OUR LAST STOP IN MISSOURI



WEDNESDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #57



Today was a longer than average travel day for us so we decided to do something we rarely do. While towing THE POD through Missouri today we stopped and did a little sightseeing. I checked out the Google satellite view of the parking lot surrounding Fantastic Caverns. They have a separate parking area just for school buses, tour buses and RVs, plenty of room for us to maneuver in and out of.

I guess I should have called first, because when we arrived that parking lot was closed off for renovations they were in the middle of trying to complete. We squeezed our way into the standard parking lot and got turned around into the direction we would need to exit the lot after the tour, that turned out to be a very smart move.

The cave tour at Fantastic Caverns is different than any other tour we have done so far. There were no stairs to climb, no ramps to negotiate and no walking what so ever. The entire tour is enjoyed while riding in a trailer that was being pulled by a Jeep. There were a few spots where we had to duck below rocks overhanging the roadway but other than that just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The cave itself was merely average compared to the formations we have seen elsewhere, but the ride made visiting very enjoyable.

You can just make out the front of our Jeep at the bottom of this photo

Wide open views all around

One of the larger flowstone formations


Getting back on the road we drove until reaching our new campsite.


Our view for the next eight days at an unbelievable bargain of just $10.50 per night.



SATURDAY - We were going to wait until next week to do our next cave tour, but today we just felt the need to get out and do something. Our visit to the Talking Rocks Cavern did not disappoint us!

As we have mentioned before no two caves are alike. This cave tour was only a 1/3 mile walk, but it was almost all straight down, then across the bottom of the cave, before starting back towards the surface. It's what's known as a vertical cave. There were many sections where you walked just inches from the formations all along the walls and at one point the path took us right through a large flowstone. We emerged behind the formation and exited through another very slim opening back into the cave.

We would easily place this tour in our personal Top Ten list
of the 20+ plus cave tours we have explored so far.



TALKING ROCKS CAVERN



Looking down into the cave from above.
This formation in the center is called Cave Bacon
A cloe up look at the same formation
The tour takes you right through a large formation
A look up before we pass through the formation
The group before us exiting the cave above us
The path has several places where you have to squeeze through formations
My turn to squeeze through
More cave bacon
So much bacon
The formation in the background is a 65 foot tall column
The entire formation we walked through and then behind earlier
A final shot of cave bacon




... if you wish to receive an email notice when there is a new blog post!

PLEASE NOTE:
After you subscribe a company named Feed Burner will send you an email to once again verify that you wish to subscribe to TWO PEAS AND THE POD to which you must reply before you will receive notices.



We encourage everyone to use
the comment section below!


We would really like to hear from you!



Until next time

TWO PEAS



MORE CAVES



WEDNESDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #56



Missouri's official nickname is "The Show Me State". But another nickname that everyone around here is familiar with is "The Cave State". As seen is the photo on the left only Tennessee has more known caves than Missouri. While the public can't visit every one of them, there are 10 show caves listed on the National Caves Association website for Missouri, more than any other state. Only Tennessee comes close with 8 show caves in their state.

We hope to visit seven of the ten show caves here in Missouri before leaving the state later this month. We hope you all are enjoying all the photos we're sharing here. Trust me when I say it's ten times better being there in the cave than what we try very hard to show you in the photos.



FRIDAY - We are once again visiting two caves in one day. The first up is Jacob's Cave and it just so happens that this weekend is their Animal Swap Weekend. Three times a year they hold this event where people get together and swap animals. If you've got extra chickens and need a goat this is the place you'll want to be. It's not only an animal swap it's a full blown flea market atmosphere. We didn't see anything we just couldn't live without, but there were several hundred vendors selling everything imaginable and thousands of people there buying.

Just part of one of a dozen rows of vendors.

It was $5 to park, but we got that back and more with a 20% discount coupon for the cave tour that was printed on the parking receipt. The cave tour was nice and short but the cave differed from most of our tours in the fact that their natural entrance was rather large instead of the usual small hole in the wall most caves were discovered by. With such a large entrance it meant that all kinds of animal fossils and bones were discovered in the cave. They were very nicely displayed inside a glass cabinet.

Glass cabinet full of bones found in the cave.

Up close encounter with a large flowstone formation.


Our second cave tour of the day was at nearby Stark Caverns. Three times a week this cavern offers an after-hours special tour where each guest carries a black-light flashlight. This special Blacklight Tour is led by a cave mineralogist who points out unique fluorescent minerals & explains the science of fluorescence. Using the black-lights we saw orange, red, blue, purple and yellow fluorescent rock formations that when viewed with white light all looked to be the same brown color. It was a unique experience for us, but with the NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY rule is was very hard to capture and share with you.

This orange colored rock almost looked like it was smoldering.

This yellow colored rock almost was as bright as the moon.




... if you wish to receive an email notice when there is a new blog post!

PLEASE NOTE:
After you subscribe a company named Feed Burner will send you an email to once again verify that you wish to subscribe to TWO PEAS AND THE POD to which you must reply before you will receive notices.



We encourage everyone to use
the comment section below!


We would really like to hear from you!



Until next time

TWO PEAS



CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI



WEDNESDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #55

"Show Me State"
is our 25th visited state



Today is a very special day for us, it marks a few milestones in our travels. In just a short 16.5 months we have now completed our visit of half of the lower forty-eight states. True that it's only a number, 24 of 48, and it in no way means our goals have been halfway met.

The Eastern United States that we have now visited are made up of a lot of the smaller states, specifically the 13 original colonies of the New World. While looking at a list of states it appears we are half done, but look at this map and it clearly shows we are only about a third of the way across the country.

With the exceptions of Wisconsin and Michigan we have visited every state located east of the mighty Mississippi River. These will probably be the last two states we visit because we are saving the Great Lakes Region for last.


Let's also talk about the time factor! If we have visited a third of the country in less than a year and a half, it stands to reason that five years should be plenty of time to SEE IT ALL! We figure it will actually be closer to seven years before we finish Lap #1 of our journey.

What does all this mean? Not much really in the big scheme of things, but today, THE POD did cross over the Mississippi River for the first time. Now we can begin to explore the western two thirds of our beautiful country.



SATURDAY - Today we are going to explore two caves at another state park located about twenty miles from our campsite. Onondaga State Park is home to Cathedral Cave and Onondaga Cave. Both tours are operated by a private concessionaire and not the state park service.


First up this morning is Onondaga Cave. The tour begins as most do, just outside of the gift shop. A short film informs us on the history and ownership of the cave. It also touches on the care and maintenance that is now in place to keep the cave inhabitants, and the cave itself, healthy so many future generations of visitors can experience it just as it is today.

While the tour is just under a mile long there are actually only a few stairs to climb. The walkways are ramps made of cement with handrails usually on both sides. While the roughly grated cement is good for making the surface less slippery, it is hard on a bare knee if you do find yourself on the ground. Don't ask me how I know! I now have a nice scrap on my right knee and a muddy stain of the back of my new shorts.

You'll see in the pictures that some of the walkways are very steep. I took my tumble on a relatively flat spot, right after I let my guard down and took my hands off the handrails. All I can say is, lesson learned!

Heading down the steep ramp into the cave.

A brightly lit section with many formations.

A huge flowstone we got right up next to.

What! Floating rock formations. We just called them lily pads.


Our second tour today is Cathedral Cave. This tour differs from most of the rest of the tours we've recently done for two reasons, first off the tour starts from the campground with a 1/3 mile hike up a forest trail. The second thing is there is no electrical lighting in the cave, so everyone is issued a flashlight to carry on the tour.

Just inside the entrance was a bat hanging from the ceiling.

The highlight of the tour was the 25 foot tall Cathedral Bell flowstone.



TUESDAY - Our third cave tour for this stop is going to be Meramec Caverns. It is considered to be one of the Top Ten cave tours in the United States. This will be our 4th visit to a Top Ten cave and our 19th overall. We still find each and every cave tour interesting, informative and something unique usually presents itself before the tour is over. Of course no two are completely alike.



MERAMEC CAVERNS



The Grand Entrance to Meramec Caverns.
Extra long soda straw formations on the ceiling.
The reflection pool next to the walkway.
Beautiful natural coloring.
Same shot with unnecessary colorful LED lighting.
Looking up at the ceiling.
A shot while approaching the underground theater.
Let the light show begin.
Just as beautiful without the fancy lights.



I almost forgot to share with everyone a curious little roadside attraction we stumbled across just outside of our campground. It's advertised as Canoehenge.

It's a circle of canoes with their bows buried in the ground with a fire circle in the middle. Funny what you can find if you just keep your eyes open.

Here is what we saw from the roadway.

This is what we found directly behind it hidden in the woods.




... if you wish to receive an email notice when there is a new blog post!

PLEASE NOTE:
After you subscribe a company named Feed Burner will send you an email to once again verify that you wish to subscribe to TWO PEAS AND THE POD to which you must reply before you will receive notices.



We encourage everyone to use
the comment section below!


We would really like to hear from you!



Until next time

TWO PEAS



A GATEWAY TO THE WEST



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #54



Today was a relatively short travel day, just 73 miles due west from our previous campsite. We are camped here at the Casino Queen RV Park for two nights for just one reason, and it's not to gamble in the casino, although I did donate $100 by way of a blackjack dealer.

We are just outside of St. Louis, MO on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. From here we plan to spend all day tomorrow exploring one of the newest National Parks, The Gateway Arch. Up until February of 2018 the arch was known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.



TUESDAY - Today we have reservations to visit Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, MO. Our tickets include a 30-minute documentary film explaining how the Arch was constructed back in the 1960s. Also included are a tram ride up to the top of the Arch and a short riverboat tour on the Mississippi River.

It was interesting watching the 1960's footage of the construction. Workers with no apparent safety harness or tethers working that high up off the ground and still being able to smoke a cigarette. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wasn't formed until December of 1970 and after viewing this film I can understand why. When construction was begun it was estimated that 13 workers would die building this arch and yet not a single life was lost when it was completed.

The tram ride up to the top was very interesting! Five passengers at as time were jammed through a 4-foot high door into this very compact egg-shaped pod. Then you begin a four minute ride up to the top. It feels like a ferris wheel ride because the pod keeps shifting to adjust for the curvature of the arch's leg. You can see the infrastructure of the arch through the glass door during the entire ride. We were lucky! They weren't that busy and we had a pod all to ourselves for the ride up.

We weren't quite as lucky for the ride down. We were assigned to a pod with three strangers and sat shoulder to shoulder for the three minute return trip back down to the base of the arch. After the tram ride we had plenty of time to get lunch in the cafe and explore the museum before our scheduled riverboat ride.

When we arrived at the riverboat dock we were surprised when the couple we had shared the tram ride down with walked up behind us to wait in line. We nodded hello and I joked that they were following us. After the riverboat ride we walked several blocks to the truck, got in and started driving towards a famous frozen custard stand some ten miles away.

About four blocks from the riverboat, just before we were about to get on the Interstate we caught a red light downtown. Who walks up to the nearly empty intersection to cross in front of us? The same couple from before. I rolled down my drivers side window and yelled across the street, NOW I KNOW YOU'RE FOLLOWING US. The guy looked very startled and pulled his wife one step backwards before I saw on his face that he recognized who we were. Then with a big smile on his face he shook a fist in our direction before we pulled away.

St. Louis's waterfront district is known to be a high crime area. After the light turned green and I pulled away I thought, for many reasons, maybe yelling from a truck, at a nearly complete stranger, might have not been such a great idea.

Anyway we found our frozen custard stand and made it safely back home. Here are a few photos from yesterday and today's explorations.



GATEWAY ARCH NATIONAL PARK



The park next to the casino had a tiered observation platform (as seen of the left).
View from the fist level of the platform.
View from the second level of the platform.
Finally a view from the top level of the platform.
Later that night from the same top level view.
Next day...our view from where we parked ROVER next to the Mississippi River.
Walking towards the base of the Gateway Arch.
That's where we are headed! The views must be wonderful from up there.
Closer to the base of the Arch now.
Oh good, we'll have views out both sides of the Arch.
The new Busch Stadium opened in 2006.
As you can see there's no ballgame being played today.
The Old Courthouse and the circular object in the foreground is the underground Visitor Center for the Arch.
A view from the riverboat.
The Historic Eads Bridge (built 1874) is the oldest bridge that crosses the Mississippi River.
can you spot ROVER parked on the bank of the Mississippi River?
Time to leave Casino Queen in Illinois for more adventures in Missouri!




... if you wish to receive an email notice when there is a new blog post!

PLEASE NOTE:
After you subscribe a company named Feed Burner will send you an email to once again verify that you wish to subscribe to TWO PEAS AND THE POD to which you must reply before you will receive notices.



We encourage everyone to use
the comment section below!


We would really like to hear from you!



Until next time

TWO PEAS