Friday, June 9, 2017

Cave City Kentucky

Next stop Cave City Kentucky.
Kentuckians are proud of their states Karst topography, that geographical wonder of dissolving limestone that leaves it full of caves to be explored and sinkholes to be avoided.
You probably remember that collapse in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green a couple of years ago. The security video footage of the event was spectacular. The pit that swallowed 8 classic cars was a sinkhole formed when the roof of a cavity collapsed under its own weight.
We tried not to think of this fact as we walked into the Visitor Center at Mammoth Cave National Park and signed up for the 4 hour Grand Avenue tour.
Grand Avenue is the longest tour in the cave system at a little over 4 miles, and it takes you through both wet and dry portions of the cave.
Fred and I have toured several caves including Howe Caverns in our home state of New York and the spectacular Luray Caverns in Virginia. They have all been wet caves so the geology of Mammoth Caves was a new experience for us.

Climbing down to the cave entrance.
The tour was great. It was advertised as difficult but we did not find it any more taxing than a 4 mile hike in the mountains. There were a few steep inclines with stairs where necessary but we made it just fine. I was always at the back of the group but it was because I was stopping to look at and photograph the rock formations and staying too long.

Rock formations in the dry cave
Dry caves are a very different experience. There are no stalactites or flowstone to look at. The beauty you see is in the different kinds of rock and the way that it has eroded to form openings. Creative lighting showed those formations in a dramatic way. 
We were able to see gypsum flowers and snowballs in the dry cave, stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone formations in the wet portion of the cave. 

Gypsum flowers on the ceiling
Mammoth Cave has been open to tourism for decades. When you walk along Gothic Avenue it is possible to read cave graffiti, written with smoke and soot from candles, with dates from the mid 1800's. 

Antique Cave grafitti
We enjoyed the tour as well as a ranger lead discussion at the visitor center. It was interesting to learn of the continued exploration of the cave system and of how a passage was being sought to join Mammoth Cave to a nearby cave system. 

Flow stone in the wet cave.
We had the pleasure of meeting up with RVing friends Brenda and Joe Coates who invited us to their house for dinner. It was a great evening. We had fun catching up on one another's adventures. 
Joe is a fantastic furniture maker. It was a pleasure to spend time in their home and to see all of the custom cabinet work that he has done.
Cave City is also home to one of the few remaining Wigwam Village Motels. It was fun to see the formations as we drove along North Dixie Highway in search of a grocery store. 
Time to put the Kentucky sticker on the map.

Wigwam Village Inn #2

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