TRAVEL DAY - 157 milesCHEAHA STATE PARK
WHITE OAK CREEK CAMPGROUND
The highest point in the entire state of Alabama is located inside of Cheaha State Park's campground. The 2,407 foot high summit of Cheaha Mountain was just a short walk from our campsite. With no cell phone service available inside the campground most of our time this week was spent at the public library in Oxford, AL. It is a forty mile round trip drive down the mountain to get there. Each day from Tuesday until Friday we traveled the long drive up and down the mountain to get a reliable cell phone signal and to have a comfortable place to get our work done, but on Saturday we decided to do some sightseeing, because Sunday was going to be laundry day.
DeSoto Caverns is our fourth visit into a cavern on this trip, but this one was nothing like the previously three. The other caverns all involved a one mile or longer tour, up and down many steps, through several different rooms, which took a little more than one hour to see. This one was different in the fact that nearly the entire tour was spent in just one room of the cavern, but what a room it was! You begin the tour by walking down this very dimly lit man made hallway, which is lighted from above. When you get near the end of the hallway the lights move to being down low on the pathway, but you can tell you are entering this very large room with a center stage and seating like you would see in an amphitheater. The tour guide then gets everyone safely seated and gives you a little bit of history of the cave, then with very little warning, plunges everyone into complete darkness by turning off the ground lights in the room. When I say complete darkness I mean you can't even see your hand in front of your face kind of darkness.
She continues talking and then slowly starts turning the lights back on. First the ground lights come back on to where they were when we first entered the room. Then a few lights around the stage in the middle of the room. Then all the lights come on revealing the fact you are in this huge room, 120 feet high and over 100 yards across. It is filled with stalagmites, stalactites, columns, draperies and flow stone. They were all visible without even leaving your seat. It truly is a grand room. We later learned that they usually introduce this room with a laser light show, but today it wasn't working so we missed out on that. They did however compensate everyone with a complimentary photo of your party in front of this beautiful and dramatically lit formation. The photo is usually something they try to sell you after the tour, but today it was free.
The tour consisted of walking around the perimeter of the room and learning about all the different types of formations. The only time we left this magnificent room was to take a short walkway into a much smaller room where there is a double waterfall. When it rains outside this waterfall flow is all natural, but with no rain today the water is pumped up to the top to give you the same experience. Even though today's waterfall was faked I still appreciated their effort to give us the full experience.
I must warn you that the photos do not reflect the grandeur of actually being there inside the cavern. They have a policy of no flash photography so we tried to capture images using only the light that was available. None on the wide angle photos we took are worth showing and those are the ones that would have given you the feeling of actually being there.
HOW TO TAKE CONTROL OF THIS SLIDESHOW
Option 1 - Do nothing and cycle through the photos at the predetermined speed.
Option 2 - Hover over any photo with the cursor and use the forward and reverse arrows that appear on the left and right centers to speed through the photos. Photos will still change at the predetermined speed if you wait too long. Keep your eye on the clock in the upper right hand corner.
Option 3 - Hover over any photo with the cursor and click on the pause button. You now have full control to go forward or reverse at your own speed. You can also select any of the little round buttons under the photo to navigate through the photos.
WANT TO SEE THE PHOTOS AT A LARGER SIZE?
1st - Click near the center of any photo and it will open to a larger size than what appears in the slideshow.
2nd - Click on it again and it will open to it's original full resolution size.
3rd - You will have to use your browsers back button to return to the slideshow after viewing the photo.
I almost forgot about the lady bugs!
When we got back to THE POD from the cavern tour we were greeted by several hundred lady bugs. They were crawling and flying everywhere outside the truck and trailer, then eventually inside the truck and trailer as well. After doing a little research I learned that in winter lady bugs are looking for a light colored object that stays warm in direct sunlight, usually the underside of leaves. This is where they prefer to spend the long cold winter and if it has a little moisture even better. They lose their ability to fly if the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, so they must find a desirable winter home before it gets, and stays, too cold.
Ladybugs go from an egg stage to a full adult in only one month and can live up to three years. Their diet is mainly smaller insects but some varieties of ladybugs do eat certain plants, so although there is nothing inside THE POD for them to eat we still keep finding them everywhere. During the warm afternoons they come out of hiding and we try to capture as many as we can and return them to the outside, but it just wasn't working. When you frighten them they release a small amount of yellow smelly blood through glands in their legs. This not only stains whatever it lands on but contains a pheromone which attracts other ladybugs. While they don't usually lay eggs inside, we're not taking any chances, so they must go! They hate the smell of citrus and mint so today that is what I'll be shopping for to drive them outside where they belong.
We encourage everyone to use the comment section below and if you wish to receive an email notice when there is a new blog entry for your review, please use the Subscribe widget at the top of the right hand column on every page.
PLEASE NOTE: Feed Burner will first send you an email to verify that you wish to subscribe to TWO PEAS AND THE POD to which you must respond before you will receive notices.