Home » Crazy Kids » On the Road Again

On the Road Again

Well, not really I suppose, but we did venture out for another day trip. This time we headed to Mammoth Cave National Park, which happens to be the longest cave in the world. (Jewel Cave, which we visited when passing through South Dakota, is second.) There are over 365 miles of passageways, but it is believed that there could be 600 more miles yet to be discovered. Of all these miles, we were able to see two. Just two. Write it off as laziness since none of us were up for walking 365 miles today. Maybe next time…

I never seem to get history right, my names are all wrong or I am way off on my dates, so I don’t tend to share a lot of specific details, but I will tell you that Mammoth Cave was first discovered 4,000 years ago, and then exploration ceased about 2,000 years ago until the cave was rediscovered in 1798, so this cave has been around for a day or two.

Back when the cave was privately owned, visitors were allowed to write or carve their names on the walls. The owner hoped this would encourage people to come back, or at least send some friends. A lot of the names were “written” with candles. I found it fascinating how well they were done, almost as if they had been written with a large typewriter. These days you aren’t allowed to touch the walls, let alone write on them.

Of the two pits we saw, one of them was originally thought to be bottomless. It was later discovered to be just over 100 feet deep. Regardless, they still call it the bottomless pit. All the evidence of slaves working in the cave still remains. The wagons, the boxes, the tree trunk water pipes. It is all perfectly preserved, giving us a tiny glimpse of what life must have been like for those working underground.

By far, the tightest area we had to squeeze through was Fat Man’s Misery. We had to duck and turn sideways to fit through some of the areas. Even the kids had to watch their little heads in spots. Rob later confessed to our guide that he touched some rocks through that area. Everyone laughed because we all did the same thing.

We were all wondering about bats, and while they do live in the cave, they do not live where the visitors go. I can’t say that I blame them, I wouldn’t exactly like people taking my picture while I was trying to sleep either. We were also informed that insects and reptiles do not live in the cave because it is too cold and there is no food. Not three minutes later, William was kind enough to find a rather large spider on the wall and held the flashlight on it to make sure I could see it. What a sweet boy. I would have loved to show the ranger, but I was too busy trampling people to get away from it, there was no way I was going to go back. Not voluntarily anyway. I don’t think I touched any walls after that, either accidentally or otherwise…

We were warned that the lights behind us would turn off and the lights ahead would turn on as we went. Don’t straggle, we were told. Take your pictures and keep moving. Keep up with the person in front of you. The ranger was not kidding. Every time he came upon an electrical box, he turned the lights off behind us, and it gets dark. Very dark. I straggled. I took too long for a picture. The lights went off. I nearly choked on my own breath. I was saved by the other straggler, who just so happened to have a flashlight with her. I love her. I didn’t straggle again. I am a fast learner that way.

We had a really good time. Mammoth Cave is completely different from Jewel Cave. The sheer size is overwhelming. I couldn’t pick a favorite, though, because they are both amazing in their own ways. My recommendation? Visit them both. You’ll be glad you did. We sure are. Just remember not to straggle…

10 thoughts on “On the Road Again

  1. A good example of what I mean…Geology lesson in action….it must be better to have this action experience than sit ting in a hot stuffy classroom and reading it from a book.

    i bet it was very cold down there…In uk there is Cheddar Gorge which is very similar

    • The kids really enjoy going down in the caves, and so do Rob and I. They are so fascinating. The neat thing is that no two are the same, so it is a new experience every time.

  2. Wow…I could just imagine the pitch black darkness of being left behind…eeek. I bet Fat Man’s Misery wasn’t something to laugh about when you’re squeezing through it! What an adventure. I’m glad you got back with the pack! 😀 Sharon

    • We were told that if we were to hit a rock with our head, we could name the rock. The only rule was that it had to be a group friendly name, so as not to offend anyone with our choice of words. 🙂 Luckily, while a few did brush their heads, nobody hit a rock hard enough to name it!

  3. What an amazing day you all had. The opening sort of reminded me of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. You wouldn’t remember it but you were there, too. We could see the bats sleeping away in the rafters. It wasn’t as dark because the lights were on all the time. There was even a cafeteria at the bottom! Too cool! Class is dismissed! 🙂

    • I can’t imagine sitting down to eat lunch in the bottom of a cave! I’ll have a bat burger with a side of fries, please. I wish I could remember Carlsbad, but I guess I am just going to have to go again. 🙂

  4. Oh, my, what an adventure, the caves are fascinating. I am with you though, no straggling!! Aw, spiders, cool!!

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