Niagara Cave and Harmony – July 30

Statue in honor of pigs whose untimely deaths brought about the discovery of Niagara Cave.

Approximately 2.5 hours southeast of the Twin Cities lies a very deep cavern that was discovered (this is true) as a result of the Roaring ’20s when rich Amish swells would go there to toss money and pigs down the sink hole. (Pigs were a big sign of wealth back then!). Then when times got hard during the depression, they came back and excavated the hole to find their money and to see if there was anything left of the pig meat, and they found these super cool caves. But after the electric light took off, the Amish got muscled out of the cave business when the fat cats at GE took the caves wickless (as in candle wicks), and so they had to move up the road and start selling baked goods and old-timey home decore.

A chapel for people who wish to keep their marriage on the "down low." (insert sympathy chuckle)

Now that you know the history, here’s a bit about the experience. So, this is also true. People get married inside this cave! Which I find very disrespectful since it’s also a dinosaur grave-yard. Also, there is a really big waterfall in this place, and you’re not supposed to touch the walls – lest you ruin the experience for everyone (Even though there are scientist footprints up one of the walls where some scientific swell decided to go exploring and knock loose prehistoric dirt right in plain sight. Pff. Typical scientist.) – but the walls are very narrow, so I accidentally touched the walls a lot of times. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the presence of mind to “accidentally” touch any fossils.

All that's left of a dinosaur.

Additionally, we were warned that it was going to be really cold in the caves, and we should bring sweatshirts, which frightened some of our group to purchase Niagara Cave hoodies, only to find that it was everyone’s favorite temperature (room temperature) down there, and covering up wasn’t really necessary. Scammed!

Then we drove into Harmony where we got some really great lunch and pie at The Village Square of Harmony. I had a cup of the soup of the day, which was something really cheesie, as I recall. AND which came with the best bread sticks I can, at the moment of writing this, remember eating  at any other time in my entire life. They had this amazing soft but firm thing going on on the outside and fluffy but moist thing going on the inside. And normally I don’t like the idea of buttery breadsticks but in this case I was passionately for it. Wow. So so good.

 Also, they had a zillion flavors of pie. I got the sour cream and raisin pie which was exactly like raisin cookie dough on a pie crust (but without an overdose of raisins) – in a really good way. It was insanely dense, though, so I didn’t finish it, since I needed to save room for tastes of everyone else’s pie. All of which were good.

Then we looked at some Amish-made, old-timey home decore and various antiques at a store called Hometown Variety  and some other touristy boutiques I can’t see close-up enough on Google Maps to get the names of. We also drove around Amish country and stopped in at some shops. I bought some food made by an Amish family, which – the rumors are true – was delicious. Rhubarb jam, granola, and a really incredibly good doughnut. I hope you don’t mind that I’m not putting up pictures of any of these purchases, as photographing them is considered offensive.

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