Honestly? Caves are unlike any environment I have ever been in before. The chill, the super tactile quality of the rockface and the formations (no worries, no one gave in to the desire to touch anything), the low light, the brief experience of absolute pitch blackness... I'm just so happy I got to see that even a little bit.
Anyway. We completely accidentally hit the motherlode on our very first cave... a fact that we didn't realize until the second cave turned out to be a) way, way more commercialized, and, more importantly b) way, way more recent, which meant that it did not have very much in the way of meaningful stalactite and stalagmite growth.
So, for your viewing please, I will now reverse the cave order - and it will seem as though you are traveling through some kind of magical time vortex, as you see what will happen to the newer cave in a million or so years. Give or take.
What do I mean when I say one of the caves was commercialized? Well, for one thing, they had a huge gift shop that sold anything that could even remotely be associated with... rocks? the ground? I'm not sure. Suffice it to say, they had a whole bunch of posed dinosaurs. You know, since they lived in paleo-caves back in the day. Jake does his best dino:
The most fancy formation in the cave was this wall of deposits. I know it looks impressive, but just wait till I show you the pictures from the other place. One cool thing though - see the hints of green? That's algae.
Bonus points if you can spot Jakey ghosting this shot. I'm thinking it's the magic of long exposure times:
And now, for the piece de resistance! Imagine if you will, time passing, water dripping and then drying, tiny amounts of sediment depositing over and over again... (Oh, and, if you are ever anywhere near Crystal Grottoes Caverns, seriously - just go. It's awesome, and the tour guide is pretty amazing - and no one will try to sell you plastic kiddie head-lamp hardhats.)
One of the views up when walking through this cave.
And now I'll just let this sink in: this cave drapery took 1 million years to form. Drop by drop by evaporating drop of water.
Next piece of our trip? Art!