Monday, August 20, 2012

Tales of Travelling Doc - Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

During my stint as an OB/GYN in Carlsbad, New Mexico, I had the opportunity to visit the famous Carlsbad Caverns. I was blown away!

The trip from my hotel to the caverns took 30 minutes. I was off call that day, so I could take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery without my pager or cell phone interrupting me. Yay! I made the left turn at the sign for Carlsbad Caverns. At first I thought I had made the wrong turn as I didn't see anything that looked like caverns to me. But I kept driving along a winding road. About to turn back, I finally saw a sign. Yes, I was going in the right direction. More winding. More mountains (all rock). Aha, another sign to slow down. Up. Up. Up. I arrive at the State Park and loopty-loo into the parking lot where I park "my Mustang". Yee Haw. I've arrived.

I read on their website to bring a light jacket as the temperatures inside the caves are cool, around 50's F year round. So I grab my sweatshirt and camera. I'm off, along with all the other tourists.

My eyes widen. The entrance fee is only $6.00. In New York, 6 bucks won't get you very far. For this admission price, you can walk through  The Great Entrance (about 1.5 hours) and through The Big Room (1.5 hours). Actually you can spend the whole day there marveling at the stalagmites, stalactites, and formations that are breathtaking. For additional fees, one can take ranger guided tours of other parts of the caves. I took one of the King's Cave. It was informative but not stellar. I much preferred wandering through the massive Entrance and Big Room, reading all the illuminated signs with a description of what your looking at, the science behind it, and the history of the caves.

Between the two self-guided tours, I took a break in the cafeteria. The food was actually delicious and reasonably priced. I visited the bookstore and the gift shop.

Then I got a seat at the Bat Flight Amphitheater. Around 8:29 p.m. the bats swirled counterclockwise in groups from the cave and flew off to hunt insects for the night. They are such interesting mammals. The Bat Flight is absolutely free! No pictures are allowed, though, as the bats' ears are super-sensitive! After watching these fabulous creatures for about 45 minutes (it took that long for all the bats to exit), I had a pleasant walk back to "my Mustang" and drove back to the hotel tired, but thrilled at my exciting day trip to Carlsbad Caverns. Enjoy some pics I took there.