Caving, Again (part 1)

May 1995

by Tim Ireland

Hi, this is going to be the first in hopefully a series of articles on caving. There seems to be quite a bit of interest in it recently, and I have been on two trips in the past month. If it sounds interesting to you please get in touch with me, and I may be able to help you get a group together if you would like to go caving yourself. There seem to be quite a few people around who are ready to go at a mere moment’s notice.

I would like to reveal to you what happened on our trip, as well as some of the interesting things that happened to us on the way down. Kyle was the organizer of the trip, and did a really great job. Our first planning meeting was at the second home to most of the people I know: the Grad House. It was here that I met the rest of the people that were going down with us. There was a passing around pictures of Kyle's last caving trip, and hints at what we would be getting ourselves into. Kyle foretold of wonderful Zima (more later) and nice snug cabins in the wild hills of West Virginia.

Well, we decided that we were up for the trip. Word went out to anyone that was interested and the organization was underway. I made one major mistake: never describe your car as really large to a group of people that have a lot of camping supplies (more later). At the last moment some people cancelled out, but that was okay, we were determined that we were going. Kyle predicted that the trip would take about 12 hours, so we determined that leaving as early as possible was a really great idea.

There were quite a few really neat (as in cool, not as in tidy) people on the trip. The first person I met was of course Kyle. Kyle has a really allusive side to him. I find that it is sometimes quite difficult to get a straight answer out of him. Probably ingrained due to his time being a T.A. (more later).

I also got in touch with Eric. Eric had never done any caving before, and decided that he would make his own light (see alt.caving). He was impressed that he could get about ten minutes worth of light. Unfortunately we would be in for a lot longer than that! He decided that he had better bring a backup light as well. I did not get to meet Eric until just before the trip, until then he was just a friend on the Net.

Since I was one of the drivers I told the people times that I thought I would be picking them up. I thought that I had a really big trunk so I packed a little heavier that I really needed to. The first person I picked up was Rebecca. She too seemed to have packed a little heavier than she need to, as she has a lot of ropes. The second was Kyle, and he continued the trend. By this time we had my trunk full, and we loaded some of our stuff into the back seat. Unfortunately we still had to get Keith and all of his stuff. To make more room Rebecca suggested leaving the spare tire at home (more later) we decided not to do that.

When we got to Keith's house we loaded him up easily. All he had was one little bag with his clothes and one plastic bag with his caving gear. We were all quite impressed, at least until he told us that Lutz had his sleeping bag and stuff. We then determined we were a little late for the meeting place, so off we went to Tim Horton's.

At our arrival at Tim's we found out that another member of our group cancelled out. The rest of us were committed. At a casual question it was determined that some of us had forgotten our birth certificates, so we did some quick side trips and reconvened at Tim's.

Lutz and Eric decided to go in Eric's car, and Becky, whoops, I mean Rebecca, Kyle, Keith and I would brave my car. We did end up getting most of our stuff into my trunk, but some of the overflow was picked up by Eric.

The trip to the border was rather uneventful, my car decided that it wanted to do a little vibrating, so there was a minor massage type thing happening all the way down. Those of little faith kept asking me if the car was going to make it all the way to West Virginia. I was more concerned with it making it back...

It was quickly discovered that Eric was doing some fancy driving. His Sprint was able to do circles around my car, and so we decided to put him to the test. We were impressed at how close behind us he could (and would) stay, so we started passing vehicles and pulling back in front of them with less and less room. Eric's car was then dubbed the smurf mobile, due to its colour and size. I was quite impressed at how little space a Sprint needs, and I also found out that Eric has no fear of Mack trucks...

The border was our first obstacle. A trip doesn't really begin until you have crossed the border. I made the mistake of pulling into the lane that the trucks go through. Seconds before pulling up we shut off the stereo and pulled off our sunglasses. Images of Wayne’s World and rubber gloves flashed through my mind as we advanced. The customs dude was way up in this little tiny booth. At eye level with truck drivers, he was almost out of view to us. He made everyone else get out of the car and answer the CUSTOMS QUESTIONS...

"Where ya all from?"

"Where ya all goin'"

I was thinking he would be quite impressed to learn we were going spelunking, but he wasn't. We were almost out of there when Becky, I mean Rebecca's accent gave her away. She just did not sound like a Canadian. He seized her passport and we were sent to that little booth that you have to go to if you cop out at the last moment and admit you have 400 instead of 300 worth of stuff coming home... We figured that Lutz, being not quite Canadian himself would be following us. We were in the States, but stuck in a roll of Red tape. Rebecca, I mean Becky, had to fill out some interesting forms (well, interesting compared to the directions for making cereal).

After filling some stuff out there was an oral exam. The customs lady asked Becky, I mean Rebecca, where she was from. To which Rebecca replied Waterloo... to which the customs person replied no, what country was your mother in when you were born... to which Rebecca replied "Britain", which was not a country according to this Customs official... to which Becky replied "The United Kingdom" (which triggered pictures of Mutual of Omaha in my mind)... but that would not fit in the form, so it was finally decided Rebecca was from England.

Lutz has his papers in order, so he had no problems in crossing the border.

After several minutes of driving I was suddenly low on gas, so we pulled over to get some cheap American gas. It was at this moment that Eric told me that one of the rear wheels on my car was wobbling a bit. That explained the massage we were getting... I had thought about getting it replaced before the trip, but had run out of time. Eric said it wasn't too bad, so we decided to press on.

I was getting tired so Keith volunteered to drive. After several minutes of his driving Becky and I began asking interesting questions regarding the possible absence of Keith's drivers licence. Although we did not make him show us, he assured us that he has driven for several years. I had just gotten to sleep when I was awakened by Kyle's voice. He was talking Keith into a detour into Pittsburgh. Thanks to Kyle everyone who went on the trip can now say they have been to (through) Pittsburgh. At the next rest stop I regained control of the car...

By this time we had noticed significant changes in our surroundings. The trees were greener, the hills were hillier, and the road kill was a lot bigger.

We had considered getting a new tire in Pittsburgh, but decided we were making pretty good time, so we would press on. The vibrations from the wheels suddenly stopped. The car was driving really smoothly, so I put my foot down on the gas pedal and we left the smurf mobile in the dust. We were really flying when all of a sudden there was a really loud bang. Kyle woke up and looked out the back window in time to see rubber flying up and all over...

To Be continued...

return to Kyle's Caving Site

© 1995
last updated July 16, 1998