Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fri, Feb. 7, 2014: Into the Earth

I've been to Carlsbad Caverns twice before (once on purpose and once after I was traumatized in Alamogordo!)  Typically dark, confined spaces freak me out, but for some reason Carlsbad Caverns feel comforting and safe to me.

There was still some incongruous ice clinging to the rocks as we drove into the park, passing cacti and scrubby pines under the warm spring sun.

We chose to enter through the natural entrance, which delighted me!  During both of my previous visits, I was alone and didn't feel comfortable taking the solo hike from the natural entrance.  This time, we made the trek together, and it filled me with awe to enter this massive cave system through its empty black eye.

For a good part of our journey inward and downward, the cave was weakly illuminated by the retreating sunlight.  We could look up into the echoing cavern and see where we entered, and how far we had already descended.

I was filled with the same overwhelming feelings of wonder and awe, and the same security and comfort that drew me back a second time during my previous visit.  I have a tendency to walk and speak loudly, but my entire being was hushed to a whisper in this place.

The floors of the caves seemed much more damp than during my previous visit, and I wondered if they received more snow this winter.  There were some beautiful pools of water so still that they reflected the lights and shapes of the cave like a perfect mirror.  Their stillness halted me, their complete absence of movement unexpectedly stunning.

These rock formations were called "lily pads", and they "floated" above another shockingly still cave pond.

I just couldn't get enough of this water...

Our world, it's so full of sound and movement and change, and sometimes I feel like a dazed child standing in the middle of a busy highway of cars.  The noise and speed doesn't make sense to me, and my brain sometimes has a hard time catching up to the frantic life swirling and rushing around me.  More importantly, I don't often feel motivated to even try to keep up.  Sometimes I feel like I live in a slower, quieter time stream, where I can somehow shield myself from the craziness and flurry around me.  That's why the pools of water arrested me I think, and why I was so enchanted by them: they were completely and utterly still.  In a life so full of noise and movement, it's amazing to experience something that is so utterly devoid of noise and movement, and I wonder if that's a big part of why I love this cave so much.  It's a luxurious indulgence to experience a place that is the opposite of the world above.

Brennan was adventurous enough to take the southern route with me to White Sands, so we got to visit El Capitain in Texas...
...and Salt Flats, Texas:
When I drove this route 4 years earlier, the salt flats were just a wide, flat, pale expanse of desert.  This time, due to what I am guessing was heavy rain or snowfall before our arrival, the flats were a massive shallow lake reaching out to the toes of the mountains.
We made it to El Paso, TX in time to watch the sun set over the mountains:
My heart felt full from the opportunity to revisit these places that I love so much, and I couldn't wait to see White Sands the next day.  We arrived in Alamogordo in the dark and set our alarms so we could catch the sunrise.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

This place looks so awesome (I haven't visited your blog in forever - lots to catch up on!) Each picture is its own "wow" moment. Wow :)