Great- we are not in Mexico…

…and the lesson continues… what they have stumbled upon here (presumably in Texas…) is not as hot or damp as the Mexican Cave of Crystals, but appears to generate crystals of like size and kind. This beggars belief as nature, chemistry and science follow strict rules of their own and I would imagine that the magnitude of said crystals are directly correlated tot he conditions found in the womb that brings them forth…

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Mark looks pissed as Carina is clearly stealing his thunder… “Hey,” he must be thinking… “This strip is called ‘Mark Trail,’ not ‘Carina,’ and I’m the one who gets to dish out the Nature Knowledge here…” Gabe can only muster a small, “wow” as he stands there sweating and utterly gobsmacked…

So I guess we are still in Tejas??

Never mind that there are now two, count ’em, two features that ‘remind us’ of Mexico – first the Hidden Beach and now the Cave of Crystals… As Carina impresses us with her knowledge of Rocks and Minerals, along with her striking profile, Mark jumps in with his knowledge of same- rocks and minerals, that is…

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And while Mark and Carina are maintaining their relative composure under the oppressive heat, Gabe’s face looks like it’s sliding off his skull…

So now that (let’s hope) the geology and geography lessons are complete, let’s get back the plane and MacGyver our way out of here, people…

What are you suggesting, Carina?

That you had something to do with all this??  “No sooner do I spout knowledge of gypsum,” blah blah.. “and look what we stumble upon…”

Well, thanks to faithful reader Dan P. we now know that this is the “Cave of Crystals” According to the Wiki, the main chamber contains giant selenite crystals (gypsum, CaSO4·2 H2O), some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The cave’s largest crystal found to date is 12 m (39 ft) in length, 4 m (13 ft) in diameter and 55 tons in weight. The cave is extremely hot, with air temperatures reaching up to 58 °C (136 °F) with 90 to 99 percent humidity. The cave is relatively unexplored due to these factors. Without proper protection, people can only endure approximately ten minutes of exposure at a time.  So you’d all best get the hell out of there…

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So, yes, we are in Mexico now, bending the space time continuum, sweating our asses off for no apparent reason.  At some point the author needs to understand that a collection of non-sequitur events does not a plot line make…

But as long as we are here, let’s learn about Gypsum… C’mon, it’ll be fun!!  Known through the centuries across multiple civilizations for its properties and usefulness, below are the 2014 stats for mining production:

Gypsum production

Go China!  Now we know where all the wallboard comes from!!

Speleothems of unknown origin…

Googling “cave formations” I came upon a $10 word: Speleothems… but nothing in that picture looks like these columns…  huh… they all look like versions of the Washington Monument…  and since I struck out on the “Helldiver” comment and was earlier schooled on my assertion that firearms don’t have flames shooting out of them, I leave this to you all…

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90 degrees?  Well, Gabe, you are in the desert…  Love the fact that Mark’s coiffure remains intact… even under the most brutal conditions…

Ish hot in here…

Reminds me of the I Love Lucy episode where she is the Vitameatavegamin girl…  Lucy gets all “heated up” spooning her way to health and inebriation…

So as Mark, Gabe and Carina all break out in hives, and lest we dare to believe that Mark’s opening line is some lame attempt to come on to Carina, Gabe seems to think he has found something- certainly his eyes betray his shock and surprise…

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So what’s it going to be?? The lost city of El Dorado? Flowing lava?  Geyser?  Sasquatch?  I guess we shall have to see…

And thanks for all the great comments, and especially for schooling me on the Biplane version of the Helldiver…  learn something new every day!

What is it they say??

Timing is everything??  As Mark goes for the punch-line in panel three, it appears that the other two forgot that Mark has already found a way out?  And nice try, Gabe… but that’s no Helldiver…  And finally, I don’t think the pilot did make it out, Carina… but whatever…

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Sorry for all the flashbacks, gang, but sometimes I feel like part of my duty is to maintain integrity along these long story arcs…

But what if the plane did still work?  Ah… unless it was a Harrier Jump Jet, which can take off like a helicopter and then jet off, it really wouldn’t do them any good…