Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Underground

Many of my scenic side trips over the years have included underground adventures. When I was a kid, my family toured some of the caves on the way to or in the Ozarks of Missouri. Meramac Caverns and Bridal Cave are two I remember.

The spectacular Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota was a must see when my husband and I toured the Badlands, Custer State Park, and the rest of South Dakota's attractions.

One of my favorite underground tours was the old Gold Road Mine tour near Oatman, Arizona. I'd never toured a gold mine before, but my imagination used some of the things I learned there to create the fictional mine in The Desert Hedge Murders. Since the Gold Road Mine is now closed, one needs to search other parts of Arizona for a good gold mine tour.

Even though we weren't underground during our Wyoming road trip, we did view amazing sites that had once been buried but were now being excavated by paleontologists. Some of the dig sites at The Wyoming Dinosaur Center are open to tours.

On one of our driving trips in Europe, we discovered we were close to an accessible bunker on the Alpes-Maritimes section of the Maginot Line near the French/Italian border. We were lucky enough to join a group descending into the opening to view the underground stairs, chambers, and tunnels. Even if you don't check out any of the other links, I urge you to take a look at these photos from the Gros ouvrage de Barbonnet near Sospel. I can't even imagine how difficult it was to haul in this equipment and install it below ground. To learn much more about these bunkers and view other photos, check out this 2002 Trip Report from the Bunkertours site.

11 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Oh, and you did paint such a vivid picture of that mine in The Desert Hedge Murders. I wish that Gold Road Mine weren't closed...

Caves, mines and other underground places are so fascinating, aren't they? I've often thought of trying my hand at exploring caves, but so far, I haven't done that. Maybe I'll put it on my bucket list...

irishoma said...

Hi Patricia,
The mention of Meramac Caverns brings back memories of visiting the caves when I was young then again with my children. Makes me think I need to take the grandkids before they get too old.
Donna

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Sounds a wonderful place to be, hope you're feeling better.

Yvonne.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Margot. It's a shame the mine is closed. It was a great tour.

Hi Donna -- I have wonderful memories of the Ozarks region from my childhood because we went there so often on vacation. My dad and uncles were avid fishermen, and the kids loved the whole fishing resort and lake swimming experience.

Yvonne -- yes, thank you, I'm starting to feel better. Nasty virus really took the wind out of my sails for a while, though.

Ann said...

I remember going underground in a coal mine display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry on a school tour when in grade school. I still remember the smell and the darkness. It made quite an impression.

GigglesandGuns said...

Visiting caves and caverns was my favorite vacation as a child. Drove my mom crazy because we both suffered horrible allergies.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Caught up on a few of your blog posts. Clinking my tea cup at'ya. You're doing great. This has been a great challenge!

Betty Craker Henderson said...

Only been in a couple of caves in my life because I went through a few years of being dreadfully claustrophobic. But I've really enjoyed the films and photos and they are fabulous. It must be a truly wonderful experience if one can relax!

Duncan D. Horne said...

Being underground is a real unique experience. I've been in a few caves in Malaysia and was recently reading about the underground system beneath the streets of Paris. Fascinating stuff!

Duncan In Kuantan

Holly Jahangiri said...

I love caves. Having said that, I'm no spelunker - I prefer my caves to be previously explored and outfitted with paths, lighting, and hand rails. ;) And I'd be real happy never to see a bat - or piles of bat guano (unless they're so old they're petrified and odor free). I love to see caves that are still in the process of growing and changing. I particularly love lava tubes, too, although most are not lit and can be a little creepy. I'm not the least bit claustrophobic, but even with Trockle by my side, there are times when my overactive imagination can draw things out of caves that cause shudders down my spine; however, I've often thought how cool it would be to have one of those underground homes, with natural rock walls. No worries about cooling or heating, really (if you don't MIND it being a bit chilly)!


Holly Jahangiri
It's All a Matter of Perspective

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Holly -- I've never even heard of a lava tube, but I think it might make me feel a little confined. Not sure I'd like that.