Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mammoth Caves & Land between the Lakes, KY

Heading south from Lexington there are many Cave attractions, the most famous being Mammoth Caves which has 365 miles of cave trails under a surface area of 44 square miles of the national park - so all is very well set up; nice visitor center and shelters for people waiting for buses. We took the four and a half hour Grand Avenue tour through many different kind of caves, from very narrow passages where one needed to mind ones head, to great big caverns; there was even a cafe underground where we had our lunch. We had a lady guide (about our own age) who marched us at a quick pace for the four and a half hours. At one stage she turned off all the lights and asked us to be silent – it was amazing standing in absolute blackness listening to the sound of silence…a world without light or sound! The NPS Rangers issued many health related warnings before we set off about heart attacks, asthma and various other conditions. There were many other tours from an easy one hour tour to an eight hour caving tour.

From there we drove west to Land between the Lakes - to those in the know - LBL.  LBL is a very long inland peninsula in North West Tennessee and South West Kentucky between the Tennessee River and Lake Kentucky.  The land is managed by the Forest Service for the Department of Agriculture. A trace (which to us means no commercial traffic) intersects in a North/South alignment, along which a revival and regrowth program of prairie grass is ongoing which supports a herd of buffalo and elk in a large enclosed area. In Nature Station there’s a wild life compound with red wolves, deer and many wild birds. We visited at feeding time which was interesting as we watched a turkey vulture run back and forth and bully a vulture by taking whatever piece of food the other vulture had. A 27 year old bald eagle and 4 owls were also housed there - at 5pm we had a parade of owls before being set free for the night in a large barn. Needless to say the owls and one osprey were perched on a handler’s gloved arm! The following day we went for a canoe trip on a Kentucky Lake that had a veritable forest of water lilies that we had to struggle through to get to open water. We were enjoying communing with nature when we heard a rumble of thunder; we quickly head for the pier to return the canoe and the half mile back to the car. Just as we were driving out of Nature Station the heaviest rain we have ever encountered started, at times our vision was no more than 10ft – we would like to have pulled over to wait the storm out, but as all the windows in the RV were open – we had to push on!
We were about 20 miles from the RV and although things were a bit wet but not soaked we dried up and thankfully dodged a disaster.

A lot of our driving is now on secondary roads so we see much more than when on the freeways – we pass through towns and see houses along these roads whereas the Interstates are lined with trees put there for noise abatement yet eliminating any view. We like these byways but sometimes our GPS puts us on roads not suitable for an RV – the GPS is clearly designed for cars.
Now that summer is here and RV Parks fill up at the weekend we have to be conscious of ensuring that we are booked into Parks at least 3 weeks ahead.

Springfield, Illinois, St Louis, Osage Beach (in the Ozarks), Branson, MO, Eureka Springs, Little Rock and Hot Springs, AR are our next destinations.

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