Delayed Entry - No WiFi - Whites City visiting Carlsbad Caverns Nat. Park
Nov 5, 2007
|Monday, Nov. 5
Whites City, NM Weather
Whites City is at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Information about Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Information about Guadalupe Mountains
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Hello Family and Friends,
This Journal entry was delayed because we did not have web access at our campgrounds.
Another great day above and below ground.
We arrived at the Natural Entrance to Carlsbad Cavern at about 8:45 AM, walked down into the cavern and resurfaced from ~800 feet down using the elevator at 12:45 PM.
We used my National Park Senior Pass to access the Main Corridor and the Big Room without fee and paid extra (me at 50%) to receive a ranger guided tour of the King's Palace and Queen's Chamber.
The Main Corridor descends at a steep, paved and hand-railed (installed in 2000) path with little light. We used my cap that has two LED lights in the brim to illuminate the path. We passed the Bat Cave on the way down but most of the hundreds of thousands of Mexican Free-tailed bats have returned to Mexico for the winter.
The Natural Entrance to the cave was found by a ranch hand of a local ranch. He thought he saw smoke coming from the top of the mountain and as he approached, he noticed that the smoke was spitting apart and moving sideways. The smoke-like appearance was the bats exiting the Natural Entrance at dusk.
100,000 tons of bat dung was removed from the Bat Cave in the early 1900's and sent to California to be used as fertilizer for the developing citrus groves. The dung was removed in buckets as shown in one of the attached photos.
We arrived at the rest area/lunchroom 800 feet down at 9:30 in time for our ranger-guided tour to the King and Queen Caverns that can be accessed only in ranger controlled groups, twice a day. Our tour guide was excellent in his hour-long presentation as we navigated the spectacular caverns.
In the Queen's Chamber Cavern, we spent several minutes in total darkness and some time with total silence - except for the ringing in my ears. We could not see our hands inches from our faces. We all had to sit during the experience since vertigo could have been felt by some.
In the 1930's, a tunnel was blasted through from one cavern to another and the guide asked that, as we pass through, we observe the baby stalactites forming from the tunnel ceiling. They had grown about 3/8 inch in 76 years.
After the guided tour, we spent an hour walking on the circuitous path into the Big Room that seemed to go on forever with a different formation at every turn.
Geology 101 As Presented by Our Tour Guide Ranger - 250 million years ago, this part of the world was originally where Panama is now and under water. A 400 mile, horseshoe-shaped reef was formed which moved north to its current location, was covered by thousands of feet of volcanic ash from the volcano sites that we visited near Flagstaff, AZ some days ago and was raised up (the same as the Grand Canyon area) and exposed as the ash layer was eroded away.
Five different ice ages occurred and the melted ice from the thick glaciers seeped down into the limestone rock with some carbon compounds and combined with the carbon disulfide coming up from the oil deep below to form sulfuric acid. The acid dissolved the old reef material which then seeped somewhere leaving the caverns.
I learned that nobody knows where all of the dissolved material went that was in the volume of the now-existing caverns. I did ask 4 rangers and got 4 answers as to where it all went. The last was our tour guide who said that nobody knows for sure.
Over the last 500,000 years, water seeped down through cracks in the limestone into the caverns and carried with it calcite that collected in stalactites from above and stalagmites from below as the water evaporated.
We took the afternoon off to create our Journal entry and relax. We will use the campground LAN hooked to my laptop to access the Good Sam MyJournal web site.
Yesterday, on our way from Silver City, NM to Whites City, NM, we were stopped at a Border Patrol Station in Texas just east of El Paso. All vehicles had to stop to be inspected for illegals.
The officer asked "Just two people?" and I responded "Two people and four dogs." There was doubt on his south-of-the-border-appearance-face so Kathleen picked up Martha who was lounging at her feet and the others raised their heads from their slumber to be counted. The officer walked around our truck/RV and then wished us a good day.
Traveling across northwest Texas, just south of the New Mexico border was very uneventful - flat, more flat, dry and more dry. See the photos. We had picked up a new book on CD in Tucson at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant and listened to several of the 16 CDs as we crossed the barren landscape. It made the time go fast as we traveled forever straight at 65 MPH for 100 miles.
Tomorrow, we will drive south about 20 miles to Texas and the Guadalupe National Park where we plan to walk part of the McKittrick Canyon trail and visit the Park Visitor's Center to learn about the park and get Kathleen's park book stamped.
Wednesday, we are leaving Whites City (no houses, one motel, some shops and one rough RV campground) a day early to travel half way to Terlingua Ranch RV Campground, which is on the Big Bend National Park northern boundary.
Have a great Tuesday,
Steve and Kathleen
Fuel Since Last Entry: 27.1 gallons @ $3.50/gal. in Whites City