Spring Valley, WI

The next thing on our trip for Labor Day Weekend 2016 was Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, WI.  I’m going to try and do this place justice with all the incredible stories in the cave and the fun had inside and outside of the cave.

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This is the entrance to the Gift Shop and the beginning to purchase tickets for the tour.  There were so many beautiful geodes in all shapes and sizes in this place.  When you purchase your tickets to the cave, you will have about 20 minutes before your tour begins to look around the store to look at some possible things to buy after the tour is over.  Believe me, you will spend that whole time looking at all the great things with the family.

 

 

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After getting the safety briefing on what to do and not do in the cave, we make our decent.  The cave goes down 70′, roughly 7 floors underground.  There are actually 3 levels to this cave and you progressively climb down throughout the tour.  This cave was discovered in the early 1800s by 2 teenage boys when chasing a creature that escaped down a little hole.

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This first stop in the cave is this section.  (Apologies for not getting the whole rock pole).  This pole is believe to give a person good luck.  If you were to walk around this section once you are suppose to have good luck for 24 hours, but if you walked around it twice then you would have bad luck for 48 hours.

 

 

Our next decent brings us to the next section of the cave where you can finally start seeing water puddles.  The cave starts getting much colder as well.  I believe they said that the caves are around 50 degrees all year round.  We are now so far underground that if anything were to happen on the surface (like a tornado) we wouldn’t know it happened until we reached the surface again.

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There are several areas along the tour that are blocked off.  The adventurous side of me really wanted to explore those areas.  I’ll be honest, I really felt like a kid exploring areas again inside this cave.

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We make our next stop where we learn about the bats that visit this cave during the winter.  How much they eat, how they breathe, sleep, some of the diseases from bats.  Probably the greatest fact I learned about the bats is that during hibernation, the bats heart rate drops down to about 15 beats per minute and they take a breathe every 2 – 3 minutes.

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The ceilings are starting to get low enough now where my 6′ 3″ son has to start ducking to avoid hitting the headache rocks.  In the next room we come across this interesting image on the right.  They call this the ghost face room.  Can you figure out why they call it this?

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We next learned about the Ordovician Period and the creatures from that period that become fossilized.  I was in the very back of the group, so didn’t get many photos.  My daughters stated that the picture on the right had Gastropod in it, but I had difficulty seeing it.

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Next we learn about Stalactites and Stalagmites.  Do you remember your science classes where this was taught?  And the ceiling gets a little lower to get to our next room.

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This next part had a story that was created by the staff at Crystal Cave.  It was pretty interesting.

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Charlie was a boat racer, but not a very good one.  He constantly would lose.  He got so tired of losing that he created a device to make his boat go faster.  This device worked extremely well and allowed him to pass all the other racers.  Unfortunately for Charlie, he never created a device to stop his boat.  He was going so fast that he crashed his boat right into the wall and left this giant hole.

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When he crashed the device that he invented flew off the back end of the boat imbedding itself in this wall.  Can you figure out what he invented?  Looks like something is missing at the bottom.  That would be the blades of the motor.

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The fan blade broke off and went flying across the cave cutting through the wall leaving this silhouette.

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Charlie was thrown from his boat and went face first into this wall leaving a permanent impression.

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Charlie’s teeth were knocked out of his mouth and flew into this wall where they stuck and crystalized.

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Before hitting the ground Charlie put his hand out to slow himself down leaving an impression of his fingers in this final spot.

Interesting story made by the staff for this unique room.  The kids enjoyed the story.

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As I was finishing taking pictures of all the sections of the story, I decided to take a selfie of myself.  The tour guide turned off the lights while I was still in that section.  Don’t worry, I could still see where I was going from the light in the tunnel ahead.

 

 

 

 

The next section of the cave had so many sparkling objects in the wall.  Can you figure out what the objects are in the wall?

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Did you guess coins?  That’s right, this area use to be a place where people were allowed to take coins and press them into the wall.  They called this the wishing room, but they don’t allow money to be pressed into the walls anymore.

“Their time!  Up there!  Down here, it’s our time.  It’s our time down here.” – Mikey.

There were some really old coins in there.  It really makes you wonder how much value in coins is actually in those walls.

 

 

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The next section was very impressive to all the families.  These looked just like ordinary rocks.  They even explained to the kids that we eat rocks every day.  Salt, which is the rock on the far left.  Anyways, these rocks seemed so plain, until you applied fluorescent light to them and turned off the lights.

The rocks glow.  Pretty cool and interesting to see all the various colors of the stones.

 

 

 

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On our way out, I finally got a good look at the original hole that the boys climbed down.  If you are more adventurous, you can have a private tour of the cave where they will let you climb down into the cave with ropes.

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We didn’t see any bats the entire time in the cave and were disappointed by this, but as we reached the exit we saw this little guy.  There was another bat further in, but couldn’t get a good picture.

 

Back inside the gift shop we did our shopping.  You can buy multiple sizes of geodes.  Best part, you get to crack them open yourself with help from the staff setting up the geode cracker.  Of course we had to get the largest one.

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Finally it was the kids turn: Prospector Creek.  One large bucket purchased and headed over to do some sifting through our spoils.

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The bucket was filled with sand, stones, fossils, and shark teeth.  The kids each got several scoops from the bucket and each of them got something each that none of the other kids got.  With 5 kids, I call this a win.  Even the older kids really enjoyed this part of the trip.

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The kids are all being told how the steps to sift through each scoop placed in their individual sifters.  Wonder what treasures await with each scoop.

As I said, they had a lot of fun with this part and kept comparing what they found after each scoop.  That bucket gave each kid 5 scoops if I remember correctly.

 

 

 

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This is the chart provided to us.  Because we got the bucket, I believe we found all of these common pieces that can be found among the sand.  My oldest son found a stone that was not on this sheet that was extremely large for it’s kind.  The guy directing everyone was very impressed and even said that it was very rare to find and much larger than usual.  He was very excited and even looked like he wanted to have the piece for himself.

Thank you Crystal Cave for making this experience so much fun for the family.  Hope I told the stories correctly, there was a lot of information provided during the tour.

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