Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Spelunking

Getting away is wonderful, especially when exploring such exotic (to us Easterners) landscapes as those found on a day trip to Colorado Springs.

Cave of the Winds was just one of our destinations that day. As pretty experienced cave tourists, we chimed right in when the guide asked, "What is the most important rule of caves?"

Answer: Don't touch anything. The formations are suprisingly fragile, even though they're made of rock, and they take centuries to grow. Do. Not. Touch. Anything.

We saw stalactites, so named because they hold "tight" to the ceiling:


We saw stalagmites, so named because (according to our guide, in the early days of cave exploration with poor lighting) you "might" trip over them, or you "might" not:


But we also learned about two new formations I wasn't familiar with.

Apparently, Cave of the Winds was one of the very first caves to receive electric lighting. Thomas Edison himself supposedly toured the cave and was impressed with the illumination. Hence, this new formation on the ceiling:

"Stalac-light"

And finally, the exception to the rule about no touching: we were not only allowed but encouraged to touch this formation (and hold on tightly), that was found in many place along the tour:

"Stalac-pipe"

Who said bad jokes were limited to the East coast?



6 Comments:

At Wed Jul 11, 11:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hehe.

Very cool photos.

The mnemonic I learned was "t" for top (stalactite) and "g" for ground (stalagmite). Whatever works, I guess. :)

 
At Wed Jul 11, 12:13:00 PM, Blogger beajerry said...

If you've been to Carlsbad Caverns, Cave of the Winds looks like a dirt hole.

 
At Wed Jul 11, 08:59:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Never been to Carlsbad, but even Luray caverns, which I've toured several times, makes it look like a dirt hole. But it was there, and so were we.

 
At Thu Jul 12, 12:22:00 AM, Blogger Dr. K said...

Ha ha, your pictures cracked me up, Dr. Dino.

I am a big fan of caves and stalactites/stalagmites but could never remember which was which ... your "you might trip over them" has finally given me a way that I know I will be able to remember. Thanks!

 
At Thu Jul 12, 03:18:00 AM, Blogger Elaine said...

Loved the photos. When I was at school, we remembered that the mites grow up and the tights fall down, the latter being perhaps wishful thinking on the part of the boys. To explain further, in Scotland, wee mites are small children who do, indeed, grow up.

 
At Thu Jul 12, 08:49:00 PM, Anonymous Pine Baroness said...

The Berenstein Bears (children's book) have a poem neumonic:

stalactites and stalagmites,
Only caves have got 'em.
'Tites are always on the tip,
and 'mites are on the bottom.


Seems like a great vacation:-)

 

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