Trip Log: Carlsbad Caverns.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

Remember what I said that other day about this is mostly just lots and lots of photos and sorry to your internet connection? Yeah, I’m doing that again… But first, more story! Please see last post if you want the actual words I had to say about leading up to Carlsbad Caverns. Also, I managed to get it down to about 40 photos instead of 60, so I’m just going to be ridiculous and post them all at once right now.

When I got there, a huge storm was on the way, and there were only a few parts of the cavern system still open due to a concern about possible flooding. I went on the self-guided loop first, then a paid-for ranger-guided loop (the ranger was this awesome hilarious old guy with all kinds of stories about the caves — very fun, and totally worth it). On that hike, I met another fellow traveler — a girl around my age or younger, who was also living out of her car while on her way to a ranch job for the summer, in a different part of Colorado from “my” ranch.

She and I talked during the and after the guided hike, and then I joined her for a second (for me, first for her) round of the self-guided hike, still talking. At that point, we both decided neither of us wanted to camp in the rainstorm outside, so we agreed to split the cost of a motel room (and later, split the cost of a pizza for dinner). Best decision ever; it felt so amazing to sleep in a real bed, have a hot shower, even soak in a hot tub for a bit. The next day, she headed north and I headed east to Texas…

But before the story continues, here’s the last batch of photos from my Spring Road Trip. Most of these were taken without flash because my camera is kind of awesome for being so affordable. Interestingly, using the ambient light from the various low-lights the park service installed throughout the caves had the effect of making the place look like some kind of underwater coral/ice palace. To my eyes while I was there, I didn’t see nearly as much colors in the rocks. To the camera, however… it was extra magical. (oh yeah, and there was actually a place call the Bottomless Pit…)

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I hope you managed to get through all those! Obviously it’s way better in person. I’m so in love with this place. I literally spend most of the day there, deep underground, and was probably the happiest I’d been in days.

Next time, more words! More story! But no more photos, because I’d gotten lazy and had basically stopped taking them.

Love,

GeGi.

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Trip Log: Photo Album, part nine.

Dear Cyber-Friends,

I promised more words and fewer photos this time, and I meant it.

At this point in my trip, I had been camping outside Island In The Sky district for nearly a week. I was actually starting to get a little burnt out on this part of my trip, mostly because I’d reached a place where everything was reminding me of my family and how much fun we’d had doing family vacation road trips like this, and how much I wanted to share this experience with them by having them there, and how much better everything would be if they were with me.

In short, I was ready to move on to something new and distracting.

But before I did that, there was one overlook in Island In The Sky that I hadn’t been to yet:

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I have to admit, seeing this really made me want to be on that river, having an Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire experience of my own…

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Finally I headed out for good. I was so glad to be on the road again, that I very nearly didn’t want to stop for anything. However, I knew I couldn’t just pass somewhere as incredible as Mesa Verde without at least a peek at the famous cliff-dwellings.

There’s just one photo I really want to share of that; mostly it’s a you-gotta-be-there kind of place. There’s so many sites with so much information — honestly I just kept thinking of how much my Mum needed to come there.

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I continued on to New Mexico, camping overnight before reaching Santa Fe, heading down to see Billy The Kid’s grave, and finally stopping for a couple days in Roswell. Those last two were primarily to make my sister envious; in her words — Billy the Kid and aliens = so her. Someday, she and I will have to road trip in New Mexico together.

I had pretty much stopped taking photos for this part of the trip. I was getting exhausted, honestly, and I just wanted to take a break. I was putting in long days of driving broken up with days of doing pretty much nothing. I was focused on the goal of this entire trip: reaching Fort Worth in time to meet up and stay with a Twitter-Friend, and go to a Renaissance Festival with her. Not doing a lot of exploring of the places I was passing through meant I was actually ahead of schedule and had a few extra days before I had to be there — hence my last-minute addition of Roswell, and Carlsbad Caverns, to my trip plans.

I had grown up in a place that lacked natural cavern systems, but I had read about them and dreamed about exploring them since I was a little kid, and one of my favorite things about living in Hawaii was getting to explore lava tubes. I love being underground, in caves and caverns. When I get in them, I want to never leave. There’s something so peaceful and reassuring and exciting and right about being surrounded by total darkness and utter quiet stillness. I feel safe there, embraced and welcomed by earth. I never get claustrophobia or even a little bit nervous or scare, even when I’m squeezing through a tiny space in a lava tube or in complete pitch black. It’s probably weird, but I always feel totally fine when I’m underground.

All that said, when I checked out my road map and figured out timing, I realized I had plenty of time to take a detour to Carlsbad. Obviously, there was NO. WAY. I was going to miss this chance. A day exploring a famous huge cavern system? That sounded like a perfect way to relax and recover, something just for me.

Next Time on Geek Girl Travels, see part one of the approximately 60 photos of being in caves that I’ve narrowed down from probably over a hundred I took.

Love,

GeGi.