Monday, September 17, 2012

Trip to Carlsbad Caverns

While visiting my home church in New Mexico, we took a day trip to Carlsbad Caverns about 4 hours away.  I went with my Pastor Rick and Sue Hutchison and then a couple from church Stephanie and Ben.  Stephanie grew up in the caverns as her dad, Tom Bemis, spent most of his life in the caverns as a park ranger, and a very well known one at that.  We left at 0545 and didn't get back til just before midnight, but learned and saw a lot in between.

When we got there we did a ranger led tour of King's Palace, which was led by Stephanie's step-mom, who recently became a ranger.  Once that was over, we had lunch and then met Stephanie's dad, Tom and 2 other guys, Larry and Bill, who all know a lot about the park and we started from the top and made our way through the Caverns.  In the 5 hrs that we were touring with Tom, he would stop and tell us stories about different things that happened in his 30+ yrs of being a ranger and point out things that most don't see.  Larry would take his flashlight and point out things that often were so close to the trail, but most never stop to see - it was a great insider view of the Caverns.  Tom told us about a part of the cave named after him, the Bemis Chamber, as he is the only one to have ever gone in this tiny hole that hardly anyone else would have fit in.  

When we were done with our tour of the Caverns, we then had dinner and were waiting for the bats to leave the cave, which they do most nights around 7pm.  While waiting, we got to go inside the entrance and help catch and band cave swallows that they are researching to determine their migration patterns and lifespan.  It was a dirty job, but fun.  Viewing the bats as they make their way up and out of the cave was pretty neat too.  Tom told me between 10,000s and 100,000s of bats exit the cave most nights.  That is a lot of bats.

It is hard to capture the beauty of the Caverns with pictures, but I tried to capture some of it.  I was only in the Caverns for a day and I know there is a lot more to see there, but I was sure thankful for the day I had to see God's amazing creation.