Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sterling and the Crystal King (A Venture into Ohio Caverns)

The alarm woke me at 6 A.M. I found myself in the kitchen standing over a smoky frying pan of bacon and eggs. Four breakfast burritos steamed on the counter top, neatly cut in half, revealing the molten egg, crispy bacon, and gooey sharp cheddar cheese. 

Kellie and Aleks were the out the door and I rested on the couch until Sterling began to stir in her bed. "OK Sterling, I need you to brush your teeth, wash your face, comb your hair, put on jeans, a long-sleeve t-shirt, socks and sneakers. We are going to take a surprise trip."

As we wound up and down various central Ohio state routes, Sterling tried to guess our destination. I heard her huff before she said, "Dad, I KNOW that you're taking me to the woods because I see your backpack. I don't like the woods and if THAT is my surprise, I am not going to be happy. The woods is full of bugs and spiders and mud and I don't like those things."

I just smiled as I glanced at her through the rear-view mirror and said, "Well... maybe. You've just got to wait and see."

Our red Ford Focus rounded a curve, taking it for all that it would give, and I pointed, "Sterling, do you see that big, red sign? What does it say?" She looked up, still fussing about spiders and how often I take her to the woods... and then her chatter paused... "OHIO CAVERNS? Dad, are we going to OHIO CAVERNS? If so, this is the GREATEST SURPRISE E-VER!"

I replied evenly, "Well, you'll just have to wait and see, you know, you might just be going to a park or the woods."

Of course our destination was at the end of a series of those road signs and she became more confident of her hope along the way. A stop at the ticket desk and a tour through the gift shop left me $33.00 lighter in my pocket and a giant smile brighter on her face.

All that was left to do was to go through the doorway. A small wooden door stood unmarked against the side wall. The guide slowly opened it and we stepped into a cool draft and began our descent.

Stalagmites grow at the rate of one inch in 500 to 1000 years according to our guide. Our footsteps broke the silence of these calcite sentinels of time. A stalactite and a stalagmite just a hairs breadth away would take 40 years of dipping to meet. Our life passing through this place is swallowed in the scope of history.

And yet, we stood there nonetheless and marveled at the handiwork of creation. There are great beauties and secrets hidden in the depth of the earth and surly within the depths of ourselves. Today was a day of encountered beauty, but the real find wasn't the caverns, it was a day spend together by a daughter and a dad.

And that, as they say... is timeless.

7 year old Sterling in front of the Crystal King,
a 400 lb stalactite that is estimated to be over 200,000 years old.