Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ready to Go Spelunking???

In Destiny of the Wolf, my heroine and hero end up in a cave--seems appropriate since Silver Town is an old silver mining town, and so at a point in the story...they end up in one of the them.


Have you ever been in a cave? Normally, they're cold. Very cold. And when I've visited them, I'm usually dressed for warm weather, so it's a real shock to the system. Deep in the bowels of the earth, you'd think you'd be getting closer to the hot molten rock of the center of the earth, and it would be warmer, right?

But then again, you're farther from the sun, so it should be colder, right?


In some caves, it's definitely colder. I visited one in Maryland, loved the shimmering quartz in the rocks, the water dripping, the stalagmites reaching to the ceiling and the stalagtites clinging to the ceiling, and in some cases, the one dripping sediments on the other until a column is formed.



But did you know that some caves deep in the bowels of the earth are actually warm? I visited one on an island in the Caribbean, the Hato Caves, made of limestone from fossilized coral within a coral reef, where the Arawak Indians left petroglyphs 1500 years ago. Long nose bats live there and it was once both a shelter for the Indians and a burial ground. No whispers of ghosts there that I heard, but maybe at night when all the tourists weren't around? Who knows. But it's so warm, it increases the limestone deposits and so it was really spectacular as far as all the wondrous out-of-this world-looking cave formations.


When I was researching Yellowknife as a place to set Legend of the White Wolf, the gold mining caves under the earth there are also warm. There in the Canadian Arctic! Yep, the miners wore no shirts while they worked in the sauna-like conditions. And once they stopped mining, they hope to harness the geothermal energy underneath the earth to use for the city's energy resources.


Well, in Destiny of the Wolf, compared to a blizzard, the cave Darien and Lelandi end up in feels warmer, free of the chilling wind. Everything is relative, you know. But then again, they find just the way to heat things up while they're stuck in a cave until they can find a way out. :)

Did I mention I have claustrophobia?

So being jammed into small spaces, surrounded by rock walls and people behind and in front of me, with no quick way to escape really isn't a feeling I like to experience. However...seeing the beauty of some caves is...and so, conquering my fear, I couldn't have enjoyed seeing the wonders beneath the earth, millions of years old, and the amateur geologist in me, loving to see this for real, and not in pictures in a book, most. And the historian in me loves to visualize what it might have been for ancient peoples to have hidden in these caves for protection and shelter.

Have you visited a cave? Where and what was it like? If you haven't, ever desire to do so?

Terry

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha wolf."

14 comments:

  1. I remember visiting some caves in PA as a child. . .and being scared! LOL!

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  2. Lol, Libby, I don't blame you! Squished in between people in a small jagged room or in narrow, head bending passages, buried in the bowels of rocky earth, it was scary to me also--especially not knowing how far it was to the nearest exit! :)

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  3. I've been in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and another cave in West Virginia, but exploring one on my own is not something I've ever cared to try!

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  4. Cheryl, I don't blame you. My son told me about one that he and some friends went through with a Boyscout leader...no guide. It had places they had to climb down...no stairs, all ropes, places they had to crawl through on their bellies, wet and cold, and only the lighting they took themselves, no lanterns, lighting fixture to illuminate the dangers. One boy began to fall, then caught himself. If he had been injured??? Really frightening stuff.

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  5. We saw some really awesome caves when I was a child, the Cango Caves. What I remember most about the visit was the guide's explanation that the presence of humans changes and 'kills' the stalactites. We saw photos of the inside of one of the caves which was off limits to the public, and the inside of it was sparkling white, not grey like parts we had seen - though what we'd seen was still very impressive. I'm not sure how much truth is in my memory, but you can see some photos of the caves here http://www.cango-caves.co.za/photos.php

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  6. That's so neat, anidaadler! They say it's the oils from our hands that will ruin the rock formations. But I also wonder if it's our exhaling of carbon dioxide that changes the color.

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  7. Great post Terry! Caught my eye immediately. In my series I have written in a cave right on Pemberley lands. In fact, I named one chapter "Spelunking" only to later realize the word did not exist that far back. Bummer because it is just a cool sounding word. Caves are plentiful throughout the Peak District of Derbyshire, and in my fourth book the Darcys visit that area and explore a number of the major caverns.

    I have been in many caves and caverns, and used that experience to convey the feeling. I love caves, although I would never want to do the rope and headlamp kind of exploring. I lived near Carlsbad Caverns in NM (my family still does) so we have been there many times. Awesome experience I highly recommend if anyone travels that direction. Be sure to stay until dusk for the bat flight!

    Can't wait to read your story, for many reasons besides the caves. :)

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  8. I remember going to Ruby Falls (in TN, on our way to visit family in Atlanta) and to see the Falls you have to go through the caves and what not--it was very interesting!

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  9. OOOO Terry!

    I love visiting caves and caverns too, but ONLY those where you can walk with a guide.

    Unfortunately, I've never been to Carlsbad or Mammoth. :-( But I've seen a lot more, including Oregon Caves, Moaning Cavern (here in NorCal), Wind Cave in So. Dakota, the limestone caves on Gibraltar (I think they're St. Michael's?), and a really cool cave in Ireland. Guess I really like poking around in the dark! LOL!

    AC

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  10. Thanks, Sharon!! I love the term spelunking too!!! And it's fun to see all the neat spelunkers among us!!! And the different places we could explore caves. I think that's so neat that you brought caves into the Darcy's world. I find true historical tales about cave use is so fascinating--from smugglers where they're located next to water sources, or here in Texas, to different tribes, Civil War soldiers, bandits and for cold food storage!

    I'm looking forward to reading yours too!!

    Daniel, how interesting! I love seeing falls, but to find a cave to explore behind one would be even more fun!

    Ohmigosh, Cindy, you must be part cave-dweller! LOL. That is so neat. Ireland too? Wow!!! Sounds like a lot of fun. I'm ready to go check out another now!

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  11. LOL! Terry, you need to come and visit the Napa Valley. One of the major wineries in the area uses caves to store their finest wines because of the constant temperature. ;-) Now you know why I like caves!

    AC

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  12. Ahhh,AC, I knew if I dug deeper, I'd find out the real truth behind your love of caves!!! Wine!!!

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  13. No, I have no desire to be under ground until after I'm dead. Even then, I don't like the idea. I'm just a little bit claustrophobic. Watching the Discovery Channel stories on caves is close enough to the real thing for me.

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  14. Ah, come on, Robin, I was thinking when CasaBabes go to Nashville, we might find some caves in them thar hills and party! Nashville is home to 24 mountain summits and peaks. Surely there are caves around there somewhere. LOL :)

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