A Review of The Amazing Caves at The Pink Palace

It all started about 2 months ago when I watched a video on deep, underwater caves called blue holes. It has sparked a huge interest in caves and diving for me. One day I was telling mom about all the different caves when she mentioned The Pink Palace has a movie about caves playing right now. About the same time, I was working on my bucket list for our creative writing class blog posts, so I asked mom if we could go see the movie soon and she said absolutely.


After hearing about the movie, I started researching it.  It is called “The Amazing Caves”. The movie is about two cavers, Nancy Aulenbach and Hazel Barton who travel to three different remote areas of the world to collect samples of extremophiles, which are bacteria that have created immunity and adapted to their harsh environments. They hope to study these to help identify cures for diseases.

On the day before we go to The Pink Palace, mom researched the time of the movie and discovered that it is going to play at 1:00 but it will be going into the vault (storage of past movies) on Saturday! The next day when I woke up, I was filled with excitement, I quickly got ready and headed downstairs to eat a quick breakfast so we could get on the road!

Pink Palace

When we arrived at The Pink Palace, we went to the ticket window where we were greeted by the extremely polite staff. After getting our tickets, we decided to stroll around since we had a few minutes before the movie started. We found ourselves looking at their amazing collections of skeletons from snakes to a tiny hummingbird, they had a ton!

Soon it was time to go downstairs to the IMAX.  We all went and chose our seats in the back but inline with the giant IMAX screen. After we got situated, I went around photographing the humongous screen and movie player, and the vast room. After a while, the movie hostess came in and told us all the rules (like stay seated, please don’t take photos, turn off your phones, etc.).  After waiting a few more minutes, the lights dimmed.

The movie starts in the Grand Canyon with you suddenly flying over the breath-taking canyon! With a bird’s-eye view of the canyon, you see every stone in the enormous formation. After soaring through the canyon a while you see two floating Amazing Cavesspecks on the side of a cliff. Slowly, as the camera zooms in, you can see two people dangling from ropes!  Under them is a hole into the side of the mountain, a window where you can see the inner beauty of this rock formation. The two people on these life-preserving ropes enter the cave, here we meet Nancy Aulenbach and Hazel Barton.

Grand pillars stand tall in this vast cave, which formed over thousands of years ago. This cave might have started as a small hollow hole in the rock, but as water seeped in, it cut away at the rock which turned it into the massive cave we see today. Then, when the cave mass is formed, the mineral-rich water that drops in, leaves sediment that builds up into pillars and spikes called stalagmites and stalactites.  Stalagmites grow from the floor and stalactites grown from the ceiling, and if two meet together, it’s now called a column. In the very bottom of the cave is some water which the two cavers take samples of in search of extremophiles.

Next we see Nancy and Hazel in cold weather gear getting ready to travel to Greenland to get their next sample of extremophiles. As their helicopter approaches camp, Nancy describes it as a few specks on the frozen horizon. When they land, the helicopter leaves and they start talking to the man who has ice caved deeper than anyone alive, Janot Lamberton. They can not go to the cave they want to explore for a week, because when the water melts it flows straight down the ravine-like cave. After 4 days of the temperatures dropping, they head to the cave.

ravineThe cave does not look like a cave at all. It just looks like a crack in the ice.  However, it really leads to a steep, ice ravine that drops hundreds of feet. They have to use cliff climbing gear to repel into the ravine to obtain the samples they want. Janot goes first, breaking away all the stray or weak ice. He is also the one who is going to go to the bottom of the cave and actually gather the ice sample that Nancy and Hazel want. After he collects it from the bottom of the ravine, he starts the long climb up. When he gets back to the surface, they take their samples and start preparation to leave. Nancy explains why cavers have such a strong bond… “When you and another caver depend on each other for your life, you get an unbreakable bond that will last forever”.

Finally they travel south to Mexico Quintana Roo where there are underwater caves running under a lot of the peninsula. Some of the water in these caves is fresh water, but there is also salt water. When the two meet there is a blurry wall called a halocline. They hope to find some extremophiles living in the halocline there. Only Hazel and their guide will be diving because Nancy promised her family she never would cave dive.

The first place they are diving is in a pool of water that leads down into a deeper underwater system of the cave. After searching for quite a while, they reach a dead-end. Later they return and explore another cave with a pool that leads to a deeper system. When they dive in this one, they find a guide line already laid. A guide line is a long strand of thin rope that cave divers release so they can find their way back out, sort of like bread crumbs. Most cave divers give themselves a set of rules that they do not break. One is always set down a guide line and hold on to it. The reason they hold onto the rope is, if stray mud and particles blur the water and cause a blackout, you can easily lose sight of the line and you may never be able to find it again.

After a while, they enter a bigger chamber where in the back they see another passage, in the passage is the blurry wall. Finally they found the halocline.  After collecting the samples, they head to the surface. Now, seven years later, they have developed several cures for leukemia from their samples and they hope to find more cures to different diseases.

Boys pink palace

I also have an interesting fact about Nancy. She is a teaching assistant at a Montessori school in Georgia. The entire time they are exploring caves, she is reporting back using her website to teach her class about caves and all the interesting things they were doing. Before we started homeschooling, we attended a Montessori school in La Grange. The fact that she is a teacher in a Montessori school, is extremely cool!

If you want to visit The Pink Palace you will have to wait a couple months because they are now in the middle of renovating and changing the IMAX projector to be digital and 3D. I am excited about these changes happening at The Pink Palace, I don’t know what all they are doing except what little information the hostess shared about what is happening to the IMAX. But I do know the first movie playing is called The Flight of The Butterfly in 3D. I can’t wait to see it because my favorite butterfly is what the whole movie is all about, the Monarch butterfly, and it’s migration!

Have you ever been to The Pink Palace? If so, tell me about your visit?  I recommend You go see Flight of The Butterfly. It looks amazing from the trailer!

So, I now have only six things on my 2014 bucket list instead of seven … and I still have 11 months to do them!

See ya soon!

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