Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Florida Caverns (12/20/2010)

Sunday, December 19, 2010
First, a photo of the two de-icing cranes hovering over Brynne's plane before she flew to Jax.

Monday, December 20, 2010
An early start on our drive west on I-10 gave us time for a stop at Florida Caverns State Park ( near Marianna, FL. We were greeted by a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worker with his bronzed muscles.
Members of the CCC and the Works Projects Administration (WPA) developed the park, including excavating the caverns to allow tours and building the Visitor Center.
The elderly man selling cave tour tickets could not believe Brynne was old enough for an adult admission (age 13 and older!).
Sinc we had time before the 2:00 pm tour, we hiked the Beech Magnolia Trail behind the Visitor Center.
Champion Florida Elm (91 feet tall):
Rows of holes in the bark, made by a woodpecker?
Unusual for Florida is the bluff overlooking floodplains:
The karst terrain is characterized by easily dissolved bedrock, in this case - porous limestone.
The Chipola River floodplain:
Bald Cypress and their knees, and buttressed trees:
Mosses and liverworts:
Red-shouldered Hawk:
Time for the cave tour. A young lady was our guide, and using Florida English, she explained the history and geology of the cavern.
Whereas I had learned to tell apart stalactites (contains the letter "c" for ceiling) and stalagmites (the letter "g" for ground) by letters, our guide suggested that stalactites hold tight to the ceiling and stalagmites might grow up to the ceiling...
She also explained that the limestone is carved by carbonic acid, which is in carbonated drinks, so you shouldn't drink them...  (I think the sugars cause more damage than weak carbonic acid?)
The Wedding Room with an organ and a white wedding cake:
We saw soda straws, columns, and draperies:  
Rimstone formations such as the South America Rimstone Pool (no water in it today): 
Close-up of rimstone formations:
Miniature rimstone formations make up this flowstone "waterfall":
Eek! A bat! This Pipistrelle Bat was perhaps 3" long! 
See the "Christmas Tree"?
After the cave tour, I took 10 minutes to finish the Floodplain/Bluff Trail.
Endangered Florida Torreya Tree (Torreya taxifolia):
Tunnel Cave:
From inside the Tunnel Cave:
Rock Shelter (once inhabited by Chert Indians):
Stopped in Robertsdale, AL for dinner at the Derailed Diner: 
The fries were great, but Kent's dinner of meatloaf and green beans was surprisingly tasteless.
Next: Bellingrath Gardens.

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