A Mammoth Experience

Since the hip continues to bother me, I’ve been branching out to alternate experiences in the great outdoors. Last weekend, I took a “mammoth’ road trip that included caving, educating Amish, a haunted house, a bourbon distillery, a concert and a lot of time on 2 lane roads…

I’d never been caving, and pictured the experience as cold, wet, and muddy. I’m not particularly a fan of being cold or muddy. However, Mammoth Cave is “touristy caving” and I didn’t get muddy at all.Our tour guide, Ranger Joe, was chock full of information about the caves. Amusingly, they warned people ahead of time that if they were claustrophobic, this was not an optimal experience for them. And sure enough, one guy realized about 50ft in that he was claustrophobic. There were no tight areas. the sections of the cave we toured were (pardon the quip) mammoth. Larger than a movie theater. We took the ‘general cave tour’ which I’d recommend passing on. We saw Indian artifacts of early ‘candles’ and slippers and jugs dating back more than 2000 years.Turns out there is a more historical-based tour that sounded a lot more interesting. Per Ranger Joe, the cave was used as treatment for “consumption” and people lived in huts in almost total darkness in the 1800’s. It turns out, being in cold moist air was about the worst thing possible for them. Several people died down there and it is supposedly haunted. Also, in the early 1900’s, the tours were conducted with lanterns fueled with bacon grease. Imagine that had to be an ‘aromatic’ experience. There are a number of trails around Mammoth Cave, but we didn’t get an opportunity to explore them. We took a brief walk down to the Green River, which is quite green. 

Then we headed over to Cub Run Cave, which was a short drive from Mammoth Cave. I definitely enjoyed this caving experience a lot more. It’s a very small-run operation but it is a natural cave that was only recently opened up to the public after a long legal battle. The formations are breathtaking and our guide, Lori, was truly entertaining and educational.

 

Then we headed over to Cub Run Cave, http://goo.gl/KdtTy which was a short drive from Mammoth Cave. I definitely enjoyed this caving experience a lot more. It’s a very small-run operation but it is a natural cave that was only recently opened up to the public after a long legal battle. The formations are breathtaking and our guide, Lori, was truly entertaining and educational. The website has a lot of the backstory which is worth a read. I’ll update with pics when I remember the other camera cord.

The next day, we made it to Bardstown, KY for the Maker’s Mark Distillery tour. I’m a tequila girl. I am not a fan of straight bourbon. (Toss in some mint, peaches, ginger ale… yummy). The tour is free and offers samples of various types of bourbon. I would have liked a bit more time to explore the home and the backstory, but we jumped right into the manufacturing process. It smelled like the day after a frat party. The HUGE vats of fermention corn, wheat and something else reminded me of Willy Wonka. People were allowed to stick fingers in to taste it. I opted not to. 

The grounds of Maker’s Mark are lovely and amazingly well-maintained for a ‘manufacturing’ environment. It was surprising to learn they have 85 employees that produce in excess of a million bottles a year. One job description is “Quality Control”… I know a few people who would love that gig!

Then we headed to “Wickham”, known as a home where 3 Kentucky govenors lived (pre-becoming govenor). It’s a large pre-Civil War home, with huge rooms and more history than you want to listen to. It’s also supposedly haunted. We attended a 90minute ghost tour that lasted almost 3hours. It was primarily in a very mildewy basement. I had a wicked headache. The medium would relay responses from the ghosts. I thought it was pretty hokey. Things didn’t add up but if you dig history and want to toss $15 into the wind, go for it.

The next morning, we headed to Illinois. But stopped off in an Amish store. They had very impressive goats. Viewmasters are still very popular with the Amish apparently. I noticed in the children’s toy section, there were a number of Mardi Gras Beads with “Mardi Gras Beads” written on them. Really? I asked one of the Amish young ladies working there if they were familiar with Mardi Gras. She wasn’t. She was inquisitive. I ended up (delicately) explaining to her that women often lift their shirts to get beads. She could not believe they would would do that. She asked what they did with the beads later. I said “pretty much nothing”. My friend standing behind me was shaking his head. I’m pretty sure they removed the beads from the store and burnt them later.

Will upload more links and pictures later…

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