As I was laying awake at 4:30 am this morning with Ellie snacking on oranges and a bottle of water, and Jen and Mason flanking me on either side, this trip to the caverns popped into my head. I realized that there are several things (five actually, if you recall my title) that I learned that day that apply when all four of the Rays are piled into our ever-shrinking queen sized bed:
|It's much easier in the summer when the kids are made to sleep out on the cement wall.|
When you are several hundred feet underground, the phrase "pitch black" becomes a reality. If you drop your keys in the cave without a light, just forget them... they're gone, man! Likewise, if you drop your bottle of water over the edge of the bed and try to find it in our house on a moonless night, in the words of Ellie, "I cannot even see it at all. It is too dark." A head lamp (and luckily we have at least two in the house) would solve this problem toot sweet.
2. SUPERMAN CAN FIT THROUGH THE TIGHTEST CREVICES
If your guide tells your to go up "Godzilla's Nostril," go hands first, like the Man-of-Steel. If you are in a bidding war with your wife and kids for prime mattress real estate, get those hands over your head. They will go numb, but so is your spleen due to the foot lodged into your gut.
3. BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES
Caves are damp due to water trickling in from the surface. This coupled by the fact that evaporation doesn't really boogie deep within the Earth. So, you get wet. Just like bringing a water bottle to bed will inevitably end with the phrase, "Mommy, I spilled. Now I all wet. I need to change. Can you get me a dry pants and skirt (we wear skirts 24/7 now... for spinning purposes)." At least she didn't spill on me. Well, maybe she did, but I just couldn't feel it with my numb arms.
|Ellie in a skirt... and everything else!|
The most treacherous part of the cavern's underground adventure is called "The Meat Grinder." It consists of a series of pointy rocks, craggily boulders, and general mayhem through which one must navigate. Bumps, thumps, and near impalements are all part of the "fun." While getting up with numb arms is hard enough, the several shin-busting stools and food-lacerating Lego constructions littered about the pitch dark house keep you on your toes, literally.
5. IT IS AN EXPERIENCE YOU WILL NEVER FORGET
It's funny that I can recall that three hour tour in such vivid detail. There a probably a handful of vivid memories from the past several years that I remember like that. Why does it stick? Was it because of the challenge? The adrenaline? The dopamine? When I hear the thumpity-thump of Mason's feet down the stairs and see him enter my room carrying his little green lantern, what is it that convinces me to abandon comfort and let him take my place in the bed while I am relegated to the piping of the mattress? And even after listening to forty minutes of slurping of juice from an orange and continuous prattling on about doggies or spinning in skirts, why do I cave when Ellie asks me to come and rub her back for awhile in her bed? Perhaps it is that I know the most challenging moments build the strongest memories, and these are memories I want to have for always.