New Year, Old Cave
Thanks to a Christmas cold that turned into
bronchitis, I was in bed before midnight on New
Year's Eve for the first time in my adult life. It
has been a holiday that I've celebrated every year,
no matter where I've been: Japan, the Philippines,
Mexico, Honduras or just at home with friends. But
not this yearwhich is just as well, since my
hacking coughs put me in no mood to live it up. And
besides, since I'm traveling solo, I've got no one
to celebrate with. So I got some rest, rose early
on New Year's Day, and went underground.
Several million years ago, percolating water and
sulfuric acid ate away at the limestone underneath
Carlsbad, New Mexico, forming what is now Carlsbad
Caverns National Park. Today, an elevator takes you
down 750 feet, to a self-guided path through
majestic caverns covered by stalactites,
stalagmites, "soda straws," "draperies" and other
caverns encompass vast caves, both developed and
undeveloped. The main chamber"Big
Room"is the most accessible (even to
wheelchairs). Measuring 1800 feet by 1000 feet,
with the ceiling in some spots reaching to nearly
300 feet, "Big Room" is aptly named. The walkway
wends around the perimeter of the chamber,
revealing exotic sights both minute and grand.
Glittering calcite stalactites dripping from the
ceiling, popcorn-like rocks covering the ground,
the enormity of it all dwarfing you... words can't
capture the awe one feels.
The most surreal aspect of the experience for me
was the uncanny feeling that I was underwater.
Gazing up at arching ceilings, looking down on
formations reminiscent of coral reefs, following
the undulating currents of the path, perceiving the
not-unpleasant sensation of being enclosed, I could
not help but feel I was scuba diving through some
fantastic undersea landscape.
Strickland ALL RIGHTS
What is "The Daily Strick"?
I have long called
myself a writer, but too often I don't do
what a writer must do daily: write. So
you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of
my resolution to make a positive change in
at least one area of my life. Every single
day of this new year, I will write
something, anything, and post it here
(though some days' writings might be
posted late, if I am out of townsuch
as right now). It is my intention to use
this daily exercise to jump-start my
too-long-dormant creative energies, and
perhaps generate some worthwhile material
this year. Hopefully you will find at
least an occasional amusement or insight
in my daily musings.