Bell MT – If you have never lived anywhere where it is possible for the thermometer to read as high as a hundred six or a hundred eight degrees, consider yourself fortunate. I grew up in Oklahoma. I remember that year not only because of the record highs, but because of the draught. We knew that our old air conditioner wouldn’t be able to keep up with the heat so we loaded up and went to somewhere cool. Alabaster Caverns State Park. We’d been there a handful of times before, so we knew what we were getting into. What we hadn’t counted on was being early. Another family was early, too, and they took to the hiking trails. What better way to kill time? We also took the trails. When we noticed that the sign was sorely in need of paint, we should have turned back, but we didn’t. Now the trails are all in a sort of canyon and the entrance is a small hole in the wall. We first went down. We could hear water at the bottom. It had to be ninety-eight degrees and rising and we didn’t have any water with us. We started to climb up, but it was soon apparent that we couldn’t tell which markers were which and we couldn’t even turn back because we didn’t know the way we had came. The heat quickly got to us, it became neccessary to take more breaks to catch our breath. The irony was that off of the trails were professional spelunking caverns, only found on certain maps but otherwise unmarked. A sign on the wall told us that we had landed near Water Cave. It had long been a hundred degrees when we finally neared the topmost edges of the canyon wall. We jumpped the holes in the ledges with ease, even my sister managed with a broken arm. At the top of the canyon, all us girls took an oppurtunity to sit down at catch our breaths again while the guys climbed up the hill just behind us to figure out just where the parking lot was. It was hard to believe that we had managed to negociate the tree-covered canyon just below us. It didn’t take the boys long to get back. As it turns out, the parking lot was on the other side of that hill. That day, if you ask me, it was a hundred and eight degrees. My sister would say it was only a hundred and six degrees. We spent four hours out there that day. Soon as we made it to the parking lot, we packed up and went home, we weren’t in the mood for the tour of Alabaster Cave. We’d seen it before anyway. It’s surprising what you can learn on such trips. Always bring water and a compass. Don’t get too frustrated to not notice the beauty around you. It’s amazing what people can muddle through when they have the Lord watching over them. Strangely, I miss seing temperatures in the nineties. The people call anything over eighty degrees a heat wave up here. If only they knew.