Day 250 of Traveling the World, Mammoth Cave, KY. October 8, 2018.

Pretty country, Kentucky. We didn’t venture near the bluegrass area, but were heading to Mammoth Cave National Park, the longest cave in the world. The first photo is inside the park….several miles of driving quietly through a tree-lined country road, with nobody else in front of us or behind us. It was very serene and calm. The next photos were a few miles outside of the park, but just gorgeous views. And the three photos of Mammoth Cave are the only ones that didn’t come out black (since, being a cave, it is quite dim inside).

THEN….HERE COMES THE KITSCH! If you can believe it, all of the photos were taken on a 5-mile stretch of road. We haven’t seen so many tourist trap places so close together, one after another. There was a giant suit of armor, and we don’t know why. Many places were named after Jesse James, even though he was born in Missouri. We found out that he robbed a Mammoth Cave stagecoach back in the day. So…sure, exploit his name! Then there is a haunted mansion, Jellystone Park (one of many around the country), Redneck Golf, bourbon balls for sale everywhere, and Mammoth Cave Knife and Gifts complete with a rhino and gorilla (we wondered if the store only had one knife for sale, but underneath it does say Unique Knifes, not knives). The Olde Gener’l Store is quite eclectic, selling Indian moccasins, country hams, bourbon, fudge, and fine cigars, along with souvenirs and sportswear. Across the street is Wild Wonderful Gifts, and close to the interstate is Dinosaur World (which actually had a bit of business, even though summer is over) and the Haunted Hotel…check out the face! And no, that wasn’t our hotel for the night! Lots of businesses carried the name Guntown, but the actual city is a distance from Mammoth Cave. On Interstate 40, we passed an exit for Bucksnort, TN. No comment.

Mammoth Cave itself was disappointing to us. We never imagined we would say that about a National Park, but it was just a 20-minute walk underground with nothing breathtaking, just walking on a path. Several years ago we had been to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and that is a cave! There, we saw stalagmites and stalactites, strange formations, clusters of rocks “dripping” down from the ceiling, and many rocks that had fallen over the years. Mammoth Cave, in contrast, was just a walk on a path with handrails, very safe and boring. As you approach the cave, however, you suddenly feel a blast of cold air coming out at you. The day’s temperatures were in the mid-80s, quite warm, so the cave’s cool air felt delicious. It is hard to believe that we were chilly in Buffalo and Ohio just in the past week, and today it was blazing hot.