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Mammoth Cave: The Historic Tour! (Day 111)

November 6th, 2009 3 comments

The one tour you’re supposed to go on at Mammoth Cave is The Historic Tour. It’s the one that people have, historically, gone on. The history involved primarily has to do with the history of cave touring at Mammoth Cave. I’m not kidding.

But first, here’s a deer:

mammoth-cave_deer-in-leavesTired from a night of partying with the cave trolls.

And then this also came before the cave:

mammoth-cave_pardon-progressThere *is* no excuse for progress.

And *then* I went on the tour.

mammoth-cave_big-chamberIt’s called “Mammoth Cave” because it’s big (it’s the longest cave in the world).

mammoth-cave_fat-mans-miseryRemember that one Simpsons where they re-build Ned’s house?

mammoth-cave_graffiti19th-century graffiti artists had much neater penmanship.

mammoth-cave_chasmTarget practice for rock-droppers.

mammoth-cave_exitDaylight at last!

People on this tour had a hard time not standing on the rocks. OTOH, the guide stood on rocks, so why shouldn’t the tourists? The guide also said that the National Park belongs to *us* (as opposed to belonging to the government). I didn’t engage, but I really, really wanted to. Discretion and valor, etc.

Historical facts:

  • They mined saltpeter here for the War of 1812, also known as the Second War of American Independence.
  • Originally, tour guides were all slaves.
  • The slaves got to keep their tips.
  • One of the slaves discovered a whole lot of the cave.
  • You used to be able to take a boat cruise on an underwater river in this part of the cave (the tour guide was proud of having been part of the group that disassembled the boat pier and boats thereby putting an end to the practice).

Anyway. I saw wild turkeys near the deer, but they were skittish and thus the photo was blurry. The bobcat is still the best animal I’ve seen all trip. Although the turtle in Minnesota was also pretty cool.

bkd

Another Park with Mostly Tree Prisons (Day 110)

November 6th, 2009 2 comments

So the north part of the park has all these hiking trails, but the ranger informs me that they’re all tree prisons (not her exact words). But then there’s this hike-in lake that, she says, has pretty good fishing.

No park rangers have ever fished. I’m sure of it. Well, whatever.

It was about a 4 mile round-trip hike to this lake and, yes, tree prison. The lake was okay-looking. I saw fish jumping, but none biting. Went to the river nearby — similar story. I’m trying to figure out how this took an entire day. Eh.

first-creek_lakeThe lake.

nolin-riverThe river.

nolin-river_fishingThe fishing gear.

houchins-ferryThe ferry.

I think I needed rooster tails. Was there two and a half hours trying to catch something. That was probably enough to prove the point.

Also! Did laundry at the campground when I got back. And took a cold shower that cost me $2. And it got down into the low-30s that night.

bkd

Mammoth Cave, Inside and Out (Day 109)

November 6th, 2009 No comments

Mammoth Cave is in Kentucky.

It’s a nice enough park, definitely worth spending a full day. I spent two and a half, of course — but that was fine, I kind of needed to have a couple days of not driving 300 miles anyway.

Got there around noon, which gave me time to walk around the six or so miles of “hiking paths” around the visitors center. Then it was still only 2:30, so I signed up for one of the cave tours (“New Entrance” was the name of the tour — you can see how that would have enticed me).

Make photos go now:

mammoth-cave_campsiteMy campsite.

mammoth-cave_trail-trunksFall colors: past-peak.

mammoth-cave_boardwalkBoardwalk.

mammoth-cave_styx-springsStyx Springs (there’s an underground river, you see).

mammoth-cave_looking-upThe bowels of the earth.

mammoth-cave_magic-glowThe NPS does a good job of setting up their lights, imho, fwiw, etc.

mammoth-cave_formationThe only stalactites in the cave.

mammoth-cave_cave-cricketCave crickets: the bottom of the food chain.

A few lessons learned from the cave tour:

  • Cave photos never work out. Maybe if you took a tripod (but the ranger won’t let you).
  • This part of the cave used to be owned by a guy who was jealous of the people who owned the other part of the cave and so tried to make his cave seem like theirs.
  • There are some really dumb people running loose in this world (I mean, just, not intelligent). “Which direction does water always want to go?” “South!” That wasn’t the worst.
  • All caves should come with friendly Filipina-Canadians — a shame they don’t have those in Kentucky.

L8,

bkd

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