Diane MacDonald


(posted on 2 Feb 2019)

First have to backtrack - I forgot to mention that we passed a signpost for a town whose name continues to entertain us with our attempts at pronunciation. The town of Soda Springs, east of San Bernardino CA, became Zzyzx in 1944.  


On to Arizona and THE Canyon - as Grand as ever, and lovely with a skiff of snow.  


From there to Jerome, an old 'hippy' mining town featuring wonderful galleries and historic buildings. Below -
an elaborate entry to what used to be a hotel in Jerome, followed by two pictures of The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.


From Arizona on east and southwards.  Two random photos, so New Mexico, taken in Las Cruces.


Four more, taken in the oldest part of Las Cruces where a tremendous amount of reconstruction
is in progress.  Guard dogs abound.  As the third image indicates, there's a long
way to go to get the homes looking like the well-cared for adobe house in the fourth photo.



Then - dining at its finest! Not brave enough to try the green chile sundae, I regretted it afterwards
- though compensation was hot fudge with the crunchiest, most delicious toasted pecans
ever.  Along with chiles, pecans are a gourmet local treat. 


From Las Cruces we drove to Carlsbad for the Caverns - awesome in their enormity; mysterious,
mystic, magical in their scale and formation. The photo below shows the "natural" entry to the caverns;
we descended switch-back style down 80 stories to end up 750 feet below the surface. The alternative
was an elevator which we wisely used to ascend!  We were fortunate to be almost the only visitors
for the hour it took to descend.  We had been warned to whisper (voices echo loudly in the cavern
chambers) and the quiet, soft lighting, and beauty were other-worldly.  Very tough to translate to "film"
in the dark - no tripods allowed.  



A 1.2 mile circular walkway leads around the perimeter of the "Big Room" taking an hour to traverse.  
The Big Room cavern measures 40 acres and the 'ceiling' is 250 feet high in places. More 'rooms'
are continually being discovered; at the moment the caverns stretch for 40 miles. 

Up to that point, our tours had been self-guided. In addition we booked a ranger-led tour to the “King's
Palace”, the deepest part of the cave at 850 subterranean feet.  

(For the record - we elected not to do the “Hall of the White Giant Tour” - a “strenuous 4 hour guided
tour that leads to a remote chamber.  Participants must crawl long distances, squeeze through crevices
such as the tight Matlock’s Pinch and climb a slippery passage”.  In addition to hiking boots, kneepads,
gloves and 3 new AA batteries are required for the headlamps provided).

The King's Palace lived up to its royal reputation, and we left feeling enormously fortunate to
have visited the caverns at Carlsbad.



Continuing east, we're in Texas tonight.  Stay tuned.