June 26, 2006


Seattle has been and gone, in a blur of mainly margaritas. In amongst all that time spent in bars, though, I distinctly remember ordering a glass of water and being asked for ID. US liquor laws are so sensible.

I also went on a boat ride on Lake Washington, visited the original Starbucks, and saw the actual model of the alien queen from Aliens at the Sci-Fi Museum. I did not go up the Space Needle.

Today I went to Mount St Helens. The volcano itself is pretty spectacular, but far more exciting was the hike I took into an old, underground lava tube. 'Ape Cave' was discovered just sixty years ago by a local logger (which I can only assume was some kind of Forties slang term for a highly entertaining, self-published writer), and yet inexplicably the origins of its non sequiturish name have already been lost in the mists of time (the park brochure speculates that it might have something to do with Bigfoot).

The cave was pretty much impossible to photograph because it was completely pitch black from beginning to end; rather than spoil the atmosphere by stringing in light sources, the park staff simply rent you propane lamps for you to carry in with you, and that provides your only light source. Beyond about ten or fifteen feet, you can see nothing but a flat, black plane, so a lot of the time you're not even entirely sure how big the tunnel is around you. Every now and then, though, the black suddenly shimmers to life, like a nighttime thundercloud in the distance, and a fellow tourist will appear from behind a bend. Add to that the cold (the cave is a steady six degrees Celsius, all year), the water dripping from the ceiling, and the muffled sound of far-off voices, emerging from under the hiss of your gas lamp, and you have an experience that is, on the whole, pretty eerie.

I also enjoyed this from the park brochure:

"Do not touch the walls. A bacteria with fungus-like characteristics, called 'cave slime,' lives on the cave walls."

I think using the words 'bacteria', 'fungus', and 'slime', all in the same sentence, is an excellent strategy to discourage people from touching something.

Tomorrow: the Oregon coast!


At 26/6/06 15:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i went to a huge water cave in Iran. It was really beautiful. The guide told us not to touch the water or jump in because the mineral composition in the water was so that the body didn't float and you would just sink to the bottom if you fell in. I don't know, i have a feeling the guy was exagerating a little. I stayed clear of the water nonetheless. that cave was also eerie.


At 28/6/06 13:45, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exciting stuff! Enough to make your readers del*i*rious with delight.


An Anonymous Phonetician and Ex-Editor

At 29/6/06 02:19, Blogger Andrew said...

Can you really claim to be an ex-editor if you're still sniping at my spelling?

At 29/6/06 08:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moral of this story: never trust anyone over seventy-four . . .

BTW, fabulous pic of craggy coastline.



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