Monday, September 20, 2004

Grottos and Show Caves

Everyone has their favorite memories from when they were little. They always stick in your mind as fresh as the day after regardless of how long it has been. Sometimes the details might be a little fuzzy but the crux of the memory is still the same. Some of my favorite memories of "my youth" (I'm not really old enough to use this term, but I don't know what else to call it it was well over 10 years ago that these memories were made) were in regards to the local caves. Whenever we would stay at my grandma and grandpa's summer cabin for the week, one of the trips that we would do would typically be the Meramec Caverns. Located along the Old Route 66, it opened in 1935. It's alleged claim to fame was that it was the hideout of Jesse James and his gang. It has certainly grown and gotten more touristy over the years. The last time I visited there was one of the sluices for "panning for gems" basically buying a bag filled with sand and a few gems and sifting it through the mesh to find the gems. In any case, there we were sort of shivering (not extremely cold but we had forgotten to bring our jackets and as the cave is a nice 55 degrees it was kind of cool. I always got a kick out of it but always thought that the tours were a little contrived. I'd always look over the edge of the concreted walkways and see a path that I would want to crawl through and explore (of coursethey wouldn't have let me do that). It was the same was at Marvel Cave (within Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri).

Fast forward to 2000.....

I was at my first semester of college and I found out that my Resident Admin (or something like that) was the president of the Southeast Grotto on campus. I had never really thought about it until I was given the opportunity. I couldn't pass it up. I have to say that I am glad I didn't. We only went on two trips that year, but they were both fun and a good learning experience for myself in many ways. It was the start of when I was awoken to my strong interest in Geoscience. As I had been a volunteer in the Ecology and Environment Gallery and my favorite exhibit was the stream table I had an inkling but not as strong as after my move back to Saint Louis after the failure of my second semester (due to extenuating circumstances that really had nothing to do with partying-which I did none of). Ironically when I came back to Saint Louis and continued my volunteering at the Science Center, the Omnimax there was getting ready to show "Journey Into Amazing Caves." I was ecstatic! By the time it left the Science Center the following year, I had seen it four times (it was a good thing I volunteered and later worked there or I wouldn't have afforded it) and had decided that the DVD of it was definitely what I wanted for the following Christmas.

Since that first time caving, I doubt I've been the same. When I started working at the Science Center, I had seriously considered joining a local grotto. However, I didn't drive and I knew I really didn't have the money to do so (not to mention the weekends) so my interest in spelunking went on the back burner.

Now that I have moved back to Cape Girardeau where I had first joined a grotto, I was actively in search of the club. I knew that my second semester there it had started to fade out. I was hoping that if there wasn't a club still around that I could actively pursue beginning one anew. Luckily I didn't have to worry about that. After a little search and asking the rec club sponser if he knew and a little calling around there it was!

Just yesterday I went on my first trip of the year. I won't go into too much detail. Suffice it to say that it has me hyped up for this coming year. I reason I'm all hyped is because on my future grandma-in-law's land is a sinkhole that as far as we know has never been explored. I am hoping that the sinkhole turns out to connect to a cave. Also behind her land on someone else's is also a sinkhole that we know would go at least a few feet, how much further would be the question. Now I need to contact that guy to get his approval to look at it. We will see what happens and be sure that I will be keeping this updated on this as it develops.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Sometimes you just gotta try something new...

At least, it wasn't new for me, however the person that I wanted to write the post refused to do it so it's left to me. Maybe she'll leave a comment about what her opinion of it was (*hint*hint*). I guess I need to backtrack a little bit.

It first started before John and I left for Saint Louis for an old high school friend's after-wedding reception. John decided to look up events going on in Saint Louis so that we would have more of a reason to go than just my friend's wedding (John had never met her before so he felt really out of place) and found out that the Japanese Festival was going on at Missouri Botanical Garden. John hadn't really been to the Festival before but thought it would be fun and I knew that I would enjoy it.

John didn't seem to have much fun at the reception, particularly after they started the music. John tends to be one of those guys (I guess I should say that most guys are this way) that would rather stay off on the sidelines. I hate dancing on the floor without my man with me, even though I will go and do it anyway (the music tends to be too much for me to ignore most of the time). So off John goes with Drac (Moueska's man) and JR (my friend Lar's husband back from basic). Next thing I know the first slow song is a ladies choice (I think it had to do with the fact that the only man on the floor was Mr. Barnes with Mrs. Barnes for the sing songs) so off I went to try and drag John onto the floor. Of course John wrangles a promise from me that we would be leaving after that.

So after that one slow song John and I let my sister and Drac know that we are about to head out to the Japanese Festival and they decided to join us. So after saying our farewells to our friend and her new husband Moueska agrees to meet us at the front of the Garden.

We John and I get there and call them. It turned out that they took a sidetrip to visit Tom's dad and pick up some chairs in case we ended up watching the taiko drums in the evening. When they called I told them that we would go ahead in and meet them when they got through. So John and I walked around and browsed the vendors and watched a little kids parade until they got there. By the time they got there though, the only thing left that we would be able to watch was the taiko drums so Drac and John set up the chairs while my sister and I went "shopping." I put that in quotations because neither Moues nor I have a job right now so we were trying to limit our budget. While we were there we saw a lot that we wished we could afford but we knew that we couldn't. There was one thing however that I had been looking for a loooooong time that I decided that I could justify buying. In the gift shop I found a kite with a dragon head on it and a long tail. I just couldn't help it. It is currently hanging on the wall of my library and waiting for the day when the winds are blowing calling for the dragon to fly free.

After we watched the taiko drums for a while, John decided that we needed to head out early as he didn't think Wasabi would be open long enough to go there if we stayed for the whole show. So off we go to Washington Avenue for some good (at least in my opinion) sushi, miso and salad with ginger dressing. I don't know what Moueska and Drac thought of the whole experience, maybe Moueska can give us a rundown on her blog (*hint hint*).