When describing our home these days, the first word to come to mind is always “hot”. It really does get pretty hot during the day – I’ve even given in a bit more with the air conditioning inside! But I find that whenever I do venture outside, it really isn’t too hard to get used to. We had a lovely walk around our neighborhood last night, and it was a wonderful dry heat feeling with a light breeze. (Of course, when I say neighborhood, I mean to our puppy store. This week, we’re in love with a cocker spaniel puppy.)
To continue our Saturday adventures, today we drove an hour Southeast to visit some attractions. If you’re like me, you might be thinking “why go further South, won’t it just get hotter?” But that isn’t true in this instance! Just as Tucson is always 5-10 degrees cooler than Phoenix (even though 2 hours South), Benson, Bisbee and Sierra Vista are all cooler than Tucson – I’ve heard them to be known as having the “best year-round climate”. Even if the difference in temperature is just 5 degrees, it really does feel cooler!
We left early this morning and drove to our first destination – Kartchner Caverns State Park, just South of Benson, AZ.
After doing a bit of letterboxing, we arrived at the visitor’s center early to tour the museum and learn about the history of the cave before going on our reserved tour. We’ve toured several caves like this together, such as Colossal Caves in Tucson, Carlsbad Caverns in NM, and Mammoth Caves in KY, but this one in particular stands out to me as a pristine and highly treasured cave. It was only discovered in the 1970’s by 2 college students from the University of Arizona. From the first time they crawled through the small, undiscovered underground area, they knew that this was special, and they wanted to find a way to share it with others while still keeping it protected. Then, and to this day, this cave is a live cave – there’s still water coming through and allowing it to keep creating more natural structures.
They managed to keep it a secret while they mapped out the cave for 4 years. After this, the young discoverers told the family that owned the land all about what was going on underground, and the family agreed they had to find a way to protect it. They decided the best way to do this was to turn it into a state park, and in 1988 it became the 25th Arizona State Park. The caves are named after the Kartchner family that owned the land before selling it to the state.
All this said, it’s important for anyone planning to visit to know that these caves are still very protected. You aren’t allowed to bring in anything but yourself, which means no cameras. Because I wanted to share some pictures from the caves, I’m using ones I found on AZ State Park’s website, azstateparks.com. No copyright intended, I just want to convince you that they’re so worth going to see!
Above picture – they call these “soda straws” because they can be as thin as 1/10th of an inch. The longest one is over 9 feet long! They are formed by tiny droplets of water that drip to the end of the “straw”.
A picture from when the cave was first being discovered – can you imagine being one of the first to enter, and stumbling across something as amazing as this?! That’s exactly what happened!
It took them nearly 2 years to carefully create the railings and pathway that we now use to tour the cave. They also created special vacuum-sealed doors to keep the humidity and moisture inside, so that it could continue to be a living cave. Another fun part of being on the tour is walking through a light mist so that things like lint and oil on our bodies would stick to us instead of in the cave. They take even touching the live formations very seriously – but only with the best intentions of wanting this cave to be alive for generations to come!
The tour we took was about an hour. We loved our tour guide – she used very technical chemistry terms, then broke them down for the kids in the group. It was a great way to spend a summer morning in Arizona – underground where it’s nice and cool! 🙂
After this, we continued driving South to Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, another landmark we’d been wanting to visit. There wasn’t a whole lot to do, but we enjoyed walking through the 3 museums about the history of this place. I kept thinking about how much my dad would love this place – he and Curtis have this love for battles and history in common. Yeah, it’s true, I married someone very much like my dad. I’m okay with that. 🙂
Curtis in his happy place!
Outside, facing South – we could see so many familiar mountain ranges from here. So many we’ve been to…yet so many we want to hike! Sadly, it’s just too hot for that right now!
And that was our weekend adventure – 2 more things crossed off our AZ bucketlist, another educational & fun Saturday. Maybe I don’t feel as cool as last week when I was gladly proclaiming “I HIKED MT HUMPHREY!” -but still fun nonetheless. I love adventures with my husband, and I’m so blessed to have gotten 11 months of this so far. 🙂