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justjmpit’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 03 Oct 2010

Location: Cave City, Kentucky, USA

MapIt is another early start this morning as we have a 2.5 hr drive, and a cave tour booked at 10:30AM.
As we take the exit to Cave City, the first thing that stikes us is how touristy it all is. DinoWorld-and the area is not noted for dinosaur fossils, Rock Shops-but they are not found in this area.
We are not disappointed as we drive into the park however, as we see several deer and beautiful scenery.
We make our way to the visitor center and get our tickets, and that is when we make the discovery that the time changed half way across Kentucky and we have an extra hour to kill. If we had known we could have stopped for breakfast, but instead we do a hike and see the natural cave entrance and the native flora.We travel down a long paved trail that ends at the River Styx!
No food or drink is allowed in the caves unless in a mesh bag as they are justifiably protective of the fragile environment.
We opt to buy the bag lunch available underground at the snowball cafe, so named for the snowball like formations on the ceiling. The cave is covered in graffiti but it all dates back to the 1800's before it was protected. It was owned and exploited back in those days, with several entrances blasted out, and an actual boat ride available on the river far underground.
There are 12 miles available for touring, but the system itself has almost 400 miles of charted passages and many more yet to be discovered. The hollowed chambers are all caused by the flow of water over eons of time.
We see cave crickets, stactites and stalagmites, and it is wonderous.
There is a guide in front who turns on lights and a guide behind who turns them off, to preserve the natural state of the caves.
If you are more adventurous you can spelunk, wearing coveralls, helmet, and squeezing through tight crevices, but our whole tour is quite civilized with wide tunnels and stairs.
It still takes about four hours and seven hundred stairs. The guides warn all participents at the start that if they think they will not be up for the physical exercison, to drop out now. No one does, but near the end, an annoying Southern Lady who has been loud all trip starts complaining she can't make the stairs-why won't anyone come back to help her! The rest of us feel like pushing her off, and a guy behind us sums it up when he mutters under his breath "shut the F up!" Those within hearing all laugh. We are not a sympatetic bunch.
Mom does a shorter tour in another section of the cave, where there is no lighting and the group travels carrying electric lanterns.
It must have been frightening back in the 1800's where they would have had no electricity and probably used oil lamps. God forbid if you lost your light; our guides turned out all lights for 30 seconds and the dark is absolute.
The best part is near the end when we travel down to view the frozen Niagara, a stone waterfall. I take a bizzillion photos, and am annoyed to be husled along by the guides.
We stop on the way out to see more fearless deer grazing in the verges, and a flock of turkeys stops traffic as they parade across the road.
When we left the park, we stopped at a tacky tourist shop and I bought some postcards to send home. The place was full of junky stuff including XXXXXL underwear with funny sayings that we all had to pose beside. The caves are big business for this area as the locals feed off the visitors they attract.
Tomorrow we are spending the day in Lexington, we are going to visit an equine hospital, a hydro therapy clinic, and explore the Equifair.