Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Conquering My Fear, One Treacherous Step at a Time

It is no secret around this house (now) that I am a sissy when it comes to caves. I can't stand them. I am claustrophobic. When Ace and I were dating, he felt that he should take his time and show me some of the sights of his native state, Kentucky. He took me to Mammoth Cave, and took me on the sissy tour. I didn't have much of a problem with it, and I thought that all cave tours were that easy. I mean, it was nothing really.

So when the inlaws said that part of going to Kentucky Down Under was going to be a cave tour, I thought "ok ... I can do this. I did Mammoth Cave, for pete's sake."

This cave is also a part of Mammoth Cave, called Mammoth Onyx Cave. I wanted the kids to have a good experience, and I didn't want them thinking their Mom was about ready to go over the edge, so I bucked up, put on a good face, and said yes I would also be attending the cave tour.

We waited around for our turn to be had. Our guide showed up and said she would start us in the original area of the cave (but wouldn't go down that way). So she took us to a room with a huge hole in the ground. They had built up an area around it so people wouldn't just fall in, but I was still on pins and needles, holding onto the back of the Man's shirt for fear he would try to launch himself into this hole.

This is the hole, but from underneath.

So we start down the stairs into the cave, and the guide had asked us to not touch anything in the cave. Yeah ... ok. Whatever. I think that is a guideline, not a mandatory thing, right?

We come down the first set of stairs, and I start to look around. Ok. I can handle this. It is a nice cool area, taking us away from the 90+ weather up above with 100 percent humidity. I can handle this. There are cool things in here, like a still. Yes. A still. They hid their stills in caves.

Do you know why there is a cave called Horse Cave? Because they used to hide their horses in them. These Kentuckians... can't get one over on them.

Then the steps start.

Did I mention that I also have a horrid fear of heights, and I can't stand stairs? I always have this feeling that I am falling backwards, and I am NEVER at ease on stairs. The stairs could be two deep, and I still feel like I am out of control. And because I feel like I am out of control, then everyone around me has to be out of control, too.

We start up these stairs, in through a very tight fit. This large woman is going to HAVE to touch SOMEthing on this cave tour, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

So I make my way through this one area, physically shaking the entire time because I am CERTAIN that I am going to just go tumbling off this "stair system" they have. I wasn't sure if I was more worried about hurting myself, or embarassing the crap out of my family. Whatever it was, it wasn't a really pleasant feeling.

We reach another flat area, and look back at the stairs we just came down ... this picture is horrid. My camera was on night mode, and you have to have nerves of steel to use that setting or you get this blurring that you see.

Then the guide turns. the. lights. out.

No point of reference. Kids starting to freak out, grabbing my hand. I think "don't you DARE touch me" and then I feel like a bad mother. Did I mention that I abandoned my children on this trip? My MIL took the Man's hand, the Queen went on her own, and Ace carried the Monkey through the more treacherous areas. If I had to handle taking care of anyone else myself, I would have either cracked or done a much better job with myself.

We reached the last area of stairs where they actually gave us a handrail to pull ourselves up with. And if you saw some of those stairs, you completely understood why.

The guide HAD to point out the cave crickets. Just had to. I was ok until I realized that there were little creatures hanging over my head. I was just coming to terms with the fact that water would drip on my head with no warning. Thanks. A whole lot.

The tour FINALLY ended with the welcome sight of wooden steps, and I was finally out of there. I had to let the kids go ahead with the inlaws to the picnic area to start lunch so I could hang on Ace and have my panic attack.

Needless to say, this woman will NEVER go into another cave. Ever. Again.

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Anonymous Robin said...

AHHH!! no way no way.
I would have had a total freak out woman! And I thought this was going to be the story about your in-laws steps. What is it with Kentucky and steps?
Thanks for taking me on a tour I will NEVER do on my own!

7:38 AM  
Blogger The "Mind" said...

Good grief woman! You are nuts going into Kentucky caves with fears like that!

Me, I love them, been to Mammoth Caves several times, but I couldn't imagine having fears and going in. Nope. No way.

I, too, thought the steps story was going to related to your in-laws steps. LOL!

10:15 AM  
Blogger Knitting Maniac said...

Nope, I didn't even ATTEMPT to go down those stairs. In fact, I don't think that my FIL has gone down in a long time, and my MIL won't ever go down them because of her knee problems. Ace took the kids down once, and then the Queen got herself a case of poison ivy.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

We were separated at birth...even your story was freaking me out!!!! I would not even have gone in. Hubby has taken our kids to caves near here...I do not go and listen without really listening when the kids tell me about it. Nope, no caves, no heights. You are a VERY BRAVE woman.

7:17 PM  

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The Lovely She, that is me!

I'm a mom of three peeps ... Queen Bee, The Door Man, and the Chandelier Monkey, and wife to Ace, the Helpful Hardware Man. I created this space to get away from the people known as my inlaws, and because life with three kids and a hubby is all Unexplored Territory.

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