Following our trip through Blue Spring Cave, we all re-grouped back at Paul and Sheila's. There we were joined by several other former students and cavers from TTU. Frank and his wife Valerie graciously provided food for all of us, and after a full day of caving, I was certainly ready to enjoy my share along with Angela and Randy!
Of course, the evening would not be complete without a slide presentation! Frank provided the "warm up" with lots of old photos from years gone by, and then Ric shared slides from his cave explorations around the world.
I was particularly impressed with the giant, as in, Superman's Hideaway style, crystals from Ric's visit to the Cueva de los Cristales in the Naica Mine in Mexico. However, unlike Superman's frozen abode, these crystals reside in an environment of 112 degree temps. As Ric pointed out, that's a lot lower than the temps used to be, so at least now people don't have to wear total body protective suits if they want to actually walk among the crystals. (Photo courtesy of Ric Finch)
Although I would have loved to spend yet another night around the campfire - my lack of sleep the night before, a long day of caving, and a belly full of food left me feeling quite tired. So as much as I hated leaving the fun and fellowship, I decided to turn in "early". Even with the temps not quite a low, I made sure to take full advantage this time of the sleeping bag Randy had loaned to me, as well as all of my other sleeping gear and, as a consequence, I stayed much warmer, and slept much more soundly.
Which was a good thing, as Sunday morning, the day broke early and bright, and it was time once again to pack-up camp! I got all of my things out of the tent, and Randy took over from there. I thought about trying to help more, but it was clear he had everything under control!
From Paul and Sheila's we traveled to Bee Rock, THE Place where many TTU cavers had the opportunity to rappel for the first time. That would also be the case today for the next generation: Tom's son Dylan and Frank and Valerie's son Joe.
As noted in my blog about our trip through Blue Spring Cave, I was once again impressed with the pervasive Community Spirit of all who came out that day. Tom provided the most direct guidance on the ropes, while the rest of us also added our two cents - sometimes to the consternation of both Dylan and Joe as they were having to sort through all of the directions while also overcoming the inevitable anxiety of their First Descent.
I'd like to be able to add here: "And then it was my turn"... but, I decided to refrain. I had my "day in the sun" - or rather, if I remember correctly, my "afternoon in the dark" rappelling into a pit somewhere, years before, and that was enough for me! For this day, I was content with a nice image of me standing close to the edge. And, once again, I have Frank to thank for that (along with the other pictures here : )).
Pedaling for Peace
On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.