Caverns, Cacti and cute little gems……

Our most noteworthy adventure recently has been a place we have been to in the past, but did not “take the tour” and so we did this time. Kartchner Caverns State Park.

These caves were found in 1974 when Randy Tufts took a friend (Gary Tenens) back to a sinkhole he had found years before, to investigate. They smelled Bat Guano and felt a warm breeze, a good sign that they had found a cave, and so started “exploring”. It took the quite some time for them to fully explore the caves and to find the major chambers, but they kept the caves secret for 14 years. They were aware of the risks of vandalism and without careful consideration of preservation the beautiful caverns would be destroyed. Can you imagine finding something like this?

The discovery of the cave was finally made public in 1988 when the landowners sold the area to the state for development as a park and show cavern. Prior to its grand opening in 1999, the state spent $28 million on a high-tech system of air-lock doors, misting machines and other equipment designed to preserve the cave.

I was unable to take any pictures… because when you do the tour, in fact, you cannot take anything into the cave with you. (so all photos are shamelessly stolen) If you touch any of the rock, you need to tell the guides so that they can put a marker on the spot so it can be cleaned at the end of the day. Apparently any oil from the skin, or fluff from your clothing will stop the rock from its natural formation and require extensive work to repair, if not cleaned right way. The cave has 98% humidity and 70+ degrees F temps, so I am sure it would be ripe for bacteria as well. So you go inside one heavy metal door and that one has to close before the next one is opened… to minimize the outside air going into cave, and drying it out. Apparently this cave is still alive whereas others are now considered to be dead. Our tour guide said that Carlsbad caverns are no longer “living caves”.

We stayed at the campground in the park and did one of the many scenic hikes, this picture is actually of the hills that are above the caves. All of it sits under those hills.

Sadly Gary Tufts who made this amazing discovery and protected it so well died at the age of 53 of bone marrow disorder, myelodysplasia. He certainly was an interesting person, if you read this NYtimes article.

I have never been much of a gem person, and do not actually wear any jewelry, but we have been on this search for Sapphires to use for a new “engagement/wedding bands”. Ken lost his wedding band at year 5 of our marriage. He was used to giving anaesthetics in the operating room (his first several years as a doctor he was a GP/anaesthetist). THEY did not have to take off jewelry in the OR. He did a special training thing in Vancouver where he had to scrub in the OR and he had not worked out what to do with his wedding band, so he tied to to his scrubs and the ring went into the laundry at Vancouver general hospital and was never seen again, so he replaced it. So now after having lost mine, I am going to replace mine. So I have bought some sapphires from Madagascar at the Tucson gem show. Still need to figure out what to do with them…. most likely will find someone to make the rings for me. The Gem show was amazing thousands and thousands of gems, diamonds, sapphires and any you could think of. Hard to know why we bought 4 of them, but…. they were so pretty and the picture does not do them justice.

We are now staying at Organ Pipe Cactus National monument. Home to the Organ pipe cactus. South and west of Tucson.

The Organ pipe is not as common as the Saguero cactus often seen in Arizona landscapes. The plant has a short trunk and multiple stems that grow from it. These stems rarely branch but rather grow annually from the tip of the last growth. The mature plant can reach a width of 3.5 m (12 ft). Each stem has twelve to nineteen 10 mm (38 in) high ribs that bear dark brown to black spines that turn gray as it matures. It takes 150 years to reach maturity. This campground is very cool and has no electric hook ups. The best part is that they separate the generators from the NON generators, so that the ones of us who have solar panels do not have to listen to generators. (well WE think that is cool). There are many hikes leading from this campground, but sadly dogs are not allowed on them, so we were only able to do the perimeter trail.

So we shall move on today because for us… it is all about the dog..

So on another note ♩♬♫…… Veterans for peace RADIO HOUR, interviewed me and played many of my songs. They wanted the stories behind the songs I had written. They posted the interview as a Soundcloud file, but many people were unable to open it so I have downloaded it and put it on dropbox so people can download and play….

enjoy…… These songs were written about the invasion of Iraq, in 2003 and the subsequent side effects.

So to end …. this is an amazing piece of art work…….

Made of recycled spark plugs…at the gem show.

So Bye for now, much love Janet, Ken and Tucker, the spoilt rotten dog who has taken over all of our seats in the Motor home. 🐕‍🦺☮️☮️