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July 1999 NearNormal News

Jim Jacobs

Well, it's that time again! Time for another newsletter! Seems like onlyyesterday… It just sneaks up on me. Oh, well! Let's see… do I have anything towrite about? Oh, yeah! Our vacation! I'll write about our summer vacation! (Ifeel like I'm back in grade school). Well, we…(wait for it)…went CAVING! HOOHA! No, we didn't go to THE cave, the MAMMOTH cave. This time we went to TheOTHER cave, Carlsbad. My, oh my! What that cave lacks in mileage, it makes upfor with a whole lotta BIG! At one point in the big room we were looking up atthe ceiling 255 feet away. There's only one cave room bigger, and it's inBorneo. (The Sarawak Chamber). Well, more about that later.
We spent the first week hiking around and into the Grand Canyon, getting warmedup for our trip to the Cavern. If you've never seen the canyon, you should.Everybody should. However, I think that everybody WAS trying to see it when wewere there. Well…not THAT bad, but it IS one of the world's most populartourist attractions.
This meeting, we will be voting on the particulars of our incorporation. Beth'sarticle in this issue fills in all of the details, but in short, we need toauthorize the lawyer to draw up the papers and to re-write the bylaws to matchour new status. This will also authorize the expenditure for the lawyer's fee.As soon as the by-laws have been revamped, the Executive Board will reviewthem, and they will be published in the September NEWS for a membership vote atthat meeting.
Oh, the next MVOR is to be held on Halloween weekend at "OzarkOutdoors", formerly Keyes Canoe rental, which is across the Meramec fromOnondaga Cave State Park, according to Jo Schaper.

· TROY SIMPSON encounters 'flashlight cavers'.
· MARC TIRITILLI explores the technology of LED lights as back-ups, and is gladthat he uses safety devices when appropriate.
· BILL BAUS tells us about the Mitchell vertical system
· STEVE TAYLOR reports on this year's Indiana Cave Capers and the MVOR
· BETH REINKE presents the motion for incorporation that we will vote on thismeeting.
· JIM JACOBS waxes enthusiastic about summer vacation out west.
· And an updated roster

May 28, 1999

Called to order at 7:20pm by President Brian R. Braye. Present: Carl Wenning,Rebecca Wenning, Marc Tiritilli, Angela Carson, David Carson, Matthew Carson,Julie Angel, Beth Reinke, Jim Jacobs
Secretary, Jim Jacobs: The minutes of the April meeting were approved aspublished in the NEWS.
Treasurer, Beth Reinke: Balance, $529.27.
President, Brian R. Braye: reports that there are two shirts left. One XLsweatshirt and one L long sl. T-shirt.
DISCUSSION: There was more discussion on incorporation. Julie will seek legaladvice. Brian noted that Norm Rogers is advertising in the NSS NEWS forparticipants for the Mammoth Cave Restoration Field Camp. Jim J. passed outflyers for the Karst-o-Rama, the Tag Fall Cave-In and the Indiana Cave Capers.Mark T. volunteered to help Steve T. on the program committee.
TRIPS. July 17 to Illinois Caverns. This will be a "rookie trip".
Submitted by Jim Jacobs, secretary

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June 25, 1999

*IN ATTENDANCE: Brian Bray, John Marquart, Beth Reinke, Julie Angel, MathewCarson, Mark Belding, Dave Carson, Angie Carson, Lena Morris, Marc Tiritilli,Angie Bennett, Brett Bennett, Don Coons, Rick Toomey, Steve Taylor.
*MINUTES of previous meeting: not available, will be published in upcomingnewsletter
*TREASURER: Current Balance $511.32
*Beth Reinke and Julie Angel: Incorportation and liability. Five options werediscussed, and a sheet was passed out detailing the options. This informationwill be published in the upcoming newsletter. They consulted with a lawyer onoptions. There was a general but not too painfully long discussion of theoptions and sources of funds. Some donations are available from individualmembers to help defray costs for more expensive options. Emphasis was placed onoption 5 (File article of incorporation and, with help of lawyer, rewritebylaws. There will be a vote on these
options at next meeting.
*Illinois Caverns: Trip to the cave on July 17th was discussed. Meet at 10:30at McDonalds in Waterloo.
*LED lights: Marc Tiritilli demonstrated some interesting LED based lightsources he has been developing. Some discussion. He invites other members todiscuss possible designs with him. Very cool!
*Brett and Angie Bennett: went to___________ Cave, ?Indian? (sorry, I forgot towrite down name as I was too busy listening!-ST)
*Steve Taylor: research trips to Illinois Caverns, Fogelpole Cave, StemlerCave, Krueger-Dry Run Cave (Illinois)
*Dennis Campbell and Steve Taylor: trips to Porter Cave, Freeman Pit, HiddenPit (all in Owen-Monroe County area of Indiana)
*Don Coons: Roppel Cave trip (Kentucky)
*Marc Tiritilli: led campus life group on Logging Camp Cave and Buggy Top Cavetrips (Tennessee)
*Next Meeting: July 23, 1999
*Karst-O-Rama is July 30-August 1, 1999, NSS Convention July 12-18, 1999(Filer, Idaho)
*Meeting Adjourns for excellent presentation by Dr. Rick Toomey on his ongoingresearch at Mammoth Cave (Kentucky): 'Past Use of the Historic Entrance Area byBats'

*submitted by:
Steve Taylor
Center for Biodiversity, Illinois Natural History Survey
607 East Peabody Drive (MC-652), Champaign, IL 61820-6970 USA
sjtaylor@mail.inhs.uiuc.edu http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~sjtaylor/
Phone: 217-333-5702(work, with voice mail) Fax: 217-333-4949

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Bill Baus

In response to questions about the Mitchell system: There is no one system thatis right for every caver and every situation, but I feel that a properlyconfigured Mitchell system offers me the best of speed, efficiency, andversatility. A description of the system is at the end of this commentary.
For long, free drops, the Mitchell is the most efficient system, with the leastamount of wasted motion. In terms of efficiency, it is equal to, or slightlybetter than a rope-walker, and is significantly more efficient than anysit-stand system. In terms of speed, it is also equal to or slightly fasterthan a rope-walker, assuming that the user is skilled and has the arm strengthto move the ascenders fast enough and long enough to complete climb. In termsof amount of gear to tote around, it is similar to a rope-walker if therope-walker's foot cam is tied to the foot in the traditional way. However, theMitchell has less gear if the rope-walker uses one of those newer foot camswith a built-in stirrup or plate. Compared to a frog, the Mitchell is usuallybulkier and heavier. Of course, this all depends on what type of chest rollers,slings, and harnesses are used on the particular set-ups being compared. MyMitchell is actually more compact than some frog systems that I've seen.
The versatility of the Mitchell comes from its ability to convert instantly toa Texas system. By clipping in my safety on the short-sling setting (I use aLost Creek safety sling which has both long and short settings) and removingthe upper ascender and chest box from the rope, I can change to Texas at anytime during a climb in a matter of seconds. If I do not anticipate any long,free drops, I leave the chest harness, chest box, and upper ascender behind. MyTexas system is more compact and lighter than any frog system that I've everseen, and the Texas is just as versatile as the frog for crossing lips orre-belays, changing ropes, etc.
The Mitchell and Texas utilize more upper body strength than the rope-walkerand frog. Since I have good upper body strength, I don't find this to be aproblem, but some people do. While a properly configured Mitchell does not usethe arms to raise the climber, it does use the arms to raise the ascenders, andthe Texas uses the arms much more than most frogs to balance and raise theclimber.
While the rope-walker has the advantage of leaving the climber's hands free,the Mitchell has the advantage of not having the climber encumbered with allthose bungie cords. (Some people have successfully rigged their Mitchells withthe lower ascender on a double bungie, but I have not found that to be helpfulto me.)
A prime advantage of the Mitchell over the rope-walker is that there is noascender tied to the foot. This makes it possible to easily reach all ascendersat any time during the climb, and it makes it possible to start the climbwithout either having someone else hold the rope or having to
drag the rope over the climber's muddy boot, as must be done to self-start witheither the rope-walker or frog. (With rope of average stiffness, I can startmoving my lower ascender with no problems on the very first step. On very limpor muddy rope, I may have to hold the rope below the lower ascender with myfree hand for the first 2 or 3 steps.) The lack of a foot-mounted ascender alsomakes crossing lips and getting off rope much easier.
A SAFETY WARNING: While nearly all Mitchell and rope-walker users have a thirdascender with them when climbing in those systems, I have often observed frogand Texas users climbing without a third ascender. Everyone who climbs ropeshould <<< ALWAYS >>> have a third ascender on their personor in their pack, even if the third ascender is just a Prussik knot. (Since Ialways carry a Prussik knot and a biner in my pack, even when horizontalcaving, I have my third ascender for emergencies even if I leave my chest-boxand upper ascender behind.) DESCRIPTION:
A Mitchell system consists of one ascender attached to the left foot with ashort sling so that it rides near the knee, one ascender on a long sling whichrides near the climber's face, and a chest box with side-by-side rollers fortwo ropes or slings. The sling from the right foot ascender passes through theright roller(s) of the chest box and the standing line passes through the leftroller(s). The seat harness is not used except for resting and safety. Thesystem can be configured in reverse, left to right, but I recommend againstthis.
My system has been modified to add another short sling between my lower (left)ascender and my seat harness. This prevents me from hanging upside down from myfoot stirrup in case of a failure elsewhere in the system and is designed sothe the lower ascender will follow along without my having to do anything if Iam walking up a slope or over a lip. I have also eliminated the traditional useof rope in the slings by use of sewn 1" tubular webbing in all slings.This reduces weight and bulk, prevents the knot from beating on my ankle, andin the case of the right (top) ascender, it greatly extends the life of thesling and rollers. My lower ascender is placed so that I can comfortably reacha webbing loop at the top of it, and I hold the upper ascender by the cinchhitch that attaches the sling to the handle. This prevents me from being victimof the natural tendency to wear my arms out by pulling myself up with thehandles.
The Texas system consists of an ascender on a short sling to one foot and anascender an a short sling to the seat harness. It is especially good for short,against the wall climbs, since the free (usually right) foot can be placedagainst the wall, but it can also be used on free drops by putting the freeright foot on top of the left foot.
DISCLAIMER: All information herein is provided to assist cavers in determiningwhich climbing system is best for them. It is not intended as an instructionmanual or in lieu of proper personal instruction. The author assumes noliability for any loss, including serious injury or death which results fromthe use of any of the climbing systems discussed herein.
Bill Baus
1210 W. 8th St.
Bloomington, Ind. 47404
(812) 339-1210, Afternoons (Home)
(812) 336-4941 (Lost Creek Packs)

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Jim Jacobs

Yes, we missed the last grotto meeting, but we had a good excuse. We werecaving! We left for our western vacation on Saturday morning, and arrived atGrand Canyon National Park Monday evening. We spent the rest of the week hikingalong the canyon rim and down into the canyon. We even brought a miracle! Wehiked a mile and a half down the Bright Angel Trail to the rest house. Ofcourse, the downhill part of the trip was the easiest. We very much enjoyed allof the myriad desert flowers and flowering cacti, and the squirrels that demanda cut of your lunch, as if this were a toll road. Of course, this is the sametrail that the mules use, so you do have to watch your step! Oh yes, themiracle. We brought rain to the desert! We had been, of course, warned aboutthe very real danger of dehydration when hiking into the canyon due to the heatand aridity. Naturally, about half way up, we had a thunderstorm! It was notunwelcome, though. We were huffing, puffing and sweating by that time, and therain kept us from overheating. Luckily, I had packed a couple of rain ponchos.The rain hit so swiftly that we got soaked before we were able to get them on,but once they were on, they kept us from getting chilled.
OK…we're almost to the caving part. Patience, my children! From the canyon, weheaded toward New Mexico and Carlsbad Caverns National Park. On the way there,we visited the Meteor Crater, the Petrified Forest, and the Painted Desert.(Busy trip!) A wonderful bit of serendipity occurred when we overnighted inAlbuquerque, which sits in the shadow of Mt. Sandia. I picked up a brochure inthe motel lobby that referred to their famous cable car that goes to the top ofthe mountain. Since we only had a five-hour or so drive from there to Carlsbad,we resolved to experience the 'Tram'. We were doubly determined to do thisbecause we had been denied this very experience when we went to Germany a fewyears back. Close to Garmish-Partenkirchen is the cable car to the top of Mt.Zugspitze. We had seen a video about it, and it was on our list of "mustdo's". Unfortunately, it was cool and socked in with fog that day, so thecar wasn't running. (Couldn't have seen anything, anyway!) Happily, the weatherwas perfect, and the Albuquerque Tram was operating. It was a wonderful trip tothe top. Once there, we noticed that they had the chair lifts running down theother side of the mountain. So we rode the lift chairs down, had a snack, andlifted back to the top. It was great! And of course, there were restaurants andsouvenir shops at the top, and on the bottom (both sides). Just like the GrandCanyon had shops strategically located. Everywhere you looked.
We found the city of Carlsbad to be delightful! Like hometown in the 50's. Afriend of mine who used to live in the area, describes it as being 'stuck in atime warp.' (But in a pleasant way.) For example, we walked into the Tru-Valuehardware store, and the owner and his wife spent twenty minutes talking aboutthe area and suggesting sights that we must see. They gave us directions to gosee the Living Desert Museum and Park. We were glad for the tip. It waswonderful, and we hadn't known that it existed. There was a one-hour walkingtour, which featured hundreds of different kinds of desert plants, a snakeexhibit, and some enclosures with outdoor animals such as elk and bison. Thehit of the show was the prairie dog town. What a hoot! They are fascinating! Afour-foot high wall enclosed them that you could lean on while you watchedthem. Convenient! I wish that we had had an hour to spend just watching theprairie dogs caper around. We found many of the merchants to be just asfriendly, the fellow who ran the artist's co-op store, and the lady who has thecaving/mountain climbing outfitting shop.
At Carlsbad Cavern, (while shopping for souvenirs), we decided to take the"Main Entrance" tour and walk all the way down. The entrance is verylarge, but not as large as I had imagined. To enter, you walk past the arena,which fills nearly every night with bat watchers. As you probably know, thenightly flight of Mexican Free-tail bats from the entrance is a major touristattraction. And it is quite a sight! I taped it, and could show it after themeeting if anyone is interested. The swallows own the entrance during the day,the bats by night. Some of the late returning swallows run into quite a trafficjam at sundown! They entered the cave down low, while the bats exited nearer thetop of the entrance. A park ranger gives a conservation lecture before theflight, debunking many of the common myths about bats, and educating peopleabout bats place in nature.
As we made our way down into the cave, we quickly noticed that it just kept gettingbigger and bigger as we descended. There were old, inactive decorationseverywhere, and the cave continued to expand. The descent to the Big Room takesyou around 750 feet below the surface. You'll notice that I capitalized"Big Room". More like REALLY big room. It's the largest cave room inNorth America, and the second largest known in the world. It's sort of'T'-shaped, and the ceiling reaches 255 feet from the bottom. It took thebetter part of an hour to tour the perimeter of this lavishly decorated room.In the Hall of the Giants, one of the columns is 85 feet tall and around eightfeet thick. Everywhere you look, columns, soda straws, giant stalagmites,helectites, lily pads, aragonite trees, gypsum flowers, whatever you want tosee, it's there somewhere. And on a grand scale! An awesome spectacle! I tookthe video camera along, and was surprised at who well the tape turned out.Surprisingly, there was a restaurant and souvenir shop at the end of the tour.But they were not going to snag me! I only bought three shirts. And somerefrigerator magnets and a computer disk of cave and park photos. We took theelevator back up to the surface, and visited the Main souvenir store on the wayout. Again. (They must have had us in mind when they built these things!)
Being semi-hardcore types, we wanted to also do a wild cave trip, and purchasedtickets for the ranger-led tour to Slaughter Canyon Cave. They have to prepareyou for what the trip is like, and to discourage people from taking the tourwho won't be able to finish it. The fewer rescues, the better! I don't knowwhat their policies are at Carlsbad, but if they have to helicopter-lift youout of the Grand Canyon, that particular ambulance will cost you over $2,000.Anyway, in the brochure, they describe the trip as "very strenuous".Of course! But we're hard-core cavers! We can handle a little cave trip.
Forgot the part about the 50-story hike up the mountain in 98-degreetemperature. Huff. Puff. I was behind Marty all the way. A few times, I swear Ihad to push. The hike was beautiful if you took the time to notice. We knewthat they expected us, because the ranger who was to lead the trip had passedus on the trail quite a while ago. We were the last to arrive, but weren'treally more than a few minutes late. The 58-degree cool of the cave was awelcome relief from the heat of the hike. But to get to the parking lot, we hadto drive a seven-mile gravel road. Now, I don't know just how long it had beensince they last graded this gravel road, but the grader had preceded us thisparticular morning and had cut the narrow road in two with a foot-high ridge ofgravel right down the middle of the road. This left us two choices: to squeezeover to the right (or left), and scratch the hell out of our paint on theoverhanging shrubbery, or try to go down the middle, and listen to the rocks(some of them softball sized or larger) bang into the undercarriage of the carand threaten to break and/or puncture vital things. He was waiting in theparking lot for us, and his second pass on the way out smoothed the road outpretty well. The trip out was a piece of cake. Terrific timing!
Slaughter Canyon Cave shares many characteristics with other caves of the area.It has very large rooms. (Huge by our standards.) Lavish decorations. I hadconsidered bringing a large flashlight but didn't. I really regretted thisomission, because my cheap helmet light died, and I was left with a couple ofsmall Garrity double-A battery back-up lights which were still fine for gettingaround a small cave, but their beams were dwarfed in these cave rooms. Depositsof guano from the former tenants. This cave had been abandoned by the batshundreds of years ago, but they had left guano dozens of feet deep. The mininghad uncovered guano that was thousands of years old and contained the skeletonsof extinct species of bats.
Of course, we played the "experience total cave dark" game andwandered from one large room to the next even larger one. There were two veryspecial formations in this cave. I have pictures on disk. I hope that we cantransfer them for this issue. One is called "The Christmas Tree".It's a good fifty feet tall and covered with white calcite 'frosting', and isquite spectacular. The other resembles a forty-foot hooded figure, and wasformerly called, "The Klansman", but in these enlightened times isnow called "Darth Vader". I think that it looks more like the hoodedEmperor from "Star Wars". There were a couple of small footbridgesand steps in difficult places, but for the most part, the cave had beenreturned to nature. Flagging tape now guards delicate and sensitive areas.There was also an interesting display of artifacts left from the mining days,such as old light bulbs and machine parts.
Naturally, the hike back down the mountain was much more enjoyable than thetrip up. Faster, too!

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June 18-20, 1999
Steve Taylor

Dennis Campbell and I headed over to Owen County, Indiana to attend CaveCapers. We arrived early, by 1pm on Friday. It was nice to be leisurely aboutsetting up camp - and especially nice to do it by daylight (instead ofheadlight). We got one of the choicest spots, with deep afternoon shade under abig beech tree, which looked good for vertical practice. Just behind the treewas a fair sized sinkhole (for atmosphere, I suppose).
Anyway. we got settled in, toured vendor's row, chatted with Barb Capocy (aChicagoland caver). Finally, we decided there was nothing to do but go caving.We got directions to Porter Cave, and headed off in search of a hole in theground. The directions were good, we found the parking area and cave. At 20feet wide by eight feet tall, the entrance was hard to miss. The scenic openingwas perched up perhaps 20-30 feet above the valley floor, with a nice waterfallcoming out of it. We took photos and poked about. Both of us beingbiospeleology types meant that there was lots of time spent with our noses tothe rock, looking for little crawlies. Even at our slow pace, the cave wasremarkably short, perhaps only a few hundred feet. Soon we were popping out thesinkhole entrance. We retraced
our steps through the cave, taking a few more photos.
Back at camp, we wandered about checking out other campsites, and made our waythrough vendor's row a few more times. Things picked up a bit when Cindy Lee(Little Egypt Grotto) joined us. We did a bit of ethanol testing as the eveningwore on.
The next morning, the three of us (Dennis, Cindy and I) headed out to do acouple of pits. Our first stop was Freeman Pit, which we successfully foundafter a bit of driving. This is a nice open air thing, with a 98
foot rope drop to a dead-end bottom. Several other cavers were around, andrigging and coordinating took a little time, but soon we'd all bounced the pit.Then we headed west about 400 feet to do the same at Hidden Pit. Here, we foundmore cavers, and were able to cut in front of about five of them because theywere having a little vertical training, and weren't yet to the go-down-the-ropestage. This cave had two drops, a 25 foot entrance drop and then a 40 foot dropa little further into the cave. Both were nice and free of the wall. Thein-cave drop was rigged with a bolt. At the bottom of the second drop, therewas a VERY ripe squirrel - stinky.
Back at camp again, we cooked dinner, did vertical practice in a tree, andwatched the presentation by Dr. Halliday on Hawaiian caves - excellent! Thendoor prizes, which were plentiful. But none came our way (four ropes!). Moreethanol research.
Sunday morning. Rain. I had to de-rig the rope from our beech tree - in therain - before coffee. But it really wasn't so bad. Then we broke camp andcaught breakfast on the highway and headed home. A fine little caving weekend.

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Marc Tiritilli

For those of you who weren't at the last grotto meeting, I showed and told ofan LED replacement lamp for my Petzl Micro. I was frustrated with the shortlife (about 1.5 hours) of the two AA batteries so I began to look for a longerlived alternative. I use my Micro for close up work such as knot tying, lunch,etc. when I don't want to eat up time on my Zoom or as a backup in case my mainlight should fail. For these relatively low intensity purposes I decided to lookinto some of the newly developed high output LEDs. I wanted something thatwould give me enough light to move comfortably (say walk through IllinoisCaverns at regular speed) and to work within arm's length without having tostrain my eyes (enough to read normally).
After searching many different brands, colors, and sizes, I found a fewcombinations that worked quite well. I settled upon a cluster of four mediumsized LEDs with an amber color that I fitted into a standard mini-screw basebulb. The final product can be installed in a Micro just like a regular bulb.In my test, one pair of AA Energizers gave useable light for over 40 continuoushours! No modifications to the headlamp are necessary. Just pop it in and turnit on! The intensity is better than I expected and is a rich sunset-orangecolor that actually makes you feel warm. Unlike the Micro bulb, the LED beampattern is very smooth although it is not focusable. I was initially hoping touse a white or blue light, but these devices require more than 3 volts.
That evening I also tried a cluster of three white LEDs that I bracketed ontomy Zoom. The setup here is more complex since it involves a mounting bracket,external wiring, modifying the lamp, etc. The result is a set of running lightsthat uniquely identify my helmet from a distance allowing mere mortal non-LEDcavers to hide in shame before they are seen. The cluster automaticallybrightens when the Zoom is turned off. An extra switch allows the LEDs to beturned off too. The light output here is much softer but is perfectly adequatefor personal business and could easily get you out of a cave if it's all youhad. On a 4.5-volt flat pack I suspect it could run for months.
Currently in the works are headlamp retrofit kits that could replace the bulband reflector to provide equal or greater light at a fraction of the energyusage. Yes, I've seen the new LED light that's on the market, but it looks abit awkward. I'm trying to come up with something that's inexpensive, that willfit into what people already have. So far, the amber Micro bulb seems to beideal. The cost is about $15 if anyone is interested. I'd be happy to discusscustomizing a system and to share more detailed information on the parts that Iused and where to obtain them. I can be reached at marc_tiritilli@hotmail.com.Take care and cave softly.
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Julie Angel & Beth Reinke

We had an appointment with a local lawyer on June 2, 1999 regarding how toprotect the grotto, officers and members from liability associated with grottoactivities.
The meeting was very helpful and we were able to talk with "someone in theknow" about many of the things that have come up in our group discussionsabout liability during the last several years. From information gatheredearlier and our discussion with the lawyer, it appears that we have at leastfive options:
1). Do nothing.
PROS: We're already there! No one has to do a thing!
CONS: The grotto, grotto officers, grotto members have no, none, zilch, zippolegal protection from liability associated with grotto activities.
2). Prepare and fill out trip specific liability forms.
PROS: We have already prepared a general liability form that could be modifiedfor trip specific purposes.
CONS: It would be a hassle to prepare, complete and file these for each grottotrip/activity. Also, although the signed form might deter someone from suing,it would not provide legal liability protection for the grotto, grotto officersor grotto members.
3). Obtain Liability Insurance for the grotto.
PROS: The grotto, grotto directors and grotto members would be protected fromliability.
CONS: The recurring yearly premium would likely be prohibitive.
4). File Articles of Incorporation as a Not-For-Profit Corporation on our own.
PROS: The $65 up-front document fees and annual $5 fee are not prohibitive. Thegrotto, grotto directors and grotto members would be protected from liability,provided our bylaws are modified to reflect the incorporation.
CONS: Without legal council we might not get the wording of our bylaws exactlyright which might leave loopholes for liability.
5). File Articles of Incorporation as a Not-For-Profit Corporation with theassistance of legal council. The legal council will also help us reword ourbylaws and review our general liability form (which he suggests we have allmembers sign and submit when they join the grotto).
PROS: The grotto, grotto directors and grotto members would be protected fromliability. We would have professional help in cleaning up our by-laws (a taskthat has been on our plate for several years and is long overdue). The up-frontdocument fees ($65) and annual renewal fee are minimal ($5).
CONS: We need to raise $200 for legal fees.
Option 5 is by far the most comprehensive solution and the one recommended bythe lawyer as the best way to protect the grotto, directors and members fromliability associated with grotto activities. We were not charged for ourinitial consultation, so at this point, no money has been spent. We haveinformed the lawyer that we would get back with him with the final"go-ahead" after consulting with the membership. The grotto Board asvoted unanimously to endorse Option 5 and will make a motion to this effect atthe July 23 grotto meeting. For those unable to attend that meeting, the motionis also included in the July "Near Normal News." Please contact agrotto officer if you'd like to register an opinion prior to the vote. Pendingapproval of the motion, there will be a separate vote to approve the updatedbylaws once the lawyer has re-drafted them and the executive committee has hada chance to review them.


The Executive Committee moves that we resolve the NNG liability issue byadopting Option 5 of the Grotto Liability Summary Report, which states that wewill, with the help of legal council: 1) file Articles of Incorporation as aNot-For-Profit Corporation and 2) update our bylaws to conform to the standardsset for a Not-For-Profit Corporation. The Executive Committee further movesthat the membership approve the expenditure of $265 to cover document filingand legal fees.

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Steve Taylor

Those who were there might understand - if there wasn't too much brain celldeath. The rest of you must live knowing that you missed a really specialweekend. Suzanna Walaszek showed up on my doorstep around noon on friday, May14th. We crammed my gear into her already-full and too-small car, and drove,drove, drove, until all we could see were yellow and white stripes tickingacross the field of view, until every CD was played, and until all the AMstations had been perused a hundred times. So many 18-wheelers, it seemed therewas no end to the gray pavement and gray sky. Such agony! Six and a half hourslater, we were crossing a low water bridge on the Current River in southcentral Missouri.
As we pulled up to the registration booth, everything suddenly seemed finesomehow - life was good again. Friends old and new were generously sprinkledabout no matter where I turned. The map at registration led us to the Illinoiscavers' hangout, a mix of Little Egypt Grotto (Brad Hibdon, Gary Resh [aka'Stingray', and, later in the weekend, aka 'Gary Retch'], and Barry Smith);Near Normal Grotto (Brett Bennett and the two youngsters, Suzanna Walaszek,Lara Storm and me); and remnants of the old SEMO Grotto of Cape Girardeau,Missouri (Brad Blackburn + Sandy [aka cyberbabe materializes!], and RichardYoung). Lawn chairs came out (really, Richard, you ought to spring for a newone, your butt hangs out the bottom of that one), and we settled in around thealready cozy fire after setting up our tents amid the trees in the dwindlinglight of our ridge-top home. Coolers were produced, and each imbibed of theirfavorite.
From that point on, I must confess that the entire weekend became a blur, andany details I may set forth on these pages represent only the dullest of moments,capturing only the smallest portion of the grandness and wonder of the event.
We wandered up to vendor's row in groups of two to ten, shopping orwindow-shopping. Vendor's row was not just a major social event, but was also areal gear-fest. Here, let me help you adjust that harness you're trying on...Nothing quite like sitting down for half an hour with one of the authors of 'OnRope' to discuss the merits and drawbacks of the latest Petzl innovation(Tibloc B01). Meeting new people, being introduced, introducing - and sometimesjust gawking. And that big trailer with the beer taps sticking out the side ofit kept calling to us....
Wandering from campsite to campsite, visiting other people's fires. And somereturned with stories of the sauna... Now we're singing cave ballads late intothe night. Drinking home made mead, and other, more toxic, home-brewpermutations. What was that funny smell I noticed by that other camp up theroad? Sharing stories of each other's past follies, planning new ones. It was verydark, very late - or very early in the morning, before any of us even began tothink about bed. The bellowing voices of distant camps, laughter in thedarkness, excited children (of all ages) with their new toys.
And it was too few hours later - no more than three or four for many of us - wewere up again on Saturday morning. Looking a little green around the gillsthere, aren't you? After breakfast was scrounged and we were done lazing aboutfor some time, some of our camp chose to go on a tour of nearby springs, cavesand karst features. But some folks weren't quite fit for travel. They werefeeling the effects of the previous night's celebration so much that one of ourgroup even obtained a new nickname out of his queasiness. Afternoon. And atorrential, but brief, rainstorm spent sitting under a hastily raised shelter.Opening another beer as the sky pounds down on the tarp and the thunder rolls.My bottle opener was the bottom of a folding chair. Hound number 106 (paintedon his side) limps through camp and back into the woods on the far side.Keeping the fire burning in spite of it all. Truckloads of wet, but jubilantcavers who were returning from the days' adventures. Kayaks coming back tocamp. Who was that girl on the end of the leash? As evening came, and our groupcoalesced again back from their various excursions and the sky cleared, withpromise of wonderful weather for the big Saturday night party. And that promisewas kept.
Morels with dinner, a group stew (thanks to Gary and Suzanna). Then to thebonfire and the door prizes. Oh, but how we all wanted to be the winner of oneof the ropes - the pretty orange ones or the big 200 footer. As the bonfireroared up to its' full potential (PA system: 'we apologize for miscalculating -if your tent is near the bonfire site, please move it immediately to preventshrink-wrapping your sleeping bag' - OK, I paraphrase a bit, but that was theintent of message) the music started. And what a band - real, quality,authentic, heartfelt, urban electric blues. Truly one of the best MVOR bandsI've ever heard. And after the first set, a multi-talented belly dancer / cavebabe, well known to some MVOR veterans, was there to entertain us to thecompelling sounds of the band. In my memory (such as it is) of MVORs since1989, never have so many hearty cavers been out on the uneven, muddy, stumpinfested, dance floor.
I danced and danced with so many fine ladies as to make my head swirl even now.Oh, cave babes, my worst weakness.... sigh! Excuse me, mister, will you hold mybeer while I dance with that woman you're hitting on? And
Jennifer was *so* lovely - in spite of the squirt gun incident.
Late into the night the band goes on. The bonfire becomes a giant mountain ofintense orange embers - still unapproachable by even the boldest offire-walkers. The Illinois camp gradually refills with its more hardy members,whilst others crawl into tents. Children are gently shuttled off to dreamland.In the inky blackness of a new moon night, the placid calm of our little fire soothes,and eventually even the staunchest of the late-nighters wander off to retire totents dampened by the afternoon rain.
Sunday morning. Too early, but up anyway. The road now deeply rutted byoversized 4x4s. Puddled rainwater, spent cyalums, crushed beer cans. Hangovers.Muddy cave gear. We eat what remains of the food. Coffee brings life. Tents,still wet, are stowed away. Gradually the campground becomes empty. Fires arespread out and extinguished with water. Every shred of garbage is searched outand bagged. More Tylenol, please! One last stop at vendor's row. Goodbyes tothe cat, Froggy VII.
The drive home is much better than the drive out to MVOR. On the way home yourhead swirls with all the experiences, the new friends. Future cave trips promised,and perhaps a new phone number or email address.
Certainly everyone found a new face that, when the next MVOR comes around, willbe a familiar, friendly face that wants to spend some time with you playing inthe Ozark woodlands.
Really, it *is* about caving. And caving is about cavers. This was an MVOR notto be missed - and never to be forgotten. Thanks MVG and all who helped make itgreat!

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