We had a lovely night for star watching last night. The temperature was a bit on the cool side but there were lots and lots of stars to gaze at. Here's something I never really thought about: If you live near an oil refinery and the wind is blowing in the right direction you can smell petroleum products in the air. We were sure the truck had sprung some sort of a leak but it was only the smell of our fossil fuels being converted into something we can use up.
Wildlife sighting (I borrowed the photo from Wikipedia). We saw a jackrabbit while we were returning home from our bike ride last night. It was moving pretty quickly away from us. Brett offered to go off road and follow it but I felt it would be wiser to let it go on its merry way. They certainly have very large ears. Brett says that this is a cooling mechanism.
Photos are allowed along with flash. I decided to document the trip using my iPhone and was a bit skeptical as to the results when I saw how dark it was. You can judge for yourself. I think that with some post-processing these are actually quite nice. I will note that the colors are not quite what they seem in the photos (the processing tends to increase the saturation) and there is quite a bit of noise in some (it's an iPhone in low light after all). I will let the cave speak for itself.
All these photos are from the Big Room (which is 4000 acres in size). You follow a sidewalk with railings around the whole area. The walk is advertised as taking about 1 1/2 hours. I think we took about 2 1/2 hours because there was just so much to see. I strongly advise using the audio tour option if you go somewhere and have that choice. All that we have tried were professionally done and added so much to the experience. I mentioned that there were bus loads of people but in this enormous space they really kind of disappear. You are asked not to speak loudly because the cavern acts like an echo chamber. There was a church-like feeling with all the hushed tones. The cavern does have lights which were designed by a lighting artist. Kudos to that artist. There are just enough lights to show off the different features but they are placed so that they don't shine in your face and they don't light up everything. It is still very cave-like in there. Part way through the walk there is a "short cut" path and I think that a lot of people choose this. For the last part of the walk there were long stretches where there were no other people but us. A very nice experience.
I will admit to being a bit winded towards the end of the walk (there is some uphill climbing) and I was ready to be done when we returned to the main lobby. We decided to eat lunch at the restaurant there. I chose a Mexican pork with a sauce served over rice. It was very good. Then we spent some time (and money) in the bookstore. I also remembered to take my National Park Passport and got my official cancellation stamp.