If only we’d had a treasure map.
But our compass for adventure today was a Groupon I’d bought several months ago for a local place called Indian Echo Caverns, in the Hershey area. It wasn’t spelunking (that’s a fun word to say); in Isabelle’s words it was “cave exploring.” I feared it might be a cheesy, gimmicky experience.
I’m pleased to say it was neither.
Had we stumbled onto the caverns while running from Italian fugitives holed up in an abandoned restaurant on a quest for pirate treasure, the day would not have been more adventurous.
The tour begins at the gift shop, then leads visitors down 71 steps (a number they continually repeat) to the entrance to the caverns.
Because I was trying to keep Corban occupied and sort of on task (he’s easily distracted by water of any kind), I missed much of the explanation and history of the caverns. But, as Isabelle remarked part way through the tour, “this place is the coolest.” And she wasn’t just talking about the 50-degree temperature of the caverns.
Pictures will say it better than my words can. So, here’s a few to consider:
Maybe the most memorable moment in the caverns is in a room — that’s what the guides call each section of the cavern — where the guide turns off all the tour lights and you experience total darkness. Like, can’t see your hand in front of your face darkness. The kids freaked out. But it’s something we don’t really grasp in our electricity-dependent world. That, alone, was worth the price of admission.
The cavern tour ends in a spot where a man, Amos Wilson, also known as”the hermit of Pennsylvania,” lived for years, emerging only to work for a nearby farmer. His journal was available for purchase, but I didn’t bite this time. Sounds fascinating, though. (Chester Copperpot, anyone?)
I wouldn’t have imagined that a hole in the ground could be so fascinating, but imagination is part of the experience. I wish I could have let mine run wild a little more.
A definite recommendation. Isabelle even asked if we could come back sometime. Maybe when Corban is a little older. His favorite part of the caverns was the puddles.
His legs were covered in thousand-year-old gunk. And a few of the other guests in our group were none too pleased by his splashing.
After the tour, we picnicked on the grounds, played on the playground and petted and fed some goats, bunnies and chickens. Also Corban’s favorite part. Every time he heard the rooster, he took off running toward the animal area.
When we were finally able to pull ourselves away from Indian Echo Caverns, we drove back toward Hershey, hoping the kids would fall asleep for an hour or so. Success! So we hung out in the outlet mall parking lot while the kiddos napped.
Next stop, Chocolate World. Our umpteenth trip but when it’s free, it doesn’t really matter how many times you go. Especially when the kids enjoy it more the older they get.
Plus, free chocolate at the end of the ride — who could pass that up? No Baby Ruth. I think that’s a different company. But Chunk would have liked it.
Our final stop: Fuddrucker’s. World’s Greatest Hamburgers. The sign says so. And I’d have to agree. Although I don’t think they really have to compete with “the world.” Burgers outside of the U.S. just aren’t burgers.
The money we “saved” on the kids’ food we used for a post-dinner milkshake. Not only is the food good, but Fuddrucker’s brings back happy memories for me. Road trips, good friends and fabulous burgers and conversation. It was great to experience it with our kids, too.
We didn’t find any “rich stuff” like the Goonies were looking for. At least, not the buried treasure kind they needed to save their homes.
But we did make a whole lot of memories.
And for us, that’s the richest stuff on earth.