Saturday, September 17, 2011

Continuing South

Thursday was really cold for us, 54 degrees, the same temperature it was going to be in the cave. So we dressed in jeans, sweatshirts and jackets and headed to the park for the 11 o'clock tour. There is some sort of fungus affecting bats so if you've been in a cave or mine since 2005 and have on any clothes or shoes you wore then (!) you have to be decontaminated. I saw people putting the soles of their shoes in a solution in a plastic box, then another box before being allowed on the tour. We were in an iron mine last summer but we didn't have on the same shoes so we were OK.

We had to gather at Shelter A to wait for our guide and while there met a very nice German couple. They have visited the U.S. for the past 19 years and this was their 41st National Park. We had an enjoyable conversation with them before and after the tour.

Back in the late 70s, Ted and I visited Mammoth Cave and took a tour; however, I didn't remember them having a dozen to choose from. Over these past decades more and more of the cave has been discovered, along with more than two dozen new entrances, and now almost 400 miles have been found. The tours are broken up by length, difficulty, time, etc. We chose the Historical Tour that ran over two hours.

Because everything is preserved because of the lack of weather elements and due to the minerals that act as preservatives, we were able to see the wooden boxes and sluices used to mine saltpeter during the Revolutionary War.

There is also "candle writing" on the walls and ceilings that go back to the 1800s. We saw Isaac Newton's, along with his brother John's, who visited in 1838.

Our most difficult area was called Fat Man's Misery and Tallman's Torture. I had to turn sideways to get through the rock and bend in half to keep from hitting my head. Ted was way ahead of me and since we kept moving I assumed he was doing OK.

We went about 332 feet underground. This area floods when the Green River floods. We sat on brand new metal benches that had recently been installed because the old wooden ones had been washed away this spring. We started our last half of the tour which culminated in a climb of 155 steps straight up to the surface.

Then we had to walk across a soapy mat about six feet long to clean the bottoms of our shoes so we don't carry the bat fungus elsewhere.

It was a good work out for both of us but it makes us realize there are many things out there that little by little we won't be able to do. A few years back we hiked over 350 feet down into Bryce Canyon and back up in the summer heat. We took our time and had plenty of water with us and did just fine. But everyone does need to be cautious and know their limits.

We took a ride the next day to find the shooting range near us. I think Ted will be shooting on Saturday. While out, we were looking for a hat for me. I am attending a luncheon at the HitchHiker rally and need a hat to wear. I don't belong to the Red Hat Society and last year I had borrowed my neighbor's hat. We finally found a red cowgirl hat at a souvenir shop that had lost its band and then I bought a spool of red ribbon at the dollar store. We came home and I picked the dried glue off the band area and then put the new ribbon on. That's my $7 hat and it will just have to do!

One of our neighbors came by and sat a spell to visit with us. They are full timers and of course her first question is "Are you Escapees or do you really live in Texas?" There are about 15,000 people that call Rainbow Drive, Livingston, TX home. That is where the Escapee mail service is. Some people come to TX, get established prior to full timing, and never return to the state. They do licenses by mail and vote absentee. Home for them is wherever the wheels stop.

Ted did go to shoot on Saturday but had to settle for trap since they had no skeet fields. He shot two rounds, breaking all 50 birds. The fellows called him a "ringer" and invited him back anytime he is in the area.

We drove to Glasgow to attend Mass at St. Helen's. It was a really old church made entirely of rock but I didn't have my camera with me. Upon leaving, three couples in a row were RVers. The priest talked to each one of us because he knew we were visitors. He was genuinely glad we had come and wished us safe travels.

The campground owners had told us to eat at a little hole in the wall called "Taste of Texas." There was a bit of a wait but it was well worth it. I had the best steak I've had in some time.

We traveled to Bluegrass Music Park in Franklin KY today, just six miles from the TN border. Because we had a low tire this morning, Ted went into town to find a tire place to make an appointment to have the balancing powder sucked out of our remaining three RV tires. We've learned that this powder contaminates the valve stems and causes leaks. He stopped at the truck place first but their equipment is too big so they gave him names of two businesses in town. He said they stopped using that powder in truck tires for just the reason Ted cited. The "beads" are apparently OK but Ted opted for the regular weights when he had the one fixed in Cincinnati and will probably do the same with the remaining three tires.

It's a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon and of course football is on the TV. We're all settled in for the next five days. Hopefully Ted can get the tires done Friday morning before we head to Nashville. That will be easier than hooking up this week and then getting set back up. But if that's what we have to do, we'll do it!

Mammoth Cave was not named because there were woolly mammoths found down here, but rather because it is mammoth! ~ Our Guide

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