Thursday, August 28, 2008

#13 - Explore a Cave

Every road trip I have been on, no matter what the destination, it seems as if there is always a big billboard advertising a cavern. I always poke fun at these tourist attractions. I can just picture the type of people you would see at the caves: a group of 23 screaming school children running around hyped up on sugar because they spent all their lunch money on gold nugget shaped candy from the gift shop, senior citizens wearing trucker hats adorned with pins from their many stops on Route 66, a newlywed couple in their 30's with matching fanny packs and mullets.

I imagine each guided tour is lead by one of the locals, dressed head-to-toe in khaki (think Steve Irwin), megaphone in hand. The guide tells illustrious stories of bandits hiding from the law and the children's eyes grow wider and wider as they dream of finding the hidden loot. The guide shows only the safest areas of the cave - the other (more exciting) areas would be too dangerous, someone might slip and fall and get their hands dirty...and that would be too much of a liability. The formations are lit with green, blue and red lights and there is a handy-dandy guardrail so you don't lose your step.

This is not what I mean when I say I want to explore a cave.

I want to explore a cave the real way. No electricity, no guardrails, no walking single-file behind 15 other tourists. I'm talking using the walls and the stalagmites as my handrail. The only light coming from flashlights being carried by the few people in my group. Yes, my tour guide is a local, but not a schmuck getting paid minimum wage for reading a script. My guide has no script. He laughs at the mere thought of it. He tells no folklore, rather he shows us the spots where he and his friends used to play Indiana Jones and set up booby traps when they were younger. And at the end of our journey, we don't see a red EXIT sign - we see a pool of water. We go for a swim and make our way back to daylight.

That's what I call an adventure.
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