Monday, April 6, 2009

Morvern Caverns Field Trip

April 5, 2009
On Tuesday I had the opportunity to take a fieldtrip with Danielle to Morvern Caverns. Although I dislike being out of my classroom, I love that my job gives me the flexibility to go on out-of-town trips with my kids.

Honestly, the best part of the trip came very early on in the day. As we jumped in the van bright and early to head to the school, I asked Danielle which one of her friends she was hoping to sit with on the bus. She looked at me quizzically, and then said, "I'm sitting next to you, Mommy!" I told her that was very sweet, but that I didn't mind at all if she wanted to sit next to one of her friends; I told her that I'd be alright, and that I could sit with one of the other mommies. "No!" she said. I was excited about you going on this fieldtrip with me because I want to spend the day with YOU. You HAVE to sit with me!" Oh my goodness--how cute is that? One day, when my little ten year old has turned sixteen, she might be less inclined to hold me so close in her world, but for now, I'll revel in it.

After a three hour bus ride, we arrived at our picnic lunch site. Danielle and I sat with a group of her girlfriends, and we enjoyed perfect weather and clean fresh air. When we finished, we headed out on a nature walk with the class. Her teacher, Mrs. Olson, stopped frequently to point out various indigenous plants and give us a little background on the history of the area. It was a lovely walk, and Danielle and I both stopped frequently to take pictures.

Once we had circled back to our starting point, it was time to visit the big attraction of the day--Morvern Cavern. (It's also called the Moaning Cavern, because of the echos it produces.) Our guide was a funny and interesting guy. He gave us a little historical background before we headed down into the depths. The first 65 feet of the path into the tunnel was down an incredibly narrow and steep set of stairs. A couple of the girls got a little nervous, so they made sure to stay close to an adult. Danielle, who is quite a little daredevil, didn't seem at all affected by the claustrophobia, fear of heights, or fear of darkness that seemed to bother some of her classmates.

We reached the platform at 65 feet, and our guide stopped to point out some of the more unique formations. Kids identified stalagtites and stalagmites, and learned about the ways in which the various shapes came into being. Our guide also showed us shapes that suggested outlines of miner's faces, gorillas, and mushrooms. It was all very cool.

Then we began our spiral descent down the last 100 feet into the depths. The enclosed spiral staircase was made entirely out of the metal from a WWI battleship, and it was so narrow that we had to traverse it in single file. The kids (and many of the parents, I think) were in awe. Once we reached the platform, we got a little more of a history lesson from our guide, and were shown that the only way to get down any further was by rappelling. Some of the kids were disappointed that we weren't going to be sliding down on ropes, but I think many of them were pretty relieved. The highlight before we headed back up the staircase was when our guide shut out all the lights, and showed us what pitch dark looked like when the miners lost their lights or candles. It was fascinating for the minute the lights were out, but made me profoundly aware of the utter hopelessness some of those miners back in time must have experienced when they realized without any kind of light to guide them back out of the caverns, they could be lost in there forever.

We, however, weren't lost in there forever. The lights returned, and we made our way back up the staircase. Once we emerged from the cavern, each of the kids was given a bag of sand, and they got to pan for gems using the sluices set up for visitors to the site. Each of the kids came away with several beautiful stones as souvenirs. Finally, it was time to pile back onto the bus and head home.

The bus ride home was a quiet one, many of the kids taking naps on the way. My little one curled up on her seat and put her head on my shoulder, and fell asleep, the sound of her gentle breathing in my ear. Yes, I missed my students in my class that day, but this time with Danielle, one-on-one, I wouldn't have missed for the world.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. You and Danielle are looking great. It's a trip that you won't get to do again -- at least not at this age, to this place. Each moment is special in its own way. You'll be glad you took advantage of this one.

  2. I am definitely glad I got to share this day with her. Thanks for the comment!