Day 5: Sat, July 14, 1962: Carlsbad Caverns

Trip Start Jul 10, 1973
Trip End Aug 28, 1973

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Saturday, July 14, 1973

Mileage 34,357

It's amazing how rejuvenating a good night's rest in a motel can be! We were up bright and early at 5:30 AM, ready for our next new adventure. At 6:45 AM, we checked out of the motel and
headed down Rte 62 towards White City, a tourist trap kind of town filled with cheap souvenir shops. The temperature was already 78 degrees.

Fourty minutes later, we arrived at the park entrance where Momma finally won a spot in a photo op! Unfortunately, it is one of the few pictures we have of her on the trip.

We arrived at the caverns early enough to catch one of the first walking tours of the day. I cannot say that Terri and I knew exactly what to expect, but the day would soon be filled with wondrous sights we would never forget in a lifetime! This was also our first experience, outside of the Great Smoky Mountains, of a National Park Visitor Center. I'm sure we were excited about everything we saw in the museum and gift shop!

The descent into the cave was treacherous, to say the least. But probably it was easier for us kids than for Momma. Along the way, I imagined what it must have been like for the first adventurous explorers who had no paved paths like we did. I suppose if you are crazy enough to explore a cave in the first place, you are probably fearless.

Terri and I were fascinated with the stalactites and stalagmites, all the while trying to remember which was which ("stalactites hold tight to the ceiling; stalagmites might fall." This doesn't sound quite right, but I usually thought of "c" for ceiling and "g" for ground). I recall the area near the bat caves had quite a pungent smell. The temperature in the caverns was 56 degrees, but once we got moving, it really didn't seem cold at all. Our most vivid memory was that of Mirror Lake. We couldn't imagine that water could be such a beautiful color of green! Sadly, in years to come, the water level dropped in this lovely lake and it was never quite as spectacular.

Many of the formations had suitable names, such as the Doll's Theater and the Chinese Theater because they resembled tiny theaters. Each had such delicate formations!

Terri and I were amazed to find a cafe 700 feet below ground! For some reason, I think we ate chips and ham and cheese sandwiches. The cafe signaled the end of the tour; we took the elevators and were back to the visitor's center in a jiffy.

We left the caverns at 1:10 PM. By now it was 96 degrees outside. We filled up with 10.1 gallons of gas at the Texaco station in Carlsbad and then headed north. We drove through Artesia (another interesting name) and arrived at Bottomless Lakes State Park less than 2 hours later at 4:40 PM.

Once we set up camp, probably after we got the water, Terri and I were excited to go swimming yet again. However, this time Momma had to accompany us as the swimming area was not near our campsite. We soon discovered that swimming in Lake Lea was a little more challenging than our previous experiences because the spring-fed water was COLD! I wonder what we would have thought if we had known this lake was 90 feet deep! Momma wrote postcards while we swam; it wouldn't have been like her to just sit and watch us.

All of the lakes at the state park were a beautiful blue green. They varied in depth, but were called bottomless because they are deeper than ordinary lakes. The lakes were surrounded by a rocky terrain devoid of trees, certainly nothing like the Georgia landscape we were accustomed to!

After swimming, we ate supper and probably experienced another awesome, desert night under the stars. There is truly nothing to compare with western sunsets and the incredible canopy of stars at night! What a grand day we had today! Thanks, Momma!

Interesting daily links:
Carlsbad Caverns:
Bottomless Lakes:
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mikifluker on

terrifluker said...
I think I remember that they served oranges in the boxed lunches. A number of years later someone took one of the oranges & threw it into one of the small delicate "scenes" - something called maybe the dolls house.

July 17, 2010 11:53 AM

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