Head in the Clouds
And, says the NCA, each cave is different from the other and each has something special to experience, enjoy and remember. They are also a reasonably priced destination.
You can find caves and karsts (irregular limestone regions with sinks, underground streams and caverns) all over (should that be under?) the country. For example, they are found in 120 parks in the National Park System, from as few as 10 to 15 caves in the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park to more than 450 in the Lava Beds National Monument in California.
Look at just one or two caves to get an idea of what you might get yourself into. The Cathedral Room of DeSoto Caverns in Childersberg, Ala., is larger than a football field and higher than a 12-story building, and the caverns’ oldest marker, Traders Rock, is dated back to 1723. These caverns also contain a Confederate gunpowder-mining center and this month feature an Indian Arts and Crafts Festival (April 12-13).
The Squire Boone Caverns near Corydon, Ind., were discovered by Squire Boone and his more famous brother, Daniel, in 1790. Squire later escaped a band of hostile Indians by hiding in the caverns. From that day on, he considered the area to be holy ground and was laid to rest within his beloved cave as he had requested.
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is the longest recorded cave system in the world with more than 360 miles explored and mapped. The Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown, Texas, was not discovered until 1963 when a Texas Highway Department core drilling team, testing land to see if it would hold a highway overpass, broke through into a cavern never seen or visited by man before.
The Seneca Caverns, near Riverton, W. Va., were discovered in 1760 and contain spectacular natural formations and huge chambers.
Remember Tom Sawyer and his caving exploits? The Mark Twain Cave near Hannibal, Mo., was regularly explored by Twain himself after it’s discovery in 1819 by a man hunting with his dog.
The NCA (www.cavern.com), the National Speleological
Society (www.cavern.com) and the Park Service (www.nps.gov/grba/npscaves.htm) have websites that are a mine of information about caves and caving and contain directories to caves all over America.
Rods & Barrels
Biking Little Switzerland
Up in the Colorado mountains, it’s easy to feel you are in Switzerland. John Griffin is more used to the eastern parts of the United States, but several summers ago he went west with a new motorcycle. The Byrd Brothers Trucking driver out of Frankfort, Ind., was seeing the state with a buddy who was riding his own bike.
“We trailered the bikes out to Colorado Springs – it was August – and spent a week riding through the mountains,” says Griffin. “I’d only had the bike a week. It’s a Honda Shadow 1100, and I’ve still got it. I’ve ridden it all over. I’ve been down to Bike Week and Biketoberfest in Daytona a couple of times with the bikes.”
Griffin had chosen to take his new bike west to see some new sights; his route takes him and his ’95 Freightliner FLD 120 up and down the east coast a lot, and he delivers furniture anywhere east of the Mississippi. For this picture Griffin was riding 550 a little north of Ouray, rolling through a part of the country they call the “Little Switzerland of America.” He was astounded by the breathtaking scenery. At one point he came across this eye-catching rock formation and stopped to take a photograph.