Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico

In about 1949 Dick and his brother Guy were given for Christmas a View-Master set with several slides with it. One of the slides was from Carlsbad Caverns. Dick would look at the pictures of the caverns over and over again and dream about being there some day.

Well, this week was the time, after 60 +/- years, he finally arrived. We moved from Texas back into New Mexico and on Saturday we went to the caverns. It's just about impossible to put into words what we saw. We love caves, and thought we had seen some magnificent ones. But all of them are put to shame by Carlsbad Caverns. After spending about 1 hour getting down to the bottom we took the elevator up 750', had lunch and took the elevator back down to take a guided tour of another area of the cavern. On Monday we went back earlier in the day and it took us 2 hours to walk to the bottom this time, Dick having brought the tripod so he could get better pictures. We took the elevator back up to have a picnic lunch that Jackie prepared and then back down on the elevator where we took the self guided tour of the "Big Room". It took us 2 1/2 hours to do the 1-hour tour.

To give you an idea of the size of this room, it's 14 football fields long, some 250' high and covers an expanse of six acres. The trail runs about 1 mile inside the room and is the star of Carlsbad Cavern.

The sign as you enter the park and it's still another 14 mile drive up to the top where the entrance is.

After paying our fee (oh it's free for us), we walked over to look down into the Natural Entrance of the cavern. We thought that's pretty steep and has a few switch-backs. We had to travel a little over a mile to drop 750' in elevation, so there were a lot of switch-backs.

The shiny things that you see in this picture that looks down are the stainless steel handrails at each switch-back. Gives you an idea of how steep it really was. And to top it off, it had very subdued lighting but we had our flashlights and Dick's trusty camera.

The first trip down Dick used the flash where he could, but because of the size of the room the flash would not travel far enough to get any good pictures. So he settled for areas where the shot was closer.

Every turn was something new and spectacular. It was all shades of brown with lots of translucence in it.

In the Big Room the second day all the pictures are time exposed from 3 to 30 seconds and the bright spots are where there is indirect lighting to highlight an area.

The pictures don't do justice to what we saw unless you click on them and blow them up to get a better feeling of what is down there.

It was hard to guess at exactly what exposure time was needed on each picture so some are a little under and some a little over exposed, but you will get the idea. This one was taken looking straight up at the ceiling about 175' over us.
The handrail gives you some idea of size.

The room went on and on and on, more and more incredible stalactites, stalagmites, curtains, etc.

I estimate this stalagmite to be over 50'tall. There is not any green in the cavern; Dick's camera needed a filter to filter out the green caused by the type of lighting used. It does add some interest to the photos.

What can we say, please just enjoy the remaining pictures.

Do you see the 3 other people in the picture? While taking this 25 second exposure, Jackie stood real still and 3 people walked through, but because they never stopped they did not show up on the picture.

If you enjoyed these, we sure would like to hear from you. Next stop is to see the "little green men".

To be continued...


Deanna said...

Darin and I are both marvelling at those pictures. Unbelievable. I'm jealous! And I loved the way you started out this post. So happy for you guys.

Anonymous said...

Been there several times and always see new things. Wounderful pictures. Great job.

Been reading your blog for about a month now.
Thanks Brett

Nicole said...

unbelievable pictures! I'm sure it's one of those things that any picture, no matter how great, just doesn't do the real thing justice.

I especially love the one that Jackie is in when the 3 other people walked through the frame but didn't show up.

michelle said...

That last post is actually me. I was logged in under Nicole's name. I fixed that.

Jen said...

Great pictures. It's fun seeing the country through your blog.

Debbie said...

Awesome photos Dad and Jackie! I blew a lot of them up and you are right, it's a much more amazing site with the large photos. Thank you so much for the awesome post-cards! We love getting them and dream of a day when we can travel like that. I'm sorry to be so out of touch. Another weekend of really long days (just got home and it's after 11pm on a Sunday night!). This too will end.