31 March 2018

Marengo Cave

Though the start of spring break was anything but warm and technically, we already had a spring break trip, we still wanted to take advantage of Jack having Good Friday off and do something fun. The week off of school for the girls was admittedly boring, basically filled with unstimulating-yet-necessary activities like spring cleaning.
Finally! Raven got to come with us on a trip.
So, we picked Marengo caves as a destination, packed up the car, and fueled up at a delicious Chinese buffet before roughing it in the great outdoors.
Yes, Claire loves sushi. And chopsticks.
Normally, we are tent campers but seeing as the weather was rainy and cold, we decided to up our accommodations to a cute little cabin near the caves, complete with electricity and heat. Thankfully, the four older kids slept like a rock but Zoey wasn't so easily convinced. Lights were out by 9:30pm but it was a good hour before everyone was quiet. Then all through the night, I heard every creak of the bunks, every whimper, whine, sigh, snore, and rustle. Zoey seemed to as well and woke up several times, rather concerned that she wasn't at home in her bed. All in all, I think Jack, Zoey, and I got a good 20 minutes of uninterrupted sleep.
That didn't stop us. We were up bright and early the next morning (mostly because we couldn't get everyone to sleep later because they'd all had a good night's rest) and were up in the chilly rain, cooking breakfast.
Raven hates when she has to be tied up since she's sure she's in trouble.
Jack masterfully got a fire started...
Putting his survival skills to use.
...and we ate like kings and queens...toasted bagels and cream cheese, eggs, bacon, orange juice.

And s'mores.
 Can't be any worse than a donut for breakfast, right?
We were surprised how many people showed up to the cave but luckily, we got our tickets fast enough that we didn't have to wait long for a tour.
The girls were super impressed with the fact that it was children who initially discovered the cave back in the mid-1800's. They heard dripping water and climbed on their bellies down a sinkhole to discover it. Call me crazy but I don't think I would have been brave enough to do that.
Now, Marengo caves is a privately owned national landmark and give several different types of tours. It's full of all kinds of fascinating formations, from soda straws to crystal palaces...
It's amazing how fast the cave is changing. Those cups are less than 100 years old!
...cups that previous visitors left and are now solidified in the forming rock...
A giant slice of bacon stuck in the rock.
 ...to bacon.
We sprung for the two tours at a discount and spent about two hours down in the caves.
The second tour passed through the upper chamber of the cave, which in general, was much more open and larger than the first tour.
They even used to have square dances in the cave since the acoustics were good and the cave was large enough. Sounds like a weird but strangely fascinating use for the space.
By far, the favorite spot on the tour was a mud ceiling that was chalked full of coins.
It's said that if you can get your coin to stick or you knock someone else's coin out, your wish will come true. Since Jack and I didn't bring any coins, the girls scavanged on the ground and chucked a few into the ceiling. The guide said every few years they come through and pull each coin out and consider it a donation to the cave system. Another fun quirk of the cave!
The rest of the time we enjoyed the bizarre structures...
...and animal life, like this little brown bat (though we were hoping to see some blind cave fish).
There was a point when Zoey's exhaustion caught up with her and her shrieks and wails echoed through the cave.
'Bout had it.
So, lucky her, she took a half hour nap, right then and there.
And all was right with the world.
All in all, a very cool cave system (which only reiterates Jack wanting to have one in our backyard. Um, if I spot a sinkhole, I'll let him be the first to crawl in and check).
Back up above the surface, we looked around the gift shop and bought a few trinkets, talked to the slightly creepy Willie cave guide...
...and did a little gemstone mining.

Our kids would make excellent prospectors.
 And, Jack treated everyone (including myself) to a very messy stick of rock candy.
The trip home was uneventful (other than the traffic) and the kids spent most of the time snoozing or watching a movie. No animals had run away while we were gone (including the fish...Jack made sure to check)...
...and the evening was spent comparing fossils and gemstones from their mining haul.
Overall, a very fun, quick trip enjoying what natural beauties Indiana has to offer!

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