17 June 2019

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: Felony Caving in Walker Co., GA

Pettijohn’s  Caves are absolutely beautiful.  I know this because I’ve seen them.  I climbed in the front part of the cave - I also never want to set foot in Walker County, Georgia again.  My oldest, Thing 1, decided we should go on a camping trip.  Not just camping, but he wanted to take his Mama caving.  That was really not a good idea.

We loaded my old Sable with all the camping gear and up the road we went.

Thing 1 drove, but there was a rule with the Sable:  “Don’t put your foot in it!”  He forgot that rule.  The throttle cable was held together with airplane wire and a spare nut.  I’m not joking, but it worked!  It was also a royal pain if you got too heavy on the gas pedal and made it slip out.

A couple hours from home, Thing 1 got heavy on the gas pedal.  To the side of the road we went.  It took about another hour, with Mama on her back, head under the dash and feet over the back of the driver’s seat to fix it, but carry on we did.

We –finally- made it to the camp site!  I threw up the tent (I was an expert by then), put on our helmets, and into the cave we went.

For anyone that doesn’t know, at pushing 50 years old, dealing with mud and slimy rocks is not a good match.  I promise you.

  I got pulled out (yes, -pulled-) and cooked a good meal over the campfire while the boys’ played.  Thing 4 turned out to be “Spider Monkey.”  He made it down to the bottom, found places his brother had never seen, and came back up with a muddy smile on his face!

The next morning, after the big guys slept in the tent, Thing 4 and I slept in the Sable, we decided to try it again.  We all walked up the trail and Thing 4 dove into the cave before we could get close.

The Department of Natural Resources was closer, though.  Right behind us, in fact.  

We got arrested.  At least the three of us above ground did.  It’s the only time in my life I ended up with a warrant.  Charges: Felony caving.  There is no such thing as Felony caving, but that didn’t help a lot with the legal fees.  If there was any such charge the only one guilty would have been my youngest, Thing 4.  He was the only one in the cave.  The DNR said they weren’t going to give him a ticket because he was so young.  

Our camp was packed up, and home we came.  Thing 1 was stuck in Walker County jail for a couple months.  He was on probation, so they kept him, and Newton County wouldn’t provide transport for over 75 miles.  He did learn how to make jail hooch out of fruit juice and biscuit crumbs though.

Once back home, we -finally- got all the charges dropped.  It didn’t help that Walker County “lost” all the tickets, but our records were cleared.

Nope, I’m not a felon.  Not yet, anyway.      

- Bess Tuggle


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