After our visit to the Little House Wayside, we drove about 20 minutes north to visit Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, WI. The boys have been begging to go to the cave since last summer, and we've been promising to take them and then forgetting about it. I wanted to get this trip in before the end of the summer, and I am so glad we did! We spent the night at Auntie Sarah's in Wausau, and then drove west for our day of adventures!
The cave tour is well done and the cave itself is very navigable. Our tour guide, Amanda, did a nice job and taught us a lot about the history of the cave, bats and, of course, crystals! The boys got to help "lead" the group into the various chambers and were careful not to run or touch anything. They got a little chilly in the 50 degree cave, but at an hour long, the tour was just long enough. We emerged from the ground and headed over to Prospector's Creek to do some gem panning!
The boys each got a bag of mining rough and poured it into their gem pan.
They had to screen and slide it through the mining sluice to make the gems and minerals appear. And appear they did! They both squealed happily as shiny gems separated from the dirt. They uncovered quite a few gems, and I was impressed with how much they found in one small bag!
Liam's eyes lit up as he looked at each gem and carefully placed them in his prospector's bag.
Max picked through the mining rough for every last sliver of treasure and filled his bag right up!
We had fun sitting in the shade afterwards identifying our gems with the supplied gem identification card.
Max is getting very good at reading and was able to sound out most of the types of gems in his bag, including calcite and crystal points.
We were at the cave on a Monday, so I'm sure that is why it wasn't very busy, but I really loved feeling like we weren't rushed and weren't in a huge crowd to do everything. We were able to take our time and do whatever the boys wanted to do. They even got to pick out one shark tooth each at the gift shop! They couldn't believe their luck! ;)
This was the perfect way to end the summer. The boys were great travelers, we got to visit with Sarah and we got to spend some quality time with just the three of us.