Our Planning Trip to Howe Caverns: March, 2012

Our Planning Trip to Howe Caverns

Howes Cave, NY

March 14 – 16, 2012

The trunk of Nathan’s car: packed and ready to go!

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The Bride-to-Be goes nowhere without the really cool bag.

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Signs pointing the way are illuminated in our headlights.

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The Howe Caverns sign at the base of the driveway.

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Even though the Motel itself is open year-round, the office closes early (and I’m uncertain if it’s open at all during the winter months, as booking for our wedding was handled through the Main Business Office instead of through the Motel). The envelope contained information that would lead us to our room key.

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The Welcome Mat in front of our room.

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The key.

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Our room was one of the two single-Queens.

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The television and desk with coffee service.

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The television and desk with coffee service.

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I love the bathrooms—the toilet/shower room is enormous (in fact, it would be cool if they stuck a little dresser or something in there to put your clothes on). And in case you are wondering, the water pressure in the showers is very good. That’s always a must for me.

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Another thing about these bathrooms are the small, square windows high up on the wall (at left of photo)—very common in the older motor lodges. They face the back hill, so there’s a lovely view.

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The toiletries are on the double vanity, which is outside the toilet/shower room. Howe Caverns Motel is one of the few lodgings I’ve seen include make-up remover. While this may seem not that important, for me it is—I always forget mine, and these are just so much more convenient than pouring liquid on a cotton ball.

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There are two Queen rooms, 110 and 111. They are small, so there really isn’t room for full nightstands with drawers. I thought this was very clever and worked just right; there was one on the other side of the bed, too. What’s also great about this is there is less danger of leaving items behind—you can pretty much see everything you put in there.

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A long shot of the bed. I like this bedspread because it reminds me of one we had up in our camp in Salisbury, New York, which is about an hour and a half from Howe.

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Our window, which in the morning will overlook the spectacular view. We kept the curtains open—and there was one creepy moment that I can’t reveal now because it’s part of my story, and if I blow it, I’ll lose my inspiration and it won’t get written. Stay tuned for updates!

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Barb and Betty keep the rooms exceptionally clean.

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The outside of the motel in the dead of night. There was another creepy moment out here that, again, I can’t reveal or the story won’t get written because I’ll lose interest.

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For this trip, the Bride bag carried all of my notes.

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Nathan’s brother and sister-in-law, Ernie and Maureen, gave us a wine tote as an engagement gift. We made good use of it!

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We’d stopped at a gas station in town and loaded up on snacks—we recalled the late-night isolation from our stay a couple of Augusts prior.

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We simply wouldn’t get the kind treatment back home that we would here, period. April who runs the Howe Caverns Motel, is awesome—we were surprised to get a complimentary tour! We were going to go on one anyway so I could re-experience the sensations and smells (to help with the ghost story).

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Nathan opens up a bottle of wine.

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Our wine. We didn’t like it at first—it was wonderful after we let it breathe for awhile.

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Me.

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At three a.m., Nathan took a phone call from a business associate on the West Coast. We could’ve run around naked and screaming in that parking lot at all hours and no one would’ve heard a thing.

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Waking up early! The view outside our room.

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Where I chilled with my morning coffee. It was still unseasonably warm.

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Nathan’s is the only car in the lot!

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Another scenic view.

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Leaving a note for Barb. She is awesome.

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Originally, we were going to have the Rehearsal Dinner up in the Pavilion. Given its style and the small number of attendees, we decided to move it to somewhere more cozy.

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This is a much more appropriate area for the Rehearsal Dinner in terms of theme—its very reminiscent of my cabin in Salisbury. We’ll be keeping the plastic tables and chairs (Anne-Marie’s idea) to reinforce that “camp” theme.

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A close-up of the lighting in the Rehearsal Dinner area. This is really going to be beautiful at that time of day, when the sun is setting.

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These are the stairs which will take our guests from the ceremony to the reception.

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A shot of where the ceremony will be held. The furniture will be replaced with two rows of chairs with an aisle down the center.

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The original plan was to tie bows on these railings, but I’ve since decided against it, just as I decided against a plastic arch or anything else as a backdrop. The view is breathtaking. Anything added to this patio would detract from it. And I should add here that, even in the middle of September, there may still be flowers (or at least bushes) all around the patio and nearby walkways, and gardens just to the right. There will be more than enough natural color we won’t need any additional decking.

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We love these! Anne-Marie was so apologetic about them not being removable. I wouldn’t dream of having them removed for anything. It’s part of the fun of getting married at an old-time kitschy attraction.

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This is the spot where we will take our vows. See what I mean about that view? Especially in September. The thought of a plastic arch in front of that horrifies me.

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Inside the Reception Room, looking out over the valley.

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Me and Anne-Marie! Yup, she’s as cool as she looks.

Fudge Lady Elaine Howe Caverns.

Elaine has been making fudge for the Howe Caverns Sweet Shop for many years, and her confections have been heralded by Rachael Ray. Elaine will be making fudge for our favor boxes. We’re thrilled. Yes, she’s as much fun to be around as she looks!

After our meeting at Howe Caverns, we took a trip into town to grab some lunch.

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My lunch at B.W. Delaney’s—fried shrimp. What I loved about this was the shrimp had been de-tailed. Finally! Smart idea!

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Nathan’s lunch. He had a burger. It looked yummy!

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A bridge that collapsed during Hurricane Irene. It was at the end of a street that was absolutely destroyed.

Below, a drive from town up the road to Howe Caverns.

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Isn’t this cool? This surprise was waiting for us in our motel room when we got back from lunch. Thank you, Howe Caverns!

Back on the grounds, it was time for a tour. We know we won’t have time for it when we’re there for the wedding, so this was a special treat!

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The view on a foggy afternoon as we head from the Motel over to the Main Building.

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An animatronic Lester Howe treats guests to the story of the Caverns’ discovery.

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The entrance to the Caverns.

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A calcite formation. I think this one is still active.

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Passing below the Bridal Altar. The altar is beyond the railings you see toward the middle of the photograph.

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Our tour guide’s name was Jeremy. His flashlight beam, here, indicates the level of the water during the horrible flooding last year. He told us it’s only the second time in history the water had risen that high; the first was during the Hurricane of 1938.

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A lit “nook” in the cave. I took this because it reminds me of the shape of the strandeds’ cave mouth in that old Sid & Marty Krofft series The Land of the Lost.

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The cave temperature.

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The beginning of the boat ride.

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The calcite heart at the Bridal Altar. 635 weddings have taken place below ground; the first wedding underground was of Howe’s daughter and was likely a publicity stunt.

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Up a set of stairs.

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The elevator shaft that takes us to the surface.

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The sun sets over the Schoharie Valley.

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Howe Caverns’ Main Building. The three large windows in the center belong to the Reception Room, where our reception will take place.

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Another shot of the sunset. In the lower right corner, notice the driveway glints because it is wet from the day’s rain.

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Worm scatter: during intense rains, they’ll drown if they stay underground, so they come to the surface.

On Friday, March 16, it was time to choose cake and meet our pastor.

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The view from Howe Caverns Motel as we got up on Friday morning. The last two days had been unseasonably warm (it had been sixty degrees when we’d driven out on Wednesday), so waking up to chilly rain felt odd.

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When I arrived (We were running late, so Nathan went in search of parking while I went in to let them know we’d finally gotten there), the table for our tasting had already been set.

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This coffee was so good—hot, thick, and strong. I had several cups.

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Our cake theme is Disney’s Haunted Mansion, so when we flipped through the book we kept this in mind. We of course knew we could design our own cake, but it seemed easier to base whatever we were going to do off of one of their designs. This was a first possibility. The chocolate frosting depicted is butter cream, which, when it was time to select frosting for our cake, we decided against A, because it was prone to melting and that made Nathan nervous. I prefer butter cream, but since their standard frosting was light, sweet, and delicious (NOT whipped cream) we decided to stick with that.

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Nathan didn’t like this one from the get-go. I did, because the colors suggested “Haunted Mansion” to me. He said I only thought that way because of Madame Leota’s coloring. He was probably right. In retrospect, these colors would’ve been a total clash with our scheme. Just as well. The frosting in this photo is fondant, which we didn’t go with because Nathan doesn’t like the taste of it, which is just as well, since it cost a lot more than the standard frosting.

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The tasting tray. I was really glad Nathan was in charge, here, because if you watch the video you might understand how the tens of possibilities were overwhelming, especially since there were rules on what could and couldn’t go with what. Nathan has an audio memory, so he remembered everything Trisha, our hostess, had said—which spared us from getting stuck liking combinations that wouldn’t go together (for example, you cannot have rum cake with butter cream frosting; the frosting slides right off).

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Nathan kept track of the combinations in which we were interested.

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If you think this was a mess, you should’ve seen our hands. It was impossible to avoid getting cake and frosting everywhere. Which was part of the fun.

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Nathan’s notes.

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Our final paperwork. Our small four-tiered cake will contain four varieties. The bottom tier is Black Forest with Chocolate Mousse; the second one up is Rum Cake with Cannoli Cream and Raspberry Jam; the third one up is Vanilla Cake with Strawberries and Vanilla Cream; and the last tier is Vanilla Cake with Lemon Cream.

On to meet our pastor, Bert, at the Apple Barrel for lunch.

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This was in the Ladies’ Room—every room in the store and restaurant feels cozy.

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This cracked me up; I had to get a close-up.

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Just one of many interesting items in the store, which has two floors. The first floor features all kinds of unique country-store items including merchandise from local artisans. The second floor has many second-had items and antiques as well as sale merchandise.

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Another really neat item up on the second floor.

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The window near our table in the restaurant.

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Our table, getting ready to eat and have our meeting.

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The Apple Barrel’s dinner menu. Bert, who is also a musician, was going to be performing there that night during the dinner hour. The restaurant had one of his CDs playing the background during lunch service.

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I love that everyplace you eat up in that area features Stewart’s soda. I never say no.

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Nathan’s Rhode Island Clam Chowder, which he said was the closest he’d ever had to his Dad’s recipe, which has been lost.

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My burger and fries. It had been a few days of straight running and I really wanted something I could sink my teeth into.

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Nathan and Bert. Our meeting about the ceremony literally took five minutes. The rest of the time we just enjoyed talking. He’s awesome and we couldn’t be happier to have him be the one to marry us.

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Returning from Howe: approaching the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.

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This wine glass, fashioned of rock, is only sold in sets, but somehow the other one had gotten broken so we got a deal on just the one. Nathan loves collecting interesting goblets.

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Howe Caverns’ Fudge!

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We bought our two favorite kinds: Chocolate Peanut Butter and Vanilla.

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The bag from the gift shop.

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I saw my first live scorpion in the wild when I was visiting Austin last summer and became fascinated with them. Therefore, I couldn’t resist this really cool pendant.

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The folio that holds the photo Nathan and I had taken underground. Photos are still the best souvenirs.

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The photo of me and Nathan underground!

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In light of the upcoming release of my novel Bad Apple, I couldn’t resist this. It’s made of calcite.

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They had several calcite apples, but we chose this one because of the green (like my favorite, Granny Smith) and because of the interesting brown streak that suggested rot: Bad Apple.

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