We got checked into our hotel room in Mountain View yesterday and took it easy last night. This morning we went on the 1 1/2 hour Discovery Tour at Blanchard Springs Caverns. We watched an orientation video and went through the exhibit hall before it was time for our tour to start.
Our tour guide was almost single-mindedly focused on the stairs. Before we got on the elevator to go down to start the tour she gave us a lecture on the difficulty the stairs posed and encouraged anyone with doubts about their ability to complete the tour to get a refund now. Fair enough. When we got to the tour start she did it again. Sigh. We went down some stairs and heard the lecture yet again, with her explaining that we could still get a refund if we left at that point. Honestly, I could hear the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz movie reading that sign in the forest: "I'd turn back if I were you!" Sheesh. At the end of the tour was another set of stairs that she warned us would be difficult. She said it would be fine to stop and catch our breath if we needed to. I have to wonder what kinds of folks she's used to taking on these tours. Our group was fairly diverse in age and none of us seemed to be in great training, but not a one of us had any trouble at all with the Dreaded Stairs of Doom.
The tour itself was a nice walk through the cave. Although she said the other tour was where the "pretty" things were, there was plenty to get excited about here. This formation, for example:
This is a picture The Daughter took of one of the natural entrances up above us:
We saw a lot of bats but no other animals.
I found a slide show someone took of their trip here:
There are lots of wonderful pictures at Flickr that folks have taken of the place.
During the afternoon we swam in the creek with the tadpoles and fishes. That was wonderful. It was something I remember really enjoying a lot when my family went there when I was little.
There is more information and lots of great pictures here, here and here.