I woke up with a ravenous appetite, for what reason, I have no idea whatsoever. What made the hunger pangs even more pronounced is that I had a super craving for pancakes. Why? I have no idea. I tried fighting it off but it was a losing battle, I just had to have them.
Looking at the clock, I realized there was no time for me to whip up a batch of pancakes so I opted for stopping somewhere along the way. It was one of those days that I’d be doing a lot of traveling so I wasn’t worried about finding a place to get breakfast.
After an hour and a half, I couldn’t prolong the agony and had to stop to eat. Besides, I hadn’t had a coffee and that was one thing I knew I wasn’t going to go without, not if I wanted to continue being a civilized person. It’s not that I have intentions of being grumpy when I don’t have morning coffee, it just seems to develop and grow within until someone looks at me in a way I perceive to be the “evil eye” or says something that my brain deciphers as being hostile and the monster rips out of me with a vengeance. I’m getting better but I do recall one morning that I went into such a rage that I had to run into the bathroom to make sure I wasn’t foaming at the mouth.
I pulled into the parking lot of the “Homestyle Diner”. The lot was pretty full so I reasoned the food was good. After I was seated I hurriedly looked for the pancake selections and ordered the “Hungry Stack”. The pancakes were delicious but needless to say, my eyes were way bigger than my stomach because I only managed to finish two of them and still had a quite a stack to finish. I felt so guilty for wasting all that food I left a large tip, hoping to divert attention away from my wastefulness.
I arrived at the Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia around three o’clock in the afternoon. The Caverns are a geological wonder just east of the Allegheny Range of the Appalachian Mountains. I had been called in to see if I could identify something that had been found by one of the workers while exploring a new opening discovered in the caverns. I’m a professor of Paleontology at the University of Maryland and although I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable in my field, I’m not one of the renowned experts.
I love the caverns because they have a wonderful and exciting archaic feel to them. They reach into the ancient world that modernization can’t measure up to no matter how hard the attempts. We reached the location deep in a recess in one of the caverns that is off limits to tourists. The passage was very narrow but quite passable.
Once through, we were greeted with a vast opening lit up with soft lighting so as not to destroy some of the natural inhabitants. I was led to a rock outcrop and when I glanced up saw two large eyes staring down at me. Truth be told, it was quite eerie. I have seen many things in my experiences but this was unsettling at first.
I slowly looked around and noticed a mirror pool just below the outcrop and staring at it, I saw the eyes, like that of a ghost staring back and had to fight off a shiver. Just then, I was asked to get up on the staging that had been erected to make a closer examination of the creature. The shape of the eyes and the surrounding head looked to be that of a marsupial, perhaps a relative of the Australian species.
The rock around the animal was gritty and I could see that it wouldn’t take much to extract the animal from its captivity. An hour later, we were all standing around gazing at the small specimen before us. Because I believe that honor stems from truth, I informed everyone that I could not expound or identify what we were observing.
Three months later, I had the answers. I returned the specimen to the Caverns Museum with a positive identification. The animal was very rare and had originated in Mexico. It was an early relative of the Chihuahua. At first, it seemed that no one believed what I was telling them as they were all astounded by my findings. But after careful study of my documentation and the animal itself, they all settled down with acceptance.
However, one question still remains that I have not had the opportunity to research, and that is, “How did this tiny dog get from Mexico to Virginia and end up in a hunk of rock in the Luray Caverns?”
October 17, 2015