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some frogs in the rain

To: frog report
From:Zelda Queen of the Night<zelda@valley.net>
Subject: Cobleskill, NY


Hi all,

Well here we are in Cobleskill, New York at the Best Western. It's been raining buckets all day and both Chris and I agreed that it was not our type of camping weather. This Best Western seems to be horribly overpriced to me but cheaper mentally than a night in a wet tent. In the morning we intend to go see the Iroquois Museum and then we are going to go down in the "SECRET CAVERNS !" "Adventure under the Earth!" They have the wildest billboards, dripping with psychedelic stalactites, whoever painted them obviously spent far too much time in Northern California eating magic mushrooms. Anyway there appear to be huge caverns under the earth here in Cobleskill so we'd better take a look.

Chris is having a blast with his first motel experience, at the moment he is bouncing wildly on the other bed, this place features a bowling alley and he wants to go bowling later.

Frosty- I'm sorry I took the only frying pan, hope all is well there at home. I forgot to change the message on the machine too.

Chuck- after driving your car all day I love it even more.

Anyway we're doing fine here in Room 110 with the remote control and sterilized glasses.


Zelda and Chris

The entrance to the Secret Caverns


Wednesday June 10,1998

I am writing this from the Budget Inn in Tom's Brook, Virginia.

I know, I know another motel. Well the frogs have been dogged (or frogged) by generally poor weather all the way and last night it turned downright nasty. Plus we are trying to make some time by traveling Route 81 for a while and of course it's practically all semi's and they throw up sheets of water every time they pass, they can't help it. So at about 4:30 we turned off looking for a place to stay. We considered the Strasburg Hotel but the billboard said "charming Victorian restoration" we knew right away it wasn't for the likes of us. We ended up here. It's a step down from the Best Western as there is only one bed and no remote control for the television but as I pointed out to Chris it contains all the necessary motel elements, bed, TV, bathroom, and dresser with Bible. This one has no in room courtesy coffeemaker, but there is a MiniMart right up the road where I filled up the thermos last night.

The Secret Caverns were even better than advertised. They are limestone caverns formed by glaciers about 38,000 years ago. This one was found in 1928 when two cows fell into it and has been in the same family ever since. We were the only people there, in fact it looked like we were the only people there in quite some time, the gift shop was pretty dusty. Our guide, Luke, said that things had been going downhill since their lodge had burned down, plus I think they are losing a lot of business to the Howe Caverns about five miles away which are much slicker. These Howe Caverns are surrounded by a HUGE building which sits on top of a hill and is positively breathtaking in it's immensity and ugliness.

Well, back to the caverns. We went down 130 cement steps, it was very wet. Luke pointed out the hole they made for their population of bats. He said rather proudly that they had 120 bats living there. I told him we had FAR more bats than he and explained the Bat Battles of Billingsford, he says bats DO have summer and winter places so perhaps the bats are using his cavern for their winter habitat and our house for summer, except of course that we have more.

Anyway the caverns extended for about a quarter of a mile underground once we got down there. The passageways are mostly very narrow, they are fissures in the rock formed by the glacier creeping through. The damp walls have fossils of shells and trilobites and things in them as Cobleskill, NY was once seabed. Luke said 38,000 years old was pretty young for a cavern, it was, in fact still growing. I thought I would be horribly claustrophobic but I think it's the fear of having the cave fall in on me that's always bothered me before. This one seemed pretty secure, being solid rock and I wasn't bothered much.

At the very end of the cavern, it was about a 25 minute walk, or creep, some of the ceilings are pretty low,there was an open chamber about 20 feet in diameter with a waterfall coming straight down with absolutely terrific force, Luke said it was an underground stream falling from 100 feet above, it was particularly strong because of all the rain.

We had the obligatory lights out on the way back, Chris insisted on holding Luke's flashlight. It was the blackest dark ever but not scary, it was a very friendly dark because of all the water noise.

That night we stayed at the Ravensburg State Park somewhere around Williamsburg PA. It was a very nice campsite being right next to a creek. Chris found a camping hatchet with a hammer head on the other end, an incredibly useful tool, he loves it. We ended up making a bed in the car as it was supposed to go down to 45 that night also we were the only people there and right next to a road so I felt more secure. It was pretty cozy and the next morning it was freezing out, you could see your breath. We had a fire and hung out for a while, we didn't get moving until around 10:30. It was bright and sunny and stayed that way until around 2:00. We drove alongside the Susquehanna River most of the day, stopping a lot. One of our first stops was an Amazing Ames to buy a raccoon proof food box, the little devils had made off with a lot of our supplies during the night. A lot of Mennonite people live around there, Chris was amazed to see several Mennonite couples driving along in their buggies right next to the cars and trucks. The Susquehanna is a really lovely river, wide and lush with lots of little islands.

Todays plan is to visit the Luray Caverns 45 miles south of here and then get back on 81 and make some time for awhile, it's raining again I see and I hope we can drive out from under this weather pattern. As soon as I see a radar picture of the weather on TV here, I'll plan our route accordingly.

Chris is settling into the travel pattern, the first day he kept asking when we were going to get there, now he realizes the answer is we never will get "there" but only get somewhere sometime, he is doing a lot of drawing.


Zelda and Chris


Chris chops me up some kindling

We did visit Luray Caverns but we didn't like it nearly as well. Luray Caverns had too many lights, too many brick walkways and too many people. We preferred our wild cavern with its narrow passageways and dripping water to the clean and tidy cavern at Luray and we preferred Luke with his high-tops, sagging jeans and his passion for caves to our overweight and bored guide at Luray. The weather was still so dismal I envisioned us making our way southwest cavern by cavern.

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