Main Page > 1997 The Charles Kuralt Memorial Tour >
The Boys were rudely awakened to the sound of a Tow Truck lifting a badly breaked (pun intended!) convertible. Going outside in the bright sun light, Hertz dropped off the exact duplicate car. Moving their luggage and Hall of Shame to their brand-spanking new convertible, they bid Granny, the Frontier Motel, the UFO freaks and geeks a fond adieu, and boogied on to their original destination, the bad-ass, Carlsbad Caverns !!
Cool and Kool Carlsbad Cavern
A few hours south of Roswell, the Boys noticed that the terrain became much more rugged and desolate as they were entering the picturesque Chihuahuan Desert !!! While Mike drove along, Bone looked all over the desert for that annoying Mexican dog (the Taco Bell Chihuahua !!)
Not being able to restrain themselves, Mike and Bone pulled off the road and decided to hiked in a few miles to check out some of the awesome desert scenery !!! They wanted to go over a few ridges just to get a true sense of the dry, dry desert.
Mike finding a cool fossil in the Chihuahuan Desert
Interestingly enough, as the Boys hiked along they started finding fossils all over the desert floor, betraying the Desert's oceanic past. Above is Mike checking out a very cool fossil.
Mike, in the weeds
Mike and Bone marveled at the complete and utter desolation, after an hour and a half they had only encountered a couple hiking in the desert, for the most part there was no one as far as the eye could see.
Desert Rats !!!!
The Chihuahuan Desert near Carlsbad
As the desert started to heat up to low 100's the Boys decided to head for deep cover, which is why they headed for one of the biggest holes in the ground, Carlsbad Caverns!! Realizing that it may take a few hours to descend to the Cave's floor, the Boys wanted to be prepared and not be thirsty, so they stuffed two canned beers each, for the trip into the bowels of the earth!
Mike and Bone finally "Hitting the Hole"
As they descended with a group of fellow amateur spelunkers and a National Park Ranger into the Cave. As the Boys looked on in total awe, the National Park Ranger gave the little group some very interesting information about Carlsbad.
What's so great about a hole in the ground? Among the most interesting areas in the National Park System is a series of connected caverns of unusual magnificence and extent called the Carlsbad Caverns. They are located in southeastern New Mexico, in the rugged foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains. The region is picturesque semi-desert country, and its unusual cactus vegetation is as strange and interesting to many visitors as are the caverns themselves.
Carlsbad Caverns, like most caves, is a series of openings in a massive limestone which were made by percolating ground water. The Carlsbad limestone in which these caverns were formed was laid down originally in a sea of muddy water some 200 million years ago.
After the great series of chambers forming the main portions of the caverns were formed, nature took up the task of decorating them with a myriad of beautifully sculptured effects in the form of stalagmites, stalactites, more irregular spiral forms known as helectites, enormous columns, curtains seemingly of alabaster, and other limestone ornamentations.
The immensity of the large rooms, the beauty of form, and the impenetrable stillness leave an indelible impression upon all who venture into this fairyland.
The most impressive portion of the Carlsbad Caverns is the Big Room, an enormous chamber a mile and a half from the entrance. It is nearly 4,000 feet long, with a maximum width of 625 feet. At one place the ceiling rises to a height of 350 feet. In this room the limestone formations are superbly beautiful and of an infinite variety of sizes and shapes. The stalactites vary from almost needlelike proportions to huge chandeliers, and the stalagmites are equally varied, though of different contours. One group of unusually tall and graceful stalagmites resembles the totem poles of the Alaskan Indians and others are like snow-banked forests.
The most outstanding formation in this room is the Giant Dome, 62 feet high, 16 feet in diameter, with a striking resemblance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Nearby are the fountain basins, lined with masses of crystalline onyx marble, which remind one of the hot-springs formations of Yellowstone National Park. The basins are decorated at the rim with crusts of onyx resembling lily pads, formed at the surface of the water in much the same way that ice forms around the edge of a pool.
Ha !! There ain't no bats !!
Extent of the Caverns and of the Park The size of the Carlsbad Caverns has not yet been determined. Already many miles of passages and chambers have been explored, and each year further mileage is conquered. How far the caverns extend under the Guadalupe Mountains can only be conjectured. At the present time the cavern has three main levels, and there may be others not yet discovered. The first is at 750 feet, to which visitors are conducted. Below it is another vast subterranean apartment at 900 feet, and below that still another at 1,320 feet. None of these levels has been completely explored, nor is it the desire of the National Park Service to make further explorations until the present known areas are more fully developed.
"Erh, where's the light switch ?!?"
Exploration of the caves The first white man known to have explored the caverns is Jim White, a cowboy of the locality. This was in 1901. Seeing a dark, moving column issuing from the region, he investigated and found a natural opening in the earth which led down to the caverns. The dark, smoke-like column proved to be alive, a moving stream of bats emerging from their day-long siesta in the darkness of the caves.
With a young Mexican boy as his only companion, Jim White made extensive explorations of the caverns, insuring success in his return by leaving behind him a trail of smudge marks and strings. Many long stretches of string still remain in the less-visited portions of the caverns today, a monument to the intrepid courage of the young cowboy whose love of adventure made him the pioneer explorer of the world's greatest caverns.
After exploring Carlsbad Caverns, Jim White never missed an opportunity to take visitors into his find and share its beauties with them. Their reports of the size and magnificence of the underground chambers led to examinations of the caverns by representatives of the Federal Government and finally resulted in the reservation of the area for public use and enjoyment.
Just a coupla of Spelunkers !!!
Where the Bat's Man !! The bat spectacle which first claimed the attention of Jim White and led to the discovery of the caverns is now one of the great attractions of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Each evening at dusk, except during the winter period of hibernation, millions of bats come forth from a cavern 180 feet below the surface, flying in a spiral through the great entrance arch, and streaming off over the rim in a southerly direction, later to separate into flocks which disappear in the distance for a night's foraging. Beginning about sunset, the flight outward lasts for about 3 hours. The bats return before the following dawn.
It has been estimated that 3,000,000 bats during one night's foray consume a little over 11-1/2 tons of night-flying insects, such as various kinds of moths, beetles, flies, and mosquitoes.
During the day the bats hang by their legs, heads downward, in great clusters high on the walls and ceilings of their particular portion of the cavern. From October until March they hibernate, hanging in this position and seeming almost lifeless.
The portion of the cavern occupied by the bats is a long corridor extending a quarter of a mile eastward from the main entrance, and is not open to visitors, much to Bone's disappointment, where he said "drat's to the bats !"
The dark and chilly path down to the (public) floor of the Carlsbad Cavern
As they descended deeper, the Boys noticed that everything was damp and chilly, which permeated to the bone. Despite it being over 100 degrees and bone-dry on the surface, the Caverns are always at a constant 50 degrees and 90% humidity as the Boys slid and slipped down the ramp to the floor of the Cavern.
An image of one of Bone's favourite female body parts.
It is good to know that God and Bone have similar crude tastes !
The Boys had pretty much behaved themselves to this point, quietly and discretely sipping a cold beer during the walk down, but the sight of the natural wonder above made Bone jump the fence and begin to passionately fondle the stone display. It was only the threat of jail that finally dissuaded Bone's ardor.
"Stalagmites, stalactites, they lock me in and hold me tight,
get me out of this cave !!
Peter Gabriel, The Cave, from a "Lamb Lies down on Broadway"
The lower the Boys went, the more they saw more intricate, and exquisite natural formations, (but none more than the one above !), For example, they saw stalagmite formations the length of a football field.
Mike and Bone, floored by the Floor
After a hour and a half the Boys made it to the floor. By now, they had slurped their two beers and were ready to head back to the surface. Thankfully, the National Park thoughtfully provided the Boys an easier way out of the Cave, with a elevator that took a full 5 minutes to get back to the surface around 3:00 PM.
It took all of point .5 seconds for the Boys to lose their chill from the Cave with the Desert air a burning 105 degrees in an incessant sun. In typical Mike and Bone fashion, they took the car's top down, stocked Hall of Shame and pointed the car southwest towards a city Mike wanted to check out Las Cruces !
Getting crucified in Las Cruces
After three hot, hot, hours the Boys hit Las Cruces around 6:00 PM in the stifling evening heat they drove though the town, and instead of a bucolic downtown, they found a bunch of suburban condos for retirees. Since they where just two degrees from sunstroke, they holed up in the lovely air-conditioning of a Quality Inn with the Hall of Shame, a Pizza, and the Simpson's. !
The day of adventure and heat had caught up with the Boys, cause they were snoring by 11:00 PM !