Mason County News
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Bat Cave Report
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 • Posted June 14, 2013

When I was young many years ago (ok, many, many years ago), my brothers always had motorcycles, rode motorcycles, and worked on and repaired motorcycles. These were not just any motorcycles, they were Harleys. All of these motorcycles were like members of the family and each carried a name with pride. Leather was one of my favorites. You don’t hear too many stories about my brothers without motorcycles being a part of them somehow. My first ride on a Harley was with my brother, Thomas. Thomas was what some would call “free spirited”. He could ride a motorcycle in ways that people could have never imagined....which was not always the smartest choice that he might have made.

The day of my first ride was one of those “not-so-smart” choice days. The second I got on the bike with him my heart did one of those little “flippity-flop” things that sometimes hearts do. I thought it was from the total excitement that I was going to be riding with the wind in my face. That was partially true, but the wind didn’t stay in my face long. The little “flippity-flop” that I had experienced was a warning from my inner self not to be on that bike! I ignored that warning and gave it the name “excitement”. It was really steel cold FEAR!! We rode through town and I felt like Easy Rider on that motorcycle. We went around the square and out Highway 87 south by the old Ritter Texaco station (now known as Santos Taqueria). People always hung out Ritter’s station and that was true of the day of my first ride. Thomas was a crowd pleaser much to my chagrin. He had that bike on its back tire with its front tire in the air riding what was then known as a “wheelie”. I think I heard myself scream. I know that I swore not to chew my nails ever again right at that moment because I would have used them to anchor myself to my brother. I didn’t even have time to visualize the damage that I could have wrought to that body that was doing this to me because in an instant of time the same ride that blew the wind in my face had abruptly come to a close encounter of the first kind sliding down the pavement. We had hit an oil slick. Being on two tires we might have not gone down. But, we were not on TWO tires, we were on one. When a human body hits pavement, the pavement acts like a potato peeler. Depending on how far you slide, the total amount of flesh lost can vary. My slide was l o n g!

Alrighty, I am writing a bat cave report. You may be laughing insanely at this point visualizing this event, but that is not my purpose for giving you this first-hand report about my motorcycle experiences. No, it was to tell you that on Friday night as I pulled up to the gate of The Eckert James River Bat Cave there was a couple there standing next to the most beautiful red motorcycle you have ever seen. I smiled and waved, but that same “flippity-flop” feeling hit my stomach. I am probably the slowest person in the world at catching a joke or thinking through something like the two people at the gate with a motorcycle. BUT, my brain visualized. Motorcycle...really, really rough gravel roads....RIVER...very, very slick river. How on earth did they get out here on that bike??? As they walked over to me after I opened the gate, I saw.....FEAR was oozing out of their eyes. They told me their version of the most harrowing experience they had ever had in the lives. They said they were going to tell their grown children about it IF they lived to get back across the river and back in to town. They were totally determined to see the bat emergence. Now, I have had people come from all over the world and in every type of vehicle to see the bats. In the last eight years that I have been steward, this was the MOST memorable. The first thing they asked me is, “IS IT WORTH IT?” That question was answered by the bats! Their eyes danced with excitement and I know they felt a “flippity-flop” deep inside, but it was not a warning of doom, it was letting them know this was a memory in the making. They had pushed the bike across the water and knew that they had to push it back across but they used every bit of their focus on enjoying the emergence. They did push the bike across the water and the moss growing on the bottom made it slicker than boiled okra, but they made it without ever losing it. Now, they have something to tell their grandchildren and great grandchildren. The moral of the story is, The Eckert James River Bat Cave bats can give you a “flippity-flop” feeling that you do not need to lose skin over. That feeling leaves you, not with your mother picking gravel out of your body, but with a calm, content, stronger heart. By the way, after the trip back across the river and the long gravel road home ending in one piece, we named that red motorcycle, “Sheera” Like the princess warrior, this Sheera led them home proud and victorious. Come on the bat hotline at 325-347-5970 for current emergence times. See ya at the cave....

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