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UNDERGROUND  EATS

Mammoth Cave National Park
Central Kentucky

Saturday, November 6, 2004

While taking an underground tour at Mammoth Cave National Park in Central Kentucky, I encounter a subterranean dining room. How strange, after walking through about a mile of cave and expecting to see nothing but rock and darkness, I find this very unnatural formation. Are these formations stalagmites that look like tables and benches? Or has someone dragged this conglomeration 267-feet below the surface to cater to the hungry, amateur spelunkers like myself?

Officially called the Snowball Dining Room, the eatery gets its name from the gypsum formations that cling to the cave's ceiling. Early on, another name option was considered. This place also has a slew of gypsum formations scattered about that look like someone threw wads of wet toilet paper around. Fortunately, the name "Toilet Paper Dining Room" didn't quite have the same nice ring to it, so the current name was wisely selected.

Eating food while hiking on the tour is strictly prohibited. The food here is pretty much box lunch style and has to be eaten in the dining area. Where there's food you'll always find restrooms, and way down here is no exception. I wonder, unlike eating, are the tourists allowed to go to the bathroom anywhere in the cave? God, I hope not! Otherwise, I'll have to question the authenticity of any future stalagmite that I might see during the remainder of my tour!


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