Thursday, January 4, 2007

Kartchner Caverns

After enjoying the family for the Holidays and ringing in the New Year it was time for another adventure. (Besides we were recovered from the New Years celebration)
On January 2nd it was time for June and John to head east, back to Texas. But, we needed to pay a visit to the newly discovered (in cave terms) Kartchner Caverns, in Benson, Arizona.
With tickets that John’s mother had picked up the clan headed to Benson for a tour (Clan meaning: John’s folks, sister, brother in law, and niece, or Earl, Dorothy, Marie, Vic, Darcy, and of course June and John!)
Our tour was scheduled to start at 9:40AM, but we had to be there by 8:40AM, hmm.
Anyway the plan was for June and John to take the tour, then head east. So the trailer was made ready, hooked up and pulled out at 7:00AM for the hour and a half trip.
The Clan was gathered at the appointed time and place with an hour to kill. What to do for an hour? We looked at the various exhibits, that took about 20 minutes, now what, oh yes, the gift shop, guess we will look there, too. (Now I know why they want you there an hour early)
This cave was discovered in 1974 by two guys, Tenen and Tufts, who search for caves. It was kept a secret, even from the land owner, Kartchner, as these guys have seen the vandalism that can be done to caves.
In 1978 they decided to tell the Kartchners and in 1988 arraignments were made for the State of Arizona to purchase the property and open it to the public.
Learning from such caves as Carlsbad Caverns of their mistakes in caring for the caves extra measures were taken to protect this one.
A mining company was brought in to dig tunnels into the cave through the rock and install air locks to maintain the natural temperature and humidity in the cave. Special walk ways (wheel chair accessible) were put in designed to be washed down every day and the waste water pumped out.
Special instructions were given to touch only the hand rails, if you touched anything else, by accident, tell Ranger Bob, and he would mark it for later clean up. Oh yes, you probably noticed that there were no photos of the cave in the Blog, yep, another rule, NO PHOTOGRAPHS. (You guessed it, photographs can be purchased in the gift shop!)
If you want to see a cave in pristine condition, still making formations, complete with bats, this is the one. If you want to see more and get a better look at cave formations, go to Carlsbad Caverns. If you go to Carlsbad, make sure you listen to what they have done to screw it up. Like paving a parking lot over the top of the cave, which stops the flow of water down into the cave, remember, the water dripping makes the various formations over many years.
You can read more about Kartchner Caverns here: http://www.azparks.gov/Parks/parkhtml/kartchner.html If you look real close at the clickable map you can see pictures inside the cave. (Taken before picture taking was outlawed)

After the tour June and John headed east, stopping in Deming, New Mexico, to stock up on grub at the Wal Mart, of course. Then on to Las Cruces, yep the same place again, for the night, and yes they remembered the broken down crew. Wednesday it was on to Terlingua, with a slight delay on I-10, seems that Texans can’t drive on ice. There were about 20 pile ups across some 30 miles of highway, west of Van Horn, closing the road! Anyway we were only held up for about 30 minutes. Arriving in Terlingua about 2:00PM where we were met by a number of friendly faces and part of our Texas family, (Larry, Polly; Roger and Sue). (Kinda feels like home)

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