50 shades of spelunking!
Updated: Sep 18
People have been exploring the earth since the dawn of time, whether it's below the surface of the oceans, the heights of the stars, or the depths of caves. The power of curiosity conquers the hearts of men and women, creating explorations that enlighten education for all. For example, in 1969, Neil Armstrong defeated the space race by stepping on the moon. In 1966 Jacques Cousteau co-invented the first aqua-lung (SCUBA), allowing others to explore the ocean floors across the world. And in 1925, famous cave explorer Floyd Collins lost his life while expanding a cave entrance to allow visitors a glimpse at life below the surface.
While filming Adventure and Romance, I was consistently looking for adventures in which people could test their exploration abilities. One of those adventures was spelunking and not just a leisurely stroll down a concrete path looking at stalagmites and stalactites. Instead, I was interested in getting muddy and dirty, wearing helmets and harnesses, and diving deep into the depths of the unknown, all while being guided by professionals.
I found Cosmic Caverns in northern Arkansas, and a tour called the Wild Cave Tour. I browsed at the pictures on their website, and after a few minutes, I was hooked. Weeks later, we arrived at Cosmic Caverns with one cameraman and the fear of claustrophobia that had haunted me for years. I was overabundant with joy when I found out there were no tight corners, and we would have ample light during the guided trip through the cave.
We geared up, and the owner, Randy, led us down a set of stairs that descended into a rock-lined room with a strand of construction lights to guide our way. Randy was a wealth of information and the king of one-liners and dad jokes. For example, he asked us to excuse the excessive amount of mud because the neighbor's septic tank had overflowed onto his property the day before. The cave jokes never stopped.
Then I noticed the two young adults following us with ropes, strange sticks, and backpacks. "Who are you guys?" I asked in a chipper voice.
"We are your safety personal." One of them answered.
"How are you going to use that stick to rescue me," I laughed.
They laughed, "It's for snakes."
"No, really," I replied.
This is where I started to bail out, but Alicia stopped me and assured me everything would be ok. Right.
Once in the cave, Randy led us up on a slick round platform that overlooked part of the cave we would be descending. In his humous way, he explained how the cave was created by a fault line that ran for thousands of miles through the south. Our cameraman worked on getting a good shot and avoiding the 30-foot drop-off just feet from where we were standing. Randy pointed and started to speak then . . . he lost his footing and fell toward the edge. I dove to catch his right arm, and our cameraman dropped his camera to lunge after me. Holy $@%&! We all stopped and caught our breath. You will have to watch the show below to see it.
Our tour continued with one crazy thing after the next. This adventure is not for those that don't consider themselves athletic. We climbed over muddy cave formations, swung on rope swings to avoid the deep abyss, and scaled walls with ledges only a few inches wide. However, I would encourage you to sign up for a Wild Cave Tour if you like challenges and would love to explore a cave the way early explorers did.