Highlights of my travels these past few months have certainly included several tours of caves in New Mexico and Texas. I went to Carlsbad Caverns in mid-October just in time for the emergence of bats at sunset- yes, bats! Over 400,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats live in the cave from May to October, and can be seen exiting the natural opening at sunset every night to feed on insects in the canyon. They exit for approximately 30 minutes, circulating in a counterclockwise swirl, rising upward, against the yellow, pink glow of the setting sun. Occasionally, a single bat will fly out of formation and swoop over the audience of 100 or so humans who sit awestruck in the amphitheater. A gasp emits from said human as the bat is there and then gone in a nanosecond.
It is still a mystery as to why the bats circle counterclockwise as they exit. They return at dawn after eating over 1/2 their body weight in insects. By the way, they don’t eat mosquitos as evidenced by the lack of mosquito parts found in the bat guano which is piled over 40 feet high in the bottom of the cave. Mother bats must return several times during the night to nurse their pups, which are kept in a “nursery” inside the cave. They are able to locate their own pups by smell and the unique sounds that their own pups make.
As the bats emerge, there is very little sound that humans can detect, except for the whirring of hundreds of thousands of wings against the night air. The awesome spectacle is mesmerizing for the audience who is struck silent.
Even though I have been to many caves in my life, I find Carlsbad to be one of the best and most beautiful. The pictures that I have posted in no way compare to the real life experience of Carlsbad, or any cave for that matter. The whole episode of being 150 feet below the surface of the earth, and surrounded by formations that took millions of years to shape is transcendent. I felt myself to be somewhat outside my body and overwhelmed with the beauty of the natural formations that were eerily backlit by modern technology.
The 2 caves I visited in Texas were smaller than Carlsbad, but were just as spectacular in their own unique way. Cave without a Name in Boerne, Texas was hot and humid with a carbon dioxide level equal to 7,000 ft above sea level. Thank goodness for the frequent rest stops! Caverns of Sonora in Sonora, Texas was smaller had formations that were up close but forbidden to touch, as the oils from human hands can stop the growth of the formations. Because I am a tactile person, I had an intense desire to touch these delicate looking structures, but, alas, kept my hands to myself!
As I drive through the southwest and experience many natural wonders, some harrowing driving conditions, and lots of interesting people I know with certainty, I have done the right thing- so I am continuing to Go With The Flo and taking you with me. Peace and Love to All!!