First Visit

Curt Sleeper, Doug Helmsing, Cammie Helmsing, caveAfter a lot of curiosity and contemplation, on January 6th, 2004, we met our long-time friends, realtor, Cammie Middleton-Helmsing and her husband, Doug Helmsing, to have a look at the property.

The drive went quickly.  Approaching Caveland, we questioned our directions.  Tucked into a neighborhood in a small town south of St. Louis where most of the homes were two-bedrooms ranging between 800 and 2500 square feet, ranch-style, wood or vinyl clad with the occasional brick home, these neighborhoods can be found anywhere in the US.  The suburban-style yards were well-kept, and we could not image a cave or three partially wooded acres in their midst.

We arrived just a few minutes before Doug and Cammie, and peered through a small gap in the tall wooden gate, trying to get a look at the cave.  A few minutes later, our friends arrived and Cammie opened the lock-box.  As we swung the gate, wonderland opened up to us.  Both the cave and the land far exceeded anything we had expected. 

We wandered inside the cave, marveling at the warmth and the shapes in the rocks.  Outside, we climbed rock outcroppings and hiked through the woods.  We walked down the box canyon, and sat on a fallen tree, gazing at the rock walls and lush vegetation around us.  We contemplated naming the three stone lions, two that sat at attention in front of the cave, and one reclining by the woods. 

This place impacted us the way some of the world’s natural wonders did.  It felt like home, and we never wanted to leave!

Eventually we pried ourselves away from the property, and visited a nearby Italian restaurant called Poppy’s, to discuss making an offer.  We ordered appetizers and a bottle of wine, and discussed what we could afford to offer, what kinds of inspections we might need for this unique property, and what contingencies to place in the contract.  After agreeing on an initial price offer, we requested four months due diligence, and added that the three stone lions would stay with the property. 

Although the seller declined our first offer, several offers and counter-offers later, we agreed on price and terms.