05 July 2009

Meramec State Park


For the fourth of July holiday we went camping at Meramec State Park. Well, it wasn't precisely "camping" since we stayed in a cabin. A fully equipped cabin. A cabin with electricity where Sergio and I tweeted by day and charged our iPhones by night. Not exactly roughing it, I know. But we still convened with nature and most importantly, with our friends - and all of it was just lovely.

now this is what I call camping

There were 6 of us altogether (about half of us better at detaching from technology than the other half). We arrived on Friday, just in time to check into our cabin and catch the 3:00 tour of Fisher Cave, the largest and most spectacular (according to the brochure) of the 40 caves under Meramec State Park. What our guide, Justin the Naturalist, lacked in sense of humor, he more than made up for in his extensive knowledge of sediments, rocks, formations, stalagmites (g = ground), stalactites (c = ceiling), cave wildlife, geology, and Missouri cave history. He adeptly led us crouching and craning past jagged protrusions and through narrow passage ways into giant rooms, which, he told us, with the year-round temperature of 57 degrees (cool in the summer, warm in the winter), were enticing locations for dances held by the residents of 19th century Missouri.

Naturalist Justin at the entrance to the Fisher Cave

giant rooms make it easy to forget that you're really, really far under ground and are in a tightly enclosed space

The morning of day 2 brought nothing but rain and we sat down to breakfast resigned to the idea that we'd have to forgo our pre-arranged canoe trip. But as our great luck would have it, the rain cleared up by 10:00 and gave us just enough time to catch the 11:00 canoe trip and our fantastic plan for the day was resumed. We were out paddling on the river all afternoon.

The cave of day 2 was Green's Cave on the Meramec River. It's open for exploration - if you bring a flashlight, which we did. On the day before, the combination of a tour guide, many flashlights, and lots of other cave tourists had enabled me to keep The Claustrophobia at bay. At Green's Cave I had none of these crutches and found myself very quickly short of breath the further we got past the entrance. I turned tail and came out, but managed to shore up some will power, and on my second try I made it MUCH further in. The oppression of the enclosed space eventually won, but not before we'd made it far enough back to see glittering mineral formations and a frog.

After I got out of the cave, I took a number of very deep breaths and then we peacefully, calmly floated and paddled the rest of the way down river, swapping beers from canoe to canoe and enjoying the incredible views.

relaxing on the porch between canoe trip and dinner

In the evening we drank, grilled our food, ate, and solved all the problems of the world late into the night, just as we had done the night before. And this morning it was time to gather our things and check out, which we did reluctant to see our great fun come to an end. Before finally departing we made one more stop at the Toy Museum in Stanton, MO where we had some last laughs. And then with our Meramec State Park commemorative medallions safely stowed, we packed up our memories and headed home.

in the semi trailer at the Toy Museum

All my pictures from the weekend can be seen HERE.


LO said...

What fun! I appreciate the trick to remember which way the stalagmites grow and having done way too many nights in a tent myself, I'd say cabin-camping is the only way to go.

We took our kids into one of the Missouri caves (don't remember which) years ago, an experience during which our son decided he needed to pee at the very bottom of the cave and our daughter had a nervous breakdown at the sight of bats hanging on the ceiling (along with the stalactites...) It wasn't funny at the time, but today we laugh about his whining for a potty and her screams about "bat juice" (what she attributed the cave's wetness to) reverberating beneath the Ozark mountains.

Fun memories....

Chris said...

I love your blog entries Emily. A blend of story telling and fun facts. One thing you left out that I thought was worth mentioning was when Sergio wanted to get to the bottom of "What is art?" This ate up hours of discussion in the car and again later with the gang. My mind was spent.

Emily said...

Oh of course - how could I forget that we solved the age old question of What is Art? That was fundamental & ground breaking! And exhausting ...