It all started at 6 p.m. with a 1500 foot hike up a hill. Then there was the two hour and forty minute wait for the emergence. Yes, I gave my presentation…not once, but three times to different groups. Did I mention the flies and various other bugs buzzing around? Oh yes, and I dare not mention the smell!
Then it happened. The official time was 8:42 p.m. The Eckert James River Bats looked like they were literally blowing out of the cave. The wind from their wings created a delightful breeze of about seven miles per hour. This wind forced away the pesky bugs, and dissipated the odor. The vortex that the bats created in the cave mouth was indeed a sight to see!
Yes, to all but one of the visitors this was true. There was one young man, however, that did not view the emergence as others do when they visit the cave. When I looked back at the seat where he was sitting, I saw a smile that would spread from one side of Texas to the other. This smile appeared on a face that proved that there was more to the emergence than just seeing the bats fly in a circle in front of you and then take off into the wild blue yonder. You see, above the beautiful smile that appeared on this face were eyes that only beheld darkness. But in this young man’s mind’s eye, he saw a spectacle that few of us will ever be able to comprehend. He saw pure and perfect joy from the hike up a hill where every step proved a total trust in his father who was leading the way; the two hour and forty minute wait was a restful peace; my presentation given several times was not a burden, but a partial depiction of what would happen when the bats started their nightly search for food; the bugs….yes, they did their job too. They showed this gentleman that he was truly in a unique and wonderful place. He was in the country. Not just in the country, but with the distinct smell wafting out of the cave, he knew that he was at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. He had come with his parents to see this marvel. They had driven from Texas City to behold this grand performance and they did not leave disappointed!
I thought about this family who dared to ford a river, climb a hill, and brave the elements to give a new and exciting memory to someone they loved. I do know that the smile that I saw that night will never fade from my memory. I have had many delightful and memory making events the last four years at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve, but I think that this is one that will hold first place in my heart for years to come.
If you would like to make family memories that will last lifetimes, come to the special hill next to the James River, climb the trail, smell the smells, hear the sounds, feel the feeling, and know that you are one of those who see with their heart….and smile that smile, that Texas- sized smile that envelops you in a feeling that you know is GOOD!
Call 325-347-5970 for current emergence time. On Sunday, the emergence time was 8:01 P.M. Admission to the cave is $500 for persons six years of age and older. If you need directions to the cave, you can find these on The Nature Conservancy’s website at nature.org/texas….see you at the cave!!!