Up until a week or two before we left SoCal, I had never heard of the Carlsbad Caverns nor even knew they existed. James' roommate, Troy, heard us planning our route and suggested we check it out. Thank goodness we took his advice because it was a spectacular site to see.
The caverns are located in Carlsbad on the southeast corner of New Mexico. They are one of the world's largest known cave systems, new sections and rooms are still being discovered today. Bats have called the caverns home for thousands of years and are the reason European settlers made this incredible discovery in the first place. Someone saw a huge bat colony emerging from a cave and went inside to harvest the guano (it is used as fertilizer) only to discover this geological anomaly filled with stalactites, stalagmites and various other formations so massive they almost don't seem real.
At different points on the hike, both James and I had flashbacks of Thunder Mountain - sadly the closest thing I can compare this to. Of course Carlsbad Caverns trumps Disneyland hands down, I just found it comical that a couple of SoCal natives thought of that. The sheer size of the caves is completely humbling and made me stop to think about how awesome our planet is. I also got to thinking about what crazy person volunteered to be the first to go in. Without the current lighting system it would be so dark that you wouldn't be able to see your hand held inches from your face. I wondered what these walls would say if they could talk - imagine all that they have seen over the centuries!