name to the celebrated caverns and the national park, is in turn named after a Czech town formerly known by the German name Carlsbad (whose modern spelling is Karlsbad). In 1923, the cavern setting had become quite popular and therefore deemed important by the government to protect its sanctuary. It was soon designated a national monument. Seven years later it was proclaimed a national park. In 1978, Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness was additionally established with the National Parks and Recreation Act.

(Continues after the fold.)

Historic postcard

Guided Tour Essentials: Carlsbad is all about the underground, including bats that live in extreme darkness. Specifically, literally hanging out in solution caverns. The story of this massive underground setting begins about 201 and 51 million years ago with the creation of a 400-mile-long reef in an inland sea that once covered this region. This horseshoe shaped reef was formed from the remains of sponges, algae and seashells; also from calcite that precipitated directly from the salty water. Cracks developed in the reef as it grew seaward. Eventually, the sea evaporated and the reef was buried under deposits of salt and gypsum. Then, and a mere few million years ago, uplift and erosion began to uncover the buried rock reef. Rainwater, which was made slightly acidic from the air and soil, seeped down into the cracks of the reef, slowly dissolving the limestone. Incredibly, this simple and timely process would eventually form large underground chambers free of water. At the same time, hydrogen sulfide gas migrated upward from vast oil and gas deposits beneath the ancient reef. The chemistry reaction is important, because the gas dissolved in the percolating ground water and resulted in sulfuric acid. The collateral effect of this potent corrosive substance explains the size of the passageways. Over time, the exposed reef became part of the nearby Guadalupe Mountains and the underground chambers became the marvel of Carlsbad Cavern.

Progressive decoration of the caverns with its myriad stalactites, stalagmites, including a wide variety of other formations, began more than 500,001 years ago. This embellishment occurred after much of the cavern had been carved out, and of course not submerged by water. Drop by drop the alteration of a bare environment to that of adornment happened at a time when a wetter and cooler climate prevailed. Each unique stalactite, stalagmite formed, as did any cave formation depended on droplets of water that dripped or seeped down into the limestone bedrock and into the cave. Chemistry and rain therefore formed a viable team. Their interaction was the catalyst that eventually created a nocturnal and perpetual wonderland––all because of rainfall percolating downward which absorbed carbon dioxide gas from the air and soil.


(Note: As seepage continues to move downward, a weak acid is formed and dripping dissolves some of the limestone.)
This described lesson of elementary chemistry shows how limestone comes from the mineral calcite which denotes the formula for calcium carbonate (CaCO3). In short, limestone absorbs the basic ingredient needed necessary to build most cave formation––calcite.

Bonus Details: To continue this exposition on Chemistry 101, the so-called solution caves like those chambers inside Carlsbad, are formed in limestone by the action of water. Specifically, ordinary rainwater. One can think of these cave-worlds as a subterranean plumbing system. Calcite is barely soluble in pure water, while rainwater absorbs some carbon dioxide when passing through the atmosphere. More carbon dioxide is absorbed when rainwater drains through the soil as well as decaying vegetation. This chemical combination (water with carbon dioxide) is what makes a weak carbonic acid solution. Hence, the name of this type of cave: solution. Acid slowly dissolves the calcite and this process forms solution cavities as well as excavates passageways. The calcium bicarbonate solution that results from the process is then flushed into the underground drainage system.

Notice the reflection at the base of the formation: clear, cool water!

Geology And Wonder Of A Cave: The magnitude of Carlsbadʼs grandeur is indeed spellbinding. Itʼs also difficult for some people to comprehend how rainwater and carbon dioxide fabricated the interior, as well as decorated the ceiling and floor. The process comes down to this finer detail and process: Once a drop of rain percolates through the thick layer of limestone it finally emerges in the cave. From there the carbon dioxide escapes into the air inside the chamber. No longer able to hold the dissolved calcite, that single drop of percolating rainwater deposits its minuscule mineral load as a crystal of calcite. Billions and billions of drops later, thousands of cave formations will have taken shape. This is just part of the wonder of how ordinary caves become extraordinary! Consider how these various formations are created and imagine how much time it takes to reveal the process. Where water drips slowly from the ceiling, soda straws and larger stalactites appear. Likewise, water falling on the floor creates stalagmites. Sometimes a stalactite and stalagmite even join, forming a column. In some caves, draperies hang where water seeps down a slanted ceiling. Water flowing over the surface of a wall or floor also deposit layers of calcite called flowstone. Beyond these marvels are cave pearls, lily pads and rimstone dams that appear where pools of water or streams flow into in the cave. Like oyster pearls, cave pearls are made as layer upon layer of calcite increase around a grain of sand or other tiny object (which is how travertine processes). Lily pads form on the surface of pools, while dams form where water flows slowly on the floor. Another phenomenon of formation decorating some cave walls, even adorning other formations, is cave popcorn. This event occurs when water evaporates and leaves behind calcite deposits.

Stalactites And Stalagmites––Whatʼs The Difference? Stalactites are formed by the deposition of calcium carbonate and other minerals which is precipitated from mineralized water solutions. Beyond the aforementioned chemistry components, limestone is calcium carbonate rock dissolved by water containing carbon dioxide and forms a calcium bicarbonate solution. This solution travels through the rock until it reaches an edge, and if this happens on the roof of a cave it will simply drip down. When the solution mixes with air the chemical reaction that created it is reversed. Particles of calcium carbonate are then deposited. An average growth rate is something like .005 inches a year. The quickest growing stalactites are those formed by fast-flowing water rich in calcium carbonate and carbon dioxide. These cave artifacts can grow at about .12 inches per year. So, what is a stalactiteʼs counterpart? A stalagmite entails the same chemical process, only these formations rise from the floor.

The Weirdness And Wonder Of Helictites: These special formations also grow in Carlsbad Caverns. This mineral is known as a speleothem and is often found in limestone caves. They are also some of the more unusual formations on display. Strangely, helictites grow seemingly without regard to gravity. Their twisting forms are governed by crystal shapes, impurities and the force of water under pressure. Other rarer formations of this variety are those composed, not of calcite, but of aragonite (a mineral chemically identical to calcite, though with a different crystal structure). These singular and enigmatic formations tend to be small, delicate and needle-like. Helictites are fascinating studies even beyond their singularity. Their ultra delicate forms begin their growth as very small stalactites. They are enigmatic because their axis from the vertical at one or more stages changes during the growth process. Helictites are considered the most delicate of all cave formations. With curving or angular forms, they appear as if grown in zero gravity! They are usually made of needle-form calcite and aragonite. In some caves, helictites group together and form a kind of bush, only made from minerals. Some can be as tall as 6-feet (1.8 m)! Then, and just like organic bushes, helictites grow up from the floor of the cave. When this rare event happens these marvels of creation get a new name: heligmites. Most likely, scientists figure helictites are the result of capillary forces acting on tiny water droplets. Surprisingly, this seeming benign force is strong enough at this scale to defy gravity. The reason these cave formations are given special mention here is because helictites are among the most favored formations viewed by visitors. Their forms have variously been described as ribbon helictites, hands, rods, saws, butterflies, curly fries, even clumps of worms. Typically, helictites have radial symmetry. They can also be easily crushed or broken by the slightest touch. Because of this, helictites are rarely seen within arm's reach in caves renown for their tourism, such as Carlsbad. Incidentally, Timpanogos Cave NM in Utah has one of the largest collections of these wondrous formations in the world.

The lovely and very fragile helictites

Human History: More than 1,000 years ago prehistoric people ventured into Carlsbad Cavern seeking shelter, but venturing into the umbra of the cave just so far. They also left some mysterious drawings on cave walls near the yawning entrance which descries some of what they thought of this nether world cloaked in darkness. Like most rock art, who can say what was in the imaginations of these explorers who made their marks, especially in such isolated environments? Much later in the 1800s, Anglo settlers discovered the main cavern. Most likely they were drawn to the setting by the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of flying mammals––bats––racing out of a gaping natural entrance in the evening. (In that era, there were also substantially more bats.) Some of these gawkers were insightful given what they saw. Some even made a connection with the bats and their droppings. These, the enterprising visitors, stayed to mine the huge deposits of bat guano collected in the cave and sold it as a natural fertilizer. One such man, a cowboy named Jim White, was fascinated by the cave and spent many hours exploring its labyrinthian interior. He had a reason and another enterprising idea for coming here: he was eager to capitalize on the cavernʼs natural wonders and act as tour guide. However, few people believed his improbable tales of a huge underground wilderness full of unusual cave formations. It took photographs to convince skeptics that Carlsbad Caverns was indeed everything it was said to be, and more. During his younger years Jim explored his private underworld domain using a homemade wire ladder. He also gave many of the rooms their names, including the Big Room, New Mexico Room, King's Palace, Queen's Chamber, Papoose Room and Green Lake Room. He also named many of the cave's more prominent formations, such as the Totem Pole, Witch's Finger, Giant Dome, Bottomless Pit, Fairyland, Iceberg Rock, Temple of the Sun and Rock of Ages.

Likely, prehistoric people entered this cave (with torches, of course) and explored a strange new world for the first time.

Fauna––Bats: Carlsbad Cavern is a sanctuary for about one million (Tadarida brasiliensis) bats, a medium-sized species (3.5 inches in length and weighing about .43 ounces/12.3 grams). This census figure has since been greatly downsized due to diminished populations of these energetic creatures, that is energetic during the night. The explanation follows below. During the day, bats crowd together on the ceiling of the aptly named, Bat Cave, which is a passageway near the entrance of Carlsbad Cavern. In their darkened home, they are seen only by scientific researchers. At dusk, however, the great throng prepares to depart the cave entrance in swarms. Silhouetted against the late evening skylight, and much like a dark, swift-moving meshwork, these amazing creatures make their most dramatic display. Bats are flying mammals with fur and considered the best creatures when it comes to devouring flying insects of all kinds, especially mosquitos and gnats. They are also insatiable feeders which makes them supreme ecologists in their own right. The most extraordinary characteristic of bats is their excellent maneuvering ability and speed; also, the fact they can fly and capture prey in total darkness. The agility to fly a seeming erratic pattern and still catch insects on the fly, so to speak, is nothing less than incredulous. Like most species of bats, Mexican Free-tails, which are dark to gray in color, navigate and locate their prey by emitting ultra high frequency sounds.

Mexican Free-Tail species. . .and like all bats. . .arguably the best ecologists on the planet given what they do for a living (devouring bugs and insects).

Known as echolocation, this natural sonar system is similar to that used by dolphins and whales, but also submarines. When a bat's signals strike an object, the signals reflect back and are instantly picked up. The agile avian then takes whatever action is appropriate. They seldom miss what theyʼre going after. There are even split-second photographs of bats using their wings to flip the insect into their mouths.

As many as seven species of bats may roost in Carlsbad Cavern, but none is as prevalent as the Mexican Free-tail. This particular bat species is distinguished by its long, narrow wings and a free-dangling, skinny tail. Their ears are also wide apart, a genetic design that provides better echolocation capabilities. Their colonies are the largest congregations of mammals in the world except for some large urban area. Today’s colony at Carlsbad is somewhat modest in size (perhaps around 400,000), yet still adds up to a mighty swarm. Only a part-time resident of Carlsbad Cavern, Mexican Free-tails are migratory. The colony lives here from the early spring through October. However, during the winter these bats do the sensible thing: they fly south to tropical Mexico.

The Show Of Shows Starts Around Twilight: In season, the spectacular twilight flight begins with a few bats fluttering out of the natural entrance of Carlsbad Cavern. Soon, the bats emerge en masse in a dense group, an acrobatic swarm corkscrewing upwards and counterclockwise. In a matter of minutes, a thick whirlwind of spiraling bats enhances the faint shroud of an advancing darkness. The fluttering bats leaving the cave can last twenty minutes or as long as two and a half hours. Usually, the main show in this vicinity lasts for a few hours. This period also marks the eating frenzy of these voracious avian ecologists. Once the colony is out of the cave the undulating mass of bats flies, in serpentine fashion, toward the southeast to feed in the Pecos and Black River Valleys. Once there they begin gorging on moths and other night-flying insects. The last stragglers wonʼt return until just before dawn. Using reliable sonar, each bat on its hunting foray may catch and eat several stomachfuls of insects in a single night. With the coming of dawn the bats migrate back to the cave individually or in small groups. They reenter the cave at dusk in a fashion almost as remarkable as their departure. Once inside each bat positions itself high above the cave entrance and folds its wing. Itʼs time to digest the food and rest and sleep until the next show begins, at twilight ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, Carlsbad Caverns may be one of the rarer national parks where people tend to show up in droves––after the caverns are closed for the day. Here's a sequence of photos that depicts such activity, starting with a setting sun:

Imagine these seats jammed with people, just waiting for the bat show to begin (first a smattering of bats, eventually swarms).

Eventually, the sky darkens by thousands and thousands of bats. After lingering for a bit these voracious ecologists are ready for the night of steady feasting.

These busy little creatures dodging this way and that at lightening speeds seek out tasty flying morsels, like this:

Of course, sometimes there are injuries in the traffic jam of bats, and if the bat is lucky and survives and gets a helping human hand, it may also get a treat of something else some bats prefer eating:

Surprisingly, with all the frenzy and activity and competition among so many thousands of bats saturating a region there are rarely any mid-air collisions. Then sometime before dawn the bats return to the caverns and prepare for a long day's sleep, their little tummies likely bulging.

The Nuances Of Bat Caves: Other than the dark interiors which bats prefer sleeping inside, bat caves serve as a warm weather abode (as a daytime refuge); also, favored as a protected maternity roost, that is once the bats migrate from Mexico back to the cavern to give birth and raise their young. Under cover of darkness, and away from predators or disturbances, the young are born in June. A female usually has just one offspring. Each birth occurs on the ceiling as the mother hangs by her toes and thumbs. Anatomically, the wing membrane is an extension of the skin of the body and these tiny critters really do have toes and thumbs. Bat wings also usually extend from the shoulder region to the ankle. The thin membrane (of their wings) evolved as a result of modifications to the forelimbs of their ancestors. Hence, the reference of thumbs as in a hand-wing physiology. This appendage sits along the leading edge of the wing and has claws (for climbing, food handling and fighting). Newborns also cling to the ceiling, or to its mother. For the next four to five weeks the youngster remains on the ceiling. During the day mother and young hang in clusters on the ceiling, resting, napping and nursing. As many as three hundred bats may crowd into one square foot! At night, the young are left in the cave, while the adults leave to feed. In July or August, each young bat takes its first flight, joining the adults on nightly feeding forays. Throughout their stay in Bat Cave the bats share their quarters with only a few insects and spiders. Finally, in late October or early November, adults and young leave the main congregation cave until next year for their wintering grounds in Mexico.

They Say Everythingʼs Big In Texas: Carlsbadʼs bat population has diminished over the years, yet it still has a considerable large number of bats in its colony. But it’s San Antonio, Texas that claims the largest bat population of Mexican Free-tails in the world. Their colony is found at Bracken Cave north of the city. The current census is some twenty million! When they depart their cave havens, the colony congregates at altitudes somewhere between 600 and 3,300 feet, and some go as high as 9,800 feet. Amazingly, with all the bats flying around there are no midair collisions! In that part of the country, the bats feed on migrating cotton bollworm moths, which Texas farmers cheer because they are considered severe agricultural pests. Of course, bats are not too particular when it comes to eating. Insects of any kind are always on the menu and therefore welcomed.

Famous Facet Rooms: Meanwhile, the main attraction visitors come to see are the numerous rooms below ground. The first visited is the Balloon Ballroom, which is located in the ceiling above the main entrance hall. This smaller solution cave was first accessed by tying a rope to a whole bunch of balloons and floating them up into the passage. From there, the tour of this underworld begins. Bat Cave is a spacious, unadorned rocky passage connected to the main entrance corridor. The majority of the cave's bat population also lives in this portion of the cave, which was mined for bat guano in the early-20th Century. The Bell Cord Room is named for a long, narrow stalactite coming through a hole in the ceiling, resembling the rope coming through a church steeple to ring the bell. This expanse is located at the end of the Left Hand Tunnel. The Bifrost Room was only discovered in 1982. Itʼs located in the ceiling above Lake of the Clouds. The name refers to a Norse myth about a world in the sky that was accessed from earth by a rainbow. The room was given this name because of its location above the Lake of the Clouds and its colorful oxide-stained formations. Big Room or The Hall of the Giants denote the largest chamber in Carlsbad Caverns, with a floor space of 357,469 square feet (33,210 square miles). Other popular rooms worth seeing are as follows: Chocolate High; Green Lake Room, which incidentally, was tested by the military in the 1940s and scrutinized for its potential feasibility of using Carlsbad Cavern as an emergency fallout shelter. This room was also used to look for ripples caused by a nuclear bomb test many miles away. None appeared. Continuing, Guadalupe Room; Hall of the White Giant; Kingʼs Palace; Mystery Room; New Mexico Room; New Section; Papoose Room, which is located between the King's Palace and Queen's Chamber. Queenʼs Chamber is widely regarded as the most beautiful and scenic area of the cave.

Here are more photo samples of this great and huge underground world (although the rooms are not mentioned (by the photographers) in the grouping sequence:

As a special note of interest, in the Queenʼs Chamber Jim White's lantern went out while he was exploring. He claimed he was in the dark for over half an hour. One assumes he must have pulled off a miracle by relighting the lantern; otherwise, he would have long since become a skeletal remains in the total darkness. Without a source of light one does not find an exit in such ebony blackness. Next, it’s the Spirit World and Talcum Passage, where the floor is coated with gypsum dust, followed by The Rookery. Finally, the Underground Lunchroom, which is located in the Big Room at the head of the Left Hand Tunnel. It contains a cafeteria that was built in the 1950s, and is where the elevators from the visitor center exit into the cave.

The man who folks once told a tall tale about a Jules Verne-like world:

More Facets Of The Park: Carlsbad Caverns contains over one hundred caves (116 to date). The only other cave open to the public is Slaughter Canyon Cave which also has striking rock formations. However, no paving or lighting has been installed. Visitors may enter only on specially guided tours with a ranger. Lechuguilla Cave, discovered in 1986, remains the focus of current cave exploration at the park. Itʼs the fifth longest cave known to exist in the world (126.1 miles). This cave is famous for its unusual geology, rare formations and pristine condition. Named for Agave lechugilla, a plant found near its entrance, it has been mapped to a depth of 1,600 feet, making it the deepest limestone cave in North America! The entrance is in an old mining pit called “Misery Hole” located in an obscure corner of the park. However, itʼs not accessible to the general public. However, the exact location of Misery Hole is also kept relatively secret in an attempt to preserve its secluded setting.

Although the park service is tight-lipped when comes to the whereabouts of Misery Hole, here's a sort of replica of another kind of misery hole, at least for some folks who can't stand her. . .

I didn't insert this photo; my cat did. She has a sense of humor.

Declining Worldwide Bat Population Woes: It has been estimated that the population of Mexican Free-tailed bats once numbered in the hundreds of millions, but has declined drastically in modern times. The cause of this decline is generally unknown, though DDT, a common pesticide, is often listed as a primary cause. (DDT is also readily available in Mexico where these mats annually migrate.) The fairly good news is that populations of this species appear to be on the increase in recent years. Then again, the numbers are nowhere near the levels that may have been historically present. Many techniques have been used to estimate the bat population in the cave. The most recent and successful of these attempts involved the use of thermal imaging cameras to track and count the bats. A count from 2005 estimated a peak of 793,000 (though the average is much lower). The Mexican Free- tailed Bats are present from April or May to late October or early November.

Directions: NM Hwy. 7 and turn north from Hwy. 62/180 at Whites City (16 miles) southwest of Carlsbad, then 150 miles northeast of El Paso TX. Entrance follows a 7-mile route from the park gate at Whites City to the Visitor Center.

Contact Information: Carlsbad Caverns National Park 3225 National Parks Highway Carlsbad NM 88220. Phone (general park Information): 575-785.2232; for Bat Flight information: 785.3012; Fax: 785.2133. Email embedded in NPS site’s URL (click on “Email Us”)

Parting shots:

The regional landscape does not hint at exceptional beauty that lies below this limestone-based terrain.
Entryway down and into the caverns
For "Alien" fans, I'd say this chamber pretty much nails it given the resemblance to those creepy creatures.
After the caverns close another show opens. . .

And so, DKos community, we come to the end of another trail, another armchair tour. There will be other scenic places to tour and more supplemental topics to read and think about, so stay tuned for a continuation in this series.

As always, your thoughtful commentaries are welcomed.

Rich
http://www.nmstarg.com/...
http://www.grandcanyon.org/...

FYI: For a list of all diaries posted to date, please see the growing inventory by clicking on my profile or by dialing in this URL: http://www.dailykos.com/...

Also, if commenting on an older diary, please send an email to my profile account. That way I am sure to notice it and respond in a timely manner. Gracias. Also, feel free to use this diary's information, or any other diary that I’ve posted, but it would appreciated if you can site the original source. Gracias.

All photos, unless otherwise indicated, are educational in purpose and intent and are taken from the Creative Commons contributors site. Ergo, the URL’s are embedded into the diary (also, in the Attributed slot) as licensure for non-commercial use only (i.e., “Fair Use” policy).

Originally posted to SciTech on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I was 12 when we went to Carlsbad Caverns (8+ / 0-)

    It was part of a family vacation in the Southwest.  I remember being more impressed and awestruck by the sights in those caverns than I was by the Grand Canyon.  I was sorely, bitterly disappointed that my father was too impatient to drive back into town and find motel accomodations to wait until dusk so we could watch the bats emerge.

    _"Love is the rosebud of an hour; Friendship the everlasting flower."_ Brook Boothby

    by Keith930 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:22:22 AM PDT

    •  what about now? (6+ / 0-)

      I mean, going back to Carlsbad and seeing the great bat show (when the bats return from Mexico)??? If not there, then join the multitudes, in Austin, on evening engagements. Lots of bats show around, but I prefer Carlsbad because it's remote and the show is somehow more engaging, Keith930. Thanks for posting your comment. (Oh, and since my 'other' office for many years has been the Grand Canyon. . .well, I think the comparison of the two realms is entirely contrasting, but I think I get your drift given the more intimate feel of the caverns and the overwhelming sensation of this big ditch in northern Arizona).

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:39:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Grand Canyon, for most visitors (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, BlackSheep1

        is just kind of "yup, that's a big hole" while the basic Carlsbad trip involves walking through the whole cavern trail, getting up close and personal with all the wonders of it.

        But they are both magnificent, especially if you take the time to let them envelop you.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:27:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  a great big hole, indeed! (4+ / 0-)

          And how many times did I see, as a resident there, that same look on some of the tourist faces staring at this huge yawning abode, and wondering "When's lunch?" Just kidding. But your point is well taken: the caverns is up close and personal in all respect. It is also such an alien world to most people that I think its singularity is part of the big draw. I mean, all that beauty concealed in a blanket of darkness, until lights on, is something primordial as it is mysterious. Thanks for posting the added comment, elfling. And, yes, by all means, both national parks are truly magnificent as they are different in scope.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:37:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  thank you for this, richholtzin (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            it's very well-done, and more detailed than I could have managed.
            Carlsbad Caverns deserves to be treasured!

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:30:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Most gracious. . . (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, BlackSheep1

              of you to say so, BlackSheep1. Whenever I research a diary, I never quite know the depth of information I'll uncover, and then the fun begins: organization and trying to make sense of a whole lot in a limited space. But everyone knows, I suppose, I must be the most gabby diarist in the community. . .make that chatty. Blame on the educator's tendencies and ways. Thanks for the lovely and supportive comment.

              Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

              by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:07:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  i've been in jewel cave and wind cave (6+ / 0-)

    and can't wait to get to carlsbad and mammoth cave. breathtaking!

    and in these days of sequester let me also add that the national park service is as glorious as the treasures it stewards.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:37:04 AM PDT

    •  I've been to Wind Cave and Carlsbad (4+ / 0-)

      and would love to go back to both, especially Carlsbad. And Mammoth Cave is on my list of places I want to visit.

      Central Texas has a few interesting caves. I took my sister and BIL to Longhorn Caverns when they were in town last year. They enjoyed the CCC architecture and learning about the history of the cave and the various ways it was used throughout the years. Lots of dancing and moonshine happened in Central Texas caves before they were developed for touring.


      Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

      by jayden on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:53:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  what a comment and what an accolade (5+ / 0-)

      and well deserving. . .what you mentioned about the NPS in these days of sequestering. Thank you so much for saying this and I know the DKos community, like myself, is right behind your words of wisdom, Laurence Lewis. Right behind!

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:42:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  WIPP (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, RiveroftheWest, greenalley

    I read recently that a large quantity of radwaste is about to be shipped from the Hanford site in Washington state to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) at Carlsbad.  I thought that project had been scrapped decades ago due to the migration of ground water and the rather caustic chemistry associated with it, but apparently not.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:37:48 AM PDT

    •  J. H. Christ. . . (5+ / 0-)

      and sorry to use the expression, but I sure hope your info is wrong. This is one comment that is totally upsetting and I intend to get to the bottom of it 'rat now. Stay tuned. I know one tribal people in that sector have long since courted the government to use part of their reservation land for such purpose, but I had also heard that plan scrubbed. So far, Yucca Flats may still be viable. Anyway, we have a very erudite and informative community here at Daily Kos and I am betting/hoping someone else will step forward and give us both an answer to this horrible thought you just passed along (no fault of your own, however). Thanks for posting the comment anyway, ActivistGuy.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:37:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Afaik, WIPP will be accepting waste till 2030 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        or so. According to wikipedia, the water permeability and molecular diffusion coefficients for the salt beds 650 m underground are on the order of ≤10−14 m/s and ≤10−15 m2/s respectively. The wastes sequestered there aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

        YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

        by raincrow on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:31:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No, WIPP is alive & well & may (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      be the "replacement" for the mountain salt dome in Nevada, now ...

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:31:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  so that's it. . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, BlackSheep1

        that's where they're going to keep the nuc stuff for now and maybe for ever? I can think of a few other place to ship it, but I'm pretty sure the people who live there now won't like it. LOL. And just kidding.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:03:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  bugs me is despite people with enormous (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          DO NOT WANT power a hundred miles from there, Andrews now has a nuclear waste dump. Right on the Ogallalla Aquifer.

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

          by BlackSheep1 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 07:26:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Five weeks in a VW bus! (3+ / 0-)

    The longest vacation we ever took, hubby and I and two little girls. Carlsbad was one of the highlights -- so glad we stopped and enjoyed it, as well as many other Southwest attractions. A wonderful place to take the kids.

    •  a place not to be missed. . . (3+ / 0-)

      Carlsbad, and you and your hubby and the two girls got to see what some folks think should be classified as the 8th Natural Wonder of the World. 'Tis a wonder that it doesn't have such a designation, though I hear through the grapevine it may one day be dubbed a World Heritage Site (if it's not already). Thanks for posting a comment, as always, RiveroftheWest.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:34:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary! It's really piqued my interest... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ishmaelbychoice, RiveroftheWest

    I definitely want to see this natural marvel. I've enjoyed the Kartchner Caverns and will go again to see the part that was closed on our first visit but Carlsbad sounds awesome!

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:55:06 AM PDT

    •  Kartchner Caverns. .. (4+ / 0-)

      since you mentioned it Ian S, is a finished diary (sans pictures), which I plan to introduce to the Dkos community in a couple of weeks. That is an awesome place to go, but you have to make an appointment to get there (I think this policy is still in effect). When I lived in Tucson I hogged the line, because I wanted to explore a place where folks are 'damn seldom' (meaning, the usual traffic Carlsbad sees). Thanks for posting your comment and look forward to another underground tour to a smaller cavern setting yet somehow a bit more singular given its history and remoteness.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:32:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Kartchner history is a great story... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, elfling

        how it was kept secret for so many years. Yes, you have to make a reservation well in advance still I believe. Plus, one of the caverns is off limits for a period of months each year to accommodate the bats. I look forward to your diary!

        Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

        by Ian S on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:45:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks for the added post. . . (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, Ian S, BlackSheep1

          and, yes, I know the one cavern that is off limits, due to too much moisture (caused by humans) and such. I've been to that one, as well. Anyway, I'll post that diary fairly soon, because Kartchner really is one of the best kept secrets, ever, and it's a good thing the lads turned over their find to the State of Arizona that now runs and protects its facility. I never met the lads, but I know others, in Tucson, who did: fellow spelunkers tend to network that way.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:34:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this diary. (4+ / 0-)

    I'm ashamed to say this, but I've lived in NM for 40 years and have been to neither Carlsbad nor Taos. I went to a spectacular cavern in Israel. Carlsbad, no. You've inspired me. Soon. I've been told the Gila Wilderness is worth a trip also.

    •  it's still there. . . (4+ / 0-)

      and in that southeastern neck of the woods where you can easily get to it if you still want to go. By the way, most people I know who live here have never even been to my 'other' office where I have worked for years: the Grand Canyon. So, have you? Thanks for posting your comments, HappyinNM, and let me tell you if you have been to the Gila Wilderness you are a rarity in the fold, since many people have not. That's also one of my very, very favorite places to go from time to time.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:30:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We drove passed the Grand Canyon on our (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        way to Las Vegas (NV). Saw the Petrified Forest, but not the Painted Desert. Was quite surprised to find that the reason it's "petrified" is because it was destroyed (by something). Was really expecting to see a forest. We spent the night in Flagstaff in a motel with a huge picture window overlooking a snow-covered forest area. Pretty exciting for this desert dweller. We ran out of time and money to stop at the Grand Canyon on the way back. So that's still on the bucket list. I don't have enough of a yen to see the Gila, so we probably won't. See further comments below.

        •  if you miss seeing the Gila. . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          you miss the best of the southern part of the state. That's an opinion of many folks. I find it enthralling green country and that's always a pleasant change of scenery on the eyes (compared to the usual desert pavement country). And no one, yet, has commented on the San Augustine Plains and the stunning VLA (Very Large Array), where the likes of "Contact" was partially filled, and the opening to "2010." That's worth seeing, too, then to Quemado, and from there head down toward the Gila and that town where Pat Garrett was shot. I'm sure you all know the name. . .has "silver" in it. . .hint.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:01:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Lots of great places to go (4+ / 0-)

      As I mentioned in the White Sands diary, I highly recommend at least a road trip through the Sacramento Mountains. It's amazing to feel the contrast between the high mountain valleys and the desert floor.

      Taos is lovely, as is the Santa Fe National Forest, lots of great aspens, and you might also want to get yourself up to Chama and take the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad. It's especially gorgeous in fall when the leaves are turning.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:31:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think I've seen everything that abuts (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, raincrow, RiveroftheWest

        I-25 (within NM). I've been to White Sands numerous times, and on up Hwy 70 to Ruidoso. We've stopped at the three reservations between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and spent time talking to the people in the main stores. We drove through another reservation (though I don't know which one), but it's between Lamy and Moriarty. That was a peaceful, beautiful ride through fields of wildflowers. And we went west on I-40 from Albuquerque, through the Acoma reservation, with the pueblo built right into the mountains. That was amazing, but we didn't stop. One day (I've promised) we'll take the train that begins at Chama. And after the diary about Taos, I really want to go there. Note: I've been to many places outside of NM.

    •  oh, HappyinNM, when you go (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      leave another day so you can visit Sitting Bull Falls. Same National Park area, but don't go on a holiday weekend. It's a little paradise of a park in a blind canyon with some springs.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:32:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you folks are keeping me busy. . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1, RiveroftheWest

        with all your recommendations. HA! And I"ve never seen Sitting Bull Falls. Guess I'll have to add it to growing list this community tends to weave and tease with such places to visit. But thanks. I don't mind teasing if it's along such lines.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:48:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great stuff! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

    Even the then 5 year old b2 boy enjoyed it after warming up to the dim lighting.  (I knew it would be a problem and actually carried a tiny flashlight on our trip out from NY for him in anticipation of this problem.)  And walking the mile or so loop walk was easy, even for older folks and those with strollers.

    And it gave me an excuse to stop at Roswell.    

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:17:00 AM PDT

    •  two different worlds entirely. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boran2

      Carlsbad and Roswell. I have actually folks who preferred Alien City to the underground world of Carlsbad. Each to his or her own, I suppose. Now I think I'll finish up these comments, put the final touches on tomorrow's diary on Antelope Canyon, then go watch ET. Haven't seen it for years and suddenly the urge strikes to watch it again.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:45:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When we were there... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        ...it struck me how the town with the alien story/myth appeared much more prosperous than the town with the world-class natural attraction.  Go figure.  In all fairness, I did enjoy both places.

        Good luck with your preparations, and enjoy ET.  

        I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

        by boran2 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:08:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ready to go. . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          boran2

          Antelope Canyon, finally (lots of pics) and soon, ET Phone Me (from the screen sorta). See you tomorrow morning, some time, I'm thinking, boran2.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:52:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Heinlein and the caves (2+ / 0-)

    Robert A. Heinlein set part of a novella, "If This Goes On--" in Carlsbad Caverns.

    Thanks for posting these travel diaries. They give me a mini-vacation at my desk.

    Zen is "infinite respect for all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility for all things future."--Huston Smith's Zen Master

    by Ree Zen on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:23:56 AM PDT

    •  and thank you for info. . . (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, elfling, Ree Zen

      Heinlein's novella. I think you just gave me my next tome to read. I trust it's still readily available. Meanwhile, I am very happy to give you and others something in the guise of a travel diary. I have heard this remark a time or two or three from other DKos community members. I can provide the info, but I'm sorry to say I can't afford to chip in for the real vacation, should you do such. (I'm so broke most of the time I can't even pay attention). Thanks for posting your comments, Ree Zen.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:26:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re Heinlein (0+ / 0-)

        The novella may also be available in the collection Revolt in 2100, with other stories by Heinlein. Enjoy!

        Zen is "infinite respect for all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility for all things future."--Huston Smith's Zen Master

        by Ree Zen on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:53:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I already discovered this. . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ree Zen, RiveroftheWest

          I have a Robert H fan big time and he emailed a while ago (to my query) and I saw that's it for sale on Amazon, used. Will have to get it. But thanks to you for first telling me about the story, Ree Zen. Most kind!

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:43:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was born in Carlsbad and never grew tired (6+ / 0-)

    of our taking visiting family to the Caverns. In the late 50's and early 60's the Park Rangers guided tours of 30 or so visitors and would turn off the lights for a few minutes in The Great Room. Total darkness, with only the soft sound of dripping water and the cool dampness of the cave to remind you how different the world was below the desert.  
     Remember the difference between stalagmites and stalactites? Stalactites "hang on tight" and stalagmites "try with all their might" to reach the top.
    Great memories.

    •  This occurred in 1970 when we were there, too. n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FindingMyVoice, raincrow, BlackSheep1
      •  I always acknowledge comments. . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

        RiveroftheWest. . .even those with n/t (which I used to think meant no tango, or some such in Spanish. . .then someone who does a lot of texting enlightened me. (I'm not what you might call the most 21st-century type. HA!)

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:30:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  's okay, I'm a Luddite myself! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FindingMyVoice

          Thank you for this diary and the other lovely ones you've done lately, Rich. I appreciate that you take the time to respond to everyone who comments -- pretty rare, really! Thanks --

          •  speaking of which. . . (3+ / 0-)

            a fellow diarist said to me he thinks I may one of the few who does answer all the comments. Well, I don't know about that, but here's my take on it, RiveroftheWest: If people are thoughtful enough to respond to one of my diaries, then by god I'm eager to respond and return the favor. It's just my nature. Look for tomorrow's diary on ANTELOPE CANYON. I think you'll fit right in (that's a pun, by the way. . .you'll see). And the following day more slot canyon hiking, including a lengthy list of ALL the slots in the Southwest. I'm thinking I'm going to be rather busy with replies to comments. HA!

            Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

            by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:32:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  thanks for that rhyme. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FindingMyVoice

      and funny thing. . .I never heard of it. Until now. You just made remembering the difference between the two quite a lot easier, Ishmaelbychoice (Dan's character in his book, right? Was a friend of mine, by the way.) And growing up in that neck of the woods. . .and in that era. . .that must have quite something. Great memories for you, indeed. Consider writing a diary and sharing with the rest of us. I think you'll find a receptive audience, starting with me. I love anything about the Southwest that took place in the 1950s and 60s (even before).

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:28:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My first visit to Carlsbad Caverns was (3+ / 0-)

      in this same time frame (probably 1955-56) and after we'd hiked in for about half an hour, the guide stopped us and they turned off the lights. Couldn't see your hand in front of your face. I don't know that I'd ever experienced such darkness. Anyone who's ever spent a night in the southwest knows how much light you get from the moon and stars....not truly dark. My brother lives in a small "village" about 10 miles south of I-40. No street lights, traffic lights, etc. The best place I've ever been for looking at the stars. Glorious!

      The world is not interested in the storms you encountered, but did you bring in the ship.

      by Hanging Up My Tusks on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:11:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the lava tubes. . . (4+ / 0-)

        near Grants (New Mexico). . .same thing: total darkness when lights are turned off. Even saw the skeleton of a deer that likely had wandered into that drift, I think the engineers call such tunnels, and apparently couldn't find its way out again. Poor dear! Anyway, you're right about the blanket of darkness. And the dark sky of New Mexico, in places. . .as you said, "Glorious!" Thank you for posting your comment.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:30:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I grew up near Niagara Falls, and am the same way (0+ / 0-)

      We'd be at or around the falls at least a couple times a month.   I miss going there, now that I've moved away.  But whenever I'm visiting family up there, we always make time to go over to the state park & stand at the edge of the American Falls and lose ourselves watching the water flow over the precipice.

      Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

      by FindingMyVoice on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:49:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the Canadian side. . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

        I really did love it the best, though it doesn't mean I'm saying Canada's the best! Say, I wonder. . .did you ever go over the falls in a barrel? Can you imagine! Anyway, they are a splendorous knick point on that awesome river. Have you ever heard that geologic term before, about falls? I'm thinking that you have. Thanks for posting another comment, FindingMyVoice.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:41:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, they have the best views (& all that fun (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          tourist-y stuff and incredible gardens), but the US side, with NY state park, is natural and beautiful.  All depends on what you're looking for at the moment!!

          My favorite time of year to see the falls is winter.  The mist coats everything in ice.

          Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

          by FindingMyVoice on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 06:00:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ah, forgot about that. . . (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            NY State Park. Decided to visit there on the way out (and almost didn't). But glad I did. Worth the time to visit. I also have never been to the falls in the winter. I am not that brave to winter out up there. You folks born in that region were also born with down-skin, or something. I'm thinking. Anyway, I just looked at Google Images N falls pics of wintry scene. Rather poetic and is there something archetypal in those scenes, besides?

            Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

            by richholtzin on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 11:25:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Went there about 3 years ago. (3+ / 0-)

    And it is truly awesome. I was amazed at the vastness of the caverns and the beauty. This is worth a trip if you're in the neighborhood. Also, the "alien" town of Roswell just north of Carlsbad is a hoot.

    Abortion Clinics OnLine, the world's first and largest source for online abortion clinic information. Join my DK Abortion Group.

    by annrose on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:34:42 AM PDT

    •  "alien town" . . . (3+ / 0-)

      now that's funny. I never thought of Roswell that way, but you did. And they have a funky new museum there that I hear is worth seeing and pondering (it's theories of a whole other kind). Thank you for posting your comment, annrose, and I, along with some others in the community, likely, will check out your embedded link.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:25:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ooh! The Crash Site Cafe was our favorite (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, RiveroftheWest, BlackSheep1

        lunch spot when we went through Roswell.   All sorts of sci-fi memorabilia decor and good burritos :)    My husband was posted at White Sands when he was in the army, so Area 51 lore was plentiful.  

        Great series, btw - I'm enjoying your diaries tremendously!

        Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

        by FindingMyVoice on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:53:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder why they named it that? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

          LOL! I ate there once and didn't they have something on the menu called an "Alien Burger," or some such? Geesh. And Area 51. . .talk about hyperbole, lore, truth and science all colliding at one focal point! I am glad you're enjoying the series and I very much thank you for the support. More to come, like tomorrow's Antelope Canyon Tour, best dog-gone slot canyon in the Southwest, at least it's the most popular. Get ready to squeeze down a bit and slip through the most lovely and tortuous canyon walls with the most compelling color!

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:36:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Looking to head here this Spring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    Thanks for the advance write-up!

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

    by Phoenix Rising on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:41:24 AM PDT

    •  see the comment below. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      if you haven't done so already. If I had the money to spare, I would gladly pay asterion for the supplemental travel info. It's that great and helpful! Bon voyage when you do go, Phoenix Rising and write a diary when you return. You know.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:19:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There has been work above-ground (6+ / 0-)

    Now, the last time I was there was in late 2008, but back then the above-ground visitor center and parking was all closed. Basically, old sewage lines and fluids from cars were slowly making their way through the ground into the cave, discoloring formations and possibly changing the environment. Here's a paper from the USGS: http://water.usgs.gov/...

    So, if you visit, please do the following: Drive and park only where marked, do not bring any food items (and this includes gum and mints) into the cave, wear clean clothes that don't shed, and stay on the paths and don't touch anything. I often wonder if the caverns were discovered these days if any real access would be allowed at all or if it would wind up being like Lechuguilla.

    Sometimes I feel like damaging anything that's been set aside to be protected should carry a lot stronger penalty than it does. It only takes one idiot to ruin something.

    A travel note: Carlsbad is stuck in a fairly unaccessible corner of NM and your best option from El Paso (also probably your best option from Las Cruces) is to take US-62/US-180 across the Guadalupe Mountains. Now, that is a beautiful drive, but it's a whole lot of nothing between El Paso and White's City, so make sure you've got plenty of gas and don't plan on having to stop until you're in El Paso.

    •  folks, you just heard it from a salient source. . (3+ / 0-)

      pivotal info to consider when you go to Carlsbad. And asterion, I'd say you have a great mini diary given what you so generously shared with the rest of us. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. And I keep saying it, but this community is sine qua non. That and so much more. (I am tempted to copy and paste what you wrote into the original diary, if that sort of thing is permissible, and of course, giving you credit for supplying such excellent travel info to the original diary.) Again, thank you for posting these comments.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:17:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Take whatever you'd like (4+ / 0-)

        I grew up in New Mexico and, as I said, I hate seeing idiots ruining things for the rest of us. Caves like Carlsbad take damage a lot more easily than many other areas (I like to think of them as the underground equivalent of alpine tundra.)

        Anyway, as long as I'm giving out driving directions, the other obvious approach is from the north, having left from say Albuquerque. That route is generally I-40 to Clines Corners and then south on US-285 until you hit Carlsbad. There's at least more places to stop at on the way there, including a rest area and both Roswell and Artesia. Just watch for pronghorn; the last time I took 285 I had to come to a complete stop for one that was just standing on the highway.

        And a comment about the US-180 route: If heading to/from Las Cruces, El Paso, and points west, the other option of course is the route of 285 to Artesia then US-82 to Alamagordo followed by I-70 and then west from there. That's actually a pretty long drive as you have to go across the Lincoln National Forest and again, there's not a whole lot on US-82 and nothing on US-70 while on White Sands Missile Range. My experience with Easterners over the years is that they have no understanding of what the distances can be like in the West and that there are very few places to stop for supplies between cities. I meant to make a comment about US-70 in your White Sands diary.

        •  more travel wealth and knowledge. . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          Dkos community, and I know they, like myself, really appreciates what you're giving out. (Do you also have a good suggestion for traveling from Albuquerque to Big Bend???). And that bit about Easterners not understanding mileage in the west, well, when I first moved to Colorado, late 1969, and had a job working as a traffic clerk for CF & I steel, those old codgers convinced me road miles Out West were actually longer. That's right: a mile was longer, which I couldn't really believe such stuff, but when I came back from my first trip to the Grand Canyon those 400 or so miles sure seemed like a lot more. LOL. Anyway, thanks, as always, for your helpful information. I know I appreciate hearing from you about such.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:33:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent advise, asterion. (4+ / 0-)

      I've traveled both those routes and there's a whole lot of nothing between towns.

      Additional advise for those who travel during the summer "monsoon" season: don't drive on a bridge or road that's covered with water. That whole area is so dry and people think the ground will be a sponge when the rains come. Not the case. Water rushes down from the mountains and hills and can wash out roads/bridges and carry away vehicles that are on them.

      The world is not interested in the storms you encountered, but did you bring in the ship.

      by Hanging Up My Tusks on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:18:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I want to go. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, raincrow

    But yuck, I have to travel thru AZ to get there.

    Republicans - they measure our national success by corporate profit margin, not the well being of the citizens.

    by egarratt on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:05:48 AM PDT

    •  Although I appreciate your political concerns (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

      Arizona is its own kind of special, and should not be ceded to crazies. There is a great deal of our heritage to see and appreciate there. :-)

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:34:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  nope, not ceded. . . (3+ / 0-)

        and I agree. I have lived there for many years. I think I have also hiked just about every bit of real estate, including Navajo owned, there is to hike. I try, however, to avoid the cities whenever possible. I think there is where the activity of the strange rangers roost and sometimes 'strange' is okay, too. Certainly eccentric is okay, too (i.e., say, around Weaver, or Congress, or Yarnell. . .)

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:11:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think I'll ever forget the day we wandered (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          into Colorado City, though... :-o

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:39:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  do I detect some humor here??? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            I dare not say. Folks get mighty touchy about their home or adopted towns. HA!

            Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

            by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:55:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have never felt so unwelcome in a place (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest, BlackSheep1

              in my life. Only afterwards did I find out why that place didn't want you on 'their' road, and didn't want you to stop, not even for gas. :-o

              I haven't been through there since Warren Jeffs was finally arrested and the FLDS had to yield to American law.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:15:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Warren Jeffs. . . (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest

                did you have to bring up that subject? ha! Yeah, I've been there a time or two before. One of Yavapai College's Elderhostel Instructors (or else it was Flagstaff's NAU), where I also taught, was from there and did a rather job of entertaining the groups. She was friendly and people liked her. But the others were sort of a throwback, I thought, to the Mountain Meadow Massacre days. Or something.

                Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

                by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:29:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  it depends where you go. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

      and find the slow roads around the bigger metropolis' like Phoenix, say, headed east toward Wickenburg, then take any which direction to get where you want to go. Or try the magnificent Salt River Canyon, say, from the base of the Mogollon Rim, headed toward Show Low and you will be in glorious country (and the people are friendly). Arizona is a good state with ample beauty and good people. The trick is not letting the dunderheads living there ruin it for the rest of us. I might even add, without sounding too preachy, how I find meeting rude people is refreshing in one way, at least: Because I'm not like them. Just leave 'em with a smile and leave 'em guessing. That's my motto.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:14:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm reminded of this song (5+ / 0-)

    that appears to be widely used in outdoor ed programs here on the North Coast:

    Bats eat Bugs, they don't eat people
    Bats eat bugs, they don't fly in your hair
    Bats eat bugs, they eat insects for dinner
    thats why they're flying up there.
    (One of the best things about being a parent is the cool field trips that I never got to take when I was in school... :-) )

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:46:51 AM PDT

    •  how cute! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

      I have never, ever, heard this song/words before and now it's going to be one of my favorite chants when I get folks back into the canyon and do some night-flying demos, such as someone holds the flashlight directly over my head, at night of course, and the bats zip to and fro picking off whatever's close to my hair, and the game is whoever has the most bat strikes (meaning, close calls) wins the game. Guess who always wins that game? That's me, the instructor.  . .me, because I know what you just wrote given the words to this song is utterly true. Thanks for posting the comment and song, elfling.

      P. S. The record (thus far) is 21 or 22 (I forget the exact number). But someone else, of course, may have a higher count. I only know it has to be the record for a Grand Canyon Field Institute trek. (By the way, I think bats are just about the coolest flying critters, ever. . .though ravens of my very favorite avians of all time.)

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:09:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Full lyrics are here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FindingMyVoice, RiveroftheWest

        http://www.osp.santacruz.k12.ca.us/...

        and I'm sure someone has a youtube with the melody.

        At the outdoor ed we did a couple of years ago, there was a bat game where everyone made a circle around the "bat" and his "moth" victim and the bat would make noises and the moth would have to call back "moth" and the circle had to make noises back if the bat got close to the "wall". Very fun variant of tag, pretty educational for all involved to try. It was one of the games on the night hike.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:37:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's a new bat game. . . (3+ / 0-)

          and are we talking about a brownie or some such larger critter? IN the canyon we tend to have myotis and pippy's. . .and they are two fleet and feisty to play in such games. You must have special bats where you were! Anyway, let me see if I can find the Youtube to this cute song you sent. If I find it, you'll be the second to know (after me), elfling. And do you know how to mimic echolocation sounds? I came pretty close, but there is hardly any amplification.  

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:53:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  much gracias. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, FindingMyVoice

      and it is my hope you either have been to the caverns or some day will. I mean, pictures and text of explanation aside, there truly is nothing like seeing this exceptional underground world in person. Thanks for posting your comment and support.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:05:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree. I've never experienced anything quite (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FindingMyVoice, RiveroftheWest

        like Carlsbad Caverns. They're majestic and intimate at the same time.

        If you visit on a summer day, don't forget to take a sweater or long-sleeve shirt to put on once in the bowels of the caverns. It can be fairly cool there (a real bonus on a scorching day!) and you'll want something more than a tee.

        Thanks again, Rich, for another wonderful diary.

        The world is not interested in the storms you encountered, but did you bring in the ship.

        by Hanging Up My Tusks on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:25:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Stunning! (3+ / 0-)

    I've never been there but this looks like a trek I could manage, as opposed to some of the rigorous hikes you've outlined previously.  :-)

    I've been to Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal, Eagle Cave in Wisconsin, and Crystal Cave in, hmmm, was it W. Virginia? Or maybe Pennsylivania?  Anyway, my claustrophobia isn't too bad in caves with lights and lots of open spaces.  The local caves are another story - too many tight spaces.  

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:38:54 AM PDT

    •  thanks for the comment. . . (3+ / 0-)

      luckylizard. . .and your remark reminds me I really need to focus on some diaries that suggests easier hikes for folks. And here's one right off the bat: if you go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon take the "Trail of Time" trail, on the rim, which is paved and accessible to battery-operated transport and the like. I will see about what other places that will appeal to you and others that won't tax the heck out of your stamina. I am also wondering if anyone in the DKos community knows if there is similar transport available in Carlsbad, at least for a limited amount of distance to travel and rooms to see. But if you are able to walk, seeing the caverns is not all that taxing. None of those caverns that you mentioned have I been to, sorry to say, but I can look them up online and get a virtual tour, the way my diaries reveal such scenery and information. Thanks for posting your comments and bringing this point to mind (about my posting too many arduous hikes and such).

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:48:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except for mark Twain Cave, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FindingMyVoice, RiveroftheWest

        they're pretty unknown, and all three are smaller than Carlsbad.  I did not set out to visit any of them but they were near or on the way to another destination.

        Eagle Cave is cool simply because you have to imagine what it was like long ago.   The interior is onyx but all the best bits have long since been removed.  Only here and there can you get a glimpse of some of the neat colors that used to be there.  It's biggest claim to fame lately is that it's used by Scouts for winter encampments.  Even though the interior temp is constant (in the 50s year-round) that's a lot warmer than the winter temps outside.  :-)

        -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

        by luckylizard on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:22:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks for this followup comment. . . (3+ / 0-)

          and no wonder the Scouts like camping there, since caves have a year-round steady temperature, and are perfectly great during the hotter months, for camping. I love that Langston Hughes tagline of yours. We all need reminders of such encouragement. Incidentally, there aren't too many caverns, like Carlsbad, with so many glorious colors; at least to my knowledge this is the case. I think one of its big draws for tourism, besides being one of the larger caverns, is its gorgeous colors and shapely shapes all brought about by little more than rain water and the right calcium carbonate solution. Nature sure is wonderful, isn't she?

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:02:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Big Room is partially accessible (3+ / 0-)

        It is possible to take the elevator down right into the underground lunchroom and see the Big Room. Here's the NPS info: http://www.nps.gov/...

        I would think that most of the cave (not including the natural entrance route) is pretty accessible if it's only a question of stamina and not a wheelchair.

        •  there is that. . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          mostly accessible, asterion, but I think it's the 'blue' line tour (or perhaps it's the 'red') that is only accessible for the, shall we say, more stalwart and physically able. In other words, it's not paved and it's the real McCoy without the smoother walkway. I"m going to go check on that and make sure I'm not misleading myself, much less you learned others. Thanks, again, for the posting and the embedded info that I am sure the community also appreciates. Looks like everyone really does chip in to the merit of a diary, which, of course, is what a vibrant and meaningful community is really all about (and something my co-founder of nmstarg.com always reminds me given the substance of this community).

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:25:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Small but spectacular (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, BlackSheep1

    Carlsbad -- at least the public access part -- shocked me when I visited. It seemed so teeny compared to the caverns I'd grown up with, Virginia's Luray Caverns! Perhaps because of its fame, I'd always assumed from the time I was a little girl that Carlsbad was a behemoth of a place.  ;D

    The formations are absolutely spectacular, first-rate.

    When I visited in '90, I was sitting on a bench near the mouth of the Big Room, iirc, listening to a very, very tired-sounding child trying not to cry but finally losing the battle as her party approached. Turned out to be a mother carrying an infant, her very small and frail-looking mother, and her 5-year-old daughter, who was tired and cranky from walking, and probably unhappy that her mother now carried a little baby and could no longer carry her...

    They spoke not a word of English, and my Spanish was very rusty, but I volunteered to carry the 5-year-old piggyback. We had a great time making the rest of the circuit, and they invited me to their house for dinner, but sadly I had to decline so I could drive like a madwoman back to San Antonio to catch a plane home.

    The aboveground National Park and the Guadalupes are definitely worth seeing, just beautiful.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:22:24 PM PDT

    •  what a sweet story. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, raincrow

      and isn't it strange wonderful how people's lives interact in singular places, doing singular things? Loved the story and the comment, raincrow. And I thank you (as does the DKos community, I'm sure), for such an out of way story that always finds its way into the heart. Luray Caverns, yes, very huge. But, of course, not all caverns are alike, not even equal. I think the thing Carlsbad has going for it is both the variety and the color. I'll have to go and checkout Luary online and refresh my memory a bit. It's been years since I've been there. Thanks for refreshing my interest in same.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:22:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I first visited Carlsbad . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

       when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. It's the first cave I ever visited. I loved the pools of water at the bottom of the cave. It doesn't look much different than it did fifty years ago. I'd like to see a picture of the lunchroom. The very early tours only had incandescent lights on wires strung down into the cave. I walked my grandmother down when she was over seventy, but we rode the elevator back up. Every kid in America should get to see Carslbad. Thanks Rich for taking us to these places some of us can't get to anymore.

    •  found a picture. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      of the lunchroom, lorell, which I did not think to insert into the diary (I guess I just overlooked it), but the more I think about it, wow. . .it was one of the highlights for me, because I splurged and treated myself to lunch and coffee. Thanks so much for your comments, too. . .and for reminding me never to overlook the tummy stuff, even with all the neat caverns scenes, including (obviously) the lunchroom.

      Hope this picture comes out. . .if not, let me know and I'll figure another way to go about it.

      Rich

      http://anotherheader.files.wordpress.com/...

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 05:57:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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