Something like that...

Something like that…

I was searching for photos of narrow stone staircases for yesterday’s post. I wasn’t finding anything quite narrow enough with “staircase” as the search term so I decided to try “cave” instead. I found myself suddenly flooded with memories from my early childhood and visiting Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

At least, I think that I visited Carlsbad Caverns, I don’t actually know for sure. I would have been younger than four, although I faintly recall Bean being there which means that I was older than two. I remember a visitors center: it was dimly lit- perhaps to give it a cavern-like feel. I feel like it was carpeted with industrial carpeting- maybe red, but I might be making that up. There was an exhibit explaining the difference between stalactites and stalagmites and how they form. It was made very clear that the stalactites/stalagmites in the caverns were Not For Touching, but that if I wanted to know what they felt like, there was one that I could touch as a display. It was a short, white mound on a black plinth under a spotlight. It was rough to the touch, yet also smoothed by the touching of many hands.

Inside the caverns there was a long winding path on a gentle downward incline- I think that it was smoothly paved with low, smooth curbs on either side. The caverns were lit with colored lights- light purples and reds. I have a faint recollection of some kind of audio-tour device- smooth beige plastic with a handset like a phone? I think there may also have been audio stations shaped like low pillars and tucked in amongst the formations where you could listen to information along the way. I recall strollers. I recall having fun running from turn to turn in the path.

I recall leaving and seeing the entrance to the caves and having my Dad tell me that bats flew out of it at night. I think there was some debate about whether we wanted to try to make it to see the bats or if it was late enough that we should get going- my recollection was that the light was already quite low and getting dark and that the crowds were thin by the time we left. I think there was some talk about whether I would be afraid of the bats, although I don’t recall actually being afraid at the time.

It’s one of those memories that is vivid enough that I can’t help but think it is real, but at the same time it is so separate from any context that it feels like a dream.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 6, 2015.

3 Responses to “Carlsbad”

  1. Yes! You visited Carlsbad Caverns when you were four because Dad interviewed for a mine job in that town. We spent an afternoon at the National Park touring the caves with a ranger and visiting the Visitor Center.

    I am amazed at how much you remember…possibly more than I do!!

    I hope end of the semester stuff goes smoothly for you. Take everything one day at a time. And try to get enough rest.

    Love you!



  2. That picture made me think of caves too! Obviously I wasn’t on the Carlsbad visit, but I remember caves in South Dakota. They named different passages – one was something like, “Tall Man’s Terror,” and there was one that was, “Fat Man’s Fear,” or something along those lines. I still don’t know if this is true, but they told us your skull is as wide as your finger span (in the “hang loose” position) and your hip bones are as wide as two hang loose hands. That’s how you can tell if you’ll fit through a narrow part of a cave.

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