Yesterday we went to a place that would easily be counted as the coooolest - a cave tour!
Missouri is known as The Cave State due to thousands of miles worth of caves. There is a really big, really commercialized cave or two. There are a bunch of unmapped caves. There are some that are on maps, but blocked off to the public for safety/vandalism reasons.
Commercial caves are very expensive (would have run us about $50 today), and the unmapped ones are most likely unsafe when you have a small child in tow. I'm not a fan of forking out $50 for an experience that I am not sure that Abby will enjoy, so we had to find a middle ground one.
Yesterday morning we went to Meremac State Park for a tour of The Fisher Cave. It is not a commercial one, but is a big one that offers tours several times during the day. For $8 per adult. Total.
We had little to no idea what to expect when we arrived at the Park, and even less clue when we arrived at the Cave on the back side of the park. The website offers some of the history of the cave, but little clues about the tour itself. We always like to prep Abby when we go on a new adventure, so we told her as much as we knew:
- It will be dark
- It will be cold
- There will be lots of water
- There will be bats!
- No outside flashlights
- No outside water
- No Cameras
They are dealing with a disease in the bat colony that is brought in on equipment that has been used in other caves. That have their own lights to use, so that was not a concern. In retrospect, I'm so glad that I could not bring the camera - I got to be absorbed in the Abby-shared-experience. It was actually a good thing anyway, based on our cave experience.
We were the first ones to arrive for the 9:30 tour. We arrived at 9:25, hoping that we did not have to have put in a reservation earlier. There is an 11:30 tour, so we figured that if we got bumped from the 9:30 we would just hike a little and maybe splash in the Meremac River. As it turns out, no one else showed up for the 9:30 tour, so we had a private tour with Tim the Guide!
The cave tour lasted about an hour, and we got to ask all sorts of questions and get all sorts of fun stories out of him. Anny was mostly interested in the chemistry of it. I mostly wanted to know how much exploring Tim has done when he does not have silly tourists on his tail! The cave was used as early back as 1904 for fun times, which they know because people wrote their names on some of the formations! A lot looked to be from around the time of the 1904 World's Fair, which is kind of cool. There was a massive room that people used to hike to for big, formal dances. That is craziness!
Abby was not sure if she could talk, which is one of those things that I guess we did not think to explain to her. Tim was talking about all sorts of stuff from the history of the cave to the types of formations we were looking at. He was in teaching mode, and we were in learning mode. Abby was just unsure, and at one point whispered to me "Daddy, when we have a moment could I talk too?" How funny!
(Turns out when she got her moment to talk, about ten seconds after she asked by the way, she just wanted to tell Tim that she is on summer break and will be going back to Ms Karen's house in a few weeks. Goofball!)
After our cave tour we went for a half-mile hike that circles, climbs and comes back down part of the mountain that we had just been inside. That part I was allowed to have my camera for. That is where I got this shot:
We could not tell if Abby had a good time in the cave, mostly because she had been so darned quiet, which is not her norm. As we were leaving for the day she declared "The next time we come I want to talk more and ask questions!"
Guess we will line up a trip again next summer!