The Big Room

April 15th, 2011

topless_cave

Strange day today. It’s our first day back in the desert after a nice week in the mountains around Prescott. Rain and I went out for a walk this morning and stumbled into a cave.

By stumbled, I mean we were well inside of it before we even realized we were caving. We were just walking along a wash, minding our own business when a room full of formations jumped out and nearly tripped me.

As near as I can tell, we’re camped on top of an ancient cave system, whose roof has eroded and collapsed, leaving the entire cave open to the sky. You can still see many formations and someone has been spending their spare time putting the pieces together… literally.

exposed_stalags

Broken pieces of stalagmites have been stacked together in what might initially look like random rock stacking. Upon closer inspection though, it is easy to see that these ‘stacks’ are in fact a reconstruction.

The entire area seems like a geologist’s playground. I think we’ll do some more exploring tomorrow.

Rainy day… came our way…

July 25th, 2010

We’re back on the move again and slowly making our way through Texas in what can only be described as damn hot weather. More importantly though, the household has expanded. While we were at Caverns of Sonora, the ranch manager’s dog had a litter of puppies. After much hemming and hawing over whether or not we could care for a dog in this lifestyle, we finally decided that if we didn’t have the time for a dog now, then we never would.

Rain enjoying homemade hail on a hot day.
Rain enjoying a cool ice ball on a hot day.

So, making her Internet debut, we present Rain. Her parents are both working dogs that have worked cattle, sheep and goats in all sorts of weather ranging from snow and ice to hotter than hell southern Texas. Casey, her mother, is a blue heeler and her father is Slick, a border collie. Odds are pretty good that she’s too smart for either one of us, but with a little luck and a lot of treats, maybe she’ll tell us what we’re doing wrong.

The first few days, there was a lot of tension between her and the cats, but they are slowly getting used to her and only hissing when she gets seriously into their personal space. I’d rather not talk about my scars when she met Hunter the first time, though. Rain seems to be adjusting to a nomadic lifestyle much better than she liked the first couple of weeks while we were still working. Rather than spending so much time locked up to stay safe from the cats, she gets to go where we go and do what we do. In less than a week since we left the cave, she is already a different dog, and apparently, much happier!

Oh, if you were wondering, she’s currently 8 1/2 weeks old and her birthday is 5/25 if you want to send her presents.

Best Summer Job Ever!

April 29th, 2010

Hall of White Giants

After a lackluster winter at Amazon’s Fernley facility, Jenn and I decided we’d be better off looking for a job we enjoyed than one that promised big bucks and may or may not deliver. As one of our interests is caving, we decided to try and get jobs at a cave for the summer, even if it meant working the gift shop and cleaning restrooms. It turns out that we lucked into one of the most amazing jobs we could hope for.

Our first choice of positions came through and we got workcamping positions at Caverns of Sonora. For those of you that have never heard of it, Caverns of Sonora is one of the most decorated caves on the planet. While there hasn’t been a study that I’m aware of, I believe it could very well be the most decorated cave in the world based on formations per square inch. We are lucky enough to be spending a fair portion of every day guiding tours in this cave.

The tour is a very up close and personal experience. We are literally inches away from formations throughout much of the tour. On top of that, we are working for some of the best people you could hope to be around. The cave is owned by a family that has owned the land surrounding it for five generations and the general manager has been a true caver for forty-six years. I can’t imagine a better work experience.

100_3941

Words cannot begin to describe this beautiful cave. But to give you a general idea, we spent a week training with two to three tours a day that are close to two hours long and on our first day off, we took two tours through the cave just to enjoy it and take photos. I snapped five hundred and forty some odd pictures in three and a half hours. Almost eighty have been uploaded to the gallery. The pictures do not do the experience justice, but they are far better than words could ever be. I only wish I had half the photographic skill of the professionals who have done the off-trail photos.

The pictures for this post are chosen more or less at random as I would be very hard pressed to pick favorites from the photos we’ve taken so far. At twenty bucks a person, the tour pushes the limits of our budget, but it really makes me stop and think what beautiful things we may have missed over the past two years by being thrifty. I hope none of them were nearly as beautiful as this, but I will definitely think twice the next time we pass a ‘tourist trap’ by because we don’t want to throw our money away. Some of those traps are probably every bit as worthwhile as this one. Please take a look at the gallery. I’ve yet to see someone come out of a tour disappointed; in fact, the most frequent comment is ‘this is the prettiest cave I’ve ever seen.’

NCAR 2009

June 2nd, 2009

View of Mt. Adams from our campsite - NCAR 2009

View from the campground

One thing the east coast has that you don’t have much of on the west coast is a large number of caving conventions. There just aren’t very many conventions out here, even if the cavers are at least as active. As luck would have it, we stumbled across the Northwest Caving Association Regional. It’s a little coincidental actually, since it changes areas every year. Regardless of all the random factors that could have prevented it, we did find out about the NCAR in time and make it down to Trout Lake, Washington for Memorial Day weekend.

As with every caving convention we’ve been to, the people were awesome. You don’t meet nicer, more down to earth people than cavers. On Saturday, we bummed a ride with members of the Silver Sage Grotto (out of Idaho) where we had a rather massive trip through Butter and Stairwell. I think we had twenty-four people underground at one point, counting the infant strapped to his Dad’s chest.

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Work Camping Opportunity

January 10th, 2009

If you are planning to be in Kentucky this March, you can take part in this opportunity. On the weekend of the 21st and 22nd, Carter Caves State Park will be preforming its 3rd annual Cave Restoration Weekend.

For your participation, you will receive free camping during the event, an official T-shirt, a guided cave tour, new friends, and a fuzzy warm feeling that comes from making a difference.

Work will include the following:

  • Formation Repair and Cleaning

  • Visual Work to Camouflage Man-Made Features

  • Vandalism / Graffiti Work

  • Clean-Up of Trails and Commercial Areas

  • and Much Much More!

More information can be found on the website. Please ignore the 2008 date. It is a typo.

You can also contact them @ 606-286-4411.

The event will be held at:

Carter Caves State Park
344 Caveland Drive
Olive Hill, Kentucky 41164

Johnny and I had a great time in this park. It is where we worked on the bat gate. There is a ton of wildlife in the area. We saw deer every day for most of the day. We also saw a fox and a number of skunks. Its a very nice park with a lot of caves in it.

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