Janet Luquire: Descent into a Mountain

By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 01:25

Another FANtastic Tale of Adventure

By Janet Luquire

My great adventure was sliding down the inside of a mountain.

Years earlier my grandmother told me she slid down the inside of a mountain in Austria on one of her trips to Europe, so when I went there many years later, my 6-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter and I rode in one of the cable cars up to the top of the mountain in Hallein, Austria.

There we donned white coveralls and helmets and followed the miner guide into the salt mine. There wasn’t much talking as we followed the leader through the dark, narrow tunnel.  Salt water dripped down on us and the salt crystals glittered when the miners’ helmet lights hit them. The leader spoke from time to time in German. The fellow miner followed behind me at the end of the line.  He did speak English and at each level we stopped on, he described what we were looking at.

There were four levels. To reach each level you slid down a wooden slide in the dark. This reminded me of my favorite activity in the Fun House at Playland at the Beach in San Francisco when I was growing up.  This was more thrilling because it was a long ride, straddled in front and behind by fellow tourists, whizzing down to each level.

On one floor was a Roman Catholic chapel; the miners were all Catholic. On the next level was a gigantic salt water lake. On one side was a German flag, and on the other, an Austrian flag, since the mountain and its salt mine was on the border of each country.

We went out on a boat and the lights were turned out. There was total darkness. It was eerie, but it gave you a taste of what the miners might have experienced during their lifetime work. One level showed the miners’ work.

At the bottom and last level we rode a small railcar out into the bright sunlight of a summer’s day. My husband was there waiting for us. We chided him for being a coward about riding the cable car up and told him he missed the adventure of a lifetime!

Retired teacher Janet Luquire lives in Sonora, California.

 To read our Tales of Adventure Contest winners’ stories, see the Winter 2014 issue
of Friends and Neighbors Magazine, available at these locations and by subscription.

 

By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 01:25
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