Our journey took us to Mammoth Cave for a few days. On Wednesday, we concentrated on seeing the inside of caves. In the afternoon, we practiced in the new Entrance tour, which took us to the newer part of the cave opened in 1921. In this section of cave, we saw two or three areas with distinctly different attributes. In the first area, we walked down several staircases that followed a massive vertical drop. This area dripped from moisture and is always change from water erosion. The second area was dry. This section of the cave remained unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years. The final area was the location of the stalagmites, stalactites and columns that have formed due to condensation and dripping water.
Following the new Entrance tour, we relaxed and waited for the Star Chamber tour, which takes visitors through the historic entrance at night. This tour only allowed lanterns for lighting. Inside, the tour guide shared details about the mining of saltpeter during the War of 1812. He continued his tour with stories about a doctor who gathered a group of tuberculous patients to live in the cave for a year. He believed that the cave conditions would cure TB. However, it managed to kill most of the patients, and finally the doctor himself. Our final stop on the tour was the famed Star Chamber, once visited by Walt Whitman. As the light exits the room, the room turns to complete darkness. Yet, as the light reenters the room, the visitors watch as the cave ceiling takes the appearance of a night sky with constellations and the milky way. It was a beautiful moment looking at the cave walls become the sky.
On Thursday, we wanted to spend more time outside seeing the landscape of the area. We drove around the several cemeteries. At each cemetery, there was a juxtaposition of old 19th century graves and newer 20th/21st century graves. The 1755 was the oldest grave we found. As part of driving and exploring, we had the opportunity to take the Green River Ferry. This small ferry transports vehicles from one side of the river to the other. The ferry only fits three vehicles and only goes maybe 100 yards.
Due to the rain, Friday became errand day. We spent the morning in Bowling Green picking up supplies for the next leg of our trip. Once we arrived back at the campsite, Andrew slept and I caught up on some emails. The rain stopped long enough for us to get one final walk with Ame before bed.
This morning it was time to say good-bye to our Mascoutah family and move onto Kentucky. However, leaving wasn’t easy. While saying goodbye to those we love left us sad and heavy hearted, it was actually the mud made it difficult to leave…with our Airstream, Rosie. Monday, while we were in St. Louis, the rain and wind was bad across southern Illinois. Soon, the vacant lot that Rosie was parked in turned to mud and began to form large puddles. In the morning, when it was time to hitch up and pull out, we had a hard time walking and moving in the mud. Our feet would sink and slide and the Airstream stabilizers were covered with layers of mud. After an hour, the advice of the neighborhood civil engineer, and several wooden boards, we were able to pull out of the mud and park on the road.
After our goodbyes and five hours of driving, we arrived at Mammoth Cave National Park. When parked the trailer and unpacked our stuff, Andrew noticed that the temperature on the refrigerator was flashing. This flashing indicates that there is an electric/propane problem and the temperature is too high. Some time later, we discovered that the propane wouldn’t work on the stove. We assumed that we must be out of propane. Fortunately, we found a propane filling station at Singing Hill Rv Park, which is close to Mammoth Cave Campgrounds. Yet, once we arrived, we discovered we still had half a tank of propane. The next idea was it must be the regulator. Adjusting it worked, so back to our campsite we went. Again, parked and unpacked, we noticed the propane wasn’t working. Andrew fidgeted with the regulator to get a small amount of propane, but not enough to cool the frig and heat the water. This means a morning trip to Lowe’s and a cold shower tonight.
As a full-time rv’er, we get the adventures of new sights to see and places to go, along with laughs of glitches and hiccups in route.
For the past few days, Andrew, Ame and I have been in Mascoutah, IL, which is thirty minutes east of St. Louis. My cousin, Lisa, and her two children live in Mascoutah. After fifteen years apart, we have finally reconnected with lots to catch up on. It was fantastic meeting her daughter and son, both are wonderful teens who can capture my attention with wonderful conversations.
Our first day passed by rather fast as we went out to dinner and spent hours chatting about the last fifteen years. The second day we relaxed. Lisa and I took a quick trip to downtown Mascoutah. Overall, the name of the town seems larger then the actual town. We visited a quaint little teashop called Bee Hollow Market. They carry a large selection of loose leaf teas, wines and candies. While Lisa was pick out an array of tea flavors, I headed over to the wines hoping to find something new to try. I finally settled on Plungerhead’s Zinfindel. Andrew and I will save this bottle for a good night in Kentucky, our next stop. I am not sure if the place we are staying is a dry county or not.
On Memorial Day, Andrew, Lisa, her son, and I went into St. Louis. Andrew had shared some memories of a time when he went to the Arch and he thought I would enjoy it as well. Luckily, we could take a tram to the top. On Andrew’s last visit, he had to climb over 1,000 steps to the top. For those of who have never been to the Arch, I would highly recommend making your tram to top reservations online ahead of time. When we arrived, the wait was two hours. Then, once our time arrived, we had to wait in three more lines. While the view from the top is great, the trip in the pod is clunky and awkward. The tram pods seat five and they are shaped in a way that a tall or average sized person has to hunch over. Fortunately for me, I could embrace my shortness and sit comfortably.
For our final night of visiting, we left the Arch and grabbed a nice Italian dinner out. It was a night of laughs over great conversation and tasty food. It is a wonderful feeling reconnecting with family.