Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Lukas stumbled through the third book of GOT while we stumbled through another “creek bed”. “Creek Beds” in the southwest are actually just long long lines of very clean rocks that were said to be wet once, somewhere between the oceans drying out and the present. Don’t be fooled though, creeks there are not.
Like driving into any of New England’s claustrophobic downtowns, the walls to the sides of our creek bed were suddenly skyscrapers and our piddle of a path was suddenly a thin road that Parisians believe fit two cars side-by-side (though any American will tell you it fits but a single truck).
Devil’s canyon smushed us and smushed the breeze into a gust, so we were effectively blown. Though it isn’t grand, this canyon’s size only adds to it’s intimacy. We peed off the tallest rocks we could comfortably scramble to and squeezed out. The lizards told us never to return, and did numerous push-ups to stunt on us. This intimidation proved effective.
Having been surrounded by rocks on three sides, we left Guadalupe seeking a ceiling. Thus, we drove north to Carlsbad Caverns. Carlsbad Caverns bumped significantly bumpier than Guadalupes, with a visitors center ten times as extensive and rangers who appeared ten times less lonely, and ten times more bored.
The natural cavern entrance is the birthplace of dragons – a huge gaping wrend in the earth below which nothing can lie but terrifying Tolkekenien treasures. The descent into darkness is measured in informative signs (bless). The first describes the 40 foot deep pile of bat shit before you. The next describes the football fields long x football fields wide natural room around it. The next, the 20,000 ton boulder on your left, which broke off the roof of the cavern not so long ago. The signs play at one upping each other. Your mind fucks do the same.
At a certain depth it becomes totally clear that the rocks are alive. Some grow towards one another to join in huge, wonderful canopies overhead. Some droop towards you in great fleshy curtains that would surely sway if there were any breeze. Everywhere there are faces on the rock walls – smiling welcomes to their world, or sneering at your absurd puniness. Goblins line the high ledges, their long fingers barely visible through great cracks in the rock. Huge towering ogres block your way, their skin wet and shining. In some places the rock is sick, thousands of tiny cancers digging out of the walls – shockingly pale, horribly sharp.
After about an hour, and a descent quite literally the height of the Empire State Building, you reach the Great Room – the largest single level cave room in North America. Upon entrance, you reach a bathroom, an elevator, and a gift shop. It looks like a ridiculous Doctor Who set – shiny counters and overpriced t shirts totally out of place in this fantastic world out of time. The room is enormous. Walking its perimeter takes as long as the descent did. The formations are huge and beautiful and absolutely everywhere. There is a bottomless pit in a back corner of the room. There is a perfectly sculpted set of rock hard breasts nearby. Phallic stones crowd the paths. At a certain point the place becomes completely hilarious, really the only reasonable reaction to such an impossible thing.
And then it’s done, and an elevator ride later, we’re back in reality, in yet another gift shop, planning where we’ll sleep tonight. Buck nutty.