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We were camping at Shannondale, and I made arrangements for our group to take an evening tour of Round Spring Cave, courtesy of the National Park Service staff. The only problem was that the number of tour participants was limited, and we had one more person with us than the available slots for the tour. Art Klein had stayed at camp, and another youth or two, who were not fond of caves, had stayed with him. Dean Moberg volunteered to stay above ground and let the rest of us go on this spelunking adventure. He had gone before, and, although there is always more to see in such a dynamic and complex cave, he was willing for the rest of us to enjoy it this time. There would be another trip and another opportunity to tour the cave.

As the time for the tour approached we gathered near the cave entrance, and Ranger Ruth entertained us with some colorful stories from the area lore about sinkholes, caves, and Ozark culture, and we were glad to be in the cave overhang area when the rain began. Still, Dean dutifully stayed outside when the rest of us followed our guide into the cave. Some of our group were a bit jealous of Dean’s choice during our squeeze through the narrow channel of the first hundred yards, as uncountable numbers of bats flew past our ears on their way outside for the evening’s mosquito harvest.

Dean, meanwhile, returned to the parking lot and our cars and observed the onset of a powerful windstorm, maybe even a tornado, wondering whether the wind would do more than scatter tree limbs and branches and rock the car that was his only available shelter.

An hour or so later our group emerged to a different environment, with evidence of the storm all around us. Dean greeted us and assured us that everything was all right, although he had wondered for a while whether he would be blown away. We returned to our campsite and found the tents in various degrees of collapse and disarray, which Art and his crew had tried unsuccessfully to remedy. We decided to take advantage of Shannondale’s more dependable shelter for another night, grateful that most of us had been able to spend the time of the storm oblivious to the world outside and enjoying the amazing and utterly quiet world below.

We were grateful, too, to those who had braved the elements on our behalf. We could always count on Dean and Art.

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