Monday, February 01, 2010

Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona

Today, Morty headed into Arizona after crossing New Mexico the short way. He started out the day with a quarter tank of gas so we were pretty keen on finding some before getting back on I-10. All through Silver City gas prices were running $2.90 so we kept on driving. We crossed the Continental Divide and that involved some long but gradual up and downhill runs. We finally got to Lordsburg, where a fill-up was imperative. Again, we drove past the entrance ramp and found the best price of the last week: $2.43 at Diamond Shamrock. On Morty’s 28-gallon purchase we saved enough for lunch and apple pie at McDonalds.

Our first state park in Arizona is Kartchner Caverns. I thought for a minute we were magically transported to Disneyworld. There are electric double doors opening into the “Discovery Center.”  Greeters behind the massive stone counter sell campsites for $22 per night and cave tours in the $25-$40/person range. You ride a tram into the cave. Cameras are not allowed. It is extremely humid. So we opted for the free open-air hike over the foothills that surround the hill that contains the caverns. The two-mile hike had some pretty good rock climbs of its own. We felt a little rushed since we didn’t start out until a little before four and the Sun would be dipping behind the mountains right around five-thirty. About a half-mile from the end we had to ford a running stream, pretty unexpected since all the other streambeds were bone dry. I was glad to have been wearing my sandals. Lynne was not so glad to have submerged one of her running shoes. It was another really good workout for a travel day.

We took some pictures in the botanical garden for keeping straight the names of the various desert plants we have been encountering. The campground is first-rate:  wide spacious sites, modern plumbing except for no soap in the restrooms, paved roads and sites, electric and water, cell phone coverage for computer tethering,

It will be a challenge to visit as many Arizona state parks as we wanted -- the budgeteers are closing 17 and keeping only 9 open. 

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