Audrey & Raleigh
Stinky paces by the teleportation tunnel awaiting Periwinkle’s arrival. He’s always anxious and excited to see her. Finally he hears the familiar whoosh and notices the new kittens, Raleigh and Audrey, almost jump right out of their furs. He hadn’t thought about their enclosure sitting near the tunnel. Stinky grabs Periwinkle as she’s ejected from the tunnel, and they share some paw hugs until she notices the kittens and squees.
“Oh my cat, Stinky they are so adorable and so tiny. Will you please introduce me?” Periwinkle asks. Though, a bit miffed that their hugging session is cut short, Stinky makes the introductions, and Periwinkle continues to “ooh” and “ahh” at their cuteness. “Are we staying here and playing with Raleigh, Audrey and Kizmet?” asks Periwinkle. “I see Kizmet is guarding them.” Stinky tells her that they are not staying, and she looks totally disappointed.
“I planned our adventure prior to my mom and dad adopting those little interlopers. If you really want, maybe we can stay here and tease them when you come again in two weeks,” says Stinky, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Periwinkle gives him a good hard whack on the head with her paw. “You better not be mean to them, or you can expect a lot more slaps from me,” Periwinkle tells Stinky. “You need to be a good big brother to them!”
“Okay, I promise to be nice! Now let’s get a move on. We’re burning daylight. Not that it matters.” Periwinkle gives Stinky a quizzical look as he takes her paw and leads her back into the teleportation tunnel. When they emerge, all Periwinkle sees is a parking lot filled with cars, and she gives Stinky another quizzical look. Then she sees the building and sign.
“I remembered how you took me to the Florida Caverns State Park and how cool it was underground. Since we continue to have such hot weather, I thought it would be nice to visit some caverns here in Virginia. The temperature is a constant 54 degrees; though, the humidity makes it feel like 65. I thought that would be quite comfortable with our furs,” Stinky tells Periwinkle. She agrees that she likes his idea, and they enter the caverns paw in paw.
Stinky gives Periwinkle a little history as they explore. “Once called Luray Cave, the caverns were known to Native Americans. They were officially discovered, however, by Euro-Americans on August 13, 1878. So, it is almost the anniversary of the discovery. The cavern system consists of speleothems such as columns, mud flows, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone and mirrored pools. All formations in the caverns are calcite, which is limestone in its crystalline form. Calcite’s purest form is naturally white.”
This is Titania’s Veil, which is a prime example of pure calcite.
“Wow, Stinky, that is incredible and so beautiful!”
“Come on, Periwinkle, I want to show you the largest formation in the caverns.”
“This column in Giant’s Hall is 47 feet high. It’s a double column and an example of the two basic cave formations (the stalactite and stalagmite) coming together.”
“Stinky, this is amazing. You don’t think we’ll get in trouble for leaving the path to get a closer look?” Periwinkle asks.
“No, I was a good cat and asked permission. As long as we are careful, it’s okay for us to explore places the humans can’t,” Stinky replies. “Just don’t try to take any souvenirs.”
“Stinky, you know I would never do that,” Periwinkle replies.
“Where are we now?” Periwinkle asks Stinky.
“This is Dream Lake. It’s the largest body of water in the caverns but not the deepest. It is not more than about 20 inches deep. The lake, made up of spring water, reflects a mirror image of the massive number of stalactites hanging from the ceiling.”
“I didn’t know lakes existed underground,” replies Periwinkle.
“What’s this one called, Stinky?”
“This is Pluto’s Ghost. To the original explorer’s of the caverns, this sparkling formation appeared to be following them. They actually thought it was a ghost until one of them was brave enough to approach it. It is the main formation in Pluto’s Chasm, which is 0ver 500 feet long and from 70 to 90 feet in depth. You can see this from numerous places in the caverns.”
Ice Cream Cone
“Stinky, this is so cool. It looks like a gigantic Christmas tree! Where are we now?”
“Wow, this is a really giant stalagmite. I am not positive, but I think it’s called the ice cream cone. But I wouldn’t lick it.”
Periwinkle giggles. “I think it would be nice with some colored Christmas tree lights,” she tells Stinky.
Now Stinky giggles but also nods in agreement.
“That sounds scary, Stinky. I don’t know if I want to see it,” says Periwinkle. “It’s no big deal now, Periwinkle,” Stinky replies.
Stinky tells Periwinkle a bit more about Skeleton’s Gorge. “When the caverns were discovered bone fragments were found embedded in calcite. Also, the remains of what is thought to be a Native American girl were found in a chasm here. The skeleton was estimated to be no more than 500 years old based on the current rate of stalagmitic growth. But I think that’s old enough so you don’t need to be frightened.”
“Well, I am certainly happy to hear that,” says Periwinkle as she gives Stinky’s paw a squeeze.
“The thinking is that her remains may have slipped into the cavern after her burial plot collapsed due to a sinkhole. Traces of charcoal and flint pieces as well as other bone fragments also point to early human occupation,” Stinky explains.
Some Additional Photos from the Caverns
“Periwinkle, there’s so much more to see, like the stalactite organ, but I am getting tired and hungry. How about you? I know they have a snack bar up top.”
“That sounds like a great idea. My paws are tired from all the walking and climbing. Our visitors can find out more about the caverns on-line and maybe even plan a visit,” Periwinkle replies.
“I think that’s a great idea. And we are going to come back as well, so we can visit The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, which has more than 140 items related to transportation, including 50 motor vehicles.”
“Purrfect,” purrs Periwinkle. “Now let’s go get some noms.” Stinky takes Periwinkle’s paw and they head off to the snack bar.
Periwinkle & Stinky are joining the Happy Tuesday blog hop at Comedy Plus.