Road Trip: Florida Caverns
I pulled into the park at about 3:30pm yesterday. I went up to take one of the last tours of the day, and was told there was a problem: I was the only person and they needed at least two to take the tour. But maybe I’d get lucky and somebody would show up.
I relaxed and looked around a while, checked out this random statue of a dude (I think he’s a token example of the people who dug out the cave), and waited.
Fortunately, a family did show up to tour, just moments before the deadline. So off we went, down into the cave. It was actually blistering hot in the cave… almost eighty degrees, quite humid. It was nice and cool outside, but the cave’s atmosphere is based on the average Florida temperature, which is hot.
This is the only tourable cave in Florida… the rest are either not dug out, or are submerged in water and you have to dive to see them. This cave was dug out during the Great Depression. One of those work programs they set up to give jobless people something to do. The cave diggers got free room and board and about ten cents per day. They literally dug the cave out with a bucket brigade. All so it could be toured.
It’s a neat cave and all, but damn! That’s a lot of work for something that can’t be making THAT much money. I mean it probably turned a profit now that it’s been open for 75 years, but I can’t help think there would have been better ways to use all that near-slave labor. But hey, cool cave, and I like caves.
The tour guide was a volunteer, and really fucking creepy. There was a little 10 year old girl in the family group that showed up, and the guide… uh, kind of hit on her a bit too much. The references to his hot tub were just icky.
But the cave!
It is a nice cave with many interesting things to see, including wedding cakes, stalactites, even corkscrew stalagtites which are extremely rare (and my batteries died so I can’t show them to you).
My batteries died like the day after I bought new ones. I paid $3.50 for those batteries at the zoo. They must have been sitting around for years in order to die so quickly. The ironic thing? I later found that the zoo sells little miniature hand-held fans for $3… and they come with batteries! I bet they would have lasted longer. Sigh. So there I was in the bottom of a cave, sweating from the heat, and there was a bat, and I got enough power to take only one picture of said bat. So this is the picture you get.
It was a fun tour, and worth the visit if you’re in the area.