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Research for TCK

I went to Grand Caverns last week, mostly to help my sister with her homeschool field trip but also to do some research for TCK.

The beauty of the caves struck me again.  Seriously, pictures cannot do justice to the magnificence of being there.

I stayed on the paths designated, but in my imagination I roamed through the many  levels of the cave and climbed the paths that I was only allowed to look at.

Thanks to our wonderful guide I got to see what the cave would look like if explored with a handheld light instead of installed cave lighting.  It's still every bit as glorious and amazing.

Thanks to our wonderful guide I got to ask questions on some technical things, such as ventilation (yes, based on what our guide said, the people in my story could breathe just fine in their cave without making special arrangements).

And I watched a video of the exploration of a previously undiscovered part of the caves.  So cool!!!

If you have not toured a cave, I highly recommend it.  Grand Caverns was wonderful.

And now for some pictures:

A stalactite growing down and a stalagmite growing up met in the middle and made a column.

This "waterfall" formation is made even more beautiful by the sparkliness of the rock -- a substance our guide called "sugar."

Scientists still do not know how these circular "shield" formation are made.  And Grand Caverns boasts of an impressive display of shields.  Shields can grow at different angles to the ground, confusing scientists even more.  
Maybe the sharks mouth that I mentioned in TCK looks a little bit like this...see the teeth?

This is the passageway to the recently discovered section of the cave.  For years, explorers searched for this, wondering if there was more to the cave.  So the discovery of this narrow tunnel (which eventually leads to even more astounding chambers and formations) is big news in the caving world.

I look at these and I see the Ceils quickly navigating them...and Amos scrambling along behind them, occasionally stopping to marvel at the strange beauties of the underground world.

Grand Caverns has been around for a long time.  These steps were carved into the rock by some previous group of people.  No one knows exactly what they were for, but our guide guessed this to be a type of ampitheatre either for church gatherings or plays.

And here is another room or chamber.  Can't you see Amos sitting down to some task with the Ceils gathered to show him how to do it and laughing at his blunders while he teaches the work to his fingers?

Look!  A countertop!

This, let's say, is part of the wall in the village room in TCK.

You can see why the children so easily climbed the walls as they played "Drago" tag.

This is actually a reflection in a pool of water.  On the ceiling you can see the cluster of stalactites.  But in the water, it looks like a mystical castle.

"Hurry up, Amos!  This way!  Follow me!"

So, I don't know if you can see it from this picture, but there is a waterline around this room.  The water is long gone, but it was once filling this room enough to affect rock formations.

Ally's fishing rooms, maybe.

The rooms are so big, and there is such depth added by the formations.

This is what a stalactite looks like when it grows underwater.

What is the raised circle in the wall?

In some places, the ceilings were so low you had to crouch.  But in others, as you can see here, it vaults high above our heads.

"Your room is this way..."

More vaulted ceilings!

This rooms draws me in.  I want to go inside!!!

We'll pretend this is one end of the village room.  We'll pretend that, if you weave through the columns and rocks, you will find the fishing rooms.

Another shield!

And another!

And another!

Oooh.  I bet the ceils would use that as a bridge.

This is more of the rock crystals that our guide referred to as sugar.

Is this cool or what?  Can you believe that rocks look like this?

These are two adjacent shields that are angled to each other like an oyster shell.  One, I think weighs 1,000 lbs and the other is a ton.

I would totally live here if I was a ceil.

Can you blame Amos for loving the caves? you want the room upstairs?  Or downstairs?

A rare formation -- a triple shield -- possibly the only one in the world.

Now imagine Kana is up on that ledge, waving to you.

     So there is my in-person research.  And I'm so glad I went.  It is even more astounding than I remembered.  I wish I could go with Amos in my story!!!

     Have you ever explored a cave?  Or went on a cave tour?


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