A seemingly unending cave structure that if it were not lit and having a railed pathway, I would certainly still be floundering around in its depths. I took the elevator 750 feet down to the cave watching the # of feet zoom by on the display, very cool compared to the floor number you regularly see in an elevator. And the fact that you are going down vs up. The reverse display happens on the way up, you feel like you are being spit out of the ground back onto dry land.
Why was this adventure unexpected – well just keep reading. Initially, I had no intention of driving all the way to the park, I had no intention of driving to Carlsbad. But the road signs just kept saying that it was only a few more miles down the road, and I said why not? As one would expect I ended up in the park. I expected there to be an entry gate where they would want my money, but there was none and I kept driving on the park road. I reached the end of the road where there was a building that had some important signage. 1st one was the time that the last tour was available. Which was 4:30pm. According to my car clock it was 4:15 and I needed to let the pups out and myself out to take a trot around the car. ie potty break. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be seeing any caves today. I ended up taking a mile and half hike around the main building entrance and down to where the bats would fly from the cave. Note that it was also not bat flying season in December. So I didn’t get to see any bats either.
Then I put the girls back in the car and went in to inquire about another sign that I saw – Kennel. I said, hey what a deal, I planned on being back in this neck of the woods or caves within the next year, maybe I should inquire about how these kennels work. Well after waiting an excruciating amount of time at the help desk behind another cave explorer that had already been down to the cave a nice ranger came out of the back room. I immediately asked for his guidance. 2 things happened one is that he stated that he was about to let the last group of the day down the elevators to see the caves (WHAT!!!) Duh-Time Zone. I should have taken a peek at my phone… The second was that he looked at me like I was a bit crazy when I inquired about the kennels, he said that most visitors just left their dogs in the car when the temps were cool. It was about 35 degrees outside. I said I wasn’t comfortable leaving them alone in the car. All I could imagine was scratches on the window and the beautiful camel leather seats being gnawed upon. Specifically a nice bite size chunk out of the headrest. He then nicely pointed me in the direction of the gift shop where the kennels are managed. They too looked at me liked I was loony, gave me the details and mentioned that the kennels were mainly used when the temps outside were dangerous to leave the animals in a vehicle.
Ok, ok, ok I am going to do this. I moved the car away from other cars, cracked the windows and bought my ticket to the caverns. $10 – by far the cheapest National Park experience that I had all year! Yippee. Up I marched to my helpful ranger and the elevator that plunged 75 floors in just a few minutes after touching the only piece of the cave you are allowed to touch ever.
And here starts my next set of issues. I had done absolutely no research, I had no brochure, I had no reference points, I was clueless as to what I was getting myself into. Not my ideal scenario. But I went with it. My next big concern was not getting locked in the cave or not getting to see everything due to the time of day. The rangers made it seem that I needed to be going at a light jog to see all the rooms. Hence I rushed, and I rushed and I rushed. I didn’t need to rush so much. I probably should have looked at the time on my phone again, considering the thing is with me at all times you would think this would be an easy task to complete. Oh well, as noted, I was not in my element. I am lucky to have experienced what I did and slightly educated myself more once I reached a comfortable hotel room. (The next night…) So I have sprinkled pics throughout and here & there. I will not attempt to educate any further on a topic that I know very little about. Note – I may come back when I am in this neck of the caves in 2017.