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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stalagmites & Stalactites

Do you struggle to remember what the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite is? Lord knows that every time we used to go into a cave, I'd struggle to remember the difference and even though I listened with rapt attention to each and every tour guide, I didn't have the difference firmly implanted in my brain until a tour of Tuckaleechee Caverns in the early 2000s.

Our tour guide was one of those extremely country, Tennessee mountain backwoods young men who had a Southern twang a mile wide (or maybe deep is a better way to say it since we were touring a cave?) and he happily explained to us that the way to remember the difference was simple: a stalactite always hung tight to the ceiling of the cave while a stalagmite grew up from the floor. Why you ask does this stand out so well in my mind? Simple - the young man's accent - he pronounced the word tight with such an extravagant twang that I hear his voice in my mind every time I tour a cave.

Enough about all that though - I thoroughly enjoy touring caves; I find them to be absolutely fascinating! Luckily my little sister shares my love of cave diving and so we manage to always coax our parents into crawling underground to check out the underworld. Having said that, this post is mostly pictures of the cave - which I think are awesome but may bore you to death, ha-ha!

A sign outside the Old Mill restaurant in Front Royal - the site of our lunch!

En route to Mt. Jackson to go explore underground!

These two goofballs - no one told me it was wear blue day...

Shenandoah Caverns has been open since 1922 and apparently (according to their website) they are the only caverns in Virginia with elevator service. Who knew? The caves were discovered by little boys who stumbled upon a hole in the ground and decided they'd grab rope and candles and see what they could discover! Leave it to little boys to decide that climbing into a pitch black dark hole in the ground is a good time! I do love exploring caves but I also love that you can explore them with the modern convenience of lights. On with the pictures...

Cave bacon - anyone want a bite?

A set-up inside the entrance to the caverns; I guess they're insinuating that if you follow the elves, you'll end up in Rock City?

Flowstone...the limestone gives it the white color...

I just think this all looks brilliant....

Hey look - it's a stalactite, because it hangs tight to the ceiling...

Slices of wavy bacon.

It's so tempting to reach out & touch everything....

However, there are signs that say in VA touching cave formations is against the law...

So I refrained. :)
We weren't actually so far under ground - I think we were only about 65 feet into the Earth. I'm not a huge fan of being in small, tight spaces but touring caves doesn't really bother me in that aspect. I guess they just don't feel that closed off to me, for whatever reason. There was a woman in the elevator with us that was not okay with it...we barely made it out of the elevator and into the caverns before she announced rather loudly that she needed to get back up and out of the caverns immediately. Yikes - bless her!

A massive collection of flow stone.

Curtains of rock...it's amazing how something made of rock can look so fragile...

Just smiling like a goof ball, that's all...

I'm running out of ways to describe cave formations...ha-ha!

Oooh - rainbow colors. Lovely.

Where there is light & moisture, bits of green are bound to spring up!

Backlit cave formations...

In one of the larger rooms of the caverns.

The Air Force parents - as evidenced by their awesome sweatshirts.

The Diamond Cascade in multiple colors...

Posing like a cheeseball with the Diamond Cascade. 

Spoiler alert - not real diamonds. Ha-ha!

Fascinating formations....

Everywhere you look...fascinating formations...

Soda straws...aka baby stalagmites & stalactites...

The goof balls in blue coming out of the tunnel we took to the lake...

The lake, lit with beautiful rainbow lights.

This is also one of the alternate exits out of the cave...although I don't know that I'd be keen to take it.

Mom & I heading back through the tunnel & towards the surface!

The largest stalactite in the cavern - although I think it's called something else when a stalactite & stalagmite grow together....

The Shenandoah Dome...because it resembles a certain domed building in our Capitol.

A very large slab of cave bacon on the way out....

Looking up...up...up & out of the caverns!

And looking down...down...down into the caverns once we reached the top!
After we finished touring the caverns, we went next door to a museum called America on Parade. The museum was fairly small but it was "free" with the ticket you purchased to the entrance of the caverns. The museum was filled with parade floats from the Rose Parade, Inaugural parades and even Thanksgiving Day parades. It was pretty interesting to see some of the floats; especially the parades from the Rose Parade that at one point were made of nothing but flowers, grasses and natural objects!

Look - I found an owl on one of the old floats! Yes!

Some bears from an old Rose Parade float!

Of course I had to jump in the phone booth...

A float from one of the many Mardi Gras parades that take place in NOLA every year!

A float from one of the many Rose Parades...which is where most of the floats were from...

An Inaugural parade float - lovely.

King Neptune & his comrades on a float from the Rose Parade.

I very much liked this float!

Anyone care for a ride on board this ship?

Yet another float from on of the Inauguration parades - very impressive.

A little dragon if you'd like.
So - that's all about all that. There are still three more caverns in the area that I still need to explore, so maybe there will be some more rocky posts in the future. Rocky...get it? Ha! I know, so lame. Oh well, that's all for now!

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