B-Day Part 2: Ruby Falls and The Lost Sea

31 07 2017

Ruby Falls is just a skip away from Rock City, so you can easily see both on the same day and still have time in your day. The Lost Sea is about 1.5 hours away in Sweetwater, TN, and we saw it a couple days later, but since they’re both caverns, thought one post made sense.

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For Ruby Falls, you park right by the building, go in, and buy a ticket (if you haven’t bought a combined one first) and then at your ticket time, take an elevator down into the caverns to wait on your tour to start. The elevator gets a little packed and is really the only way in/out. Most of your journey to the falls looks like this:

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…fairly dark and narrow, but throughout there are some labeled rock formations and come cool lit up rocks.

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We went on a day when a lot of little kids were there on field trips, and the path is only wide enough for one group to go through (single file) at a time, so it was a little annoying having to press up against a rock wall every few minutes and let people through. Also didn’t give us any time to really stop and take pictures, but that’s because the main attraction is the fall itself. When you’re finally there, it opens into this huge cavern – I mean monstrously high – and your group herds in and waits in almost darkness until the “show” starts where lights and sound bring the falls into view:

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Not a single picture even looks 10% as awe-inspiring as this thing really was. The height is incredible. I couldn’t get the whole thing in a single shot. Here’s the top (interestingly, no one is entirely sure where the water flows from):

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…and here’s the bottom of it:

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The lights kept changing color and were beautiful.

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You just can’t even fathom the scope and height of the place without being there.

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It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. Worth it! Go see it!

Now – for The Lost Sea. While still underground, this was completely different in feel. The caverns are much, much wider and roomier, so you’re never squished walking through it, but they also don’t use the colored lights Ruby Falls does, so the place is more natural in color (albeit not as exciting). Still really cool.

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Your tour starts walking down a yellow passageway, above.

You enter into the huge cavern and take a look at some formations before starting your walk to the underground lake. I will say the part at the beginning was a little alarming, because you walk out on this slightly rusty, narrow, metal walkway suspended high over the bottom of the cave.

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The tour guide will point out interesting things, like these living crystals on the ceiling, below:

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…and these charcoal writings done by people in the cave during the civil war and the decades after:

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.. Down, down you go…

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Stopping by a small waterfall:

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And finally down into the dark pit where the sea resides. It was so dark, my camera had trouble focusing, so I had to use flash for some pictures:

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One thing to note, they advertise glass bottom boats, but with the intense darkness of the cave and the cloudiness of the water (which I think was due to recent rain storms), you can’t see anything through the glass.

The group gets in a boat or two which is taken very slowly around the lake – it’s almost silent it’s so slow. The only light comes from these few white lights embedded just under the water line. Every now and then you can see the shadow if a fish swimming around. The below shot was actually really overexposed so you could see some light!

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It was a cool experience, albeit a little creepy. My favorite photo was taken below on the walk out – little scratches people have made on the dark side of an emergency call box:

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Leaving the caves and going into the sun again is a shock:

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As you can see, the rest of the Lost Sea attraction are a group of buildings outdoors that sell some touristy things, have some food and ice cream, and a glass blowing shop. Cute little place! My favorite were the remnants of an old kids’ train ride out back.

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Both cave attractions were fun and worth it, but very different!





Caves of Florida

18 08 2014

Back in May after my B-day, I took a trip to see the Florida caves for the first time. (Yes, this is much belated.) Who even knew there were caves in Florida? That aren’t underwater that is. The only above-water caves in the state are at Florida Caverns State Park, see here.

Swamp on the drive in...

Swamp on the drive in…

It’s outside of Tallahassee, a 4 hour drive from Jacksonville. It had severely rained the day before, so there were an unbelievable amount of mosquitos and over 1/3 of the caves were flooded, but it was still worth the trip.

statue in front of the path to the Visitor's Center

statue in front of the path to the Visitor’s Center

the first cave entrance

the first cave entrance

We had to pass the first entrance and enter the second to skirt around the flooded areas.

descending into the caves

descending into the caves

They do tour groups frequently – I think every 1/2 hour. It’s not a thing where you can just go on your own, but the tour is helpful anyway as the guide was very knowledgeable.

Some areas were much wider than I expected!

Some areas were much wider than I expected!

I had my low light lens, but it doesn’t do well in close quarters since it’s a set focal length. So I had to break out the cell phone for some of the pics (like the above grainy one.)

 

stalactites!

stalactites!

 

They call this the "wedding cake," and they actually do have weddings here, but for small parties only.

They call this the “wedding cake,” and they actually do have weddings here, but for small parties only.

plenty of lights...in some areas, the minors inlaid bits of ceramic plates in the rock to reflect light and spread light around more.

plenty of lights…in some areas, the miners inlaid bits of ceramic plates in the rock to reflect light and spread light around more.

impressive

impressive

All the lights are standard white/orange. I think they should mix it up with some blues/reds/greens. Thank you, Photoshop.

All the lights are standard white/orange. I think they should mix it up with some blues/reds/greens. Thank you, Photoshop.

more pretty....

more pretty….

I don’t really have a pic of it, but in some areas the stalagmites are gray or black colored. The guide said that oil in human skin causes it to react that way over time, so you should avoid touching anything.

still pool of water

still pool of water

Pretty sure a bat is lurking in there.

Pretty sure a bat is lurking in there.

It was pretty awesome. Can’t imagine being tasked with digging that all out in mostly darkness.

 








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