Distracted by dinos, we took a wrong turning which led us past flowering orchards and drystone walls. We reached the caverns in time to book on the next tour, and soon we were following our guide down into the depths.
The caves were were discovered in 1878 and became a major tourist attraction soon afterwards. It must have been scary stuff in the days when they were lit by candles and visitors exited via a narrow passageway rather than the gift shop. These days, the stalactites and stalagmites are lit by unwavering beams and remain beautiful, creepy and impressive. There are vast floor-to-ceiling columns and strange little lumps; there are random natural shapes which the human eye and brain transform into ghosts and fried eggs. I loved the shallow pool of water so clear and still that the reflection of the stalactites above looked like underwater stalagmites mirroring the ceiling, and a formation called the Fishmarket because the hanging rocks look like fish drying above a stall. The undeniable highlight, however, was the Stalac-Pipe Organ: stalactites rigged and wired to produce a note when struck, so you get an eerie surround-sound performance of a jolly, patriotic tune at the press of a button.
As well as the main attraction, there was a small motor museum and a vast gift shop containing precisely nothing I wanted (though I was tempted by a cuddly possum). We took a moment to admire the view before hitting the road again.
Things I Ate
From Sheetz, a hot dog with many toppings, ordered by touchscreen, and Old Bay Crab-flavoured crisps.