Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carlsbad & Roswell, NM

We finally made it to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. As the largest cave system in the western hemisphere, and the most visited cave in the US, I’ve been trying to get here for years. Over the years we’ve visited many of the caves in the US open to the public. DSC_0158 Except possibly for Karchner Caverns near Tucson, nothing we’ve seen compares with Carlsbad. There are several tours available here—we elected to take the self-guided tour through the “big room”, which is aptly named.

The big room is 750 feet below the surface, and it is huge. The paved walkway which roughly leads around the perimeter of the room is just over a mile long. Carlsbad has a natural entrance, which, during the summer, is the entrance and exit for thousands of bats that live in one section (not open to the public) of the cavern by day, and fly out into the desert by night to eat bugs. The natural entrance is a path that leads down to the big room, but since there are all sorts of warnings about the trail being extremely rough and strenuous, we elected to take the elevator.


Aside from it’s immense size, the big room is one of the most densely decorated caves open to visitors, with hundreds of stalactites, stalagmites,  columns, etc. It is really quite breathtaking.

The RV park we’re staying in is north of the town of Carlsbad which is north of the caverns. It is also about an hour south of Roswell, NM, aDSC_0168 town that takes it’s reputation as the UFO capital of the world quite seriously. Well, maybe seriously isn’t exactly the correct word. The street lamps in the town carry the alien theme. I thought the Sana hats were a nice touch.







Roswell has a UFO Museum and Research Center which, unfortunately, doesn’t have any actual specimens. They do have a nice collection of displays and news accounts about the 1947 incident in which a flying saucer crashed on a ranch not far from the town. Several movies have been made about this incident, which touched off a world-wide search for evidence of alien visitors, and later, touched off “The X-Files.”  Initially, the Army Air Force (AAF) admitted that a “disc” had crashed on the ranch. The rancher who found it was later held prisoner by the AAF, the crash site was sanitized, and the AAF presented evidence that the “disc” was really a weather balloon. Years later, the AAF public affairs officer admitted the weather balloon story was a fabrication, and since then details of the incident are still considered top secret by the US government as a matter of national security. I don’t know if President Obama has had a chance to look into the matter yet.DSC_0172

Interestingly, as we were returning from Roswell, I was able to get a shot of something unusual over the trees. You be the judge.


We’ve had some pretty lousy weather on this leg of the trip, wind, rain and snow. And it’s been quite cold at night. But the clouds sometimes make for nice sunrises and sunsets. Personally, I’ve never been interested in seeing the sun come up. The image below is a sunset in Carlsbad.



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