NCAR 2009

June 2nd, 2009

View of Mt. Adams from our campsite - NCAR 2009

View from the campground

One thing the east coast has that you don’t have much of on the west coast is a large number of caving conventions. There just aren’t very many conventions out here, even if the cavers are at least as active. As luck would have it, we stumbled across the Northwest Caving Association Regional. It’s a little coincidental actually, since it changes areas every year. Regardless of all the random factors that could have prevented it, we did find out about the NCAR in time and make it down to Trout Lake, Washington for Memorial Day weekend.

As with every caving convention we’ve been to, the people were awesome. You don’t meet nicer, more down to earth people than cavers. On Saturday, we bummed a ride with members of the Silver Sage Grotto (out of Idaho) where we had a rather massive trip through Butter and Stairwell. I think we had twenty-four people underground at one point, counting the infant strapped to his Dad’s chest.

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Carlsbad Caverns

March 29th, 2009

Group Shot - Parks Ranch, NM

I hate to post two stories so close together, but since our internet connection is about to go from ‘two tin cans and a string’ to ‘no one can hear you scream’, I’m going to go ahead and put up the Carlsbad post along with a link to the fancy pictures.

One of the sights we were both looking forward to since we hit the road was Carlsbad Caverns. Neither of us had been here since we were children and while I couldn’t recall anything about the cave, I remember being fascinated throughout the entire trip. Since we’ve taken up caving as a hobby, Carlsbad has taken on the aspect of your run of the mill holy shrine and a required pilgrimage.

We knew our America the Beautiful pass would get us into the Big Room for free, but one day underground wasn’t going to do it. We’re trying to stick to a budget here, so rather than paying for a guided tour of other sections of the cave or other caves in the park, I emailed a couple of people in the local grotto and asked if they had anything going on. It was short notice, but they both responded and took us on two separate trips in two days with two caves each day!

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Ridge Walking – New Mexico

March 19th, 2009

The great thing about ridge walking in New Mexico is that there aren’t any trees. Well, at least not in the areas that we were looking for caves. As we drove down many a dirt road in the Guadalupe Mountains, we saw quite a few caves from our vehicle. The bad thing is that they were on mountains across the desert and we were pressed for time to find a place to sleep. Still, its quite a bit easier than on the East Coast. There, we spent hours upon hours searching for caves. In the summer, we searched through dense brush. In the fall, we shuffled through the fallen leaves and turned up nothing. In New Mexico, we could see the caves from the comfort of our truck.

In New Mexico, the mountains were dotted with cave systems. On one dirt road, North West of Carlsbad Caverns, I saw four of them on the same mountain. As usual, Johnny wasn’t able to scout, because he was driving, so I showed them to him. He then pointed out that they were moooving.

Maybe I should wear my glasses more often. That way I wont end up sticking my head in a cow.

Building a bat gate

September 24th, 2008

Well, we’ve got more than a bar of Internet tonight, so I figure it’s time we got caught up on some blogging.

Horn Hollow Cave

After we spent a couple of weekends at the Great Saltpetre Preserve caving with some great people from the area, we headed towards Boone, NC to start our next stint as carnies. However, we got sidetracked leaving Kentucky as Jenn noticed Carter Caves State Park was just a few miles out of the way. As this is where Crawl-a-thon is held in January, we decided it would be worth a quick stop over and looksee.

We got up bright and early and explored Laurel and Horn Hollow caves. Both are rather short trips, that have been ‘prepared’ for tourists, but they are still unlit, self-led trips. Horn Hollow has a beautiful entrance, but is otherwise not much to look at from inside. Laurel was quite a pretty little cave and we were able to get off-trail and explore the upper passage as well as climb a small waterfall that most non-cavers would have never seen.

Roy and Jerry. The gate is now complete.

Once we got to the camper, covered in cave mud, and I got stripped down to my high performance underwear, a couple of guys walked up, and rather than running away, they wanted to chat, which marked them as cavers and not afraid of dirty, half-dressed hippies in a parking lot. This was our introduction to Roy and Jerry. They were in the area building a bat gate, which is designed to let bats in, but keep people out during bat hibernation season. Since we were the only muddy folks around with a bat sticker on our vehicle, they assumed we’d be good suckers, err… candidates, to volunteer to help out.

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Laid up lay about

July 13th, 2008

I’m on day three of being temporarily crippled. Seems I managed to give the knee with the least amount of cartilage left a viscous twist a couple of days back. Over the course of twelve hours, it went from mildly annoying to three times the size of it’s twin. Needless to say, I’ve spent the last two and a half days laying on the bed chewing through books at the rate of about five hundred pages a day.

Day one was pretty rough as I had not yet figured out the delicacies of reaching the bathroom on one leg. Thankfully, the bed is only about ten feet from the bathroom with plenty of things to lean on along the way. The catch is that there are a couple of steps at both the bed and the bathroom to negotiate. After handling these obstacles poorly for a day, I finally got the hang of it and can now handle the gymnastics like an old pro.

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