The Spelunker’s Gift

dinkelislandsmalltalk

WVA Mountain

He was a middle-aged man of medium build with dark-rimmed glasses and a bald head who literally looked like an egghead.   That was the name my dad unceremoniously assigned to professors and other people he considered to be ‘out of touch’ with average human beings.  To make matters worse, Brad–short for Bradford–was from New England.  His pronunciation of certain words cast an intellectual flavor into his conversations.  Beyond that, he wore an identity that was new to me.  He was a spelunker.

I was seventeen at the time.  Brad was the new owner of the Massanutten Caverns at Keezletown, Virginia.  This cave boasted smallter, more compact features that were similar to those of larger, better-known caves.  Brad and my parents became good friends, which is how I came to learn a little about caves and spelunking.

One spring afternoon I walked in the door after school and there…

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