The Ex-Capital Birthday Weekend, Part 9 of 10: Indiana Caverns on $0.00 a Day

A wood-carved saber-toothed tiger situated on the front porch of the Indiana Caverns gift shop.

The wood-carved saber-toothed tiger welcomes you!

Our Friday in and around Corydon was fun, but not every stop on our to-do list worked out as hoped. Some attractions are simply more doable in the morning than in the afternoon. The longer the day goes on, the longer their guest list grows and the longer you might have to wait your turn. You can either be patient and invest the extra time needed, or bow out gracefully and don’t grouse about the minutes you’ve blown in vain, especially when that’s technically your own fault.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In October 2022 Anne turned 52. Indiana offers no shortage of tourist attractions for history aficionados like her. We’ve visited quite a few of those over the years, but this year we felt it was time to check off one of the Hoosier State’s biggest trivia answers: Corydon, our original state capital before Indianapolis…

The Indiana Caverns sign out front by the parking lot.

This way to rock formations, underground rivers, and cool indoor temperatures.

A bit southwest of the Battle of Corydon Historic Site was our final planned stop of the day, Indiana Caverns. We’ve toured cool underground caverns before — such as, most recently, Bluespring Caverns in 2020 — but we figured we’d check out their version since we were in the neighborhood. The visual highlights began well before we entered the gift shop.

A limestone cylinder sitting outside with a sign: "This 30-inch limestone core is from the manhole entrance that allowed access to survey & engineer the main visitor entrance to Indiana Caverns."

This hefty limestone cylinder illustrates some of the stonework visitors can see way down below on their tour.

An eight-foot water tower with a wooden aqueduct leading downhill toward an activity area where kids can pan for gems and fossils under supervision.

Outdoor kiddie activities include panning for gems and tiny fossils in a setup facilitated by this tiny water tower.

Some random greenery and flowers in their front yard with a rock that says, "I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth".

Some of their flowers lived well into autumn, next to a rock that paraphrased Acts 2:19.

Roller coaster tracks against a blue sky, but not in service.

They have an entire roller coaster on the premises. Alas, the Bat-Chaser was not running that day.

Inside the welcome center and gift shop, the ticket counter had a long line. Kids had plenty of decorations and merchandise to keep them occupied while their adults waited to buy them access to the next available tour.

A display of geodes for sale.

Hey, kids! Geodes!

Tiny trees made from cheap gemstones for sale.

If you’d prefer smaller and cheaper rocks, they’ve used some of those to make li’l gemstone trees. Don’t expect any diamonds in there.

Tiny turtles made of colorful rocks for sale, with a larger rock turtle hanging over all of them.

If you prefer fake animals to real gems, they also offer pocket-sized inanimate rock turtles, guarded by an apex fake turtle.

A five-foot-tall stuffed yak sitting on the hardwood floor behind a chair. For some reason a sign behind it says "No backpacks allowed."

Security on duty is this giant stuffed yak.

A painting of wolves, bears, wildcats, mammoths and other animals in ancient times.

Painting of mammoths, wildcats, wolves, and other animals we don’t see around southern Indiana much lately. (I hear wildcats are plentiful, but we don’t go searching for them.)

When it was our turn at the register, we were informed it’d be a 90-minute wait till the next cavern tour. We’d feared this would happen, and had known putting off the caves till the afternoon might be an issue, but we accepted the consequences. We’d already had a long and lively day. We’d seen plenty of sights. Anne the birthday gal was satisfied that we’d gotten our time and money’s worth from the city in general. Together we decided we didn’t feel like killing yet another 90 minutes to see caves that probably resemble other caves we’ve seen elsewhere. We thanked them for their time and availed ourselves of one last purchase before we left.

Anne smiling and gesturing to a smashed penny machine.

The real reason we were here: they had a smashed penny machine! Longtime MCC readers are well aware these are Anne’s thing.

…and then we took our leave of Corydon altogether, happy with our long day. Autumn highlights bedecked the roadside as we headed north on I-65 back to Indianapolis. We enjoyed them for a few extra minutes when I missed a turnoff. Again: long day.

Deciduous trees along the interstate in various fall foliage colors.

Remember how it was October when this miniseries began?

But Anne’s big birthday weekend didn’t end there. Saturday had its own very special, totally unrelated schedule of events in store.

To be concluded! Other chapters in this very special miniseries:

Part 1: Unrelated Pastry Prologue
Part 2: Welcome to Corydon
Part 3: Halloween and the Hallowed Tree
Part 4: A Capital Pack of Markers
Part 5: Hooked on Butt Drugs
Part 6: Cozy Corydon Cuisine
Part 7: William Henry Harrison Slept Here
Part 8: The Battle Cabin in the Woods
Part 10: An Epilogue of Film, Fowl, and Facades

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