Monday, July 10, 2006

Escape From Corporate Cavern

Secrest Caverns: It's like Howe Caverns on acid.You should drive up to Howe Caverns this summer --and keep on driving. Instead of turning right and climbing the hill to the famous cave, stay on the road and you'll soon arrive at Secret Caverns. And there's no mistaking when you've arrived at Secret Caverns.

Secret Caverns is every bit as funky and unusual as Howe Caverns is sterile and structured. You'll sense this on the ride up, when you start seeing their mad billboards that dot the roadside. It's funny that for all Howe's marketing savvy, the last thing visitors see are dozens of signs for their tiny competitor up the road. Those who keep driving will be well rewarded.

While Secret Caverns may be smaller than Howe, but it's also...well, cavey-er. When you're down in Secret Caverns, you really feel like you're in a cave, not at Disney World. It's drippy and dank and feels just slightly creepy. Our tour guide was not some bland, innocuous teenager, but a young lady sporting a lip ring, red high-tops, and a wry sense of humor. She allowed plenty of time for our group to move single file through the narrow, craggy passages, offering cave anecdotes and geologic facts along the way. Once you reach the end of the cave (the end of the tour; the cave keeps going) you'll find a sight more sensational than anything at Howe: a thundering hundred-foot waterfall that alone is worth the price of admission. Bring a good flashlight; it will help you see into the nooks and crannies, and in Secret Caverns, you really get the sense that you could end up needing it to find your way out.