After lunch we wandered the gift shop, which tempted us with magnets, photo frames, agates, polished stones, and various bat memorabilia. The Lincoln Caverns had thousands of bats until the white-nose fungus nearly wiped them out 8 years ago. On our tour we saw only two, sleeping snuggled up to each other. What is remarkable is that the entrance they use to get in and out of the ground is only as large as a quarter! We hiked up the hill and used a ramp and then some stairs down into the second, performance cave. Our guide, Leigh, is an experienced caver and showered us with a wealth of historical and geological facts. One thing I learned is a bad dad joke:
Q. When a stalactite grows into a stalagmite, what do you call’ em?
A. A column.
Another thing I learned is that although the original proprietors had installed steel beams to reinforce the cave for fear of falling rocks, the only thing that has ever fallen in this cave is water. Even neater, at one point we were 95 feet under ground, and there were still teeny little tree roots working their way through the rock. How's that for perseverance?
Some of the minerals make amazing formations like curtains, or slabs of bacon, or pearl buttons, or popcorn. One kind fluoresces under black light (above left) and then holds the light for a second or two after you turn it out. We saw a pool of water that looked very shallow but in fact is more than 2 feet deep—we tossed in pennies to make wishes—and another pool in the deepest part of the walkable cave that looked very deep but what only about 6 inches in depth (below).
We took a very quick tour through the second cave, where DH and E”J”D were waiting for us. He balanced a battery-powered keyboard on his lap for the accompanied pieces. Some of them involved audience participation. And at one point, Leigh turned off the lights so we could experience total darkness. After it was all sung and done, we piled back into the cars to eat delicious Italian dinner at a restaurant in the little town where “J”’s partner had grown up. Then it was home again, home again, jiggety jog.