Today was the 84th anniversary of the day Rudy Falls was discovered, hence 84 candles.
A theme of this road trip is caving with such wonders as Carlsbad and Kerchner caverns on the agenda. So if we drive by another highly rated cave then we’re easily swayed. In many ways this accidentally discovered cave is standard faire. What sets it apart is the longest, deepest waterfall available for touring. At 125 feet in length, Ruby Falls stands out and takes your breath away.
Besides, I wanted an excuse to show Kelsey my favorite Tennissee town: Chattanooga.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is next door to Carlsbad Caverns. I’ve hiked there before and wanted to hike there again but time did not allow it. Instead, I visited with Rangers and planned a future trip which will include a hike to the summit, Texas’ highest point.
Want to have one of the world’s great caves to yourself? Visit at 8:30 AM on a Sunday and it’s yours. While I was not the first to arrive at Carlsbad Caverns National Monument, I was the first to descend by foot.
The Natural Entrance Trail is 1.5 miles long and takes you 750 feet below ground. It’s a walk I’ve done before and was glad to do it again. To experience the transition from a sunny day through the twilight zone into total darkness is memorable. Doing it alone makes it almost spiritual.
This visit I was not going to explore the bottom as I usually do. I already have hundreds of pictures from this area and, while I LOVE the freedom to roam provided at this park, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to see a cavern I hadn’t seen before. I wanted a tour of a restricted area. Continue reading
When last I visited the International Space History Museum it was raining. Today was sunny. There was no way I wasn’t going back to take pictures of their outdoor exhibit: John P. Stapp Air and Space Park.
As a photographer, I’ve found no better cave than Carlsbad Caverns to visit and shoot. Its huge expanse of beautifully lit formations sets the stage. However, what really sets it apart is the freedom the National Park Service gives you to roam at your own pace, to set-up tripods and to take pictures. I’ve now visited four times and I most certainly plan to return. A gallery of pictures is forthcoming … but not today, I’ve got a road trip to continue!
A snow storm hit New Mexico when last I visited. This of course didn’t affect Carlsbad Caverns which lies 750 feet underground but it sure affected the National Solar Observatory at 9,500 feet in elevation! Sunspot, as its known, is an observatory dedicated to studying the sun with its many telescopes. At this elevation, at this latitude, with this weather it’s an ideal spot to study the sun. Here are some of the telescopes to be seen.
National Solar Observatory
My favorite place to hang out 750 feet below ground is at Carlsbad Caverns. It’s varied, it’s colorful, and it’s vast ... fifth largest in the world. I’ve now been to four of the five largest cave networks in the world.
Before we get to Smokey and Billy, browse a few shots from Carlsbad Caverns. Click to advance pictures.
Yesterday I visited Smokey’s grave and today I spent time at Billy the Kid’s.
But wait, Billy’s grave is the end of the story which spans from 1864 to 1881. Continue reading
I thought it was only culturally insensitive American’s who call this holy Mayan site “Chicken Pizza”. I was wrong. The tour guide called it that throughout our trip. What a sad day!
Recognize this structure? It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World; it’s the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The math and astronomy and symbolism which make it a “wonder” are extensive. An overly long-winded tour guide laid it all out in detail. Information overload! All I can recite back is my impression: “Wow!”
Suffice to say, Chichen Itza once had over 400 structures and was the principal city of the Mayan civilization. It was the ceremonial heart of these people and was populated with religious leaders. Famous for so many things from its observatory, its pyramid, its ballcourt, and its war temple to its sacred well, its blood sacrifice, and its scale.
Only seven percent has been restored but it’s enough to blow you away. They’re discovering new things all the time and we saw excavation of an entirely new level of the pyramid. Our only disappointment was how limited access was to the structures. My expectations of full access were set in 1984 when last I visited. Obviously much had changed. Continue reading
This profile view of George Washington is one I hadn’t seen before and which under these lighting conditions looks quite good. Pat on the back complete. I chose it for its distinction.
Mt. Rushmore is the most notable destinations. Vaguely I knew of Badlands but I’d not even heard of either Wind Cave or Jewel Cave. Not surprisingly, since they’re all National Parks, I found them really worthwhile visits.
This set of parks is the primary reason I traveled so far north on my way to Los Angeles. Mt. Rushmore was my prime attraction. Its not that I reeeeeally wanted to see four Presidents’ heads carved in the side of a mountain. Superficially Mt. Rushmore sounds kind of goofy, kind of like an attention-getting stunt. Of course I was wrong. It’s a National Park for a reason!
This site pays homage to some of the U.S.’s greatest leaders. It’s sedate and respectful and the carvings are huge! I learned about the site’s construction and of the many difficult challenges they had to overcome during construction. Distinctive subtleties were interesting such as how the create a “glint in the eye” effect (by using pillar protrusions in each pupil). Plaques on display along the walking trail explain the history and the significant contributions of the four Presidents. I didn’t think that Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt (Teddy) and Lincoln all had big heads … but now I know better! See pictures below. Continue reading