After dropping Janie & Al off at the Phoenix airport Saturday morning, we continued south on Interstate 10 to Kartchner Caverns, 50 miles southeast of Tucson. The caves were discovered in 1974 by two cavers who noticed a crack in the bottom of a sinkhole. The cave turned out to be 2 1/2 miles long. We took a tour of the “Rotunda/Throne” cave. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed in the cave but we downloaded this picture of “Kubla Khan”, by far our favorite column formation. For perspective, the little pink figure at the bottom is a person.
From the moment you are escorted through a series of air locked doors, walk through the mist shower (to keep lint and dead skin from falling into the cave), and into the 99% humidity of the caverns, you realize you are in for something special. It was fascinating to see the formations that continue to develop inside the cave. Oh…and don’t touch the rocks!!!
Later that day we arrived in Silver City, New Mexico. Surprisingly, this part of New Mexico was a beautiful drive as we ascended from the desert to an elevation of 6,000 feet. We eventually found our way to the Bear Mountain Lodge. The structure was originally built as a school for wayward boys in 1928. Then after serving as a private residence, rest home, and guest ranch, it became a B&B in 2009. We are staying in the Leopold room (Aldo Leopold is a well know environmentalist and a founding member of The Wilderness Society). Today we drove 44 miles of winding mountain roads to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings. About 750 years ago, a group of people (now referred to as the Mogollon) built dwellings inside the natural cliff caves. The hike to the cave dwellings is a 1 mile loop and ascends 180 feet above the canyon floor. Sadly not much is known about these people (they just up and left after about 25 to 50 years) but the dwellings they constructed are quite remarkable and well worth the effort to get there. Here are some pictures from the drive and the caves.
Tomorrow we are off to Carlsbad NM (yes, to see more caves).
On a personal note, we’re starting to forget what day of the week it is. Hopefully this is a good sign!