Sopping wet, wringing our clothes of pounds of rainwater, our group of nine stepped into the eclectic gift shop of the Polar Caves Park in Rumney, New Hampshire. My tennis shoes had accumulated enough water to quench the thirst of a horse and my toes were sticking to each other like they had been covered in Elmer’s glue, yet I could not stop smiling.
My family of four and our friends’ family of five have vacationed together once a summer for the past six years now. We have been to places across the world that many only dream of—Hawaii, London, and Paris—yet the Polar Caves in New Hampshire is one of our fondest memories. Throughout the years, we have learned that sometimes it is the unplanned stops that will outlive the memories of exotic vacations.
We were not entering the gift shop to escape the rain; in fact, we rather enjoyed it. We had just spent our afternoon walking and climbing in and around the Polar Caves in the pouring rain, creating memories that will never be forgotten and will not cease to reappear when reminiscing about past vacations.
The park was empty. Other than the staff, we were the only people there. Granted, the weather probably scared other potential visitors away, but not us—there is hardly anything we won’t try. We marched right into the park and started making our way through the damp, narrow crevices, watching each step carefully. Going one by one through the “lemon squeeze”—an impossibly tight space between two incredibly huge rocks, required lots of tugging from one end and pushing from the other (needless to say, we became closer on this trip). But we did it. And we are glad that we did. The caves were incredible and while some may have seen them as large hunks of rock, we saw them as mother nature’s artwork.
We came back from the Polar Caves with nine pairs of wet, soggy shoes. We had hiking planned for the next day, so we needed to dry our shoes quickly. However, we could not throw them in the dryer, so using creativity, found the perfect way to dry our shoes: we tied the tennis shoes together and hung hiking sticks, skewered with waterlogged tennis shoes, directly over the fireplace that was blazing with a freshly lit flame. After an evening of “roasting” over the open fire, our s’more-resembling tennis shoes were dry and ready for hiking the next day.
Our group is incredible—we are daring, innovative, and love to be with each other. A torrential downpour may have ruined anyone else’s day, but we did not let it stop us. We went with the “flow” and ended up creating memories that will last forever.
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