Pennsylvania Convention A Success

By Kim Metzgar

Tom, Alex and I arrived in Shippensburg to find Mike Schirato, Kerry Speelman and many other friends anxious for the convention to begin.

We were staying in the dorms, and the three guys were visiting us. Tom and I prepared for bed, while the others decided to sleep in the living area, spreading out their sleeping bags indoors, given the threat of rain. We were tired from the precamp, the caving, the late nights from around the campfire, the socialization, and figured we would sleep well. It was not to be.

It sounded like “someone pulling the legs off of a cat.” That was how Mike Schirato described the sound of Alex’s snoring, which could be heard by each and every one of us. We politely gathered in the room, none of us wanting to say anything. Alex, the only one who appeared to have attained a good night’s sleep, chattered on pleasantly about all of the things he wanted to do during convention.

Finding a moment alone, Kerry, Mike and I had a long conversation about ear plugs.

We had successfully set up the booth, prepared for the Howdy Party, and were enjoying the convention. The volunteer schedule was set for the week, we signed up for cave trips, and saw many friends at the party. At one point either on the first or second night, Kerry, Mike and I thought we had managed to sneak away for a nap and were just settling in when there was a knock on the door. It was Alex. Finally, we fessed up to him, at which point he said his girlfriend Andrea said the same thing about his snoring. Ear plugs helped us sleep better, but we laughed about it often during the week.

Kerry managed to get out for some biking on the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. We made arrangements for MAKC board members who had not been to Cleversburg Sink to visit the cave. We briefly stopped to visit the township supervisors and presented them with a convention guidebook for the township’s work with MAKC to lease Cleversburg Sink and continue to allow caver access to this significant cave.

Kerry and Mike had reported that while the water level was still up, it was down enough that we could at least enter the cave. Phil Gowaty, Sue Moore, Tom, Kerry, Mike and I made our way to the cave, running into Matt Saltzer at the township park.

We visited one of the Cleversburg Den caves as well and in between raindrops Kerry and I did the rail trail.

There were two highlights of the convention for me. One was the showing of No Place on Earth, the new movie about townspeople who spent months living in caves hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Caver Chris Nicola, who authored the book on Priest’s Grotto, uncovered this moving tale and was kind enough to introduce the movie and answer questions after. Word quickly spread throughout the convention about what a phenomenal movie this was and a third showing was quickly added. The movie is now out on DVD and, and I just went ahead and ordered two copies. Once I’m done loaning it out to interested friends, I’ll donate the extra copy to the MAKC library.

The second highlight of my convention was the opportunity to visit Baker Caverns, one of the few former show caves in the state I had never been to. Accessed through a door underneath the porch of a house built above the cave, Mike Schirato, Alex Boughamer, Sue Moore and Phil Gowaty and I carpooled to the cave. We joined our hosts from Franklin County Grotto and several other cavers and enjoyed the cave immensely. Alex took many pictures, as did Phil and Sue. Afterward, Mike Schirato took us on an entrance tour of the P cave area, which was nearby.

The photo salon came much too quickly, as did the banquet, and the convention was over before we knew it. Alex came back home with us to continue his visit and to visit family for another week.

On the way back, on Saturday, we met up with Dave Field at the Hall Cave preserve. Dave finished the volunteer work he had been doing on the kiosk. We inspected the work Dave had done on moving the cable gate to allow for more parking, and walked over and inspected our first preserve. Dave, Tom and Alex decided to do a bit of hiking, and I decided to head back, to hopefully get in a bike ride (didn’t happen due to rain) and do laundry. The 2013 Convention was really over.