Saturday, May 15, 2010

Into the Cave

While our visitors were here, we decided to take a trip into Lehman Cave. This is always a great destination for kids, with so much to see. I gave Desert Boy a flashlight so he'd have something to hang onto and then his hands wouldn't be free to touch the cave formations. Plus he thinks he's pretty cool having his own light.

The first room in the cave is the Gothic Palace, and my brother got the awesome shot above. The parents had lots of fun taking photos as we went on the leisurely tour.

Some of the passages are narrow. This one in particular has a very interesting ceiling.

There it is! Covered with draperies, the ceiling and narrow passage is really awesome. Thanks again, Pete for the photo!

Desert Boy had fun looking down dark holes and wondering if the passage went anywhere. Desert Girl was awake for most of the cave trip and didn't even make a squeak. I guess that means she liked it!

We had some typical kid moments in the cave, too. I mean, kids have to squirm and pick their noses somewhere, right?

Here's Peter, the photographer. He had to duck a lot.

Lehman Cave is known for its multitude of formations. Although the cave isn't long, only about 1.5 miles, it has a very high concentration of speleothems along the tour route, making one feel very much a part of the cave.

I like how the light silhouettes these three stalagmites.

Peter had more ducking as he went further into the cave.

We found a nice place for the cousins to pose for a photo. Except they don't seem to keen on the idea.

Once we let them do their own thing, they were a lot happier.

In the Grand Palace are some beautiful cave shields, including the parachute shield.

We peaked into the Sunken Garden, where some cave restoration is in progress, with the old trail being removed and hauled out five gallon bucket by five gallon bucket. Over 38 tons of material have been moved out of the cave this way so far.

Back in the Grand Palace, these funny bulbous stalactites hang from the ceiling. It's almost like we're getting an under-the-soil view of turnips growing.

Desert Boy looks like he's ready to be a cave guide. He's even got the hand movements down!

You can see that the two little ones are a perfect height for navigating the cave. A small build is definitely an advantage for cave explorers.

Near the end of the tour, the route crosses some natural cave floor with tiny rimstone dams. The calcite was deposited as water slowly spilled over from one dam to the next.

The exit tunnel was made in the 1970s, and they had to dig down through the cave floor to make a human-sized passageway out. That left some layers of calcite with beautiful banding. Some researchers have been doing work dating cave formations to get a better estimate of cave age and should have their results public within the next year.

The tunnel is a place where the kids can finally run! Desert Boy took off with excitement.

Right by the exit door we saw some cave life: a daddy-long legs spider and a cave cricket. What a great trip!


G. Robison said...

I love Lehman Caves, and take the tour every time I am in the area. My grandfather gave tours for many years after he retired (50's and 60's). One of my aunts did, also (and an uncle used to run the little cafe in the visitor center back when they made great burgers and fries and milkshakes in the 70's).

The Parachute is my favorite formation, with cave bacon a close second (YUMMMMM, bacon!!).

Sarah said...

Maria has talked about the cave EVERY DAY without any prompting. She names each person who went into the cave, and repeats a very clear "Don't Touch" as a part of the memory. I think we're going to have to find an open cave near us soon...

jendoop said...

I've heard of Lehman caves but can't remember going there. I think my Dad went with some cousins way back when. It is impressive!

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