Tag Archives: underground tunnels

Living in the “Land of Enchantment”(NM): Carlsbad Caverns

Aaron and Paula standing at the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

Aaron and I at the Cave entrance, about to descend 750 feet into the ground!

In 2014, Aaron and I took a trip down to visit Carlsbad Caverns in the SE part of the state. It’s a 4 1/2 hour drive down to Carlsbad, NM from Albuquerque. We had both been there several times as kids but never as adults.

Rather than stay in Carlsbad, we stopped off in Cloudcroft for the night. We love that little town in the middle of southern New Mexico at the top of the mountains. It’s name is very fitting as the clouds often get stuck at the 8,600′ elevation. Carlsbad is another 2 hour drive past, but it’s well worth the stop over. Especially in the summer, as the temps up in Cloudcroft are usually 20 degrees cooler than down in the scalding high desert sun!

Aaron’s family has a close connection to the small New Mexico town with a population of 674 (2010). His grandfather and uncles built a cabin there in the 1960s and the cabin has stayed in the family ever since. We have visited the cabin regularly for 20 years. We’ve always enjoyed hiking in the warm months and snow tubing in the winter. There are several nice campgrounds and a historic Lodge too. Even if you don’t spend the night, I highly recommend stopping in a Mad Jack’s BBQ for some of THE best BBQ you will ever have!

descending into the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Descending into the main entrance of the cave. Though it looks scary, there is a paved, somewhat flat path leading into the cave.

The next day we headed out for Carlsbad. It’s funny when you go back to a place you haven’t been since you were a kid. You know how everything seems smaller? That didn’t happen at Carlsbad Caverns! I cannot imagine what I must have thought of this place as a little kid. The big room, is BIG!

cave formation in the big room at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

One of the many large scale formations in the big room.

It’s quite a downhill walk into the caverns, the good news is, there is an elevator at the bottom if you don’t feel ambitious enough to walk up and out. According to the website, the elevator is currently not working, but should be working again by May 31st.

We spent several hours walking around and exploring all the alien landscapes of the tremendous Caverns. I took well over 200 hundred photos, that I still haven’t edited! The few I’ve shared here are my favorite picks.

underground pool of water in Carlsbad Caverns

underground pool, there is water deep in the ground, even when the surface is a dry desert.

It’s impossible to get across the majesty of this place in words or photos. You simply have to see it for yourself. It’s like seeing the Grand Canyon in a photo, a camera flattens the image. I wish I could have captured it, but it’s nature’s beauty, it cannot be captured.

Giant stalagmites in the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Giant stalagmites in the Big room

It is well worth the trip into the desert of eastern New Mexico! Any time of the year is good too, as the temperature in the Caverns stays in the high 50s year round. Follow one of the links I’ve provided for more information on Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, NM and Cloudroft, NM.

One of the muddy textures in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

One of the muddy textures in the Caverns

 

 

 

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Bisbee, Arizona Then Home Again

photo of sunrise in Bisbee, Az

Bisbee sunrise

After the inspiring time spent at Chiricahua National Monument, we took a short drive over to Bisbee, Arizona. This small town is only a few miles away from the Mexican border.

photo of Aaron and Paula suited up to go into the Queen mine

Aaron and I suited up for our tour of the Queen mine

Bisbee was once the largest mining town between St. Louis and San Francisco! In it’s heyday the town had over 25,000 inhabitants. I forget the exact number but I believe there was 30 billion pounds of copper mined out of the hills and underground tunnels beneath Bisbee.

photo of fence post

Interesting fence post on a residence in Bisbee

The elevation is 5,300 feet so even though it’s located in southern Arizona, it wasn’t quite as warm as other southern towns in the state. In fact, after only a few days, a cold front blew in and we had wind, a bit of rain and lots of clouds.

photo of Main street in Bisbee, AZ

Main street, Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee High School

Bisbee High School

We took a tour of the Queen Mine which just happened to be just down the hill from the Queen Mine RV Park. It was an interesting and educational tour, even if it was a bit freaky being underground in the man made tunnels.

photo of the train ride into the mine

Riding the train into the mine

We stayed for a week and had plenty of time to explore around the town. Bisbee has some interesting architecture. It was quite a wealthy town when built back at the end of the 19th century.

shitter or sanitary car inside the mine

Sanitary or “shitter” car down in the mine

Aaron sitting on the shitter car

Aaron found this to be the perfect photo op! Sitting on the shit car! 🙂

boss' quadricycle in the mine

Boss’ quadricycle. This was how the mine foreman got around in the mine’s 2,500 miles of tunnels!

I located a gallery, 55 Main Gallery, that is now representing my art prints. I once sold my Paula Beck prints in the same space! I didn’t realize it was the same place until showing Aaron around the gallery. I found one of my old print racks, designed and custom built by myself with my stepdad’s help back in the early 1990s.The gallery had since been sold to a new owner, but apparently, the print rack came with the space and is still being used to display prints! 55 Main gallery has been in that location for 20 years now. My how the time flies by!

Copper Queen hotel

The Copper Queen hotel is at least a hundred years old and possibly haunted. We ate lunch at the restaurant there and enjoyed some live music in the saloon.

We got plenty of exercise while we were there as the town is made up of nothing but hills and stairs! Unfortunately, my bike tire popped while we were in the Chiricahuas and there is no bike shop in Bisbee. So, we walked everywhere and road the town bus a couple of times in order to get our groceries from the only store about 5 miles away from the RV park we stayed in.

stairs in Bisbee

Bisbee is famous for it’s stairs! They even have a race called the 1000 stairs race.

more stairs!

more stairs!

After a month on the road, we learned a LOT! We have since decided to return to Albuquerque for a few weeks to regroup and figure some things out. We have a Sunlight show booked in Phoenix for December 6th at the Fiddler’s Dream coffee house. We hope to book a few more gigs before then as well. This adventure is FAR from over, I can promise you that! 🙂