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Mammoth Cave and the Weirdest Museum We've Ever Been To

Our adventure truly began as the van rolled out of Anderson Camp and towards Twin Falls.  For the past few months, we'd known that our early August destination would be Eden, Idaho for a family reunion.  This limited our ability to spontaneously travel, but was worth it.  Leaving camp behind, we once again experienced one of the most refreshing feelings in the world, the feeling we refer to as "The Blank Page".

As it turned out, our fellow vagabonding van-based friend Jared had just left Oregon to pursue his own adventures on the open road.  We found out he was going to be in the same part of Idaho at the same time so we had to meet up!  We decided to meet up at the Shoshone Indian Ice Caves just outside of Shoshone, Idaho.  As we were driving, we passed Mammoth Cave and thought maybe it might be better.  We called Jared and everyone decided to give Mammoth a try instead.  The immediate vibe of the place was creepy with old junker cars, strange Hawaiian-ish carved stone heads decorating the entrance.  We walked in through the entrance and met an (unsurprisingly) creepy old man who let us know what the entrance fees were.  We paid the man and our adventure began...   

The creepy old man lit 3 propane lanterns, dispersed them among us and with a subtle swooping arm, pointed towards a side door and said "Just walk that direction". We followed a dirt trail through a field of jagged basalt and the cave entrance came into view. Over the small entryway I noticed a FALLOUT SHELTER sign and thought "Ha! That's funny and quirky." We later came to discover that Mammoth Cave actually is an official fallout shelter if there were a nuclear event.

Mammoth Cave is actually an underground lava tube which extends much farther than the 1/2 mile self guided tour allows you to travel. It's home to many "small" bats with foot-long wingspans as well as some kind of silver-metallic "life form" native to the cave walls (the creepy old man told us about them, but had no idea what they were). We made it in and out of the cave relatively unscathed (other than my shorts, which were accidentally melted by the lantern :( ) and proceeded to the museum, where the real creepy fun began…

As we entered, it became very clear that this was no run-of-the-mill "Bird Museum" as the signs implied. What lay before us were spiraled walkways leading through the strangest and rarest taxidermic animals we'd ever seen. Aside from the wonders of the massive stuffed giraffe, cobweb-ridden monkeys, and a ginormous alligator from Lake Okeechobee, there were plenty of two-headed animals and other freakish occurrences in nature such as the Aligator G.A.R. Words can do no justice here and the photos below only breach the surface of what lies within the walls of the Mammoth Cave Bird Museum. The best way to experience this place is definitely just to go there yourself!

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