Overnight our travel plans changed. All plans to visit the Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon were out the window with the sudden appearance of THE CAVERN!!!
On the morning of our departure we were doing our final packing when we noticed a depression the ground that was not there the day before.
Upon investigation we found a hole in the yard. A gaping hole. A hole that could not be ignored. Where did it go?
Who dug it? When? How? Why?
These were all questions we wanted answers to.
Dad was on the phone to Spelunkers Are Us but they were busy with a deep dark cave behind Clover’s household and would be tied up there for some time. He tried everyone he could think of including the famous Dee Dee Watson Private Eye but she was out of town on a cruise.
In a moment of sheer desperation it was decided we would go down ourselves. Mum was not keen on that idea understandably as dad had promised so much this vacation time.
But dad had been in the army, he had been in a few tight spots in his time and this included being married to my mum.
Showing a determination previously unseen in my dad he equipped himself and me with the necessary spelunking gear, which he had in the shed. Why I never knew why but right now he was saving a lot of time with us having our own gear.
Mum packed us the requisite vegemite sandwiches; an Australian can achieve anything on a Vege sanger.
So with lunch and a bottle of water we set off down the cavern. Dad was dismissive of my claims that maybe it was the Nestors the aggressive fairies in the fern garden who maybe were plotting again.
My dad turned to me and said: Michael if you are coming with me you best be serious, your fairy nonsense sometimes gets up my nose and I wish you’d grow up….
That said I headed down the cavern with dad. We each had a torch and a supply of spare batteries should we be longer than dad thought.
It was dark, dirty, damp and the further we descended the muddier it got. After an eternity, well it seemed that way; dad stopped and shone his torch up ahead. There was a bend in the track. A fork in the road. There was a sign on each road. To the right it said DOOM, to the left IMPENDING DOOM.
I could sense dad gulp, breath in deeply before turning left saying impending doom suggested there was a chance we might come out alive. Six and half metres further there was a door. Another sign. UNDERGROUND HOLIDAYS AND SPA. PLEASE KNOCK POLITELY.
Knocking politely, dad was good at polite, the door swung open and a sign announced: Welcome to IMPENDING DOOM, the HOLIDAY RESORT YOU”LL ALWAYS TALK ABOUT – Please leave your hard hats at the door.
A rather muddy and dishevelled young lady appeared and pointed us down the corridor. I couldn’t help but notice that as I past by her she held her nose as if we were offensive to her nose. I’m sure both dad and I had showered that morning and covered our golden bodies with baby powder.
Along the corridor were a series of doors all marked ‘Do not Enter.’ We kept walking and dad was mesmerised by the doors and I am sure wanted to find the one that was open to us. Sure enough he turned right and there we were in a room in which sat a massive spa.
The water was the most disgusting brown colour and the smell was all but overwhelming. A head popped over the side and a voice said: “Get your gear off boys, the mud is especially invigorating this time of year.” Then it disappeared.
Dad looked into the pool, the sulphur smell was very strong. Then a woman appeared out of the darkness and began undressing us both. Naked we stood there unsure of what to do and she led us into the spa, and I have to say the mud was amazing.
That it penetrated very nook and cranny of our being only made for the experience of a lifetime and I last saw dad floating across the spa, his hand held by the young lady who had undressed us. They disappeared into a mist of sulphur and it was some time before he reappeared with a smile a mile wide.
“All good.” was all he said to me and stepped out of the spa, the young lady on his arm as they walked off to what I hoped was the shower room.
A little later I too was taken and led to a room with shower cubicles, soap and talcum powder.
Our clothes had all been cleaned and we were shown a safe and less dirty way home.
We emerged from a hole behind the shed, which I never knew was there with apologies from the Mud People for the cave-in and the unfortunate hole in the yard.
It was dark as we made our way back to the house. Mum rushed to the door when she heard us. Out came all the concerns of us never returning, being away so long and thoughts of having to fend for herself.
Mum reckoned we’d been away a week, a week was our allotted vacation time and we’d used it underground in the spa….dad would from time to time wink at me as if saying lets just remember this as a great holiday. I did spot him every so often wandering down behind the shed and coming back disappointed when he couldn’t find the opening.
Maybe it had all been a dream I thought. I too wandered down behind the shed and would often get a whiff of that strong sulphur smell.
I never found the opening either, but it was a vacation to remember, though no one ever believed my tale in the same way they doubted the existence of the fairies.
The fairies did believe me for over lunch one day, Mans, king of the fairies told me his tale of having been there too.
As a result the fairies under Mans’ leadership had become devotees of talcum powder and threw the stuff everywhere.