First Winter Away - 2005 travel blog


gossip bridle

cow skulls


We came to the southeast corner of Arizona to visit Kartchner Caverns. About 8 years ago, I was standing bleary eyed at the bathroom sink, brushing my teeth getting ready to go to work, when the enthusiasm of the NPR reporter came through the radio and grabbed me. He talked about a beautiful cave that had been discovered, untouched by human hands until 1974. It was kept a secret until 1998, when it was opened as a state park. I've been wanting to see it ever since. Special efforts were made to keep these caverns in the pristine condition they were in at discovery. This is especially problemmatic in this arid climate, since opening the cave and letting people walk in and out would dilute the moist environment. Only 500 people get to go inside in a day and when I called for a reservation a month ago, we did not get the tour we wanted because it was already booked up.

We went through a series of air locks as we walked down into the cavern and were misted reguarly. The lights were turned on sparingly since the scientists had learned from other caves, that algae starts growing when the lights are on too much. The moist rock glowed and the network of extremely fine soda staws and formations growing at angles were like a spider web made of rock. The largest column was six stories high, a collection of layers of stone cascading on top of each other over the millenia. This cave was certainly worth the fuss, but cameras weren't allowed so you'll have to take my word for it.

After the caverns we drove a few miles to Tombstone, a town that was made famous by Wyatt Earp and his brothers. The cemetary there was the orginal Boothill and the dance hall was the place where "I'm only a bird in a gilded cage" came to life. The buildings have been preserved as they were in the late 1800's, wooden sidewalks and all. We saw many historical items that were familiar to any fan of the wild west, but I had never seen this gossip bridle before. I'm not certain I would ever want to see it again.

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