Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day Five

Here are our early morning pictures from Storrie Lake.

You can see an RV in the background on the right. One of many.

Unfortunately, I think that may be all the pictures I have of Day Five. Julia will probably have more. We spent most of the day driving. New Mexico is a huge state. Huge. The fifth largest. We had to go from Las Vegas, in the middle of the state to Carlsbad, waaaay down in the south of the state. Google maps tells me it's around 260 miles, and I believe it. We must have driven 6 hours that day. And what did we see? Not much. A lot of desert with its low scrubby vegetation, and tall dried up yucca blossoms. Roswell was pretty depressing. Everything had to be dressed up in some kind of martian gimmick. I spared you the pictures.

The good news is that we made it in time to see the bats leave Carlsbad Caverns, an occurrence that takes place nightly during the summer months. We got to the caverns around dusk, and waited in the Bat Amphitheater which looks onto the mouth of the famous caverns.

We waited. And waited. I didn't mind the wait, but it was a struggle for the families with small children, or impatient adults, to wait quietly without the distraction of their cameras or cell phones. Too much noise will throw the bats off their mojo as will the collective sound of everyone's electronics. We can't hear it, but if you're practically blind and fly by sonar, I guess it's pretty disruptive. So I don't have pictures, but I was able to cadge one from the Carlsbad National Park site.

About 300,000-500,000 bats leave the caverns every summer night. They can fly as far as West Texas for their nightly insect meal. They left the cave in a rush of wings, nearly soundless, that lasted for about an hour and a half. And they were tiny, tiny! Maybe the size of a sparrow, with delicate wings. If you got very close to the cavern entrance, you might hear a susurration like the rustling of leaves. Seeing them leave the cave left me with such a special feeling for them. They're so tiny and delicate and harmless, and really beneficial to us humans, and they've been so reviled for being ugly and creepy. I recently read a New Yorker article about a fungus that was killing bat populations all over the world. Realizing how precarious their survival is made me feel even more protective of them.

Here's a picture of a little guy called a javelina, native to New Mexico. We didn't actually see one, though I had my eyes peeled for them while we were there.

After the bats, we grabbed a Sonic Burger (ok, I grabbed a Sonic Burger, Julia grabbed some Sonic tater tots)

and went back to our hotel, the Stagecoach Motel. Don't ever *ever* go! Our room was so infested with roaches (3 killed in 20 minutes. And Julia did none of the killing), we had to set up the tent on the bed in order to feel okay falling asleep. The weird thing about the motel is that it had a beautiful, well-maintained pool, nicely screened from the highway with decorative plants and trees. Go figure. A hilarious picture of Julia on the bed with our tent.


Julia said...

True I may not have done any of the killing, but I sure held my own with the screaming!

audrey said...

yeah, you're a big help.