Monday, July 29, 2013

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: To The Bat Cave! (Road Trip Essay)

Less than a week ago my neighbor came to me and invited me to go on a road trip on rather short notice.
To be fair, we had been hoping to all year long... but we never accomplished any real planning for it.
Then opportunity opened its doors, and she was quick to greet it.

It was really rather impulsive of me to say yes when she came to me with the proposition, but the excitement overtook me and suddenly it was happening. We were going to Carlsbad Cavern.

My husband wasn't very pleased by my eagerness to accept, considering our trip to Canada was a mere two weeks away, but he empathized with my desperation for mental stimulation, and didn't argue.
Not surprisingly enough, this was also the very first road trip I had taken without either my husband or my mother... so the cards were stacking high in my favor; a chance to experience something at my own pace.

With my husband, road trips mean very little deviation from the allotted plan... but not with my neighbor-- she was quite eager and enthusiastic with all our whims. It took us a while to arrive to Carlsbad and meet up with her friends, but the thrill of adventure, and memories it brought along was completely worth it.

Carlsbad Cavern is located 750 ft underground, which you can take a very quick elevator down to; alternately, you could take the natural entrance, but it closes rather early because the main attractions reside there. The cavern paths are completely paved, and speaking normally is discouraged because your voice will carry roughly a mile-- whispering is encouraged; it's surprising how loud your whispers can be in a cave... I could hear a whispered conversation from a few feet behind me. I can't imagine how talking normally would be like... though I was very tempted to try...

The cavern is HUGE; to roughly quote Fight Club, it's big like you imagine god as big.

It became clear how completely humbled I was when I realized how sore my jaw was from all the gawking and gaping. Unfortunately, being new to my camera still, many of my own photos didn't quite turn out till I was near the end of its battery life-- I did manage to grab some really great shots, however.

The stalagmites in the Hall of Giants are roughly 60ft tall... but somehow in the photos they seem a mere few feet tall...

I wasn't able to capture the essence of the next photo on my own camera since it was near the beginning when I was still tweaking the settings. Thankfully my neighbor allowed me to use her photo, as it is one of my favorite looking stalagmites.

Aptly called the Puppet Show, or as I like to call them: Scherenschnitte!

During our guided tour of the King's Palace, they sat us down in part of the cave... and shut off all the lights.
Never in my life have I experienced such a profound darkness... the feeling was a little like being sea sick at first; in your mind there is nothing around you, you feel the floor yet your mind tells you it's not there; you can hear the sounds, but it's as though you're in a great abyss and the sound is everywhere and nowhere... a feeling that can only be described as an excitable panic begins creeping its way into your gut. 
As the time elapses, another feeling begins washing over you as you come to terms with the darkness-- like being cradled in the arms of something both warm and cold. My neighbor said that her boyfriend describes such a feeling as "being hugged by the earth". It could not be more closer to the truth.

Then very suddenly, the ranger flicks on a lighter. You feel frightened but elated like someone ripping you from your solace, but promising life; you see the cave as it was discovered those many many years ago.
It was one experience I won't quickly forget.

After hours of walking through what felt like miles upon miles of cavern... it came time for the part we were most looking forward to...
 I know it doesn't show... but really, I am excited!!

It was the moment of truth, and as you can easily guess, it was the flight of bats! Cute Mexican fox tailed bats! Where upon hundreds and hundreds fly out of their cavern and go to hunt for the night. It was a magnificent sight to see so many flooding out of the cave... it could've been a much better experience had it not been for the tiny tots that were loud and rather obnoxious; the bats didn't come out in clouds as I expected-- that might've been because it was too loud for them all to come out at once.
I'm one of those types that strongly believes there are certain events not suitable for small children; you need to be very quiet and very still for hours... and I just don't think many young children can be-- and it was apparent that many in the crowd could not be. Parents were told by the rangers to leave if their child began fidgeting, and advised to stay away entirely if the child could not calm down... alas, hardly any one of those parents listened, and dampened the experience for the childless.

Anyways, I digress.
After such a fantastic day... there was nary a thought in my mind that believed it could get any better the next day heading home...
Was I glad to be so utterly wrong.

My neighbor suggested it might be a great idea to pit stop at Roswell and experience the UFO Museum.

The place was kitsch.
But it was thoroughly enjoyable because it was so kitsch. The main attraction was a display of aliens and their ship that every half hour began blowing smoke and making sounds.

Cover of 'Alien Vogue'
The rest was posters of information and images of abductions, and the history behind the crash landing in Roswell.

My absolute favorite part about pit stopping in Roswell was this little hole in the wall place that charged 3 dollars to take as many photos as you like in an area they set up with scenes; I can't recall the name of the place, and I also can't remember the last time I goofed around so much...

In the very back of this area was one of the most astounding feats of sci fi creativity that I have ever been privy to see...
I had just enough juice in my camera to take a couple shots of my own.

Taking pictures of the entire display proved difficult, and somewhat futile; it had little ships in the sky, and quite a magnificent mural painted on the walls (which you can vaguely see)... but these images alone ignite the imagination.

It was extraordinary experiencing this with my friend and neighbor, and I was somewhat glad my husband didn't go... but on the same token, it would've been nice if I could share it with him also... I wish with all my heart that this won't be the last time I visit all these places.

From Carlsbad & Roswell, with love...

P.S. This is off topic, but I notice that a few comments some of you are making are not publishing properly, they show up in my inbox, but aren't displayed on the actual post. I assure you, I'm not deleting them (it would show as deleted by owner, if that was the case), so if you want to make your comment public, make sure it shows up! Otherwise know I appreciate it, and wish I could reply!


  1. This sounds like a great trip! I love caves and UFO stories. :)

  2. We did Carlsbad and Roswell with the offspring about ten years ago. We didn't see the hole in the wall spot in Roswell where you took all those great pictures, though. Too bad - the kids would have loved that!

    I remember when we were there the bats didn't flood out of the cave in as big of a cloud as I'd hoped, either. Maybe it's normal for them to just trickle out. Pretty sure my kids weren't fidgeting and disrupting everything. :P

  3. Heeey, how'd you get pictures of my living room? ;)

  4. Sounds like fun! Sometimes you just have to take off and do some random spontaneous craziness...;)
    Those dripstones are wonderful, I don't like caves, but you can convince me with dripstones any time. Weren't there bats in the cave itself? Also, stunning photos! ^^

  5. Oh wow, what a great adventure! Those caverns look amazing, but I can totally relate to your disappointment regarding the bat flight. I hate how parents can't take responsibility for their children. They might be used to complete chaos and decibel levels through the roof at home - but the rest of humanity should not have to suffer!

    The picture of you on the alien slab is just amazing - like something from the cover of a pulp magazine in the 50's!

  6. Looks like a fun trip! I love that alien museum! I would love to go see those underground caves, I have never seen anything like that in my life. Also, the bats would be awesome! I agree with you, there are things that are just not suitable for children but there are many parents with no common sense who feel the need to bring their children anyway to such things and it can really ruin the experience. However, I do not have nor do I want children so I may be a bit biased in my opinion on this.

  7. I am ridiculously jealous of you =D I've always wanted to go to Roswell. This seemed like such an incredible trip. And that cavern was beautiful; stalagmites never cease to astound me. Thanks for sharing these pictures!

  8. Wow, that cave is amazing, so huge. I've only been in two, in Sweden and in Greece.
    It must have been lovely to see the bats flying out of their cave, but even more nice if the parents had respected the rangers. In a situation like that I can be really annoying. Being a parent myself I would have hushed the others kids.


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