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.


T said...

I remember going to Meramec Caverns as a kid, and once we went to Onondaga, which was also pretty cool.
I find it interesting that the commercials for Meramec Caverns feature the song "In Your Wildest Dreams" by the Moody Blues (my all-time favorite band), and the "Amazing Caves" movie (though I never saw it) had music by Justin Hayward, the lead singer of the band.
The last time I went spelunking was when I was about 15 or 16, maybe a bit older. It was for a church young women outing. That was fun, and I wouldn't mind doing it again...

Moueska said...

I remember going on cave tours, walking through passages called "dead man's squeeze" and looking into frothing bodies of water named "devil's bathtub". It's been a long time- ages, really. Meremac was probably my favorite, and I remember the bag of gems. Emerald gems that I have floating around somewhere. Maybe I'll find them again.

The best of luck with that sinhole. It's a little bit tough sometimes to get permission, but I have faith in you. Also- no caving without a buddy, girl. But you knew that already.