Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 174 - Alamogordo - Roswell (via Carlsbad Caverns)

Distance travelled (by bike): 21,610 miles

The wild fires in New Mexico are huge, towns are been evacuated and roads closed. All trails through the national forests regional and national parks are closed as are the campgrounds. I was warned when i left Alamogordo that Carlsbad Caverns might be closed as its part of the national park, luckily it was open. 
For the first hours drive this morning i had a break from the flat arid desert that has surrounded me since Vegas, climbing up into the hills there were trees, grass, animals. A fantastic ride that ended to soon, as i began the decent to Artesia the arid desert and blisteringly hot air greeted me.
Driving to Carlsbad Caverns you could see the area had already been hit by wildfire, landscape of charred vegetation and little else.
Carlsbad Caverns are one of the worlds largest cave systems (a world heritage site) 250 metres underground. The largest cave (7th largest in the world) is 1220 x 190 metres and approx 110 metres high. There are more than 180 caves, i have no ideas how big the complex is, but the route i walked was 2 miles long. 
Glad to be out of the sun i set off on my underground trek. A truly incredible place, other worldly. Sounds carried easily, you can hear people talking from the other side of the cavern, but think they are around the next corner. This is when i realised how loudly my boots squeak when i walk!
Returning to the surface and the intense heat of the day i saddled up and drove off on an incredibly hot seat. (i'm sure i could fry an egg on the panniers) Driving north and leaving the burnt landscape behind i rode into the realm of conspiracy, the unknown and the unexplained, welcome to Roswell, New Mexico.

what is now becoming a common sight

driving through the mountians

scorched earth

in the caverns

intrepid explorer (slightly startled by the flash)

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