This is a delayed post from July 2015. As you know, my child is now 13 and sees the world a bit differently. It is always fun to look back on our adventures.
Do you want to explore a big hole in the ground? It’s 450 miles long, and counting. It is a lot of fun!
Living now in the midwest, Kentucky is a lot closer than it was when I was growing up in New England. My daughter and I recently decided to take advantage of our proximity to this national treasure and head out for a week of fun. We met my parents who live in North Carolina and headed out for adventure while my hubby was off studying hard.
Now, my parents and I have been to Mammoth Cave before. I was, perhaps, still living in their house the last time we visited. Even though it was far away, they still managed to pack their 3 kiddos in the car and get us out into the world to enjoy something new as often as possible.
Though most of our group had been to this giant hole in the ground before, kiddo had not, so off we went. We camped in an RV park nearby (my parents have a travel trailer) and drove into the National Park each day. There were shenanigans all the way in and out of the park I might add. My parents, my child, and I are goofy people, especially when we are together. We behave in public but in private cars, not so much.
We took 3 cave tours over the course of 3 days. The first was called the Gothic Avenue tour and we entered through the Historic Entrance. It is a very interesting place. We saw historic graffiti and had a pleasant, well lit walk.
The second, called Frozen Niagara, went well. Kiddo loved it, we saw cool stuff and we were in the cave for about 20 minutes. This tour does not start at the Historic Entrance but at a little door in the woods. Fun, and a pretty drive on the bus to get there. Kiddo was a pro by now and knew not to touch anything and even asked the guide good questions.
The third tour was, well, different. The Star Chamber tour is actually really cool. You tour only with lanterns like people did in the 1800s. They also, for about 2 minutes, plunge you into complete darkness, as in can’t see your hand in front of your face darkness. You get to see sections of the cave that you won’t on other tours and I highly recommend it. Actually, I recommend it IF you have older teenagers or if your group is all adults. You see, 10 year olds might freak out about the dark and the creepy. Kiddo DID NOT care for this one. To make things more complicated, while we were in the cave that night a HUGE storm came up. Now, during a terrible storm like that in Kentucky, the safest place to be is in the cave. It is the ultimate basement, good tornado safety and all. In fact, we were so far in, we couldn’t hear the weather at all; we only knew because our guide was notified. Once we got back to the Historic Entrance we could hear it through the door though. Yes, they were right, it was a BIG storm.
Do you know what the park rangers do if you are on an evening cave tour (the last and only tour currently underway) during a storm like that? Well, they are very careful with you, that’s what. They take your safety very seriously. You get to stay in the cave until the gigantic storm passes…with your lanterns…still on a tour your daughter doesn’t want to be on for one second longer…fun!
No manner of convincing my child that we were safe, that the rangers were trained for this and had everything under control, that we couldn’t be left completely in the dark even if the power went out in the entrance area because we had our own lanterns (and flashlights, and smartphones for that matter) worked. She was, thankfully, old enough to keep herself from throwing an actual fit but she was furious with her mother!!
So the next day we decided to stay above ground and see how Corvettes were made. Both my child and my father thought it was the coolest thing ever. My husband was so jealous when we told him about it. My daughter now can pick out a Corvette from way down the road. In truth she is still looking for the grey one that was delivered to someone who lives in our county while we were there. The county isn’t that big and the license plate is easy to remember so I’ll let you know if we find it.
Weird things happen on vacation folks! That ought to be my tagline.
Also, visit your National Parks. You won’t regret it. You might get funny stories but you will be glad you went.