I didn't think I'd ever have an opportunity to visit Carlsbad Caverns, which are located in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico. Let alone be flown there by my boyfriend, Chase.
Let alone almost die en route. But I'll get to that…first thing's first.
Chase, is stationed in Alamogordo, New Mexico and recently earned his Private Pilot's License. He was eager to get in some flying hours, so we searched for a day-trip destination that was only an hour or so away by plane. We tossed around a few options before settling on Carlsbad Caverns!
Last Saturday, the group (we invited two friends) woke up bright and early and headed to the airport. After the boys did some pre-flight checks, we were on our way!
Us girls settled in the back and got our own aviation headsets.
The flight there started out uneventful and I took some pictures of the landscapes we passed. In the top left picture below, you can see White Sands, which we visited in May.
Then…duh duh duh…I almost died. Well not really. But I thought I was dying. The plane we took was an old Cessna 172 and had seen better days. The pilot-side of the plane had a window that opened outward and was closed/secured with a small handle. The window looked a bit like this:
We started out the flight with the window completely closed, the small rickety handle being the only thing that kept it closed. When we were about 10 minutes from Carlsbad Caverns, the handle somehow broke, was swept out of the plane, and the window flew open. Immediately, my memory jumped to that 007 scene where Goldfinger dies, and I panicked. I was going to get sucked out! I was going to die ahhhhhhhhhhhh! I'm pretty sure that Chase will never let me live down how afraid I was at this window breaking, which really was a non-issue at our altitude. At the time, though, I was petrified.
We arrived safely at Carlsbad Caverns and set out to explore. You can purchase a ~$10 self-guided tour, but we opted to wander on our own. You can also take an elevator straight to the bottom, but if you are don't have any physical limitations and have the time, I would highly recommend walking the switch-backs down into the natural entrance.
During the warmer months, the bats of the cave come surging out of this natural entrance at sunset in search of insects. Since we were visiting in December, however, we saw no bats.
One thing that I didn't expect was for the caverns to be so BIG--they cover more than 8 underground acres. After descending the natural entrance, we toured the Big Room.
After walking about the Big Room, we headed home. There are other rooms you can visit, but we were short on time. The ride was calm, and the window we rigged to stay shut (read: no spazz Aimee ;)). It was such a fun day and I can't wait to fly again. I'm already scheming to see where we can go next!
Of possible interest: