Today we toured another cave – save for Mammoth we have hit every National Park cave: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave, Oregon Cave and Carlsbad Cavern. Nobody asked why it is a ‘cavern’ rather than a plain cave. It is most likely because, in comparison, Carlsbad cavern is just like all the other caves but ten times bigger. Although it has been 100 years since the discovery, there are still things not known. Carlsbad has a formation that looks like spaghetti and does not hang vertically – it defies gravity and the geologists have no idea what’s going on. There are also hunks of gypsum – they have no clue where they came from since this all used to be part of an ocean.
The cavern is HUGE with many LARGE rooms and formations larger than any we have encountered. In other caves the formations looked like cute little straws and at their largest, maybe a pipe organ but in Carlsbad – they were as big as tree trunks and so many of them. On other cave tours they talk about “cave bacon” and maybe shine a light on one piece dangling above your head in a sacred area of the cave. At Carlsbad, there is cave bacon as big as your house – we took to calling it Canadian Thick Slice Bacon.
There are a number of Ranger led tours for a fee. However, this cave allows for free roaming in two caves which amounts to over two miles of walking. This made it fun to take our time and try to pick out shapes in the formations. The shape above is an elephant getting a treat from his owner. During our Ranger-led program the narrative included an anecdote about a young cave discoverer exploring a pit with a too short rope ladder. Rather than get a longer rope the spelunker took a leap of faith and found solid ground only a few short feet below him. Amazing! What is also amazing is, according to the Ranger at Oregon Cave the same thing happened.
Park Rangers – you can embellish, stretch the truth, joke all you want – but let’s not perpetuate urban legends, stick to reality, your caves are amazing enough. If in doubt – Snopes.com – everyone bookmark it.
Our evening was spent with a focus on food. Brody made up his own recipe for Melted Chocolate cake. We talked about how baking is a big chemistry experiment, we would make his concoction and see how it turned out. It turned out very well – but a bit dry so we will adjust the water amount next time.
Our RV is right under a pecan tree – it must be pecan season. The family has been cracking away at the shells and have amassed a good amount of the nuts. There is definitely a pecan pie in our future. Too bad we don’t have corn syrup so we could make it for Thanksgiving tomorrow.