day 59
meramec caves, missouri

"He's another one of those guys who likes to talk but not listen." - a.
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Cavernous Caution: The Wine Table on the fifth floor is the only completely natural onyx table known. Six feet tall, on three perfect legs connected to the table, makes it the largest botryoidal formation.

The table now has a fourth leg, made of stainless steel, that was placed there because the insurance company doesn't want it to topple over onto any visitors. According to the insurance company, just because it has stood by itself for 63 million years, that doesn't mean it won't crumble tomorrow, on some poor old litigious woman's head.

Slot Machine of the Day

Our Meramec Guide:
Tour Guide Karen originally wanted to be a veterinarian. But that didn't pan out. So she studied chemistry in school and got a job with Boeing. After losing her job at Boeing, she became a tour guide at Meramec Caverns. Hope things pick up from here!

Congrats, Jan & Glen!

On Day 46, we crossed the Mackinac Bridge and asked you to correctly identify which was Lake Erie and which was Lake Huron.
Jan and Glen Harmer were absolutely correct in finding our little trick... Neither one is Lake Erie! Ho ho ha! Mackinac Bridge crosses between Huron and Michigan! We wanted people who really knew their stuff, and by gum, they sure did. Fooled the rest of you though!

Just Like Jesse James
Oct 24 - Hey. Pssst. Over here. It's me. Jesse James. I wanna show you somethin' pardner. See, I got myself some hidden caves and I'm gonna be puddin' all my gold and treasure inside. And I'll let y'all see it if ya promise not to tell nobody.

Woof Woof! I'm Lassie. I'll be with you in a minute. Timmy's stuck in a friggin' cave again. That stupid kid just can't keep his ass outta trouble. Woof. I'm back. Welcome to the cave where I filmed two episodes. Now, as a memorial to me, they've got my picture up in a corner of the cave. I'm a star! Woof.

Howdy y'all! I'm Tom Sawyer. This is where my famous epic was filmed. Some ornery movie director man was fixin' to use a hunk o' this here ol' cave as the way-high cliff where me n' Injun Joe are fightin' at the end o' the book. O' course, Injun Joe gets the chicken livers knocked outta him by me, 'cause I'm tough as a big ol' goat. (Don't worry though, the actor who played Joe really only falls a few feet into some mud below.)

At the end of our tour, we were so overwhelmed by the hand-cranked laser light show that we took a short movie. Some things are just meant to be shared. God Bless America!
Hey there. This is Aim & Kev. We went to the Meramec Caverns today: the #1 Tourist Trap in the USA. Why #1, you ask? Not because it's the best, and not because it's the trappiest, but because it was the first! It's found along the Historic Route 66 in Missouri, and it's been a tourist trap since the Great Depression, maybe even sooner!

Back in the days when times were tough and California was the land of milk n' honey (I'd suggest reading a Steinbeck novel, but those are long and dull), travellers looking for work would travel Route 66 in search of fortune and glory. Inevitably the travellers would find themselves at Meramec Caverns instead. They say if you've been to Carlsbad it's not worth the trip, but we'd never been to Carlsbad.

They've actually built a store over the cave entrance so that you have to go through the store before entering the cave. Once you're in, you're smacked in the face with a $12.50 entrance fee. However, all money aside, it's really something to see. You know, stalactites, stalagmites, that kind of thing. Big ones too. You'll love it.

And Meramec's other claim to fame? They practically invented the bumper sticker. How 'bout that?

Branson, MO: The Town You've Gotta See
Along the way, people have been giving us advice on where to go in the US. One town that keeps on popping up is Branson. Whenever people started talking about it, their eyes started glistening and they would start waving their hands faster in an effort to convey the excitement they must feel while in Branson.

What we failed to take note of is that all of the people urging us to go to Branson were of the Free-Coffee-at-McDonald's age. Unfortunately, what interests us is not the same thing that interests people who tend to wear seasonal sweaters.

But we didn't realize what we'd been sucked into until we were sucked in. It is now that we shall bring you some images of the greatest retirement attraction in America (besides Florida):
Average Age of Occupants: 62 Number of People Under 40: 7

get your kicks...

The end-all be-all of wax museums!

We're not even in Florida yet!

It was closed.

The Essentials
more photos in the archive...

Current Location
(Historic Route 66!)

Meramec Caves!

Next Stop: The Ozarks

see the full map...

Today's Weather:
But It's Always
60 Degrees in the Caves

Daily Stats
Meramec Signs:49
Entry Fee:$12.50
Light Show:Amazing!

Missouri Wildlife:

Sleeping Quarters
Buffalo National River

Picture it: Arkansas. It's after dark and we've given up on finding our predetermined campground. Instead, we begin to follow a sign towards the Buffalo River. In Ozark Country. The road turns from pavement into gravel. Then from two lanes into one. But we're still going. After about a half hour, we come to the end of the road and drive into a huge field.

It's at this point that Kev's saying "I don't like this. Back to the highway." but luckily there's another car there with seemingly nice people camping. They confirm that we are in fact, at a campground and we can just park anywhere we please.

Despite our fear of being jumped by hillbillies, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful evenings, with a full 180 degree of a clear mountain sky.

Cost: Free!

K's Order:Big Texas Chicken Fajita Grill
A's Order:Double Stuffed and Smothered Hashbrowns
Tiny's BBQ
Exit 100
K's Order:Chicken Fries Steak
Baked Beans
A's Order:All-You-Can-Eat BBQ Bar

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© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman. Travellers, not tourists.