Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spelunking! and Kayaking!

So it has been forever since this actually happened, but I blame... me being busy... so that is totally a valid excuse. This actually happened way back on the 9th of July. Man that doesn't seem like it should be so long ago.... but it is.

Saturday, July 9th
Anyway, Daniel, Jacob, and I went to Inner Space Caverns, which is this cave system that is about 30 minutes north of Austin. There are two tour types and we wanted to do the adventure tour which was a little but longer and goes into a super secret room..... ok, not really. Sadly, we got there too late and all the tickets for that tour were sold out.

So we did the simpler tour. Which was a little shorter but as it was the only one available, so we got our tickets and had a while to wait, so we walked around. The first thing we did was look at the store where I found a cool hat to where for our journey!

It was a little small for me, but I figured that small protection was better than nothing. We then wondered outside and found the place where you got mine for precious gems. If you bought this special bag you could dump it in one of these things and run water through it. The "precious" gems would then be revealed to you. We had Jacob pose as if he was doing it.... pretty realistic right?

Pretty soon our tour was about to start. So we headed to the little tram that would take us into the cave. We were pretty jam packed into in, and then we were off! Hitting speeds of 3 MPH!

At the bottom of our descent we all trucked out into the rarely explored cavern. Our first discovery was a primitive sidewalk built into the save floor. It made exploring much easier..... ok, so we weren't exactly roughing it. We were walking on a paved surface and there were lights built through out the cave system.... but there were still some cool sights!

First our guide, John, who was really awesome and if you ever go there you should definitely try to get him as your guide!, explained the difference between stalactites and stalagmites. Then we saw the soda straw stalactites. They are all hallow, and hanging from the ceiling... the hallow part leads to them being called soda straw... in case it wasn't obvious. :P

Next John told us that we couldn't kill the rocks or we could kill them. This didn't make much sense. I am pretty sure that he said more, but I was in the back of the group taking pictures and so I missed it. But we walked by a rock that we could touch and we all... touched it. Yay! I was going to take a picture of myself touching it. But my camera malfunctioned and I ended up getting a picture of my foot, but it sure is a good looking foot! (I will spare you guys the picture however :) )

We then ran into a few bats that were sleeping and managed to sleep through every single person taking a picture of them. Jacob thought that they might be dead and just put there so we could take pictures.... and I will admit that they certain didn't move and looked kind of like they might be dead. But I asked John and he assured me they were real.

The type of bat is the Easter Popistrelle.

The next sight that we saw was this weird kind of stalactite that looked sort of like bacon or something. It was hanging down in strips from the ceiling. I had never seen anything like it.

Next we headed into the area called the cathedral, which was this big open area that kind of echoed a little bit. This room was the first one that was discovered. Back in... some year, they were trying to build I-35, which was supposed to go straight over where the caverns were. However, the drill bits kept breaking. Eventually, the sent the smallest person on the team down the hole. He didn't really have much light, and you can kind of see in the picture below that the hole was. Basically.... not very big.

When he got down there. He looked around and he didn't have much light and he saw this big huge rock formation. He thought it was a bear. So he went scrambling back up the hole to the surface, terrified that the bear was gonna eat him. I cannot imagine how much crap he got when they found out that was actually a piece of rock. Well.... a giant rock anyway. It really looked quite cool when it wasn't pitch black.

Here is my first attempt to blind Daniel and Jacob by taking a picture of them in the cave. Luckily for them they were looking away and so the flash harmlessly bounced off the walls.

The next cool thing we saw was another hole in the ceiling. This one had a ladder and John explained to us that this was where the explorers had come down and also where they had built a method to circulate the air so that they would always have fresh air. I forget exactly what it was though....

The last stop on the tour was this little lake deep in the depths of the caverns. I believe that it is called Moon Lake.... since it is kind of shaped like a crescent. At least when there is lots of water. Sadly.... this was not one of those times. There was still a little bit of water, but not really as much as there normally is... according to John. Anyway, the cavern area around it and the lake was still a pretty sight, and supposedly some weddings have taken place in this area.

And with that we headed back through the cavern. The whole tour was about an hour and 40 minutes or so, which was a little longer than it was supposed to be, but it was pretty cool. I only touched on a few of the things... mostly what I remembered, but if you want to see all of my pictures for this trip, you can view them here!

Sunday, July 1oth

One the intern activities that had been set up was kayaking at Zilker park, but we missed it due to out spelunking expedition. One of the reasons we went spelunking on Saturday was because Jesse wanted to go kayaking and would be able to do it on Sunday. So we decided to wait and all go together.

I don't actually have any pictures from the kayaking itself, since I didn't want to risk my phone or my camera. I really wish I had taken one of them... probably my camera.

Anyway, Jacob, Kyle, and I got there much early, so we had to wait til Jesse, Daniel, and Todd showed up. It was kind of boring, so Jacob found these tiny train tracks and followed them.

Eventually, a little train came by. I am not sure what this train is for... since I don't think there is really a lot in Zilker park to see, but it was kind of funny to watch. For some reason Jacob really loved it.

While we were waiting a storm blew in and we could hear thunder and see lightning, which was kind of an ominous start. We were belted by huge drops of rain and eventually sought shelter in a little picnic area. (Only after Kyle informed us that hiding under a tree in a thunderstorm would be a bad idea :P)

Eventually the rain stopped and everyone showed up, so we headed to the kayak rental place and checked out some kayaks. Here is Jacob checking the water to make sure it is safe.

We had 3 two person kayaks. Jacob and Kyle, Jesse and Daniel, and Todd and me. We Kayaked for about an hour and our journey went out the little creek and all the way down the river/lake thing (supposedly a lake.... but man it didn't seem like one) until we reached the bat bridge. I am not sure how far we kayaked... but I will say.... 1.5 miles round trip maybe? I don't know.

One cool thing that we saw was this family of ducks, basically a mom and a lot of little ducklings swimming behind her. We also saw a nutria just chilling in the shallows comping on a reed and a lot of turtles diving away from our paddles.

I thought when we got to the bat bridge that we might be able to see them, but the bridge is designed... or maybe it just is this way and the bats moved in... but there are basically a lot of deep thin lines cut into the concrete. So the bats are all up in those lines and you can't even see them when you paddle underneath. Luckily, the bats weren't active so we did not get guanoed on... which would have been a little gross!

At the bridge we turned around and headed back. The trip back was much much harder as I was already tired and cramped up from my seat in the kayak. But we eventually made it, without any problems.

All in all it was another successful weekend in Austin!