Sunday, May 29, 2016

So. We went on a road trip and... (Part 6)

...visited Luray Caverns. The final installment on our recent trip down to Florida and back.

I know that many of you who have stopped at Luray Caverns probably think that is something of a tourist destination (think: trap). Well, Terry and I can be tourists when we want to be and the caverns are an interesting place. We had both been here before--a long, long time ago--like fifty-five years ago--on separate vacations with our respective families--when we were little tykes not yet tweeners

This time we were the first people in the parking lot when the gateway to the caverns opened. In fact, we didn't even realize the place had opened and just thought we would wander up to the door. We paid our money and then had to wait around for some more folks to show up before our guide took us down below. The tour covers about a mile and a quarter and takes one and a half hours.

Our guide led just eight of us below ground--steps, no elevators in this place. The caverns are a smaller version of Carlsbad. Stalactites and stalagmites abound. Sheets of material hang down from the ceiling where cracks have allowed solutions of water and iron oxide, or calcium carbonate, or the occasional sulfate to ooze and.or drip in to the open cave, evaporate and deposit their solid component. Water still flows through the formation so there's still deposits being made and growth occurring.

I tried a couple of ways of taking pictures: first was to use the flash--as to be expected underground; then I tried taking them without the flash as per the guides suggestions that it would produce more realistic color. (I now think she was wrong and that I should have left the flash on the whole time.) The first four pictures were with, the rest are without.

White formations are limestone (calcium carbonate) and the orange ones are iron oxide.
Stalactites hang from the ceiling. Some are sheets, some are conical

Sometimes stalactites (down) meet stalagmites (up) meet to form columns and the watery solutions flow over the surface.
Column formation.
 Speaking of water, there's a small, perfectly still pool that reflects the ceiling perfectly.

Reflection pool where up is down and down is up.
 Another of the reflection pool and the reflected stalactites. There are NO stalagmites in the photo.

So clear and pure, it seems fathoms deep. But it's mere inches of water.

 The combination of colors lead to some interesting patterns:

Bacon anyone?

And eggs, of course.
 This one was particularly interesting. It looks like a dish towel in the photo, but in real life you couls see the warm and weave of the cloth as light shines through it.

Dish towel.
 For a guy who had shed his cane just a few days earlier, this was something of a strenuous walk on undulating trails. Worse was the last, long flight of steps--which we had gone down--to exit the caves. The only thing making it bearable was the long line of young children coming streaming in as we exited. (They looked to be fourth or fifth graders to my practiced eye.)

Anyway, even though the caves are a pretty steady 55-60 degrees, by the end of the walk, I was ready for some:
"ice cream" stalagmite.
Luray was our final stop. Instead of going back to the Skyline Drive, we headed west to pick up I-81 and headed home.

One stop for some Chick-fil-a and gasoline and we were home just a little over two weeks and 3,250 miles after we left.

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