kw: vacations, commercial caves, wildlife parks
We were away for a few days...unconnected, even! We went with a church group to central PA. One place visited was Penn's Cave. This shows the entrance from within the cave, on the boat—it is a water cave. You take the boat right through the cave, and come out the other end, shown next.
If we had walked the cave, it would have been a half hour walk, probably. The boating, the lake you spin 'round out the other end, and the traverse back to the beginning entrance, make it about a 50 minute trip. We enjoyed it very much.
Penn's cave has a nice variety of formations, and is a fully "living" cave. The formations are growing. On many of them you can see drops of water, depositing calcite as they evaporate. Be prepared to get a few drops on you! I was taught as a kid, "Stalactites are stuck 'tite' to the ceiling, and Stalagmites (note the g) are just a 'mite' weaker, so they stand on the floor." When the two grow together, they become a cave column. Penn's cave is young enough that it has few columns.
There are few things I find more beautiful than living cave formations. Some caves, such as Carlsbad and Mammoth, are stupendous in size, with lovely formations in some areas, though most are dead in them. Growing formations have an extra vibrancy.
After the cave trip, we went on the Wildlife Tour. The Penn's Cave ranch has a large area with native wildlife. The ones we saw were Bison, Longhorn cattle including those shown here, Deer, Elk, Gray Wolves, a very old Timber Wolf, and some bears. We all particularly liked the sign they have near the bears.
Bears, more than other wildlife, quickly form a bond with their keepers. The ones we saw—three black bears, one the "cinnamon" color phase—are kept well fed, and also enjoy the treats the keeper gives them, including clover flowers. A few kids tried the flowers and found them a little sweet. Better'n twigs, I guess, if you're a bear.
They also have an exhibit of stuffed African animals. They emphasized that the hunting was done fully licensed, for preparing the exhibit. I still don't like the idea. There are more than sufficient exhibits of African animals. Such "scientific" hunts are really for revenue, which the countries sorely need. I prefer ecotourism, because an animal that bring $5,000 as a dead specimen, can bring much more than that as a photographic subject, over and over again.
Well, that bit of unpleasantness aside, it was an enjoyable trip. Sunday morning we met with the church in State College, just a few miles away. Lovely ending to a 2-day outing.