Sunday, August 12, 2012

Polar Caves

 We've gone on quite a few fun, little outings this summer, but this weekend's trip to The Polar Caves in Rumney NH was, by far, the most exciting.  Looking online, we were originally thinking of going to Ruggle's Mine, but it was SO expensive.  The Polar Caves were not nearly as pricey, and now that we've been, I would have paid twice the admission they charged because it was THAT cool.  My pictures don't do it justice.  One of the most beautiful places ever.  Even without the caves, the park itself is incredible.  I'd go again in a heartbeat.  I don't remember how many caves there were, maybe eight?  Some were very cold and deep, some had daylight shining in through crevices.  The stairs were mostly these amazing, wooden creations that were fit around the rocks perfectly.

  Along one of the boardwalks in the park, next to a jumble of car-sized granite chunks, with chilly air pouring out, we came across the general manager who was "building a new cave" as he put it.  He finds a cave (there are hundreds of them in this hillside, created by a glacier) makes sure there is an entrance, an exit,  and a bypass around.  He tests the cave for safety, then he begins making the stairs and walkways through it.  He's worked there his whole life and has built the only new caves in the park since 1920, three of them.  It can take many years, he said, to complete one.  He seemed very proud when Eli said he loved King Tut's Tomb, as it was the last one he'd worked on.  Fascinating to peer into the opening and see the new steps, each one hand-shaped to hug the stones, disappearing down into the earth.  The man had a rather sizable mid-section, so if he fits through his caves, others would too, he reasoned!  (Although I highly doubt this gentleman went through one feature we found called: the "Lemon Squeezer", the kids made it just fine, I was too chicken, and Jen had a quick moment of panic before she got out of the tight, drag-yourself-along-on-your-belly tunnel.) The whole place was just a wonderful experience.  A petting zoo of exotic, rainbow colored pheasants, and fallow deer with velvety horns and silky, spotted fur.  A rock garden maze with amazing granite boulders almost smothered in lush ferns and moss.  A pond with a covered bridge, paths and steps, steps, steps!  Hand-carved signs depicting, in wooden relief, all the trees and plants and animals along the way.  A sugarhouse museum.  A breathtaking view from the mountain on top of all the caves. (87 steps up!)  Anyway, it ranks number one on our list of favorite trips this summer.  If you've never been, we highly recommend you check out this New England attraction.  Completely clean and beautiful and (mostly) not claustrophobic (every cave has a bypass so you can pick and choose if you don't want to go underground), adventure enough for the most daring, and safe enough for the biggest chicken, has a long and interesting history, is highly educational (but not even close to boring!) won't break the bank and worth every penny.

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