Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Spelunking Rocks!

Camping Friends, Commuter Husband, Youngest Son & Oldest Son disrobing from helmets, kneepads, elbow pads, gloves and repelling gear - each item definitely needed and appreciated! 
It is in that moment when you first arrive. What will it be like? Total fail? The coolest place ever?

Our Commuter Family often veers off the beaten path. This Thanksgiving week is no exception. We are traveling in West Texas with our Camping Friends who are a family of four with two boys ages 14 and 12.  Camping Friends are up for adventure and we have been sharing fun times together for over ten years.

The Caverns of Sonora
We spent the entire day caving at The Caverns of Sonora. The morning had the typical tour on the decorated side of the cave. We dubbed our guide as Endearing Grumpy Old Guy. He has clearly done this tour many times, is passionate about preservation and takes no guff. And ... we so enjoyed his thorough explanations and "original" delivery. It is nice to be with someone who is authentic. The cave is just beautiful with lots of ooh and ah moments.


We did the Discovery Challenge Cave Tour in the afternoon. We suited up in lighted hard hats, gloves, knee pads and elbow pads. As we entered the cave and waited to begin, our two Jewish families said the Shehecheyanu which is a common Jewish prayer for saying thanks for new and unusual experiences. A very, very appropriate blessing for what was to come ...

Our first Challenge was crawling on our belly through dirt and water while keeping our head from scraping the top of the low and narrow passageway. I then proceeded through spaces that seemed impossible for me fit but somehow I wiggled, pulled and inched through all of them. We even did a vertical belly crawl up an area that can only be described as extremely claustrophobic - once up - the only way back down was feet first on our belly (think crayfish.)

The Grand Finale Challenge was a 50 foot rappel into Devil's Pit. I was the only member of our party to immediately find myself hanging completely upside down which is what happens when you do not lean back with your feet against the cave cliff wall as instructed repeatedly. I also ended with blood peeping out of my forearm. There was a great deal of spectator entertainment value in my clumsy descent.

Our afternoon guides were patient, funny, knowledgeable and AWESOME. During the four hours plus, we were often out of our comfort zone but also calmed by the complete stillness under the earth's surface. Collectively, our party of eight agreed that the afternoon's spelunking Challenge(s) qualified as a Bucket List kind of day.

X Bar Ranch
Our current accommodations at the X Bar Ranch are unique and fitting for this middle of no where trek. Our Commuter Family is residing in our Coleman Pop-Up while Camping Friends are in a cute but super small cabin. This working ranch outside of Eldorado, Texas has a portion allocated to eco-tourism. We have access to a shared lodge with lots of wonderful communal areas for indoor and outdoor cooking, games, hiking and nature. We have never stayed anywhere quite like this - we like it allot.
Our Campers' shower at X Bar Ranch - hooked to a water hose - hilarious!
See the mouse head in left corner under grate? Nest found in old grill on our hike at X Bar Ranch.
Camper Friends' Son cutting open Cactus Pear. The boys picked a dozen and so excited to eat!
Camping Friends' Dad trying to start a fire with a Bear Grylls knife - yeah baby!
We head out tomorrow for the next leg of our West Texas trip ...

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