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YEAR #3 - STOP #57

Nothing much out of the ordinary during our travels today except, while traveling through Huntsville, AL we saw a Saturn 5 Rocket and a Space Shuttle (complete with a booster rocket) on the side of Interstate 565.

Turns out it was the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, an astronaut training center for kids and adults alike. They simulate weightlessness by using SCUBA gear in an underwater facility.

Not something we were particularly interested in, but I'm sure a lot of people are judging by the number of cars in the parking lot.

We arrived at Rickwood Caverns State Park and were dissapointed to find that the campground's 13 sites were very tightly spaced with absolutely zero privacy between sites. We were fortunate enough to have selected Campsite #1, which meant we had no one to the left of us when we walked out our front door.

During the week it wasn't to bad with only three or four of the campsites being used, but on the weekend all sites were taken and things felt really tight.

Campsite #1 with a cool little covered bridge to walk across the creek.

That trailer in the background is on Campsite #9 whiich means there are 7 sites between them and us.

The cave tours here at Rickwood Caverns are self-guided and at this time of year the cave is only open from 2PM-8PM Wednesday through Sunday. We arrived on a Friday afternoon and there were already several people here signing up for the early Friday tours.

The first half of the normal cave tour route is decorated for the season with Christmas light displays and the second half is not open at this time. We decided to pass on taking our tour with the weekend crowds and selected Wednesday at 2PM for our tour.

SUNDAY - It's not just inside the cave where you'll find Christmas Light displays.

The parking lots, the campground, the Ticket Office and everything in between are also well decorated as you can see in the photos below.

The view from the edge of the parking lot.

The view leading up the path to the Ticket Office.

The view of the Ticket Office and on the far left, beyond to the cave entrance.

WEDNESDAY - This is our last day here and our tour time has finally arrived!

It is always exciting just before we enter a new cave because you never know what you are going to see. The cool thing about this cave is that the tour is self-guided, meaning we can stop and take photos anytime we want and can linger in front of anything we find interesting.

Very few cave tours are self-guided. The guides are there to explain what you are seeing and how it was formed. Sadly, they are also there to make sure there is no one vandalizing the formations and trying to break off a piece to take home as a souvenir or scratch their name in the rock walls to prove they were there.

Both of these actions were common occurances and even encouraged activities by some private cave owners up until the 1950s and 1960s. The "Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988" was passed in Washington to outlaw these activities. The law provides for significant fines and even possible jail time for repeat offenders.

Enough of that, let's see some photos!

"Wonderland Under Warrior"

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