With the house empty of females, Mighty Mo and I decided to road trip down south this weekend to Kartchner Caverns in Benson, AZ. Such a great story, two Cavers go down a sinkhole on the side of a mountain and find the greatest cave system in the state. They then decide to protect it for over a decade while exploring its massive depths. Rightly fearing that their find was becoming too public they negotiated a secret deal with the state park department and the legislature to fund turning it into the only fully wheelchair accessible cave system in the country opening in 1999.
Okay, I am going to make an admission here. I am a huge fan of National and State parks. I am. I was even a National Park Service Ranger/Historian for a short period of time. So any chance I get to visit our parks system I do. Of course it seems the ones closest are the ones most easily missed, and the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument was one such location.
On the way to Kartchner we pulled in so I could stamp my NP passport book. While looking around and having a decent time, Mighty Mo was surprised that many of the books on his shelf and at school were here. Then of his own accord he asked about the passport book and the stamps and stickers and asked for one of his own. Sniff, sniff, I was so proud of him when he stamped his first park into the book.
Kartchner Caverns is very impressive for a state park. It was certainly nicer than many of the National Parks I have been too. I was lucky in one regard. I was told emphatically to reserve tickets as soon as possible which was perfect as we were greeted with a sign that read, "All tours sold out."
As we approached the cave entrance with the group, Mighty Mo looked at me and said, "Daddy, my legs are scared." I took his hand and we entered the first of many pressure doors that keep the cave sealed. The next time I looked at him closely, we were into the first hall and his fear was replaced with awe.
The tour is between 90-120 minutes. While driving home I often wondered if it was a dream. Is it possible that my eyes held the wonders before them this very day? These are not rocks. To merely call it a geological formation is trite. It was beautiful. Amazing to see such wonder. And that two cavers and the Kartchner family took such great care of their find. True stewardship.
Mighty Mo could not have been happier with the trip. He loved the cave. He loved the 'exploring', seeing new things. He traveled very well. He clutched his new passport book all day and using the map and the picture of different parks in the book, I can tell there will be many more road trips to come.