Saturday, April 22, 2006

Eureka! I've Discovered Fool's Gold!

My #2 son LOVED panning for gold at Meramec Caverns on
Saturday. He wanted to go back on Sunday. I think not. We
will have to discover gold to afford it. They have a good set-up
outside the cave. You buy a bag of dirt, and swish it around to
discover gems. My kids loved it. So much that they agreed to
spend their own money so they could get a $9.99 bag of dirt
instead of a $4.50 bag of dirt. They wanted the 'emerald' bag.
Actually, #2 son wanted two bags. He had his eye on the
'arrowhead' bag, but decided on emeralds. We can find the
arrowheads down by our creek after a good bridge-washing-
out rain.

We had to wait 20 minutes to start panning, because the poor
pitiful girl inside the shop who took the money could not balance
her cash drawer. She was $4.00 short. She called another worker
to help her. Who wasn't much help, because it took another 10
minutes to straighten out the mess. And I might add, they were
kind of rude. "We'll HELP you when we get the money figured
out." Like they couldn't count it while we were panning. Or keep
track of our 2 cents change.

It was just as well we had to wait. There was a band of devil-
children running amok at the sluice while that poor girl counted
her money over and over. We could have grabbed bags of
precious dirt and loaded them into the car, for all the attention
she paid. Sweet Gummi Mary! When did $4.00 become a life
and death matter? Anyhoo, those 3 devil kids climbed on the
little chairs and plunged their devil hands into the water, and
every 3 seconds screamed, "I have a RUBY!" "I have some
GOLD!" I have an EMERALD!" Their keepers sat and talked,
oblivious to their spawn. I thought they would never leave.
FINALLY, after we were given the privilege of paying, the
snotty women gathered their future Fitties and left.

The cave tour was an hour and 20 minutes. My #2 son held
my hand the whole way. He was afraid he would be left in
the dark. Which would have been pretty scary, but there were
handrails throughout the cave, and another tour would have
been along in 20 minutes. I am glad we took him instead of
letting him go on that field trip. Nobody would have held my
baby's hand on the field trip.

Here is a cool picture my Hillbilly Husband took. These formations
are called 'soda straws'. They are hollow inside. The whole tour is
handicap accessible, with concrete ramps and handrails. The light
was pretty dim through most of it, and as we left an area, the guide
turned off the lights behind us.

I really didn't want to go. I don't like to feel like I can't get out of
someplace. It's not exactly claustrophobia. The size of the room
didn't matter. It was the fact that if I decided to leave, I couldn't.
I'm funny that way. I like an aisle seat. I like the back row. Just
in case I decide I want out. But my boy wanted me to go with
him. How could I turn him down? As we started into the cave,
I got that ol' panicky feeling. This is it! After this, I can't turn
Other people must have felt that way too, because there
was a big sign as you entered the giant room to start the tour that
said: "No refunds once tickets are torn." I looked at all the little
kids in our tour, and thought, "If these kids can do it, I can do it."
Then I had to put that escaping thought out of my mind, and try
to concentrate on the guide's speech.

The high point for #2 son was the panning for gold. He is still
playing with his gems. He has a chart (that HH snuck behind
the counter and got, because the girl left us unattended). We
even had to beg for the baggie to put the gems in. I'm pretty sure
that should have been included for the $9.99, and the chart,
too. It is a good exercise in classification for the kids.

Here is what my boy did with his gems:

All by himself. You don't think he's got OCD or anything, do you?
He lined up those rows so straight, it was freaky. Just a minute
ago, he came to show me one. I sniffed it, because it had a bit
of an aroma to it. "Oh. I just washed it with soap," he told me.

He wants to take them to school to show his classmates, so I
will send a note Monday to ask his teacher. She probably won't
care, since it will be good advertising for Friday's field trip. And
my boy will be in hog heaven that day, spending the whole day
with his grandma.

Maybe they can wash some rocks together.


Blogger LanternLight said...

My #2 son LOVED panning for gold at Meramec Caverns on Saturday.

There is a quote, which I don't remember, which says something like "We live our happiness though our kids".

The light was pretty dim through most of it, and as we left an area, the guide turned off the lights behind us.

The downside of lights are that they dry out the caves. I'm told the Buchan Caves (near where I grew up) are hosed down with water each evening.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Rachy said...

handicapped accessible caves? Freaking unreal

10:19 AM  
Blogger The Unrepentant Gallivanter said...

Reminds me of the fun caves we used to go to when I was a kid - Cave of the Winds and Alabaster Caverns. Never made it to Meramec. We did go to Missouri once on vacation in the Ozarks - but I got car sick (or maybe it was all the cute little bottle of MGD my Dad had that I kept drinking in the back seat?)

2:38 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

You would have done well in the cave, what with that lantern you carry everywhere!

Lights dry out a cave? Who knew? Not me.
Thanks for the info.

Yes, it was accessible. It had concrete walkways with rails on each side, and ramps instead of steps. The only place with steps was at the end, at the 'Wine Room'. Yeah. Of all things that you couldn't make it to, huh? The WINE room. It was a room with a 7-foot 'table' and shelves with what looked like wine bottles. The guide said that he would escort anyone who didn't want to walk the steps to the theater, which was the last room. I almost didn't go, cause steps hurt my 2 X surgery knee, but I'm glad I went to see it. Not bad for an hour and 20 minute tour, only one room that's not accessible. The guide said that to build a ramp would have destroyed 90 percent of the cave features on the way up to that room. And those 53 steps were really steep.

We went to a bunch of Missouri caves on family vacations when I was a kid. The one I remember best is Marvel Cave, at Silver Dollar City. It is like descending into Hell, you go so far down at the beginning. There were some bats flying around in one of the tunnels, and my mom screamed that they were going to get in her hair. I don't know where that myth started.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

We used to live in the NC mountains, within walking distance of one of the "Pan for Gems" tourist traps. One day the Dh and I decided to go just for giggles. Spent $10 on dirt, ended up with over $2500 in gems.....sapphires, rubies, quartz, emeralds, topaz and opals. I had the emeralds made into a ring and am saving the others for my kids....

Funny blog!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

WHAT? These rocks might be worth something? My little guy has a lot of emeralds, because hey, we shelled out the $10 for the 'emerald' bag of dirt. He's also got a couple rubies, but I don't think there's any topaz, opals, or sapphires.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Redneck Diva said...

Yes, methinks your boy might have a bit of OCD. But that's okay, we're friendly folk, us arranging, alphabetizing, turning the labels around folks.

Ever since that OHP trooper found that big-a$$ diamond in Arkansas, Tater and I have a hankerin' to go diggin' for diamonds. But pannin' sounds like fun, too. I bet the kids would love it!

So it looks like Meramec Caverns could be classified as possibly "marvelous", while Fantastic Caverns still remain un-fantastic.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

Yeah. The picture says it all. We've talked about mining the Arkansas diamond.

Meramec Caverns has it goin' on! It's like the Wal*Mart of caves.

8:36 PM  

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