Our daughter and son-in-law volunteered to act as chaperons for their church’s jr./sr. youth group’s outing to Holiday World. We were enlisted to take care of their two youngest, Gabby and Ian. Don and I had been planning to take them on an outing for awhile so this seemed like a good time to do just that. I gave our daughter a list of the clothing articles I wanted her to bring for each of the little ones when she dropped them off but I forbade her to tell them where they were going.
Both were pretty excited when they arrived. In fact, Gabby had been up since 2:30 that morning. Wow! The pressure was on not to disappoint. We made sure they weren’t hungry, had their sneakers on, and their jackets with them even though it was expected to reach 90 degrees that day.
Into the truck we piled amidst questions of “Where are we going?” and “How long before we get there?” I told them to settle in as we had to drive over an hour before we’d arrive. The two proceeded to be restlessly silly in the backseat while Don and I enjoyed the scenic back roads to our destination.
Upon our arrival to Marengo Cave, Gabby and Ian still weren’t certain where they were at but Gabby did make out the word cave on the entrance sign. “Yes,” we told them, “we’re taking you on a tour of a cave.” Both got excited. They’d never been in a cave before.
Marengo Cave is a U.S. National Landmark. It was discovered in 1883 by two siblings, 15 year old Blanche Hiestand and her brother Orris, 11. They entered the cave through a sink hole in the woods, each carrying nothing but a single candle to light their way. Within a week of their discovery, tours were being given by the landowner for 50 cents a head. Marengo is one of the largest caves in Indiana.
Declared a National Landmark in 1984, it is one of the most profusely decorated caverns. Two tours are offered, each covering a different section of the cave system. The Crystal Palace Tour is the shortest. About one third of a mile long walk through beautiful cave rooms, including the Crystal Palace from whence it got it’s name, it’s an easy 40 minute or so walk.
The second is called the Dripstone Trail Tour. This tour covers approximately 1 mile and takes about 1 hour to cover. It is known for its various formations such as the sodastraws, stalagmites, and stalactites.
We chose to take the grandkids on each of the tours beginning with the longer one first. Since I had already purchased our tickets online, and since we’d also arrived early in the day, the wait for our guide wasn’t a long one.
After a brief introduction and an explanation as to why we weren’t to touch the cave walls nor formations, we donned our jackets then proceeded along the wooded trail to the Dripstone Trail cave entrance.
Since we had a short wait between our last tour and the next, we bought Gabby and Ian treats and let them explore the gift shop until our tour was announced. They really enjoyed looking at all the geodes, crystals, amethysts and fossils in the store.
Soon we were called for our next tour. Gabby and Ian were both enthusiastically looking forward to it as they really enjoyed the first tour. It’s hard to say what was their favorite formation or cave feature as they talked animatedly about several of the things they’d seen. As for Don and I, we felt Marengo Cave rated up there with Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. We would highly recommend it to anyone visiting southern Indiana. Be sure to wear comfortable enclosed walking shoes as some sections of the cave floor was slippery or muddy. Also, bring a lightweight jacket. The cave is a constant 52 degrees year round. A nice reprieve for us on a hot Summer’s day.
We topped off our venture by taking the grandchildren out to eat at Cracker Barrel. Surprisingly our picky eaters ate everything on their plates. Must have been the exercise and cave air huh? Afterwards we drove over the Ohio River bridge into Kentucky. The river was an ugly muddy color with lots of debris floating in it. I’m sure this was caused from the flooding. Gabby thought it was cool seeing just the tops of leafy green treetops sticking out above the water and Ian liked watching the barge making it’s way upstream headed to parts unknown.
On our way back to the rig, we stopped once more to treat the kids to an ice cream. They’d earned it.
Hopefully they’ll have good memories of the day they spent with grandpa and grandma spelunking.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid………………….