Last week was a vacation to Williamsburg, Va., and the environs. On the way home we stopped at the Shenandoah Caverns, which is a really big cavern complex (there’s also a sort of museum of parade floats and inauguration decorations, no pics of those in this post).
For some reason I really amused myself calling Shenandoah “Shabbadoah,” and getting my daughter to do it too. I was curious about at what point my wife would put an end to the tomfoolery and it turns out she drew the line at my singing “O Shabbado, I long to hear to you…” in the car. Can’t blame her.
Anyway here’s a metric assload of pictures. Unfortunately there was no map of the caverns available, and the tour was too fast-paced to map while snapping pictures, but one of the things that really impressed me was all the different levels and passages in these caverns. I’ve been in other caverns (a huge geode under Put-in-Bay, a cavern toured by boat somewhere in Pennsylvania, and a few small caves), but nothing quite like this. The floor was covered in fine gravel (otherwise there’d be a few inches to a few feet of water on the whole floor), and although a few spots were chained off, it was a pretty good length tour.
So here’s the old entrance (no longer in use), sorry it’s a blurry one:
Here are some views of the passages:
That formation along the ceiling is called ‘bacon’. No, really. National Geographic came and photographed the bacon formations, saying they were among the country’s most realistic, whatever that means.
OK, enough of that. How’s about some stalagmites and stalactites. Remember, stalacTITES need to hold on tight; stalaGmites grow on the Ground. Or something like that.
These looked pretty freaky and sparkly.
The ‘bacon’ formations, I think, must be a subclass of ‘curtains’. There were tons of these sorta-stalactites along the perimeter and making awesome walls.
If you’re wondering how high the cavern’s ceiling is, it varied from about 20 feet at the tallest to maybe 4 feet in a few passages (lower areas existed but are obviously off-limits). For example:
We also saw one stairwell that was chained off…maybe that’s where they hide the treasure?
Anyway, there was lots of D&D inspiration here, of course!
Some smaller gnomes (knockers?) tried to distract us with invitations to their city.
But we ignored them. Instead we found a strange four-armed, fire-juggling critter:
And even the dread Tsathoggua — but he didn’t notice us, as his back was turned.
I also seemed to attract some pesky Facula.
The caverns has its share of dungeon funk, too!
There is also a little bit of moss growing, although they are pretty careful to turn off the lights as soon as tourists walk out of an area (this is a 4e dungeon with lights all over the place, of course).
I mentioned a monster lurking earlier. See if you can spot him!
Anyway no dungeon is complete without some loot. We looked all around. The frosty white formations look sparkly but are not precious.
There was also a tiny castle, but nothing inside.
Sadly thwarted, we decided to just take a few touristy shots…
We hurry past the cracking columns
And the snapping jaws of a hellmouth!!!
With a final glance back, we take in the cavern
Maybe we’ll be back some day. In just 30 years or so, we’ll find this pair of ‘mite and ‘tite will have grown into a solid column.