Day 273 – 5/21/21 Mammoth Cave National Park

We had a great day visiting Mammoth Cave National Park today.

It was a beautiful early morning here in Cave City, Kentucky.  We are now in Central time, and I think everyone is used to Eastern because it was very easy to wake up at 6am, and Bia woke up on her own at 6:30.  She said she slept good, and she went right to getting her breakfast and was in a great mood.  She was enjoying her French toast, she loves it.  It just so happened as well that for some reason Bia’s teacher did not have class for virtuals today, so Bia ended up with a free day.  After she had breakfast and checked in for school to learn she had no class, I had her just play outside, play with Maggie, etc to enjoy the nice day while Bella did her school work inside.

Bella woke up earlier than usual as well, got something to eat and used her phone for a bit before starting her school work.  She was a bit distracted by the fact Bia didn’t have anything, and also that her teacher didn’t send the daily work, so we had her do the usual daily stuff and she was done early as well.

My work call got cancelled, so I went for a run around 9.  I just left the campground and took a right on the road right there.  It was a good run in the sense that I didn’t need to stop, but it was a country road with no shoulder, so no room for a runner really, and it was a bit busy.  It was a tad dangerous so I don’t think I’ll do that again tomorrow, maybe I’ll just run around the campground.  I was able to finish my writing in the morning, take care of a few emails, and mess around with a tool I got to manage social media.  I have to learn the tool yet and configure all the permissions yet, but hopefully it will make it easy to setup posts and publish them on a schedule, so we can have stuff going out almost daily, but without working on it every day.  I’m hoping we’ll be able to set up the posts one day of the week, and the tool will just handle it from there.

Carol helped Bella as needed and took care of a few things in the trailer.  One of the things Carol did was to empty the black tank, which she does often as needed.  Today though, as she was trying to pull the lever to open the black tank valve, she actually broke the handle.  The handle has two sides, and one of the sides broke, so we can still use it, but I know this is going to be a pain to fix, and I hope it doesn’t completely break before we are home. 

She was also doing some stuff online, and then worked on lunch.  We had bought ground beef yesterday to make hamburgers, so she made 4 big hamburgers for us, and took out 2 plant based burgers we had in the freezer for her.  I got the grill going, got the burgers done and we had lunch. 

The girls were inside eating, and Carol and I ate outside.  When the girls were done with what they were doing inside, they came out and sat with us while they had some chocolate.  We had a nice moment with the four of us right after lunch, just hanging out and chatting.  We were planning what we will do tomorrow, and also what we will do to be ready to leave early on Sunday.  Then we started getting ready to leave to Mammoth Cave National Park, as we had a 2pm tour setup.

Mammoth Cave National Park is very close to this campground, we are less than 10 miles away and had a 15 minute drive to get there.  We drive into a forrested hilly area, and then come in to the visitor center.  The park is not huge but it is big enough, and has many trails around the visitor center and surrounding roads.  After we arrived, we checked in for our tour, Carol got the girls Junior Park Ranger books, and we went on to our Historic Cave Tour. 

Most of the caves are closed due to the pandemic, and only this one is open.  I got the tickets last week, and am glad I did as they are completely sold out until next week.  The area around the visitor center is very pretty with lots of trees, rocks and nature.  When it was 2pm we headed on to the cave, got a quick safety talk from the ranger and continued down the hill towards the Cave’s natural opening. 

This is a very cool area, and the cave system here is huge.  They said this is the longest cave system in the world, with 412 miles of mapped caves, and they believe there is more that is not mapped.  As we walked in to the cave, it is massive.  The sheer size of the opening and size of the inside of the cave is amazing.  We walked for over 3 miles underground, and the cave size was pretty much the same the entire time.  The ceiling was pretty flat too, as if it was a river flowing.  Bia even said at one point that the cave felt upside down, like the ceiling was nice and flat and the floor was all bumpy.  Made me remember that bizarre upside down world in Stranger Things. hahahahahah. 

As we walked through the cave, we learned they’ve had a few “businesses” down there.  The first one we see is the remnants of a mine, which brought in water from the outside to use with the materials taken from the cave walls to find material for gun powder.  Then, the next thing was more bizarre… apparently the cave was owned by some doctor over a few hundred years ago, and he ran an experiment there to treat Tuberculosis patients.  There was a church down there, some rooms where they kept the patients, etc.  We heard the experiment didn’t go quite well, and the Cave air did not do much to treat those patients. 

We had fun walking around and learning about the cave’s history, and seeing how massive it is.  It is a MAMMOTH of a CAVE.  Through our walk, the girls were paying attention to things, reading signs, etc to try to finish their Junior Ranger book. 

Bella and I were playing this word game where one person says a word, and the next has to say another that starts with the last letter of the prior word.  It was fun, we played that for a good hour and a half.  As we were leaving the cave, I saw the sign for a trail I had written down for us to check out, it was the River Styx Trail, so we followed it. 

That is a smaller trail, at 0.5 mile each way, that ends up by a rock wall, with a cave type of area, where water comes down from the wall, settled in the cave, then runs through a creek.  That area is super pretty, and we loved making that stop.  There’s a boardwalk to get close to the view, but there is also a little side trail that lets you get down and close to the water, so we went there too.  We took lots of pictures.  We enjoyed looking at the nature, the water coming down the rock and forming the pool and creek, and all the trees around, not to mention all the big butterflies that were flying around us.  Bella loved being inside the creek with her waterproof hiking shoes, and also loved the butterflies flying right by her. 

We were pretty tired from our walks, so the way back to the visitor center, which was all uphill, was much slower.  We enjoyed our walk back, checking out nature.  Bella and I were still playing that words game.  From there we went to the visitor center so Carol could help the girls finish their books and get sworn in as Junior Park Rangers for this park.  They went through the little museum type of walk inside the visitor center, and came back out with their books almost ready.  Bella had it all done first, so they went to the ranger station and got her sworn in.  She was all happy with her new badge, this one is big and shiny.  Bia finished next and was super excited to get another badge as well.  The ranger told us that we can probably contact the parks we already visited and didn’t get Junior Ranger stuff from, and they’d send us the books and then the badges.  The girls got excited about that and said they’ll want to do it for sure, and then have a collection of Junior Ranger Badges.  This is very cool because they learn a lot about the parks as they fill out the booklets. 

As we finished there, we left and took the long way out to see more of the park.  It’s just full or pretty roads, with lots of green trees around, and super cool drives.  We made one last stop at a sign for the park, and took our last picture of the trip by a national park sign.

We went back home from there, and just planned on relaxing outside.  I got the chairs out, opened the awning, got Alexa outside and some music going, and we just sat there, hung out, chatted, planned, etc.  The girls were playing for a while, then Bella started writing about our trip.  I asked the girls and Carol to write something for me, like at least a one pager, about the trip, how they liked it, etc so that we can include in anything we do about the trip.  It’ll be cool to record their version of how they felt, what they liked the most, etc. 

Bella read what she had so far for us, and it’s pretty cool.  She does a nice job writing.  Bia was just playing with a leash, spinning it, turning, etc.  She did that for quite some time.  As the sun light started going down, I got the fire going.  We sat around the campfire and were talking and laughing and having a good time.  Bia loves playing with the fire when we have campfires.  She loves getting little twigs or branches and burning the tips, then waving them around to form cloud shapes and stuff. 

Carol made some ramen for dinner, which is always a hit.  She said she felt embarrassed to be making Ramen in front of all these people. hahahahah… The campground filled up pretty good through the day, and people kept arriving.  One of the conversations was after the girls checked out the pool and came back saying the water was warm, when just the other day they said it was freezing.  Carol said the water was warm because of all the people in there, and they were all peeing in the water.  hahahahahah… The look on the girls faces was priceless… I fortunately got it on camera too. hahahahaha….

Carol and I were having some beers, and having a nice relaxing time.  At some point, Carol played a bit rougher with Bella, and I made a comment she needed to slow down.  She did not like that and went inside, visibly upset.  Right around the same time, the girls went in to shower and watch some stuff.  Carol eventually came outside and sat with me by the campfire, but there was not a ton of conversation.  We stayed there until the fire was almost out, then I went in to shower, and she stayed a bit longer.  I put a movie on for Bella and I to watch.  Bia was watching something on her phone, and Carol was on her phone in bed, and eventually just went to sleep.  When the movie was done, I turned everything off and we all went to bed, it was almost midnight.

We had a great visit at Mammoth Cave National Park, and enjoyed relaxing at our campground.

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