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STOP #236

Today's drive took us about 100 miles east along Route 60 across Missouri before we turned south and headed down Route 65.

Route 60 travels east/west through the valleys of the Ozark Mountains, with some gentle uphill and downhill climbs. Once we reached the big city of Springfield and headed south down Route 65 that all changed.

Now we were heading up and over the ridges separating the individual valleys. With the cruise control set on 55MPH we slowed to 50MPH on most of the uphills and sped up to nearly 70MPH on the downhill sides. Just like a rollercoaster there was no level driving in between the uphill and downhill rides.

I tried to use the truck brakes as sparingly as possible in order to not overheat them. But when we arrived at the check-in office of the campground and rolled down the window I was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of the brakes, mostly because the last two miles was all down a steep entrance drive.

We just had new brake pads installed 5000 miles ago so I know they're in good shape. We have another oil change scheduled at Ford next week (at 60,000 mile) and I'll have them recheck the pads to be sure.

Campsite #61 at Old Highway 86 Campground in Blue Eye, MO

There are nicely spaced apart sites here at the Army Corps of Engineers Park

We even have a wide water view out the back hatch with it open!

After spending the last three weeks camped out in the forests with no cell signal it was nice to find strong signal here at this campground. It's so strong we got caught up on a few YouTube videos last night and I didn't even have to set up our booster antenna.

WEDNESDAY - Today it's forecast to rain, but that's alright because we're once again headed underground.

Exactly two years ago next week we were in this same corner of Missouri and visited two caves, Fantastic Caverns and Talking Rocks Cavern, both happen to be in our Top Ten Picks of the cave tours we've seen.

This time around we'll be traveling just over the state border into Arkansas to visit what we hope is another awesome cave tour at Cosmic Cavern.

It was nice to have a "professional" tour guide instead of some high schooler just winging their way through a summer job. Our guide today is a retired geologist that worked many years for the Shell Oil Company. His love for geology and his knowledge of minerals really showed in the sharing of his presentation we experienced today.

We were glad to see we were the only ones there at 9:30AM to take the first tour of the day. It made it possible so he could deviate from the typical presentation he would have to stick to if there were "first timers" on the tour.

Although the cave was first discovered in the 1840s and the public tours began in the 1920s there was a "new section" we got to see on the tour today.

From the 1920s until the 1950s the tours were lit by small kerosine lanterns which left a black soot all over the ceilings. Electrical lighting was installed then and it revealed all the broken formations where people had taken home souveniers of their cave visit.

In 1993 a new section was discovered and added to the public tour two years later in 1995. The new section is in pristine condition, no soot on the ceilings and with new cave preservation laws in effect no more evidence of stolen souveniers were to be found. This section in particular was amazing!

I would rate this cave a 7.5 out of 10 stars for it's beauty, but the tour was 10+ thanks to Steve our tour guide.


Located just outside of the gift shop is the only known entrance and exit of the cave.
This is me as we descend into the cave to begin our private tour.
We first arrive into a tall and long room in the cave.
In this room there were thousands of soda straw formations hanging from the ceiling.
A little further into the room we saw many flowstone formations.
The flowstone came right down to the edge of the pathway for an upclose view.
Next we viewed several larger stalactite formations.
More soda straw formations directly over our heads...
...gave us a unique perspective to show they are indeed hollow inside.
Deeper into the cave we saw some large stalagmites and columns.
At the very back end of the tour we saw many extremely long soda straw formations.
This photo shows some very delicate "hairy soda straws" called helictites.
This stairway leads to 70 feet below the parking lot where ROVER is currently parked.
This corner shows the end of the cave system for this particular cave.

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