You don’t have to travel half way around the world to experience a really cool adventure. Sometimes you just have to go down, about 156 feet down, towards the center of the earth, where the temperature is a constant 55 degrees. Such was the case when I convinced my son, Spencer to come with me to Howe Caverns in upstate New York.
Howe Caverns is a 6 million year old cave that was discovered on May 22, 1842 by a dairy herd farmer, Lester Howe. It appears that his cow, Millicent every day would pasture at the same cool spot. That spot happened to be on his neighbor, Henry Wetsel’s land. One day, Howe decided to investigate where the cool air for that spot was coming from, he walked past his cow and pushed aside a bush and
lo and behold, he found that the cows “air-conditioned” vent was really a ‘blowing rock’, which in turn was an opening to a cave.
He and his neighbor decided to explore it further and the two men day after day would venture into the muddy cave and slowly bit by bit uncover its underground passageways, using only the light of a whale oil lamp. Eventually they discovered an underground lake. Howe was ecstatic.
In Feb. of 1843 he paid Westel a hundred bucks and bought the property from him. Howe opened the cave to the public and it became the United States, third commercial cave.
Today, one can visit this cave (which is now owned by 220 shareholders Instead of one farmer) and explore the cave with it’s one of three tour options. Most people do the traditional 80-minute tour, which starts with a well-lit foot walk and includes a quarter mile boat ride in the Underground Lake of Venus…but I wanted something more exciting. I had been to Howe Cavern a couple of times as a kid, and I always wanted to crawl beyond where the tour ended, go into the crevices, the darkness and see what Lester Howe experienced when he came into the caves.
I read option number two, the two-hour lantern tour that takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings. With this tour, the lights are turned off, and you hold Lanterns and torches to guide you, sounds cool, but as a stand up I’m usually working those nights, so my choice was walk in the cave or make money…I chose to go with the make them laugh money option.
And then I saw it, option number three, “The Adventure Tour”. The name alone sold me but I read on. It was a two-hour Spelunking tour, which takes you to a part of the cave that had been closed for over 125 years! Yes! And to top it off, we’d be crawling around; getting dirty…this was so up my alley. The perfect birthday celebration for my son, and me mind you, it was my birthday, not his. I called the place and booked a day for us to go. Lucky we called a week early because it fills up quickly. We picked a midday adventure.
My son and I had gone spelunking before, so we had our own equipment. but the cool thing was this tour included everything we needed anyway so we didn’t have to lug our own stuff around, nor do the messy cleanup afterwards like we would if we brought our own stuff. They provided us with coveralls, gloves, boots, kneepads and lighted helmet – everything you’d need to crawl your way to happiness.
Below is the video of what we experienced. Enjoy.
For further information on Howe Caverns visit HoweCaverns.com