Oregon Cave Ranger, “Have you been to any caves East of the rockies?”
Friend family, “Yes we have! We have been to Jewel Cave and Wind Cave (but just not inside)”
“Were you wearing the clothes you have on today”
“Do you have other clothes you can change into?”
Why the inquisition about our clothing? Turns out the bat population of the US is currently suffering from White Nose Syndrome. The bats in Oregon cave are disease free. The park is doing all it can to prevent the spread of the fungus to their cave. They ask anyone who has visited a cave in the last 6 years to NOT wear the same clothing. Evidently washing is not enough, the items have to be bleached.
We took inventory and the children were wearing the same shoes. The Rangers said they would decontaminate them before our tour. This seemed pretty exciting. Would cool jumpsuits be involved? Would they get to stand in a room and get sprayed down? Would we be allowed to take pictures and document the whole thing. Turns out we COULD take pictures.
The great process included the childrens shoes being soaked in bin with bleach. The kids smelled lovely during the tour we will surely see long term effects on the shoes and socks in the coming days. The smell did not distract from the caves themselves which are made of dissolved marble. They were very different from the caves we toured in South Dakota. The children earned their Junior Ranger badges and more importantly the bats are still safe thanks to the diligence of the Rangers.