As March 2013 approached cavers across Florida and the southeastern United States make last minute plans of escaping for the weekend. Some make lists of what to bring, others scramble to finish work. Finally, just prior to the second weekend of March cavers load vehicles to maximum capacity and head for Jerry’s Ranch in Williston Florida.
Excitement builds as one pulls up the long drive to see Mike, Kitty, and Steve at the airstream trailer registration booth. Familiar faces are seen everywhere–a little chat here, a little chat there, then finally you set up camp. Some of these people haven’t been seen in a year or more, yet it seems like yesterday.
There are always new folks to keep things fresh in addition to caving icons that always have new stories. Trips leave for caves around the area, making an empty camp, except for a few that catch up on old times or just relax in the mid-day sun.
After a great day of exploring caves everyone comes back to camp. Donning clean clothes, after a heavenly hot shower, one meanders up to the homestead to be served an exquisite meal by Jerry, Cheryl, and Bernice. It doesn’t get any better than Great food, Great service, and Great times.
After dinner and a little bit of relaxation, everyone heads to the bonfire area. The fire is lit and the party begins. Crossroads hits the stage playing blues, rock, county, and anything that is suggested. People huddle around the fire tapping feet, chatting with old friends, sharing comradely and enjoy the evening as the temperature drops.
The last day is the hardest–little tired, little hungover, little sore, but a very happy. Breakfast is served once again by the ‘bestest’ host in town–Jerry and company. Goodbyes are said, vehicles packed, numbers exchanged and the journey home is begun with some friendships renewed, and new friendships begun.
Thanks to everyone who made it out, and everyone that helped out to make a GREAT CAVORT!
All photos by Jon Singley, story by Philip Walker.