Well, I learned a valuable lesson recently. I was really feeling pretty smug about buying a second battery for my camera last summer and I had even learned to carry it, and a second memory card, in my purse. What apparently I had not learned was that it’s very important to charge BOTH batteries after they are used. At any rate, when my camera told me to change the battery pack, we went back out to the car and replaced it with the one from my purse…wrong! Same message, and it only took one picture before telling me to change again. At any rate, the first part of the tour before the premature death of the battery, we got lots of pictures, but none of them do justice to the magnificence of Carlsbad Caverns.
LeRoy had visited the Caverns in the 1950s, but I had never been there. A year ago in the winter, we toured Kartchner Caverns near Sierra Vista. That site was very impressive, but nothing on the scale of Carlsbad Caverns. I learned in elementary school that stalactites grow from the ceiling down, while stalagmites go from the floor upward. You know, the “mites” go up and the “tites” come down, much like ants in the pants. I know that columns are where the two meet in the middle and continue to grow larger in circumference. Drapes are fascinating formations from the ceiling down that look very much like folds of fabric. Knowing about the formations, though, and being prepared to see them are two very different things.
The thought that came to me as we walked the path through the Big Room was a scripture from Psalm 8:4, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” When I looked at the magnitude of that one chamber, knowing that places like that exist all over that area of New Mexico, I was in awe. I felt almost as small looking around 754 feet underground as I did walking under the clear, star-filled Arizona night sky. Why did anyone ever even find them? Mankind could have walked on the non-descript surface forever and never have known the beauty that God had created beneath our feet, but He had other plans. Native Americans were probably first, then explorers and today, thousands of tourists from around the world see the enormous cavern. We came just as several busloads, whose passengers were mostly Japanese, were leaving and there were Canadians on our tour of the King’s Palace.
There are times when I wish I were really a photographer and this was definitely one of them. So I’m going to let the woefully pathetic and inadequate pictures tell the story.
Signs apparently weren’t enough to deter people in and/or pushing wheelchairs. Pipe structures were added, impeding access to certain areas.
And at times, a one bar toprail wasn’t enough to assure the safety of park visitors.
The afternoon tour of the King’s Palace, the Queen’s Chamber and the Papoose room between the two included a few minutes of total darkness, the kind where you literally cannot see the person next to you or hand in front of your face. Our guide was an excellent storyteller and really drew his audience into the Cavern’s story.
We’ve moved on to a Corps of Engineers lake between Albuquerque and Santa Fe this week. We met up with Eagles friends Bill and Arlette Klein and will be doing more hiking while we’re here. More on that later.