Monday, June 02, 2008

Carlsbad, NM - redux

A Murder of MotorcyclistsRose and I just got back from Carlsbad, NM. We went there last year on our road trip, but on that visit it was merely a waypoint. This time, we met up with friends from the Dykes on Bikes e-mail list and the whole point was to visit the caverns and the surrounding countryside, like Roswell. Here we are, a small group of Dykes on Bikes, ready to go into the caverns. Your friendly, neighborhood giant amazon is easy to spot. In fact, this theme was so pronounced that our friend Chelli took a picture of a cavern formation to exemplify it. Here: I'm the tall one, of course. See? That's me on the right. Now, ordinarily, I'd do a whole cool ride report on how fabby the roads were and all the great places that we ate and all the sorts of things I get excited about. In the case of this trip, however, we were in the unenviable position of having to ride from the edge of the Texas Black Prairie across the Western Plains to the edge of the Guadalupe Mountains. The operative words there are Prairie and Plains. The chief difference between them is their aridness, and they're not much to look at beyond that. They do make for some outstanding sunsets and sunrises with the wide open spaces in front of you. Unfortunately, that only occupies about 2 hours of your day, and then you still have the other 22 in which to contend with the pancake-ocity of it all. So: flat, pancake-ocity, and the tumblin' tumbleweeds. What makes the tumbleweeds tumble, you may wonder? Well, I'll tell you - it ain't the sheer joy of skipping over the thrilling landscape. It's the plain desire to look at something OTHER than the plains. That, or the blistering wind. :)

Our chief form of entertainment on this ride, after we'd seen the caverns, was to ride across the prairie/plains taking pictures of each other.
GWe had ourselves some fun up in Roswell. The Harley dealership out there has a couple of big bikes on display with an alien and an MP, respectively, riding them. We took some silly photos of ourselves hugging the aliens and whatnot before settling in to a nice light lunch of BBQ ribs, sausage, and all the trimmings.

Oh, Cavern highlights, lest I forget: we walked through it with a Ranger who just happened to be starting his route about the same time as us. He showed us all sorts of neat things about the cave that you'd never find without a guide and a flashlight. There are places right along the path where you can see bat bones being fossilized right into the drip-formed stalagmites, and rock formations that glow if you give them a good dose of light. They even have a cave ghost that you can see in photographs...BOO! He's a natural rock formation that doesn't look like anything special until you use the flash on your camera. Then those eyes pop out of the darkness at you! The low wall that keeps tourists on the trail and off the stalagmites is full of fascinating little 'easter eggs' if you know what to look for. Our ranger guide showed us a rubber high bounce ball, a glow-in-the-dark gecko, a keepsake penny, a Pennsylvania quarter, an American flag, and a few other neat little peeks and pokes that probably go unnoticed by 99.9% of the cavern visitors. Finally, a fossil that was dug up from the cave and put out on display to illustrate why it's occasionally good for things in the cavern to break:Nautilus
So, that was Carlsbad. Well, there was the bit about the largest North American Colony of Mexican Freetail Bats flying out of the cave and right over our heads at sunset and then the thrilling ride back down the mountain in the cool night air with the full moon rising. But honestly, you had to be there for that... so I hope to see you out on the road next time.

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