Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blue Rock Cave - Perhaps it's still hidden in the hills…

Click on the photo to see a larger
 version of Blue Rock Cave and 
explorers Denton & Miller 
If you can't grow up on a farm or ranch, perhaps the next best thing is seeing the world through the eyes of a small town kid.

One of the many benefits of communities like Crawford, Chadron, Rushville, and other similarly-sized towns is that you're never very far from the great outdoors.

Today, of course, the thought of traipsing through the hills south of Chadron to places like  "Paradise Valley," "King's Chair," "Blue Rock Cave," and "Sacrifice Cave" has lost a bit of its luster.  First, I'm not sure my old feet could hold up -- and even if they did, what would I do about snakes or poison ivy?

Such thoughts found no place in my mind back in the 1940s and '50s.  Playing soldier or hide-n-seek was the highlight of a summer day -- maybe even a step above going swimming. (Of course, we "city" kids had to swim under the scrutiny of lifeguards -- unlike our country brethren who could find a bit of solitude from adults at a country swimming hole.)

These thoughts came racing back today as I foraged through a box of pictures that my sister sent to me…….and I stumbled upon the one shown here.

Blue Rock Cave (I have no idea if that was its real name or just one that we embraced) was one of those special locations.  I remember the cave vividly, but just who took the photo has joined the clutter of other pleasant youthful memories that are unencumbered by details -- things like specific names and dates.  Nonetheless, the photo  reminded me of the wonderful times of a different era.  That's Lawrence Denton atop the cave, and wannabe National Geographic explorer Larry Miller at the entrance to the cavern.

They say you can't go home again, but in the 1980's, my teenaged son and I trekked all the way from Oklahoma for a visit to Chadron.  It included a hike to the hills of my youth -- and I was giddy at the thought of sharing some of my special places with him.  King's Chair was still sitting regally in its proper place -- as was Paradise Valley.  But after what seemed an eternity of hiking and looking, we gave up trying to find Blue Rock Cave.

Maybe you can't go home again -- at least not without a good map…..or GPS.