Saturday, October 22, 2011

Road Trip Second Installment

On the way to the wine country in the gold nugget hills of Murphys, there are signs advertising the Moaning Caverns.  I've been there a few times, but Diane had not even heard of it.  I'm sure she thought I was lost when we arrived at the site.  To my amazement, they have added two long zip lines running from the top of the hill where the cave entrance lies, to the bottom of the canyon.  But for another day ...

The cave entrance is VERY narrow and low ... I am immediately reminded of the last time I was here when I had a claustrophobic panic attack and ran out shoving everyone out of my way ... crying like crazy.  My friends know that is NOT me .... so to my great relief, we find we are the only two making the descent and will get a "private" tour on this day.  Barely wide enough for our camera gear, we have to duck down to make it down the first two sets of stairs.  Yes it IS this tight and the stair steps are barely 6 inches wide.
After going past 3 sets of switchback stairs, you are treated to the Chocolate Waterfall, which you see on your entire trip to the bottom.
Amazingly, as soft and gooey as these look, they are actually crystal formations, hard as rock, that do not break off.  The brown color is due to mud and minerals coming through the soil above.
About a third of the way down, you come to a metal spiral staircase that has been here since 1939.  Prior to that, adventuresome guests were lowered down on a platform, like lowering a bucket down a well.  Here's Diane on the staircase.
On the way down the stairs, you get a closeup look at the "draperies".  Where allowed, you can bang on these folds which produces wonderful deep melodic tones.
At the bottom ... 165 feet below ground level ... you are treated to gorgeous surroundings probably millions of years old.
What really amazed us was what you can see when the guide turns the lights out and moves his flashlight around.  Lots of ghouls and creatures come out of the rock formations, which of course is right up my alley!!
Expecting to stay about 30 minutes, over an hour later, we climbed back up the staircase and headed for Jamestown, hoping to catch the steam train museum open.  Unfortunately, we were too late, so made a quick stop at Jerome's Gallery.  My good friends Patty and Dan (of Jamestown Harley fame) suggested we stop by and take a look.  My oh my ... Jerome takes wonderful landscape images and prints them on canvas.  He showed us his entire process and was nice enough to tell us the exact location of the fall color prints he was currently working on.  Didn't take us long to schedule another Road Trip over Sonora Pass for Monday.  Hoping there isn't rain before then so we can some great images like his.

The next Raisin Hell Ranch shoot is tonight ... get ready for more spooky Halloween images!!!

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