Monday, August 27, 2012

underground birthday

The last day of our trip was also Dan's birthday, so we made a special detour to visit a cave in southern Indiana.  Dan has a soft spot for caves, having been a guide for several years at the Cave of the Mounds in Wisconsin.  We arrived late the night before, so rather than shlepping a tent along for one night of late-night camping, we sprang for a cheap primitive cabin right at the site of Marengo Cave. It was just the ticket - a dark place to crash after driving the length of Indiana (after years of driving across Indiana and wishing - sorry but it's true - wishing it just wasn't there, we groaned that we had managed on this trip to make Indiana just that much longer to cross...).  Up at dawn, breakfast in a greasy spoon, and we were ready for the cave.

happy birthday, honey!!
 We were all in ridiculously good moods, happy to not be jumping right back in the car, giddy with the on-the-road feeling of doing what we never do on car trips, which is sight-see.  We're usually in the car for 12 hours at a time, Just. Trying. To. Get. There.

These photos are so cheesy, they crack me up.  The one above is destined for Awkward Family Photos.  Eliza's setting fires with her gaze and who knows what mischief Ani is up to...

We opted for the hour-long tour, instead of the 7-hour spelunking experience.

Ok, here comes the glut of reddish photos that are me insisting on taking photos in the dark.  It was soooo cool though, and I hoped to catch a bit of that.  I was glad Dan was along, knowing what to look for, outside of the rehearsed tour patter.

The girls' favorite part was 200 feet below the surface, where sandstone was overlaying the limestone, creating an umbrella effect, which meant less water and therefore fewer formations below.  To make this large cavern interesting, the guide encouraged us to throw pennies at the ceiling, where they would hopefully attach to a blob of mud and stick.  Apparently they've been able to raise thousands of dollars this way....hmmmm. Creative.  I didn't manage to get anything to stick.

This cave has an interesting history of being used by the community for various events:  weddings, church services, a production of the play "Oliver" by a class of 7th graders, and, my favorite, an annual square dance!  This frivolity and free use ended at the end of the seventies when people got wise to the damage a party of 300 can do to the ecology of a cave.

this is where the caller stood in the "Music Hall" for the square dances!
the pulpit for the Bishop's Sunday services
Cool formation of helagmites - they look like curly stalagmites

We had hoped to visit the nearby Wyandotte caves, but they've been closed for a couple of years, due to the spread of the white nose fungus in the bat population.  Our guide at Marengo said that as they are not a bat cave, only housing a handful of bats, they felt they weren't putting the local population at risk of the fungus.

We returned to the light, filled our water bottles up and hit the road...for home.

1 comment:

merry said...

That's awesome!!! I remember loving Mammoth Cave several years ago. Huge rooms, eerily lit causing all sorts of scary shadows! What a great way to celebrate a special birthday!!