She wanted to do something out of the ordinary, so we went to Niagara Cave near Harmony, Minnesota. On our way there, we stopped a train in Cresco and then had some play time.
I had never heard of Niagara Cave, but it's one of the top ten caves in the US. It is two hours from Waterloo, and is totally worth the drive! Unless you're one of those people who doesn't like caves.
We bought some sludge in the gift shop while we were waiting for our tour. The good news is that the girls each enjoyed sifting out a bunch of rough gemstones. The bad news is that the sludge is a set-up. Someone mixed a few glassy stones into bags of sand and marketed it as Gemstone Sludge. It's all a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo. If you're looking to get rich quick, hear me now. Stay away from the sludge at the Niagara Cave gift shop. I'm not saying I don't recommend sludge, just be smart about it and don't get addicted.
We didn't have enough people with us to have our own cave tour group, so we went with some strangers. They were making weird monkey sounds throughout the tour and took a super long time taking photos. I tried rolling my eyes at Ryan, our guide, like "can you even believe these people?", but he pretended he didn't see me. Later, I thought about the people I had brought. For one thing, Alli and some of her friends were wearing fake mustaches. Also, Ryan didn't seem to appreciate my jokes about the rocks looking like various body parts of people in our group. And he didn't even smile when Gwen, my youngest, asked if he was a cave man. There is a decent chance Ryan was in cahoots with the monkey-noise-makers, and they probably all were eye-rolling at us. But at the time, I genuinely thought we were the normal ones.
If I ever become a cave tour guide (you never know), I would make up legends and names of formations just to mess with people. My Aunt Claire was a cave tour guide in Hannibal, Missouri. I'll try to schedule an interview with her and will post anything interesting that I find out.
When we got home, the girls played a game I'll call Dicey Bags. I loved a similar party game when I was little, but I can't remember all the rules. I made up some rules, and the girls loved the game!
What you need:
- 1 brown paper bag per player, each filled with a different prize. Fold over the top so players can't see inside.
- 1 die per player
- 1 pad of paper & pen for every two players
How to play:
- Each player chooses a die and a paper bag. Pair up the players and give each pair a pen and pad of paper.
- Players take turns rolling the dice. Whoever rolls the higher number wins a point. No one scores on a tie. Use the pen paper to keep track of points. The first player who gets to ten points wins the round!
- The winner peaks inside their bag and decides to keep it or trade it with their partner.
- At the "head table", the winner stays, and the loser moves down to the lowest table. All other winners move up toward toward the head table. Play as many rounds as you want!
The girls didn't want to stop playing, so I rummaged around the house for prizes to put in the bags. The prizes kept getting worse and worse. We hit a low when someone won a kitchen scrubbing sponge.