Cecil And The Blind Salamanders

When we built the Guadalupe River State Park in the early 80s, I had Cec (my dad) down on that job driving a water truck. (Except when he bit my thumb – but that’s a whole other story). He brought his travel trailer over and camped out right down along the river.

Some of the park people told us about a closed section of the park that no one was allowed to go. It was actually on an adjoining ranch that had been acquired by The Parks and Wildlife Department that was going to stay undeveloped. It was called The Honey Creek Ranch.

UT had sent teams of biologists and to investigate what was believed to be cave dwelling blind salamanders on a certain area of that land.

We all talked about sneaking over there late one afternoon but I was afraid of the repercussions if we got caught. That didn’t bother Cec. He hiked over there a couple of times scoping everything out. He visited around with the locals and figured what he would do to see them.

Finally he headed out with his sidekick, Tom one afternoon so he could lay claim to seeing the blind salamanders. With nothing but a waterproof flashlight he took out to a small body of water over on Honey Creek.

When he got there he shed all his clothes and eased off into the dark black waters. He told of diving down about 10′ deep and following a rock face down until a horizontal hole went back. He swam for a little ways, mind you with no scuba gear. Then there appeared to be a room that opened up. On faith, he swam upwards with the hope of finding oxygen. Suddenly there he was with the little alien creatures all around him. In the water and coming out onto the rocks. He said it appeared that they really didn’t have developed eyes, and they were almost clear to a milky color.

He had vowed to himself to not touch one because they were rare and even endangered. He stayed for awhile, enjoying something few people will ever experience.

Tom, the sidekick was panicking because Cecil had slipped off in the water, and didn’t come back up. It’s like he wasn’t even told that there would be a room with oxygen that Cec would go visit.

After his visit with the creatures he dived back in the water for the trip back. He never saw that as dangerous at all. It was something he felt that he had to do.

I wouldn’t have done the same thing, not knowing where I was going or what I’d find. But that’s what made my Dad unique. If he decided to do something, there was no stopping him.

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