August 6, 2010. When the weather gets too hot above ground, go underground. Marengo Cave was a good choice. It's just a short scenic drive just across the river from Louisville and northwest of New Albany IN. Discovered in 1883 by siblings Orris and Blanche Hiestand. (Why don't those old names come back in fashion?) Marengo is a wondrous, small, system that offers two short easy tours; the Dripstone and Crystal Palace. For the more adventurous there are also exploring tours.
I took the trip one week before school started. When I got there I thought, “why did I take this trip one week before school started?” The kids weren't bad, there just would have been less people on the already small tour. Although, there was one kid who moaned and whined (you know, that just-short-of-crying sound) on part of the Palace tour. One kid has a bad day, we all have a bad day.
Both tours were just over 90 minutes and the formations were beautiful. You get to weave through stalactites, stalagmites, columns and around flowstone formations. Not look at them from a distance. And cavers must get hungry, because of some semi-official names of formations are: bacon, soda straws and taco shells. That could explain why on the Marengo tours the guides talked less about the science of the cave and more about what formations and shadows look like. “Doesn't this shadow look like George Washington? This formation looks like a volcano so we call it Vesuvius. And this looks like the Great Wall of China. So we call it...” You get the idea.
What I wanted to see was the Crystal Palace. So many types of formations in one place. It's suppose to be one of the most beautiful cave rooms in the US. We walked into the dimly lit room, sat on some benches and they begin a video presentation. It was projected onto a wall and was hard to see and, because of the room, almost inaudible. When it's done, the the the lights come up full and TA DA the Crystal Palace! 10 seconds later the lights go down and it's “This way please.” What? Huh? I got less than 30 seconds to see the room fully lit. They spent 10 minutes, later in the tour, trying to throw pennies into the ceiling of the cave and we only go 30 seconds to see the Crystal Palace? That was really the only disappointment. I would have liked to see the room in all it's glory and a little more science, but certainly a trip worth taking. I'm sorry I waited so long to see Marengo Caves. I won't wait so long to get back.
Interesting Marengo facts. Well, according to Wiki anyway.
On the way back to mom's I stopped in New Albany to grab a bite and hit the New Albanian Brewery. I had some pineapple chicken wings which weren't bad. The beer was a little on the bland side.