By Kitty Markley
We finally got a celebrity into a cave.
On Sun., July 3rd. Mike and I took local author Darlene Marshall to Whitecliff Cave. She had contacted the FSS in May and was interested in doing some research for her next romantic novel. The plot obviously involved caves (we promised not to give anything else away). We figured she had to be pretty interesting and maybe fun so we decided to set her up.
Buford, Mike and I threw location ideas back and forth and since she had never caved before we settled on WC. It turned out to be a good choice.
Darlene, Mike and I arrived at WC cave at about 11am. It didn’t take long to gear up and we were ready. Mike went in first. At this point I had to hand it to this lady-she just turned fifty and this was completely new to her. I recognized the look on her face (since I’ve worn it on mine)-definite trepidation. She later mentioned that she almost backed out at that point, which made me like her better for seeing it through. I’m sure the WC entrance looked small, dark and scary, but she figured she’d just trust us and in she went.
The trip was great. We’ve been in WC before and liked it but it was even more enjoyable in her presence. We were going through the cave at a pretty good clip stopping to look at interesting stuff here and there. Darlene, relaxed now, asked some questions about how caves are formed and what elevations Florida caves are found at, etc. Definitely a smart, well read person.
After about an hour of caving we were back at the big rock under the entrance passage discussing cave terms and plot twists. That was very cool.
It took a few minutes to climb the rock up and out. I let Darlene stand on my back (and neck and head) and Mike pulled her up. She was so appreciative to us for making that climb easier that she later gave us a copy of her last novel ‘Smugglers Bride’.
After exiting the cave we beat it out of there quickly (the mosquitoes were thick and felt like they had fangs).
We took Darlene back to her car so she could head back to her home in Gainesville. She promised to credit the FSS for our contribution to her new novel coming out later this year.
We’re looking forward to seeing our grotto’s name in print!