Since many of us who write fantasy include scenes of the underworld, I thought I’d show some pictures from my summer vacation. Yes, I went to Hades, and didn’t even get a t-shirt.

All told we were underground at Carlsbad Caverns for about three hours, with a break for lunch above ground. The second tour was more difficult than the first. It was colder, and the caverns were more oppressive. There was a part where you had to squeeze past a massive rockfall, where the ceiling had collapsed several thousand years ago. You bet I was wondering what the hell I was doing down there.¬† There’s a reason they call Earth an inhospitable planet to support sentient life — humans can only happily live on a small slice of it. The rest of the world is either off limits or seriously whacked.

But really, if you ever get a chance, go. I’ve visited the Luray Caverns in Virginia and a couple of caverns here in Texas, but this was the granddaddy of them all.

Descent into darkness.

Descent into darkness.

The last look at the upper world. I can imagine how Euridyce felt. So close, so close!

The last look at the upper world. I can imagine how Euridyce felt. So close, so close!

None so black...

None so black...

Walk into the light.

Walk into the light.

Stalactite or stalagmite?

Stalactite or stalagmite?

After a while, you see these amazing formations and just can't come up with any more awe.

After a while, you see these amazing formations and just can't come up with any more awe.

Crystal gems of the underworld.

Crystal gems of the underworld.


3 Comments

J. Kathleen Cheney · September 29, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Oddly, I’m probably the only claustro-philiac (SP?) you might know. I love the caverns. Then again, I used to hide in my closet after a long shirt at work…so I’m a bit odd. But I do love Carlsbad Caverns. ::cavern envy::

Patrice Sarath · September 29, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Seriously? Wow.

So how did it make you feel? Was it like a comforting hug? Or was it just the fact that you were alone, in the dark, and could recharge your batteries?

I had a hard time on the second part of the tour, as I said, but that might have been because I was tired. I felt the cold more, and was susceptible to the oppressive presence of so much planet overhead.

J. Kathleen Cheney · October 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm

It’s an odd thing, I suppose. I guess I miss the womb, or something….

When I used to get in my closet after work, it was because I was over-stimulated by talking to so many people, so much noise, etc (which is why I retreat to my hotel room during a con, too). The dark and silent is sorta comforting.

The one problem I have with underground is that it is cold, so I tend to overdress for something like that.

I’ll have to think about the ‘planet overhead’. I think this disturbs Matt as well. I suspect it’s rather like my mild natural-bodies-of-water phobia….not entirely controllable.

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