The other night, during adventures designed to escape reality for a short while, my sister and I went to see the bat flight at Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge.
During the summer, a large colony of gray bats emerges at dusk for feeding. Recent estimates has numbered the population in the 300,000 to 400,000 range. In my mind, I imagined that they would all emerge, in one gigantic whoosh, from the cave mouth. I drag my sister out to near the middle of nowhere, up a sketchy looking path, after parking on the side of the road, as it’s getting darker and darker.
Only, that really isn’t how the bats performed. We waited and watched, then noticed one, then two occasional little dark gray, silent, fluttering objects near the cave mouth. It’s very hard to see, because the bats are dark, the cave mouth is dark and the surrounding vegetation is dark. (And like fools we didn’t bring a good flashlight). So we waited some more. We saw another singular winged mammal, then another. Hm. This isn’t at all what I expected. Then, suddenly, seester grabbed my arm, and pointed, and said look up! The sky is a lot lighter than it seems, and against that contrast we could see them. First a few, then dozens, then more bats noiselessly swooping back and forth.
It was a Sistine chapel moment, if anything. You expect to be immediately wowed, but you aren’t. Then you are a tiny bit disappointed by the hype. But, then you sit back, and have a chance to take it all in, the wow fills in gradually.
The information posted at the cave, indicated the colony consumes billions of insects each night. BILLIONS! Unfortunately, those bugs feasted on two seesters first, because we realized we had neglected bug spray on our arms and were ett up, so to speak.
And, boy, does a bat cave smell Terr-i-ble!
Batman doesn’t seem so glamorous, now.
I found out yesterday that the Vieux Carre cache in New Orleans has been archived. Even though I don’t have thousands of finds like other hardcore geocachers do, I love the hobby, and I loved this cache. It is probably one of my top 3 all-time favorites, both because of the wonderful nature of the cache itself, and the memories it brings back to me.
You see, I found that particular cache with my sister in New Orleans on the day they reopened the Superdome the year after Katrina and the levee breaches devastated the city. I went to the archive of my old blog from that time frame and pulled out part of the relevant post. Shall we reminisce?
September 25, 2006
The official re-opening party was to start around 3pm on the streets around the dome. The doors were to be flung wide at 5:30. We had a lot of time to kill that day. So we did what seesters do. Walk and eat. And search for snipers on the tops of buildings. Guess where the secret service men are… You know, normal reindeer games down south.
We decided to do this one geocache that someone had told me about. It was in a building. The clues said NO CHILDREN PLEASE, and to look for the two people under the artwork and ask one of them if they could escort you to the cache.
At first we thought it might be in the casino, because the coordinates took us near there (no children, right?) But, no, it was a big shiny office building across the street. We went in, looking at the GPSr in my hand, and were IMMEDIATELY accosted by an uptight woman who kept asking:
“Are you lost?”
“No -we are not lost.”
“Really, where are you trying to go?”
“We are fine, we are not lost”.
I thought she might be getting ready to tackle us (not everyone takes things easy in the Big Easy).
“Are you looking for the mall?” (This had to be because of our sparkly look!)
“No. Lady we are fine.” GO THE FUCK AWAY!
She was, literally inches away from our faces, wringing her hands, leaning in, and obviously very concerned about someone’s welfare (although I am not sure if she was worried about US or herself).
In the meantime the security guard is watching and laughing his ass off. When we finally extricated ourselves from the attention of the fruit fly, he came over and said he’d take us to it. Oooooh boy. Up to the rooftop we went.
The cache itself was up in the maintenance area of the rooftop. Since it’s archived now, I’m not spoiling it for anyone. After disembarking from the elevator, the guard took us around the corner to a storage area with what looked like a huge pirate’s trunk. To date, I think it’s the largest cache container we’ve found. It was full of travel bugs. After liberating a couple of travelers, we continued on up a short metal stairway to the best stage of this cache.
WOW! Two seesters on top of the world with the sacredome in sight! The guard was so nice, we chatted for a while and then went on our separate ways. There were some maintenance men in the stairway shaft up to the roof that were probably wondering what we were all doing out there, but hey, let ‘em imagine the best!
One of my favorite memories, ever.