Friday, November 13, 2009

It's a Mammoth of a Cave

So, we were up BRIGHT and EARLY Sunday morning and drove the hour and a half to Kuntucky.  We donned our UK shirts (nerds, we know!) stopped for some big ol' Sonic drinks and headed out. 


It was SO cold! 
There was ice on our windshield in Nashville and when we got to KY, they had salted the walkway into the park office building.

My car finally felt at home!

Our destination?  Mammoth Cave National Park.
Our tour began at 9 AM.  We got there about 10 minutes ahead of time.  This is the description of our tour:

Duration: 2 hours
Walking Distance: ¾ mile
Sells Out at: 114 visitors
Restroom Available? No
Description: This trip begins with a bus ride over the top of the cave to the New Entrance. Discovered in the 1920’s, it opened a whole new way to see Mammoth Cave. Descend 280 steps through impressive pits, domes, and a few narrow openings. Arriving 250 feet below ground you will be rewarded with large passages and underground hills. Follow your guide to the Frozen Niagara formation discovered in 1923. From Frozen Niagara to the cave exit you will pass through one of the most decorative and photographed areas of Mammoth Cave.

Sections of the tour have confining spaces and heights. Those with claustrophobia and/or acrophobia may have difficulty.

Landmarks Seen: New Entrance, Roosevelt's Dome, Silo Pit, Grand Central Station, Big Break, Fairy Ceiling, Flat Ceiling, Frozen Niagara flowstone formation, Frozen Niagara Tour Route


Elevation Change: 250 feet
Number of Stairs: 500
Steep Hill Climbs? Yes
Restrictions: General restrictions apply; backpack infant carriers not allowed inside New Entrance

The guide starts by telling us that this is a TOUGH tour and if we are at ALL nervous or dont think we can do the 500 stairs that they would refund our $$.  But, once we were on the bus, it was too late.  I have asthma, had a blood clot, knee problems, have SLIGHT issues with tight spaces, tend to fall...but...
we got on the bus:

The tour begins with a 25 story descent down NARROW WET stairs.  About 250 stairs down. No stopping.


Then, we sat and rested while he talked.

THEN, you climb back up about 175 steps.  This part was TOUGH.  Some of the "stairs" were more like laddar rungs.  Then, we sat again for a rest.  I thought my quads were going to fall off at this point!!!


Then we walk along some more with a few more stairs here and there.



The guy originally told us to turn our flashes off b/c the flash could mess with people's vision...so Ben being the rule follower than he is, turned it off and took a LOT of pics that just look black.

When I finally took over, I turned the flash on (everyone else had theirs on) and we got some OK pics.

He openend an extra part of the tour for us called "Frozen Niagra."  It was optional b/c it added another 100 stairs.  50 down and then 50 back up.  So, of course, we did it. 

And I'm glad we did.  It was WEIRD looking!!



B&K at Frozen Niagra

Some of the tight spaces



And we made it out...alive.  Here's the exit!!!

YEAH for us!!!  We did it!!!

Then we went to look at the "Historic Entrance."  This is the tour that Ben had been on before.  We could only go in a little ways on our own...here are pics of that. 

looking in
Yes, more steps...

looking out

this is as far as we could go in.  I like this shot!


I also like showing the top of the cave and the ground above it!

Ben likes to THINK that he can read a map

I just let him...




I told Ben to sit for a pic and this is what I got.  When I said open your eyes...


...I got this.  Sassy pants.


We went hiking and found 2 more caves (that you cant go in)

and had to climb more stairs


just looked like holes in the ground...but Ben loved it.


Someone died in this one.

A path...with no stairs!!!


Our car at the end!

So, in total...we estimated

840 stairs.
Dang.
_______
Then, we drove to Bowling Green for lunch and then a tour in a boat.  We missed the tour we were supposed to go on, so we had to wait a little more than an hour for the next one.  So, we walked around the trails there:


We were at the Lost River Cave


While walking around we found 4 of these "Blue Holes"
They are blue from some mineral in them.


The river begins at a spring and is underground for the most part, but where it "pops out" are called Blue Holes.

The Spring.



Our tour started and we heard stories about the holes and spring.  It was once known as the "shortest, deepest river" by Ripley's Believe it or not...but then they discovered that it was only 15 feet deep.  Hmmm...apparently the original rope (with rock tied to the end) drifted down the river instead of sinking.  OOPS!

This is the entrance to the cave.  It has the only underground night club.  Back in the 30's it was a happenin' place and people came from all over to go there.

There is also a water mill on the left.

again, I like seeing ground level with the cave under it

See that arch?  That was the original entrance to the night club.  There were steep stairs that used to come down from there.  How scary would that have been?

Apparently Jesse James also used this cave as a hide out for a long time.  There are rooms that are carved out in the back, too.

After the night club closed, it was forgotten about.  In the 70s and 80s, people just threw their junk over the ledge b/c it just disappeared!  In the early 90s, it was "found" and they started cleaning it out.  There were tires,appliances, and even an old car.  They are still cleaning it out today.

We got in a rickety boat and had to duck REAL LOW to get inside.

Ben was worried that I would hit my head!

I didnt get many good pics inside.  It was very pretty!  The tour guide pointed out several "images" that theygave found.  They were funny!!  The tour only lasted 20 minutes by boat.  That was pretty disappointing, but they are still cleaning past the "old dam" and have built a "new dam" further back.  Soon, the tour will go further into the cave.

View from the dance floor!


water mill
_______________
After our tour we trudged back up to the car and drove back towards Mammoth Cave to Glasgow, KY where Ben grew up.  Ben's dad grew up on a farm there and Ben lived there from the time he was 3 (ish) to 12. I had never been, so we decided to stay a night with his grandma who still lives there.

Ben and his grandma Ruth

Oh the stories I have from that night!!!
Since it was Sunday, when we got to her house we had time to change shirts, use the restroom and then we were off to church.  We were late.  Because we had not been to church that morning his g-ma was adamant that we "take the Supper."  When we got to the church, late, she said that she wanted to sit closer to the front so that we wouldnt have to walk too far for the Supper.  So, she walks us to this door and says "we're going into the auditorium now" and opens the door.  We were seriously staring at the faces of the whole church b/c she had walked us into a door on the FRONT wall of the auditorium!  Fabulous!  Ben and I gave each other "wide eyes" and just followed her to the 2nd or 3rd row.  I ended up sitting by her.  Apparently during the last song, those that "were unable to partake in the Lord's Supper" are to walk to the front row and be served.  So before the song she leans over and simi-whispers "this is when you go" so I said "ok." As SOON as they started singing, she started POKING me.  HARD.  Ben and I were going to wait a minute or so and watch someone else.  She kept poking me!!  Luckily, there was someone behind us that got up, so we just followed him and the one other person that had skipped that morning!!  Then we met a lot of people.

After church we went back to her house and had dinner.  Roast (which she later told us she got on sale after it's "fresh date"), gravy, corn, green beans, mashed potatos, baked apples (pie filling), biscuits, and corn bread.  After dinner, we drove around town and "saw the sites."

When we got back to her house, we looked at her collection of pictures.  She takes pictures from newspaper ads and copies them onto a white sheet of paper, combining pictures, and sends homemade cards.  We love getting her cards!!!  She spent a long time showing us all her different boxes.  She had boxes for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Thank You, Sympathy, Baby, Wedding, a box for cats, roses, house pictures, and on and on and on.  It was amazing, really, but after standing there for over an hour, Ben began making faces at me!

We also looked at a LOT of family pictures. Like this little gem:

look at my Ben!!!

How cute is he!?!?!

The next morning, we had a 10+ hour drive home.  But we got up and went to Shoney's to eat breakfast with her.  We got a tour in the light that went something like this:

"Theres the bank.  I have to park in the back b/c I cant take all the stairs.  There's the post office.  I use the post office over yonder closer to the house but they dont sell stamps after 12.  So, when I need stamps after noon I have to drive all the way over here (a few miles!).  There's the Dollar General and there's the animal doctor."

Seriously...that is almost word for word for a couple of blocks!
I love the "There's the Dollar General and there's the animal hospital."

After our gourmet breakfast buffet, we drove back to her house and packed up.  She was so sad to see us go.  She offered us snacks and when we turned them down she then offered us groceries!!!!  When we turned THAT down she brought us $5 and told us that was gas money so "we could come back sometime."  It was super sweet!! We did take the water that she offered...after she offered it 3 times.

"Benjamin" as she calls him EVERYtime & his g-ma.


When we left, we went to Wal-Marts to look for UK stuff and then we to drive by
Ben's old house in the daylight.

this was driving down his street (taken out of the sunroof)

and the house. 
Ben drove by it 2 times before he figured out which one it was!!!
(he would like me to add "it doesnt look like it used to.")

Ben got a little offended when I said that I wouldnt want to move to Glasgow...but I as quick to point out that I dont particularly want to move back to WM either. 

Nashville...I am PERFECTLY fine with, though!

Then, we got lost getting back to the interstate...drove in the rain the whole way home...and got home after 10 that night.  We were SO stiff the next day.  840 stairs one day and 11 hours in the car the next!!!!!!  OUCH!!!

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