Friday, July 17, 2009

conversations, cave exploration & scenic byways

What: About a 3 minute conversation in our Tahoe on the way back from Niagara Falls on Thursday....just to show you a fun glimpse of what it's like with 7 of us in the car together! :)
When: Thursday, July 16
Who: Poppie (driving), Clay (front passenger seat), Nana, Parker & Carrie (all in middle seat), Ashleigh & Kaylee (sharing the backseat)

(Ashleigh & Kaylee in the back seat belting out the theme song from the Disney movie, "Pocohontas" after passing a river...Kaylee has now started to get over the fact that she has not had cell phone service all dare the cell phone companies!!! :) LOVE my KK!)

...the two then decide singing is a great idea & start singing random childhood songs...Clay is in the front seat trying to turn on the radio to drown out the voices...ha ha! That didn't work work very well! :)

Carrie: ...thought of "The Sound of Music" after passing a rolling hill & randomly sung out, "The hills are alive, with the sound of Griswold..." Ok, so my mind went to one of my all-time favorite movies, "Chevy Chase's European Vacation"...
Clay:"I jumped a copperhead at Canyon..." (I must have missed a conversation somewhere as I was thinking of the Griswold's family vacation)
Kaylee: "Why do Texans not say "H's?"
....4 minute discussion in the car of "H" words...
Ashleigh: "This is a cute little town!"
Nana: "Look Parker! There are some tractors!"
Parker gets all excited to see the big machines
Nana then goes back to reading Parker his book
Kaylee randomly breaks into singing some song about rehab...once again, must have missed part of a conversation here!
Clay (to Poppie or anyone who's listening): "What makes them magnetized?" (Referring to the rocks that Poppie had gotten from Niagara)

Yesterday, we drove SE to Harmony, MN for a tour of Niagara Cave. It started by us leaving town around 11am (we actually left the apt around 10:00 but had to make a few stops first...Poppie was so patient with us girls! the time we hit the road we decided it would be a good idea to run through a drive-through & get some cold drinks. Great idea! Last stop Poppie...we promise!)

It took about 2 1/2 hrs of driving time to get there. We ate lunch at this quaint little restaurant in town called The Village Square of Harmony...Clay & I shared one of their famous was oh! so yummy! Ashleigh & I shared a delicious slice of homemade pecan pie for dessert; after taking one bite, I decided that I should just order a whole pie for myself. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn't have whole pies for you to order on this day...oh well...I saved myself a few pounds! :)

We then walked downtown (which was maybe a total of 1/8 of a mile), went to the Visitor's center so I could get my brochures & postcards :), & then drove on to the Niagara Cave site.

Can't say enough about this tour! We loved it! Parker did great in his backpack carrier again!
Just to give you a quick run-down on this place & this tour...

Harmony, MN is a VERY small town known for 2 things: being an Amish community (the largest one in MN) & Niagara Caves. This cave has been rated as one of the top ten commercial caves in the US. It has not only beautiful stalactites hanging from the ceiling & stalagmites reaching up from the floor as seen in many caves, but also a variety of soda straws, draperies, ribbons, flowstone, columns, and fossils dating back to between 325 to over 450 million years. One of the most noted features of Niagara Cave is the famous underground stream & waterfall. This cave has a lot of narrow passageways & "high-can't-see-top-ceilings." (There were a few areas that were a little difficult getting the backpack carrier through.) The cave is still active & stays at a constant 48 degree temp.

Funny story how the cave was discovered: In 1924, 3 pigs from a local farm disappeared. A few young men went in search of the pigs & their search led them to the soon to be famous sinkhole located east of the homestead. When they determined the pigs had somehow managed to fall through a narrow crack at the bottom of the sinkhole, they got ropes & lights & made their way down into the hole. After descending over 50 ft, they found the pigs still alive on a rock ledge. Not only that, but they had discovered that the vast rooms & passageways extended far beyond what their dim lights could pierce. When the boys told their adventure to others, no one really took them seriously until about 8 years later when 3 cave explorers from Iowa got word of the interesting hole. The rest is history. The cave was officially opened to the public for tours on June 1, 1934.

Carrie, Kaylee, Nana, Clay, Parker, Ashleigh, & Poppie inside Niagara

After the tour, Parker had fun playing outside Niagara with Aunt KK, Aunt Ash & Poppie..Parker would have happily jumped in & sat in the water if we had let him! :)

Aunt KK & Parker

We chose to take the "scenic route" on the way home. (aka Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway). GORGEOUS! Clay & I have decided we have to drive it again this fall! Beautiful rolling hills, green, green & green, clear lakes, flowers & crops everywhere you look. "The unique geology of the area brings you to the very edge of the giant glacier that once covered almost all of MN from 25,000 to 12,000 years ago. The very southeast portion of the state remained untouched by glacial activity and is known as the 'driftless area,' meaning it is free of the glacial 'drift' or deposits that glaciers leave behind...West of Spring Valley are the glacially smoothed flat prairies, full of fertile lands and abundance. To the east are older natural landforms containing unique biological systems and the majestic limestone bluffs created by thousands of years of outwash from the melting glacier."

I definately feel another road trip coming up this fall! :) Who wants to come with us?

No comments: