MOKSIL

April 9, 2018

welp!  jovie successfully got out the door this morning for school.  and bonus! no tears!!  funny how sleeeepppyy she was, as she woke up at 6:30 or earlier every day of spring broke!  tho’ to be fair, we were in central time zone, so that made sense at the beginning.

so from the title, you might wonder if i’m speaking jibberish now.  but alas, no, i am speaking the states.  (:

our main focus of the trip was St. Louis.  my friend heather told me about it a year or 2 ago and said how kid-friendly it was.  and in our quest to do all 50, we had to add in kansas.  so we flew into KC & out of STL.  but then!  THEN!!! i looked (closer) at the map and saw that we could sneak yet another state in.  i didn’t realize St. Louis was the border of illinois!

we all had such a great time, and it seemed to just get better and better.  we were sad to leave, but ready to leave the cold.  so of course when we landed in ATL, it was overcast & mild.  it was the coldest day of the week, according to my weather apps.

so, in researching what to do in kansas city, most of what pops up is the missouri side!  but of course, we wanted to give kansas a color-in on the map.  so we found Great Wolf Lodge.  last year jovie showed interest in a water park, but we chose “the palace” instead.  funny how she always reads my mind b/c shortly after i booked the trip & she had no idea, she said she had hoped maybe for spring break we can go back to indiana to do the water park.

here was our week:

Sun- Kansas City, KS

we left easter afternoon and landed close to dinner time in the snow.  nothing really special day 1.  jovie enjoyed exploring some of the hotel and having her “own” room.  went to bed at a normal time, gearing up for the next day!

Mon- Great Wolf Lodge, KS

so, truly, this coulda gone either way.  after a yummy breakfast (bob evans!) we headed for the water park.  and so did the very many people that were also there.  we scoured the place & there were no seats.  anywhere.  jovie & i jumped into the lazy river.  and so did the very many people that were also there.  we finally got one float.  jovie didn’t like sitting inside with her legs draped, and every other way we were crashing and bumping into everyone.  she even said “i’m too tall for in here”.  it wasn’t the greatest welcome.  meanwhile, The Mr. was (patiently) standing nearby while we watched jovie wander a little and try to figure out what she could/would do next.  the inside of my head was justifying the expense of this place as “well, we needed to sleep SOMEWHERE” and was prepared to venture off into other things KC had to offer.  but then i spotted some chairs.  2 together.  front & center.  and then jovie got her wits about her and explored and played and slid and splashed everywhere.  7 hours later, she was a prune & we needed to eat supper so we left!  we got so very lucky!  The Mr. & i even ventured into the hot tub for awhile while she played around.  so it was a successful day.

jovie must’ve done that splash bucket 34 times; and that was where our seat was!

Tue- Lake of the Ozarks, MO

wow.  what a pleasant drive!  lots of winding roads.  farmland.  hills.  it was a great and quick couple hours to get to the ozarks.  we got there early, and they were able to check us in.  they had a beautiful (and necessary!) fireplace in the lobby.  perfect for a coffee & a book, which we did later.  the throw blankets in our (shared) room were cozy!  in fact, after a most delicious dinner, i went on the balcony with said blanket and was quite protected in the 31 degrees.  if it weren’t for the 19mph winds blowing my hair everywhere i woulda enjoyed a bit more.  our view was overcast, but the resort was lovely & peaceful.  unfortunately we weren’t able to stay there 2 nights because they had a conference going on.

Wed- Lake of the Ozarks, MO; Ha Ha Tonka State Park

we got to see pretty sun-shining on the lake the next day before we left.  we actually stayed in our room until checkout time because we had hoped for a hike in a nearby state park, but as it was in the low 30s we waited til the last possible moments for it to warm up to the low 40s.  once we did the very easy, picturesque, sunshiny hikes, we warmed up to a nice time before our drive to St. Louis.  more lovely drives through farmlands. …. i wished i could’ve gotten some pictures of some of the drives.

after the ozarks, we drove the few hours to get up to St. Louis.  we really just checked into our hotel & walked to dinner.  then we spied the arch from afar that evening.

Thursday- St. Louis, MO

jovie woke up fairly early with a slight fever.  complaining of her belly & not being able to talk well.  so we had a very lazy late start in the morning.  The Mr. & i were obviously wondering if this would be a re-do of the grand canyon, but we were also hopeful.  we were silently willing her to feel normal because THIS would be the only day it would near 60 degrees!  it worked.  i got her to take a shower & she said she felt better so we went to the arch.  some people call that the Gateway Arch.  i think it needs to be re-named the Wait-way Arch.  because we did a lot of that!  jovie was feelin pretty anxious about it, too.  we only asked her 216 times if she wanted to go up.  (she did).  it tests your anxieties and patience, that’s for sure.  luckily it was a gorgeous day, so it was (mildly) worth it for the views.  it’s amazing we can do it at all, and i really don’t know the right answer.  but by the time we were leaving the views and going down i think we were all just wanting to shout COME ON ALREADY.  it did not help that jovie was feeling complainy,sick,rundown too.  so we didn’t get to explore all that we could have, but we made it back to the hotel for some chill time.

the only other thing we had planned to do that day was go to the big, beautiful library we passed on our evening stroll that first night.  however, The Mr. being a genius & all found some indian mounds to explore in illinois that was a 15 minute drive away.  we wanted to take advantage of the one “spring-ish” day and save the library for the next day when it would be cold again.  once jovie was up for it, that’s what we did, and it was so neat!

jovie & i enjoyed the mounds near us in Macon this past summer.  it was neat to see a whole different view.

(that’s me, touching the very top of the arch)

getting to illinois:

(i kinda like the side view of the arch!)

Cohokia & Monks Mounds:

maybe THIS is the windy city in illinois?

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Friday- St. Louis, MO

well, as expected, it was a chilly day so we knew we’d wanna stay inside.  luckily jovie seemed a bit better after having a dose of tylenol before bed.  the only plan we had was to NOW go to that library….   but before that, we went to a place called City Museum.

this place defies all explanation (& logic!)  i could show you a thousand-word-picture that could NOT do it justice.  i can write a million words on the topic and you still wouldn’t have a clue what amazingness it was.

when researching our trip, i saw this place, and the thing they tout a lot is an outside thing, so i immediately dismissed it.  but luckily The Mr. also happened on it in his own google search and saw that it was INSIDE.  and boy was it ever!

all i can really say is- if you have a kid, or know a kid, or used to be a kid, you gotta go to this place!  if your mobility is ok with stairs, go.  if you want to test yourself on slides, go.  if you wanna see what some crazy imagination looks like in real life, go.  i truly think it’s worth the trip just for this, b/c St. L has lots to offer!  we didn’t get to take advantage of their supposedly stellar zoo & botanical garden.  it would be awesome to go back!

basically this is a place to explore to the fullest.

  • nooks & crannies galore.
  • cave rooms.
  • airplane.
  • 2 story colorful slide? ✅!
  • 5 story twirly slide? ✅!
  • 10 story twirly slide? (not to be outdone)- ✅!
  • regular slides galore? ✅!
  • holes you would be afraid to go into? ✅!
  • paths you have no idea where they end up? ✅!
  • paths you think surely you shouldn’t crawl THERE, but yes! go ahead and crawl there!  ✅

The Mr. said it defied even HIS imagination as a kid.

so, here’s a couple of pictures that really and truly can’t even show you the scope.  but let’s just say our less-than-daring kid had a GREAT time and we spent 5 hours there, only leaving so we’d have time for a coffee & GET TO THE LIBRARY ALREADY!!

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look close enough and you can see people in almost every wired structure.  at one point there’s even a place to slide on your back to maneuver.  (no, not for jovie.  but i did see ben on the airplane wing at one point!)

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example of: probably aren’t supposed to go here, but sure go ahead.  there’s a kid is going from one wire tunnel thing to the whale fin up at the roof. 

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here’s my favorite example of looking below my own feet while standing in line for the 2 story slide and seeing people crawling out of a hole below even that!

asked 100 times, and jovie couldn’t pick a favorite of this trip.  but each new place, she seemed more and more excited.

all in all, i’d say our spring break #5 was a great success!

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spring broke

April 7, 2018

jovie’s gearing up for getting back to school after having a week off.  most people would call this school holiday “Spring Break” but in our case, Spring was indeed broken.

i feel bad for all the many other areas that are getting their 3rd or 4th snow in a month!

nevertheless, when we booked a trip to missouri & kansas, we didn’t expect the chilliness that we got.

prior to that, it was Easter.  so we’ve had a very whirlwind period of time!  all of it was awesome.

first, gramma & grampa came on the friday before easter.  & because we booked our trip with us leaving easter afternoon, we knew we would have easter dinner early.  but that week i decided (& The Mr. happily agreed) to have our “easter” dinner on that friday night so that we could have appetizers for the Final 4 game.  The Mr. is always happy when i make the best wings out there!!  [guess who had 3 of the final 4 teams in his bracket??  that would be Mr. I Don’t Care To Do Brackets But Sure Okay]

so we had a great visit, marred only by my frustration at constantly watching the weather.  luckily, WE had gorgeous weather.  the forecast for some of the time was that we were going to get 1-3 inches of snow when we landed in Kansas City!

so that didn’t entirely happen; they had gotten snow earlier that day & it was just on the roads (and sanded) by the time we got on the roads.  which was weird enough to those of us who have only ever lived in the south.  we were gone for 6 days.  Thursday was the only day it got above the 40s.  So…..  broken indeed!

luckily, tomorrow should be a pleasant mid-60s & sunny for us to enjoy the final day of spring break.  i will share details of that in another post;  didn’t want this one to go overboard!

here!  look at some easter pics to tide you over!

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the final egg…

and……  from this:

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to this:

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traveling

February 24, 2018

we are currently enjoying the last saturday of our “winter” break.  sadly, february didn’t get the memo that it’s not yet spring.  i was looking forward to just a few more cool days.

The Mr. recently spent another fortnight down under.  jovie (& i) handled it well and we seemed to keep busy.  luckily, it was still fairly cold/cool during that time.  one weekend we just enjoyed some lazy free time.  the day The Mr. came home, though, we spent it in columbia.

i didn’t like the timing, but it worked out perfectly.  let’s face it, there’s not much quality time to spend with him on the day(s) he comes home from a 20+ hour day spanning a zillion timezones & feeling all outta whack.  my niece carolyn is getting married & we had a brunch shower for her in columbia.  so i used the opportunity to see if becky could bring ansley up and the girls could play while i was brunching with my family.  it was awesome how it worked out!  we hadn’t seen them in over a year and a half when they evacu-vacated from hurricane matthew.  it was so great to see them.  the girls got along well & jovie was thrilled with staying in a hotel.  “i’ve been wanting to do this ALL. YEAR!”   we hated to leave, but were excited to do so because The Mr. was waiting for us!

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no, this was not planned.

then she finished up a week of school and we just got back from Savannah.  being down under for so long, we couldn’t utilize the feb break and go out west like i had wanted to re-do nevada.  but The Mr. didn’t really wanna laze around here all week, and re-do xmas break (tho that was great).

we all agree it was a fantastic trip.  we rented a house and found out a few days before going that it flooded.  so the rental company gave us more options and wow.  we absolutely LOVED the new option!  it helped us have a very low-key but spectacular vacation from sun-thurs.  we basically planned for one thing each day and had this gorgeous and convenient house to come back to and regroup/relax.  we didn’t wanna leave.  it’s quite unfortunate that we are not very likely to re-do savannah (there’s so many other states to see!!!) but if we ever do, i know where to stay!!

Sun- we had to kill time til’ check-in at 4pm.  We did that easily by rolling into town in time for lunch & hiking the lovely Skidaway Island State Park.  then we ordered in dinner & ben took jovie to the nearby Forsyth Park to play while i waited for it.  we spent a lot of time in that park.  it was lovely.

Mon- we spent presidents’ day at Tybee Island.  i kept expecting (& then insisting) we were not going to be swimming.  tho it was quite a warm day/week (in the 78-80 range!!).  the water was cold and quite frankly, i didn’t wanna deal with bathing suits & wet sand.  we spent a good 5 hours on Tybee- most of it relaxing and taking walks along the beach.  we ended at the lighthouse & got to see the historical property.

Tue- we spent the morning at Oatland Island Wildlife Center.  this was a gorgeous walk in the woods to trek & see many different animals.  the foxes weren’t available, and the deer weren’t coming around.  tho the fact that we see many deer up close & personal in our own yards, that was not a big problem.  we enjoyed wolves & the cougar.  owls, eagles & alligators.  the afternoon we spent just hanging around downtown savannah after cooling off & hanging out at the house.

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hey, jov- she’s thirsty!

Wed- everyone opted to not do a trolley tour afterall.  we just wanted to explore savannah ourselves.  we did, however, take the riverboat tour.  it was fairly interesting to hear about the 4th busiest port in america, but mostly it was a pleasant cruise down the harbor.  The Mr. even won a prize for knowing that “Terminus” is the original name for Atlanta.  so next time you’re on jeopardy, you can use that nugget of info!

Thurs- we packed up & left.  many miles were walked.  treats enjoyed.  the park was explored in & played in daily.  savannah is a quaint city.  food was good.  we all had such a great time.  we’ve enjoyed the “bonus” days off at home.  methinks jovie will not be excited to wake up & head to school on monday!

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summer vacation- MA & RI

July 26, 2017

hello, all.  we just got back from a great vacation to New England!  we planned to spend 6 days in Massachusetts & Rhode Island. but we even got to sneak in Connecticut!  when we realized it was like 3 miles from 6 flags, we found out we could go down to Windsor Locks, CT.  so we walked the canal there before heading to Plymouth.

it was a very packed, very fun, slightly unusual vacation & now jovie has declared her love for a new state.  if anyone wants to find her in adult-life then look no further than Rhode Island.  she remarked how “beautiful” it was (we were at Narragansett Beach) and it was indeed better than MD/DE from last summer.  i can’t wait to see what future states will bring.  she keeps finding new favorites.  [this year alone it has been California & Indiana]

we definitely enjoyed:  science museums, an amusement park, some history, lotsa fish [&humans!] & penguins, ice cream in a park, a duck DUKW tour, dr. seuss, & beach time. with some many hundred? dolphins plus a whale thrown in for good measure.

we did not enjoy various ailments, headaches, and stiff pillows that greeted us at one hotel.  but we were all fine & nothing was canceled/altered!

we were definitely glad to be home, but it was fantastic being away!

Springfield, MA:

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Seuss Museum…of course i absolutely loved this place!

Six Flags New England, near Springfield:

once again, jovie LOVED the river ride the best.  these teacups were second runner up.  she loved being able to ride them alone, too.  and did. SEVERAL times.  she enjoyed not being too big for the kid section so she had a lot of independence while The Mr. & i would go ride some adult rides.

Windsor, CT:

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Plymouth, MA:

this place was pretty neat.  it’s sad that THAT is all that’s left of plymouth rock.  the tour guide was super informative!  we got a kick out of the lady putting jovie and these kids to work hanging laundry.

 

Boston, MA:

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we really enjoyed the “duck” tour!  other highlights:  the aquarium (which was entirely too crowded). the science museum,.  riding the “T”, Christopher Columbus park for just sitting imagining after a long day, and the hubbub of the city in general.

 

Narragansett, RI:

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the amount of dolphins was astounding.  there literally were about 100 in this pod. playing all around our boat.  it was awesome!

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we enjoyed gelato on the beach after dinner our last night there.  perfect cap to the vacation!


summer is upon us

June 14, 2017

summer has begun & it has already been a blast!

we have already been having a lot of fun.  this is what jovie’s been up to in the past 2 1/2 weeks since school let out:

  • performing in her ballet recital.
  • enjoying some gramma & grampa time for that recital/memorial day weekend
  • playdates with 5 different friends
  • a surprise “adventure” to Ocmulgee National Monument
  • which was also an overnight with The Mr. because he was nearby on a project.  the one-day turnaround lent itself very well to this surprise (which jovie was mad about, btw.  she hates surprises!)
  • some mommy-school.  she is learning cursive this summer (don’t get me started!)
  • enjoying The Mr.’s birthday…
  • …with a sitter so we could go to an amazing magician that evening.  (if you’re ever in ATL i have a place for you to go!)
  • a trip to greenville to see gramma & grampa again.
  • swimming in their big (community) pool with The Mr.
  • having a special time with gramma & grampa because they took her to see a performance of Lion King!  she had a great time!
  • began an Art Camp this week.

this has definitely been a great start to what will be a great summer!

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springtime

May 9, 2017

well, hello.  we have had a glorious, yet interesting, spring so far.  even though i don’t like unseasonable weather, i am a lot more forgiving when we had those cold autumn-ish snaps recently.

i bought a long-sleeve shirt from mammoth cave in april and am very glad to say i have worn it quite a few times.  even with the cooler days we had, everything is still just green and lush.

we took advantage of a most beautiful weekend and went back down to Sprewell Bluff.  we were looking forward to having a picnic, a hike & more exploring on the rocks.  that didn’t happen, as we have gotten a lot of rain in the last 6 months.

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November

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May

we are loving this nice weather.  jovie has field day today.  most kids look forward to that day with much excitement.  i think she’s a little mixed on the whole thing.  she usually ends up having a good time, though.  and tomorrow is a field trip.  so this week you can definitely tell that the school year is winding down……


Spring Break #4- INKY

April 14, 2017

even though it seems like we just got back from Arizona, we just got back from Spring Break.  we decided to take a road trip to Mammoth Caves and were really looking forward to it.  however, in the interest of seeing the 50, we had to also scooch over into indiana, which jovie was most excited about.

apparently, she’s “always wanted to see Indiana”.  who knew?

Sun- Nashville, TN

so because we were going to be doing a lot of driving, we decided to stop in nashville for the night.  neither The Mr. nor i had ever been there, and it was about halfway.  we are so glad we did.  we had a great time being leisurely and exploring the downtown area.  we pulled into our swanky & free hotel (thanks, points!!) and had a super fun view.

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24th floor!

after getting settled, we walked down Broadway and ended up at a nice riverfront park where jovie had the time to wander around and imagine while The Mr. & i soaked up the sun and sights.  the coolest thing about that was the walk down, where we must have passed 10 restaurants- all playing live music.  it was a bit reminiscent of the jazz being played on Bourbon street last year.  we walked across the pedestrian bridge & sat on the other side of the park for a bit before venturing up to the Capitol.  [i found it interesting that this was the first Capitol jovie had ever been to.  we had never taken her to ATL, nor even the one in columbia!]

and then- THEN- we were able to go to the public library!  it was open on a sunday and WOW!  we spent over an hour at the coolest children’s section we’ve ever imagined.  a fort.  tunnels.  a rock wall!!  it was great.  and of course, we had to venture in the massive & gorgeous rest of the building too.  she’s never seen so many books!

mon & tue- French Lick, IN

i decided to surprise jovie with our hotel.  french lick doesn’t have a ton to offer.  so we were either going to go to a fancy resort or an indoor water park hotel.  i had showed her both to figure out her interest level.  either way, she kept saying she had “always wanted to see indiana”

so we checked into our hotel and she was very excited.

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we enjoyed 2 days at the French Lick Springs Resort.  it was quite nice.  we used quite a few amenities- and they had several we did not.  it was kinda nice to just take it easy for a few days.  there is a neighboring resort that we also explored.  that place is known for its dome & it’s quite lovely.  apparently, FDR accepted the nomination from the democratic party in the dome.

unfortunately, these springs are sulphur springs.  think about that for a minute.  both hotels have blocked their little spring where people could go and soak.  however, it is still quite odiferous!

we explored those lovely gardens you see from our room and didn’t last as long as we would have liked, but lasted much longer than we should have.  i never did understand it. because the odors seemed to come and go; we spent a lot of time outside that wasn’t foul.  but the gardens surely were.  alas they were pretty!

jovie enjoyed: swimming in the pools, playing on the playground while waiting to rent a surrey, bowling in the basement, homemade ice cream in the lobby, a pony ride & a trolley ride from West Baden.

wed & thur- Hodgenville, & Mammoth Cave, KY

there were a lot of severe storms in ATL on wed; and our area was due to get some as well.  so we left our hotel as early as we could to get ahead of the storms.  both things in KY would include outside entertainment, and i wanted to try.  luckily it all worked out; and those storms did not really pan out until evening; and weren’t anything at all like the hammering the south got!

first up- President Lincoln’s birthplace!  i was very excited when the librarian from school told me about this being nearby the caves because that was our sole focus on this trip and i wouldn’t have looked into other ideas.  jovie loves history so it was a no-brainer to make this stop!  the monument was pretty informative, but The Mr. & i laughed because it literally stopped with Kentucky.  the movie we watched said that many states can lay claim to Lincoln.  So when he moved to Indiana about 10yrs old, the movie stopped with it.  it definitely left me wanting more info on this amazing life!

sadly, they were renovating/cleaning the steps, so we had to walk in the back way.  but the monument literally just houses a log cabin model resemblant to one that he would have been born in.

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Lincoln must really like stairs!

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here is a spring that *didn’t* stink…. where Lincoln used to actually get his water.

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in front of “his” cabin

afterwards, we got to our lodge at Mammoth Cave.  after checking in we explored above ground.  we were surprised it still looked a little wintry there.  it was a little cool, though.  above ground was a nice (and hilly) walk in the woods.  once we got below ground the next day, tho- WOW.

wednesday was just spent exploring, having a delicious dinner of homestyle cooking.  (warm banana pudding was tremendously delicious!) and watching the hailstorm roll in.  we also found out that the next available tour advertised would be on SUNDAY.  i was awfully upset and disappointed!  there was only the self-guided tour available to us the next day.

for the record- i am a planner.  i love planning.  i even plan spontaneity.  i knew that “reservations are encouraged”.  i did not know they were basically mandatory.  nowhere in my research did i see that they sell out days/weeks at a time.  so i am saying it here and now- for anyone wanting to go to mammoth, book a tour as soon as you know!  i truly thought that meant if you wanted the 10am tour, it may be booked and you might be booted on a 3pm tour.  we were hoping to do the dripstones tour which also included a stop at Little Niagara.

after a most delicious dinner (ben’s favorite of the week so far), we couldn’t wait for their breakfast buffet!  it was fantastic, too.  and luckily The Mr. suggested going over to buy the tickets for the self-guided Discovery Tour in case it also would sell out.  when we got to the visitor center we saw that LUCKILY they have a 4pm Little Niagara tour that they only sell on the day of, and not in advance.  so HOORAY!!!! we were able to enjoy the cave afterall. [it sold out about an hour later]

so we spent time in the very informative visitors center and did the quick Discovery tour where- WOW. WOW!  huuuuuge. MAMMOTH.  the rotunda room is naturally occurring (the whole cave is.  it’s has only been mined a little for saltpeter back in the day;  and some doorways had been added…  )

sadly, you can’t use flash photography (obviously!) so my pictures really didn’t turn out super- but i will try to show the expanse of this place.

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google the rotunda room if you wanna see it better.

The Mr. hiked much of the park while jovie & i relaxed and read for the afternoon.  the power went out at 2pm.  it did not come back on until 9pm that night.

meanwhile, we took a very different look at the cave. forgo the huge rooms of smooth walls & ceilings and replace it with the formations of stalactites & stalagmites.

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this is pretty far down

we really enjoyed this place.  the history is absolutely astounding.  as well as the size!  it rivaled our favorite Tuckaleechee Caverns but definitely overwhelmed Ruby Falls.  i recommend it!

we had a lovely spring break.  home on friday, which meant the whole weekend was spent in her room, just pretending, drawing, reading & listening to music.  for some reason she didn’t want to enjoy the lovely weather we had; she rarely played outside.  i think she liked finally having her space back.