Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Linville Caverns

On the way home from Grandfather Mountain on Sunday, we passed by Linville Caverns and decided to stop. For $6 each (Suzi was free) we got a guided tour. Suzi rode through in the Ergo and squealed excitedly as we worked our way through the cave.

Daddy and Suzi waiting outside

Before we went in, she decided she wanted me to carry her.

The fish in the stream are blind because they spend most of their lives in total darkness.

Kilt Rock t-shirt

It was cold in the cave and the air was crisp--a nice change from the games where it was hot and someone was smoking a cigarette every ten yards! The guide told us a story of two Civil War soldiers who deserted and hid in the cave (the stream was much higher at that time). They made it past a sandbar near the entrance and built a fire, but when the smoke escaped through the fissures in the ceiling they were discovered and arrested.

We were entertained by rock formations loosely resembling corn on the cob, a bride and groom, a pickle, a ham, bats and many others. It was tough to get pictures because the flash was so obnoxious in the dark I felt guilty doing it during the tour.

My favorite part was when the guide turned out all the lights. It was a pure, velvety darkness, even darker than the country dark I experienced when my family used to spend the night at the farm in St. Matthews. According to the guide, the only place you can find darkness this pure is in a cave or at the bottom of the ocean. Many years ago (not sure how long exactly), two boys ventured into the cave carrying only one lantern which was lit with a flame. When the boy carrying it tripped and the light went out, they were plunged into black darkness. Amazingly, they found their way out by following the flow of the stream.

There is also a "bottomless pool" in the cavern (no one has ever been able to reach the bottom), which is covered by a metal grate you can walk on. Looking between your feet down into the pool is an interesting feeling. The passage to it is sweaty-palms narrow, but we made it.

They have panning at the caverns (in which you sift through a bucket of sediment and try to find valuable stones), but it's closed on Sundays. Suzi probably wouldn't have had the patience for it anyway. I was impressed she made it through the 20 minutes or so in the caverns without getting antsy.

At the end of the tour we bought a mortar & pestle from the gift shop and then had to run back in and get another one. I called my mom while breastfeeding Suzi in the parking lot and she wanted one too! (There are times you just need a good mortar & pestle, but the presence of electric grinders has made them somewhat difficult to find. One time I needed chocolate graham cracker crumbs and ended up having to grind them in a bowl using a beer bottle. I'm sure it would also be good for grinding up other more important things.)


Vicky said...

Caves and Taverns are fun to explore. My parents used to take us panning for stones ALL THE TIME when I was young! I found a 38 carat sapphire...yes that's right not .38 but 38 carat. Because of that I belong to the Honker's Club somwehere in N.C. The name of the city has slipped my mind. I get a free bucket of dirt. I actually have gotten 3 free buckets since then. I get very excited for free bucket of dirt with "little" semi-precious and precious stones in it. Maybe next time it will be a 38 carat diamond....that would be nice!!

Vicky said...

I met Caves and Caverns are fun....LOL although taverns can be fun too!

Jenny said...

Cool! I didn't know you could find things that big in there. I'd love to pan for stones but I don't know when because Suzi wouldn't enjoy it. Jordan and I would though!

Cheryl Lage said...

Your daughter is a doll. Bet that cool cavern air was such a new experience for her!

bill said...

"Velvety darkness" - great description! I didn't know that a mortar & pestle was such a hard to find item - I feel like getting one now.