Tag Archives: Cave

Guangxi Province – Gold Water Cave

We had a few hours to find something to do before we left for the airport to return to Suzhou. Since it was raining, we decided to go to the nearest cave and take a look. The Gold Water Cave was recommended over the Dragon Cave, so off we went. The cave was not outstanding. But it was so much fun to be able to touch everything, so unlike the US, and our guide was fun. Zachary had taken a bamboo stick to walk with and she was showing him how to use it in KungFu moves inside the cave. At one point, we had to cross over a floating bridge and Mike and her had a grand time bouncing up and down on the bridge making me freak out. Again, so unlike the US.

Before heading out, we had a quick breakfast and the kids posed with Fannie, our server for the week. Also before heading to the airport, the kids posed with Sissy, Fannie and Lily. Three of the four ladies who took care of us all week. Sissy, the one standing next to Nathan in the photo below, even joined us as we play badminton for a few hours on the previous day.

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Western Adventure, Day XVII – New Mexico at Puye Cliff Dwellings and Santa Fe

Puye Ruins

Puye Ruins

Up early and out the door by 7:45am, we quickly gobbled up breakfast at The Range and purchased three bags of ice for our cooler at the local grocery store. The cooler has been a blessing. It’s great to have a fresh supply of cold water for the doggies and their water bowl and cools drinks for us. The drive north to Espanola area, north of Santa Fe, was attractive and a lot more enjoyable to be in than around the Albuquerque area; there were trees and interesting land formations. After a few reroutes, we found the entry to the Puye Indian Cliff Dwellings on the Santa Clara Pueblo Reservation.

Did you know the difference between “Pueblo” vs “Tribe”? I sure didn’t until this day. Our guide informed us, all Native Americans who have been heavily influenced by the Spanish use Pueblo. All the others… Tribe.

We purchased tickets to take the entire tour at a convenience store just outside the entry sign to sight: dwellings and ruins. The tour was scheduled for two hours. We ended up spending over three hours with our guide. It was money & time well spent… highly educational. As we drove seven miles to the parking lot, I said to the kids, “I hope our guide will share the spiritual side of the Pueblo besides the archaeological one.” Our guide, in an orange shirt in the pictures, was chalked full of information and was more than willing to answer any questions on the sight and Native Americans in general. She also shared the spiritual challenges the Puye face with having the Pueblo beliefs and the Catholic religion combined.

Interestingly even to this day, the Pueblo is a patriarchal society. No women are allowed to be part of the Indian counsel and government. Also to be part of the Pueblo, one has to have two generations in a row of male descendants in order to be registered as a Santa Clara. She stated the Pueblo’s registrations are declining rapidly because many of the women are marrying outside the tribe, thus their children are ineligible to register.

We had a bit of time before our tour began, so we looked at the dwellings with the provided binoculars and went through the exhibit room. I also took some photos of the kids. Zachary was sporting his slick cowboy hat and boots. What a handsome guy! We walked and climbed up steep ladders to the top. Each rung was over 16 inches apart. There were three tiers to reach the top.

Our guided shared the openings to the homes were originally smaller than what I photographed; smaller due to Erosion from natural elements and people going in and out of the caves. She said her people during the time of occupation, 1100-1200s, were small–about 4.5 feet tall. She stated the holes were no larger than 12 inches in diameter.

The rows of small holes above the bigger openings were from the wooden poles used for the facia; enabling the family to put an exterior rocked dwelling. Briana guessed the holes were for light or air.

There was a ritual were the women would throw clay at the dwellings to keep them intact. Since the Pueblo moved closer to water around the 1200s, the clay ritual stopped and the exterior dwelling slowly has eroded and fallen down hill into the reservoirs that were used to collect rain and snow melt. In the summer, once the reservoirs dried up, the women would have to walk over three miles a day to collect water in the Santa Clara Creek.

There were many petroglyphs. The spiral was found often at the site. The guide informed us it signified a map and how they connected with others. We also got the opportunity to see our first Alien petroglyph in person. That was pretty darn cool! Many times during the walk the kids would easily be distracted by the local small lizard. No matter how hard they tried, they never did catch one.

A plant I photographed was the reason the Spanish first thought the Santa Claras and surrounding Pueblos had blue corn. The women would take the branch, burn it and use the ash for salt. The ash had a blue tint; adding it to their corn made the corn look blue. It is called the Salt Bush. There were many artifacts we were able to touch; mainly fragments. Our guide said pots would have been as large as four feet tall; as large as the kids. Obsidian and other flint rock from nearby mountains were in the fragments.

At the top of the dwellings, we walked through the ruins and descended into a Kiva, a place of worship and gathering. We met the Pueblo engineers who monitor the water and air quality due to Los Alamos, where the govt does all kinds of testing. They expressed the need to monitor the environment to keep their people safe because they are not alerted by the govt when to be concerned. (There was a large explosion that occurred while they were talking. It made our guide nervous.)

On our way back to the trailer, we stopped in Santa Fe to have lunch and walk around a bit. The cathedrals were beautiful, the shops were fun and lunch was a yummy Mexican restaurant next to the train station. Our favorite shop was the trading post established in 1603. The lady inside told us of its ghosts, old well and start as a barn. She even showed us the original purchase papers. It was in Spanish, but we could make out the date. With a bit too much sun than planned on our skin, we headed back to the trailer around 7pm. Tomorrow is to bring 90s and the best for us is Mike! He will be arriving around 3pm. Once we pick him up, we are heading to Monument Valley in Arizona for a sunrise photo opt. Yeah!

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Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011 Also tagged , , , , , , |

Western Adventure, Day IV – South Dakota at Jewel Cave, Wind Cave and Custer State Park

Custer State Park

Custer State Park

White covers the ground in Hill City. Getting up early, we head to town for breakfast. Since the weather was forecasted to be wet, we decided to visit the two major caves in the Black Hills: Jewel and Wind.

In this area alone, there are numerous caves. Jewel Cave is the second largest mapped cave in the world; second to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Wind Cave is the fourth. Jewel Cave is comprised of long and lean tunnels Whereas, Wind Cave’s tunnels are all in one square mile. Each year, new tunnels are discovered and added to the ever outdated maps.

The ranger at Wind Cave showed us the only natural opening to the cave. A sixteen year old, Charlie Crary, from Hot Springs was the first to go down with a candle in the late 1870’s. The opening is 12″x16″… pencil thin. Depending on the weather, either the wind blows out the hole or sucks in air.

Based on the volume of air that exhausts out of both caves when there’s a high pressure system over the land, the scientists have determined the cave explorers have only mapped about 5% of Jewel and 10% of Wind. It’s utterly amazing how much they have already mapped and they only have mapped that much. The cave experts feel there is over five billion cubic feet of openings in each cave.

The guide at Wind Cave, our second cave visit of the day, told us about her friend who is an explorer. She managed to get through a five inch opening into a large cavern. She says she uses the breath out and wiggle technique. This technique comes with massive bruises and scratches. Not everyone can do it. But those who can get into the scariest of places have to be part rodent.

She also told us about a renowned cave explorer who did such a thing last year and was unable to get out. The authorities had to let him die, so they entombed that area of the cave.

We all agreed, “No way! No deep cave exploring for us.” We like to trek along the main path and have no care to breath and wiggle. After hearing the stories, we kept looking at the small openings as we walked through each cave, wondering how crazy one must be to be a cave explorer. They say there’s an adrenaline rush to discover the unseen. Good for them. We need those with no fear. It’s just not for us.

Jewel Cave was full of calcite crystals. It’s not well lit so much of the beauty can’t be seen without a flashlight. Thank goodness Mike carried one. Wind Cave has a very unique structure called Box Work. This cave was full of intricate lacing caused by water.

Our favorite cave was Wind Cave. The walls and ceilings were close to the concreted trail and many times we had to maneuver around to keep going. Fun!

What was the best part of the caves? Mike said the quality of the tour guide at Wind Cave was the best. Her passion for her work and the cave was obvious and made the walk so enjoyable. Briana said their own significant beauty. She loved how different they were with little similarities. Nathan said his favorite part was taking pictures of the mailboxes called Box Work from Wind Cave and crystals from Jewel. Zachary said he thought the Box Work was cool. It was layers and layers.

After the last cave, we headed north to Custer State Park to see how much wildlife we could see. The kids got to see their first Prairie Dog Colony. We also saw several large herds of deer, Pronghorn, and Elk. Interesting the deer here have gray, not brown hair. Also, we saw Turkey Toms strutting their stuff, Blue Birds, Buffalo and their calves, but no predators. We had heard it’s not uncommon to see mountain lions.

We did make a few shopping stops on the way to and from the caves. One was owned by an older lady who obviously is unable to keep up with the place. Most of the store was dusty. I went to the back of the place to use the restroom and discovered it was her home. A classic hoarder. The kids did find all kinds of stuff to buy, such as, pocket knives, animal statues, a cavalry play sword, gun scopes, etc. All priced cheap. She sold all kinds of guns and other weaponry. Mike said Betty even had a shotgun at her side that was loaded and safety on. She was a character. If Sturgis was going on and bikes were upfront, there would’ve been no way we’d stop.

The evening time brought sun and we viewed Crazy Horse Memorial at its best; down on the main highway between Hill City and Custer City, all lit up.

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Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011 Also tagged , , |