Thursday, August 19, 2010

Round Springs Cave

Another impromptu adventure day. WE decided to go to Devil's Well. This was an underground lake in a cavern whose top collapsed. The lake is 'bigger than a football field'. The picture on the map shows a canoe sitting in the water under a dome of light shining through the collapsed roof. It is a water level view. Sounds awesome, let's go. The map also states there is a spiral staircase leading down to the well. Even better.

Spiral staircase...check.

Underground lake...check.

4 foot opening with metal bars over it letting you peek in at the lake from 80 feet above...check.

Canoe...uh no.

Water level view...don't think so.

Awesome underground adventure...don't even think about it.

However, on the way to the Devil's well we passed by Round Springs.

The sign said Cave: Open.

So we stopped and it just so happened there was a Ranger led tour going into the cave in about half an hour. Turns out that it is a lantern tour. As in everybody carries their own lantern because there is no installed lighting. Cool.

Really neat experience. The cave has some improvements to make the path walkable, but not much else. No guardrails, no plexiglass, no lighting fixtures, gift shop, postcards or any of that nonsense. Just a really cool cave with cave wildlife. Small group tours. The effect of watching a trail of lanterns disappear in front of you through these underground canyons is eerie and fun. Sign me up for another Mister Ranger.

It was a cool day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A brief interlude

Workday today and I had a realization.

The severity of the emergency being experienced by the patient is in direct opposite proportion to that individual's patience.

The people that need to be there....really NEED to be there, are OK waiting a little bit for their results or whatever else. The ones who probably should have gone to their PCP or just stayed home must have everything NOW.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meet me in St. Louis Pt 2

Day two brought us first to Dunkin Donuts for coffee. After that we took the loop around St. Louis and got a feel for the place. Again, I was surprised by the boarded up windows and general disrepair of the place. I guess maybe Houston insulated us a little more than I thought about the general economic conditions. Either that or this city isn't doing so well. I don't know yet.

We started out by going to the Museum of Transport. It is a neat place. They have some old cars, a couple of planes and a tug boat along with a ton of different trains. Oh yeah, they also have the Rubbers Duck truck from the movie Convoy. I always loved that movie. It was another very hot day. I was amazed by the size of some of the trains there. Steam, diesel, even a wood burning train from the 1800s. We waited in one place on the promise of a tour that never came. When it just got too hot and we felt like we were risking the rest of the day, we left. Next stop was a restaurant near Dunkin Donuts called O'Charley's. What a nice little find. Everything we ate there was outstanding. IT is a small chain restaurant localized to this region. Great menu, great prices and kids eat free. All the time. If you are in the area, look it up. This one was off of Lindbergh and I-44.

After that we went down to the gateway arch complex. The idea was to go on a riverboat cruise and then to the arch. Problem was that we didn't have any cash for parking. We stopped at a casino and used the ATM before heading down. The only parking nearby was too short for the truck so I drove down by the water. No parking signs everywhere but plenty of people parked on the street. We were about to miss the boat so I dropped Sarah and the kids off and parked on the street.

The riverboat was OK, no big thrill. I did see some young Amish women glued to their cellphones and texting like mad. That was weird.

Afterward we went to the arch. I didn't know it, but there is a large museum under the ground beneath the arch. Two movie theaters and a museum of western expansion. Some exhibits interesting to Sarah and I, but pretty boring for the kids. We settled on an Imax-like movie about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Amazing trip those guys took. Then we went into the arch proper. They herd you down in stages with minor distractions to keep you from realizing you are waiting. They don't work. I understand that they have to pace progress to avoid overcrowding at the top. AT least they try.

Then you are shoehorned into a tiny little metal ham tin. Five of you. You couldn't fit a large recliner into one of these cars and somehow five people sit in there for the ride to the top. If you are claustrophobic, I don't recommend it.

The view from the arch is pretty cool. Before visiting, I never realized how tall the arch really is. It is the nation's tallest monument. Looking straight down we could see the truck. We were too high up at the time to see the tiny little parking ticket under the windshield. Oh well, looks like the city could use the revenue.

Back to O'Charley's for dinner, I told you we liked it, and then to the hotel for a swim in the nastiest pool I may have ever been in. We didn't want to get in but there was no way we were going to get the kids away from that water without a swim. Seriously though, from standing with my head out of the water I couldn't see my feet. That is how cloudy the water in this indoor pool was.

A little note about the sleeping arrangements. The two boys can not sleep together on a double bed. Well, I guess they could, it just doesn't seem like a good idea. In their sleep they roll, kick and burrow under whoever they are sleeping next to. Sarah and I can tolerate it. IT makes for a lousy night's sleep, but we can tolerate it. The kids together would never get any sleep I fear. Just keep waking each other up and crying. So Sarah and I each slept on a bed with one kid. No rest for the wicked.

This post has gone on long enough. I'll detail the last vacation day and the journey home later.