Monday, June 15, 2009

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We are going way back in time again to the longest Roadtrip I've ever driven, the same Roadtrip that had me driving to the top of Pikes Peak, Skycoastering at Royal Gorge and swimming in Lake Havasu, with Texas, the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Yosemite and many others points along the way, some of which I remember clearly, others, not so much.

This particular Roadtrip took place in 1979. Judging by the photo I was a bit younger than I am in 2009. It appears I was still in my radical phase, wearing my Mao jacket and hat that I got in Chinatown in San Francisco the year before.

I remember a lot of this Roadtrip in extreme detail. And then there are parts of it where my memory is hazy. I remember the walk through Carlsbad Caverns, but I do not remember the means by which I entered the cavern. Lewis & Clark Caverns in Montana, I remember clearly, same with Wind Cave National Park and the cavern at Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

I remember being amazed at how huge the various rooms were in Carlsbad and how ornate the formations are. I remember the tour ending in a huge room with a paved floor, with a cafeteria and picnic tables. This was quite an unexpected thing to see deep in a cave. The exit from that point was an elevator ride back to the surface.

I remember a Dairy Queen near the visitors center. I have no memory of the visitors center. I have consulted with someone who has recently been to Carlsbad Caverns and who lives nearby. She tells me there is currently no Dairy Queen.

You can either enter the cave via the natural entrance, which is a short distance from the visitors center. Or you can take the elevator from the visitors center to the Big Cave, where the underground cafeteria is. From there you can follow the paved route through the Big Room. For the most part this is wheelchair accessible.

The pitstop the night before going through Carlsbad Caverns was a KOA campground in Carlsbad, if my memory is serving me correctly. What I do remember very distinctly is that night, at dusk, sitting outside at a Burger King, with locals warning us that we should get inside. They did not tell us why we should get inside. When the sun set we found out why. Huge ironclad beetles begin falling out of the sky. I'd never seen anything like it.

I had never seen so many disturbing insects ever as I did in the Roswell/Carlsbad area. Tarantulas on the road, huge long centipedes. And those iron clad beetles.

After Carlsbad Caverns it was on to Texas for the first time, just Roadtripping a slender slice of Texas, driving by Guadalupe National Park and passing through El Paso, heading towards that night's pitstop, the location of which I can not remember. I should have taken notes.

No comments: