We made the short trip out to Huntingdon, PA (about an hour away) and signed up for the next available tour. I was happily surprised to see that there were plenty of people visiting the caverns - lots of small families. I love seeing local spots being supported and visited :) While we waited for our tour, the kids played in the outdoor 'mining river' and exploring the wooded picnic areas.
We were all laughing and smiling and having such a great start to our trip. Brandon and I were so pleased with ourselves that we are such cool and fun parents and what a great experience for our kids to have at such a young age!
When it was our turn for the cave tour and we made our way up with our group and tour guide and acted really excited and the kids were so pumped and it was going to be the best time ever!
We walked into the cave and they shut the door behind us and we all stood and waited in the front 'room' while the tour guide started her speech about how the cave was discovered, what the formations are called, etc, etc.
And it took all of half a minute for Brandon and I to look at each other in terror as the error of our ways became painfully obvious.
Greyson started almost immediately calling out loudly, "Bats! Bats! Where are you?" and Gemma arched her back to be put down to try to smudge her slimy little hands all over the 'please-do-not-touch-the-stalagmites-because-it-will-stop-their-century-old-growth' scenery.
That poor, sweet tour guide was just trying to get through her rehearsed lines and my kids were offering running commentary and enthusiastic yelps as Brandon and I whispered back and forth 'Dear God, what the hell were we thinking bringing these two into a cave with no quick exit?!"
We spent the next 30 minutes hanging at the back of our tour group walking away periodically into the darkness that we had just visited to distract our squirming, vocal kids. ugh, we were those people. And Mums & Dads - you know how it goes; the more you try to keep your kids quiet is directly proportionate to how much louder they get.
At the end of the day, it was a lot of fun for the kids. They weren't very interested in the beauty and wonder that caves exist and how they continue to grow through the years. But they did like being underground ('like a secret hideout, Mum!') and they loved pretending like they were finding bats (they are not in season right now).
We were also able to snap a ton of pictures that made it look like a complete successful and non-stressful trip. Don't let these pictures fool you into thinking we are some sort of parenting superheroes - we ain't. Brandon and I were both balls of nervous energy hardly waiting to get the heck out of there!
Overall, it was a learning experience for Brandon and I - as in we learned that the next time we will attempt a visit to a place that does not have an escape route and there is a tour guide trying to get through a speech will be when our children are in double digits.
Dear fellow cavern tour group,
From the parents who are grateful that you didn't try to lose us in the cave on purpose.