This morning we had critters all over the van. A cicada decided our van tire was a great spot to lost his shell. A fuzzy caterpillar decided he liked our cooler. Something else like our cooler in the middle of the night because I heard its little claws clatter against the metal holding the cooler. The kids and I headed off to find water for breakfast.
We had pan fried granola for breakfast. I packed mine to go because the stomach bug from four days ago was still hanging around. Cody wanted to play in what was left of the fire. Someone was in a particularly unhappy mood this morning so I tried to think of riddles to challenge before the beautiful children became anymore challenging. What has eyes but no mouth? What has a mouth but no eyes? We headed back to the Cumberland Gap Visitor Center to sign up for the 10am cave tour. Brooke said, “Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee all in five minutes?” We were right on the border of all three. Ranger Sharon at the Visitor Center told us about how we could earn cave scientist badges in addition to the Junior Ranger badges.
We hit the jackpot with great ranger cave guides this summer. The main ranger was hysterical. His sidekick was a great guy too. We walked on the Wilderness Trail to get to Gap Cave. Three rangers from Mammoth Cave were on our tour.
There it is. The Cumberland Gap. Before we even entered the cave the ranger warned us not to pick up salamanders. If you pick up a salamander and then lick your hands you could die. Salamander slime is toxic! We were allowed to take photos in this cave. The ranger said if we didn’t use flash then all the photos would like we were in a fight with a bear in a dark cave.
When we were leaving the cave I heard a grandma tell her grandson that she didn’t want to go in the cave because of the bats. The only time I have ever seen a bat in a cave was when I was with Scott almost twenty years ago at Mammoth Cave and that was because it was winter time. The ranger told us the bats eat 1,000 – 1,500 mosquitos a night. The White Nose Syndrome hit this cave in 2006. We learned that bats actually pollinate more than bees do. The cave feature in the picture on the above right is called erupting volcano.
The trail through this cave was established in 1934. 17.3 miles have been discovered in this cave. The black coloring in the rock is manganese. The orange color is sulfur and iron oxide. The tour was a half mile long. Uranium was discovered below this cave. We were eight hundred and fifty feet below the surface during part of the tour.
The giant stalagmite in the above middle picture is named The Pillar of Hercules. It is mighty misleading since it isn’t a pillar at all. In fact, it is dormant and three inches from the ceiling and becoming a pillar. We discovered there were no whine-a-lo sightings in the cave. Another clue to a whine free hike, caves. Perhaps because they are cooler in temperature or cooler in things to see? The quest for hikes with no whine-a-lo sightings continues!
The kids were given their cave scientist badges.
After waiting for ten minutes for the afternoon squall to pass, we cooked up some taco mac for lunch. The kids loved running through the puddles in the parking lot.
After lunch…on the road again! This time to West Liberty, Kentucky to visit and stay with my cousin. Before arriving at my cousin’s we stopped at the only Super Wal-Mart in the tri-state area.
My cousin and his wife were kind enough to let us stay with them. We arrived at 5:30. We chatted until they had to get going to church. The Little Cesear’s we passed was calling us for dinner. The beautiful Veterans’ Park across the street was the perfect place for a pizza picnic.
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