Do you remember how we had to replace our furnace and air conditioner last fall? You can read all about it, if you'd like, by clicking here. It was a bit unexpected. -understatement-
We also had the expense of braces last year. You can read about that here.
Now, while we're VERY glad to have heat for the winter, and we are extremely glad to have cool air, especially during this very hot summer, and we aren't going to complain that our energy bills have been much less expensive with the new equipment,(apparently the old furnace and A/C units were too big for the house, making them more expensive to run. Huh, who knew?) but last year was a very expensive year!
And just look at this winning smile Miss Sofia has going on because of her braces,
That's not it! Hold on.
Wait for it.
Ah, there it is! Yep, totally worth the cost of a Walt Disney World vacation. And truly, anywhere I am, that I get to see one of my girls smile, that is the happiest place on earth for me.
Anyway, all of that is to say, this year, we are once again, vacationing on the cheap!!
By cheap I mean, we are staying home (no hotel costs) and going to do all of the things that people who come to Minnesota for vacation do. You know, all of the things that those of us who actually live in Minnesota say we should do, but never ever get around to doing. Yep, those things!
We've planned five days of stay home vacation adventure for the family.
Well, except for yesterday. Yesterday we drove to Wisconsin.
Our search for "backyard" adventure took us to Spring Valley Wisconsin's Crystal Cave.
Crystal Cave goes 7 stories below ground.
With all of the crazy heat this summer, we loved that we needed sweatshirts for the tour of the cave. The cave is cold. 48˚ to be exact!!
I'm not a huge fan of exploring caves, but this one has large passageways and I managed to avoid panicking. That would have been embarrassing.
The Husband kept asking me if I was OK. He's the best! And he may have been getting ready to bolt if I was going to embarrass the whole family.
It helped that I've been in this cave before. We had visited years ago when the girls were little, and Miss Emma Bean's class had visited for a field trip once. I chaperoned. I didn't panic then either. It really only bothers me when the guide begins to talk about the sections of the cave that require crawling along one's belly to get through. I would totally have panicked had she said we were going to do that!! Like kick and scream and cry panic. She didn't say that though. I was fine. Mostly. But I'm still not a huge fan of being underground. The cave is lovely though.
It also helped knowing the Husband had flashlights with him.
OK, the part where he was playing and making scary faces didn't help, but it was good to know that, when the part of the tour began, where the guide decides to turn off the lights in the cave so everyone can see what total darkness is like, the Husband had flashlights!
I don't need to see what total darkness is like! I would be perfectly fine if she just told us that without the lights on the cave is completely dark. I would have taken her word for it. I didn't need proof! But she felt the need to prove it anyway. -bah-
The most upsetting part is when the guide asks if we want to experience total darkness, she ignores anyone who says no, and then she actually walks away from the group to go somewhere else to turn off the lights!! What?? She did return to us with the use of her flashlight, but I was ready to scream a blood curdling scream just in case!
In the end our guide led us back out of the cave and all was well. I never had to scream once. I did hold on to Miss Emma Bean pretty tightly though, you know, in case she was scared.
Clearly it was a big help to her!
I'm fascinated by fungus!
And no trip to Wisconsin would be complete without a stop at a cheese factory!
There may have also been a few extra stops made so that I could get some shots of one or two of the old churches we saw as we drove through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside.
Ya gotta love a family that allows you to stop for any old photo you want to take, and that will gladly pose on command!
Even Grandma and Papa got into the act!
Day one's adventure was a blast! Now on to day 2!