Road Trip 2016 – Indiana to Mammoth Cave , Kentucky

The drive from Edinburgh , Indiana to  Cave City ,  Kentucky is a short one. It’s only about 3 hours via I-65 .

We checked out early from Best Western Hotel because we went back to the nearby Outlet Mall to buy some stuff. And yes, we got there early. ha ha…  In fact, the mall was still close when we arrived. 🙂 Oh well, at least we were able to park right in front of  the main stores I wanted to go to.

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Did we find some sale? What do you think? 🙂

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After checking some more items , we headed towards our final destination of the day.  I-65  is a boring interstate . But this trip has better views than the Chicago-Indiana side of it. Specially when we made a detour  through Highway 31 to have lunch at Golden Corral in Elizabeth Town , Kentucky.

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We could have eaten somewhere else.  But well, this is the first Golden Corral we saw during this trip.  Their food is good and I needed rice! So if you are road tripping in the US, you might consider this buffet restaurant. They have western food – steak , pot roast,  meat loaf, etc.  A salad bar. Dessert Bar. And like I said, rice. 🙂

You can check their menu here – http://www.goldencorral.com/menu/

We proceeded to Cave City after lunch. This part of the road trip is just about an hour. So we just took our time and enjoyed the view on the way to the hotel.

Our home for the night is the Super 8. This is a simple and cheap hotel. But their rooms are normally big with either 2 queen beds or 1 king bed. The latter gets booked first. So if you are particular with your beds, book in advance.  Their booking comes with free breakfast too. Since it’s just for an overnight stay, this place is perfect for us. It is not the Marriott, mind you. But it does the job. 🙂

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Clean large room.

Bathroom was very clean too and has a bath tub. Not bad for $60 to 70 dollar per night right?! 🙂20161009_151644

Our cave tour isn’t until the next day. So we just rested after checking in.

Please note that there are no walk-in tours at Mammoth Cave. Hence, you need to have a confirmed booking, either by calling or through their website – https://www.nps.gov/maca/planyourvisit/fees.htm

DAY 2:

After breakfast, we checked out early and left for Mammoth Cave. It is just a few miles from the hotel.   Fall, even if it wasn’t in full bloom yet, was already visible and beautiful. Giving the park this magical feeling as you enter it.

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And then, these cute deer greeted us! 🙂 I learned that Mammoth Cave has resident white tailed deer. They usually hide in the woods. But if you’re lucky, you get to see them unexpectedly.

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The Visitor Center was still closed when we arrived. That was fine though. It gave us (mostly me) time for photo ops. ha ha

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UNESCO has included this cave as one of the World’s Heritage Site:  – http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/150

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in the state of Kentucky, has the world’s largest network of natural caves and underground passageways, which are characteristic examples of limestone formations. The park and its underground network of more than 560 surveyed km of passageways are home to a varied flora and fauna, including a number of endangered species.

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Inside the visitor center. You are looking at the reception area.

There is also a big museum and a food court inside.

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Thirty minutes before the tour, they will ask everyone to wait at Shelters A to C, depending on your schedule.

I took this picture of the group before us.

The park ranger asked the following questions: a) do you have a heart condition  b) are you claustrophobic?  Why, you may ask? The reason is that, The Dome and Dripstones Cave Tour has a very small entrance. The participants will go down a sink hole by way of a  280 step ladder on a 2-3 meter width access only.  Sometimes, you will have to walk sideways to fit in because in some places, the access is just a small space between two towering granite cave walls. Scary, yes. Exciting, yes. Adventurous, yes. But of course, health should always be a priority because it is difficult to send help once you are in the cave. That said, those who are not in good shape should not go.

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The tour bus that will bring the tourists to the cave entrance. Each group will have a park ranger as a tour guide.

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Going down the cave entrance.

Look at the door at the bottom. That is not even 1 meter wide.

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This is part of the 280 step ladder going down to the main cavern. The park designed this access on a sinkhole. I believe they just rappelled before. Which is kinda difficult for ordinary people like us. 🙂

Believe me, this was tiring. I think it’s better to climb up a hill or a mountain than to continuously go down. My legs and my thighs went to sleep after this. I felt wobbly as we headed back the tour bus on the other side of the cave. Oh yes, you don’t go back to where you came in. You go out a different hole of the cave.

As explained by UNESCO above, this cave has 560 kilometers of surveyed passageways. These are all interlinked. If you continue walking for days, you will eventually come out somewhere in Kentucky. 🙂 I cannot imagine doing that though. ha ha

Sorry for the shaky photo. My hands were shaking because this was not an easy descent.

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Finally, we reached the bottom of the cave.

Okay this part of the cave does not have water anymore. The river left it a long time ago. Hence, the stalactites and stalagmites are no longer growing. What we saw were just granite walls and a very huge dome at the bottom.

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An example of a dead stalactite. They look beautiful still, but they are prettier when they’re still shining due to moist.

REQUEST: When you go inside a live cave, please do not touch anything. Both stalactites and stalagmites grow one inch per century (1 inch/ 100 years). And when you touch them, the oil from our hands / body will kill them. Thank you.

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After an hour or so, we came out to a different part of the cave, near the Frozen Niagara area. This portion is a live cave. And is a very protected zone. I wasn’t able to take photos of this portion because for reasons unknown to me, our cameras died. Tsk..tsk..

On our way way out of the park, we took a different route. And we were so glad , we found their big signage. ha ha.

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Mammoth Cave is not as beautiful as Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. But what I love about it was the experience of going down a sink hole. Even if it hurt our legs for at least 2 days. Yes, it wasn’t easy. But having done that, I congratulate myself for not being lame. har har har

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Mammoth Cave National Park is located in Cave City, Kentucky. For more details of the park, please visit their website – https://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

If you are in Kentucky, try to include this in your trip.  It is worth it. If you have more time to spend , join several tours. And enjoy what this nature park has to offer. The link above will give you an idea as to what’s available and the cost of each tour.

Our tour may have been tiring but I loved every bit of it. I hope you do, as well.

Thank you for traveling with us. 🙂 Come back as this is far from over….

 

 

 

Lea C. Walker

 

 

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