Monday, January 16, 2012

Day Trippin' in Caverns

The first three day weekend of 2012 sparked a need in me to get outdoors (farther than the backyard, that is), and do something "outdoorsy" (other than weeding, feeding squirrels or sweeping leaves, that is).

A quick summation of cost, distance and time led us to visit the "Black Chasm" Caverns out in Volcano.  Which is close to Jackson.  Which is close to...uh...Lodi..which get the picture - we were out where the cows roam and the GPS signal does as well.

Of course, DP came along for the adventure:
 The Black Chasm Caverns boasted tours leaving on the hour, every hour - so of course we had time to do a little mining of our own.  This activity was pretty awesome:

First Step: Purchase Bag of Mining Sand ($7-9 dollars)
Second Step: Take bag outside to mining area to"ore" it:
Third Step: Reveal about $7 worth of gemstones:
 This activity was so much fun that DP insisted we purchase another bag of sand (this would be the fourth step).  After mining another $7 worth of gemstones, DP could not understand how not all the real miners were able to make a living at mining.  I mean, look at all we found in just two bags of mining sand!

 We were about to purchase more of this awesome mining sand when we realized it was time for the tour to begin (thank god- this was supposed to be a cheap trip!)

 Here is part of the tour group following our guide Jordan into the cave:
 Suffice it to say, the cavern was incredibly cool - very beautiful as the photos will attest:

 Some people, I WON'T SAY WHO, were a little winded after all the stairs:

 I cannot tell you how difficult it was to get a good photo in these caverns.  I tried using no flash, low light flash, slow aperture, everything!  And was rewarded with blurry images like below.  I finally had to settle for flash photography:

 It was very difficult to get DP to stand still long enough to get a good shot.  Must be all the caffeine:
The following photo shows why the caverns are protected.  There are these little things called helictites that grow off the sides of the walls straight out instead of upwards or downwards, which apparently is unusual. Jordan, our tour guide, asked if we could guess why they do this.  After several other people guessed incorrectly, I smart mouthed with "Because they were bored of simply growing up or down?"  I, too, was wrong.  At least I got a laugh though.

This formation is the famous "dragon" formation, which explained why there was so much Dragon themed crap in the gift shop:
One last photo of the cavern floor:
After about an hour, it was time to ascend to the gift shop level:
 After restraining ourselves from purchasing more mining sand, we left for home.  Stopping off in Jackson (which apparently closes down about 5pm, holiday or no holiday) we found this really big, really well stocked used bookstore that was still open.  This was better treasure than the $7 worth of gemstones!
We spent the remainder of daylight perusing shelves containing such gems as below:
 What's an old bookstore without a few cats hanging out?  This one clearly approves of my purchases - I found a few old books containing photos from the silent movie adaptations! Score!!
 a last glance at some true treasures:
Then it was off for home!  I highly recommend a day trip out to these caverns - It took us about 2 1/2 hours from SF to get there, and it was cheap, relatively local and lots of fun!

Here's the link!

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