13. Mammoth Cave National Park

Yesterday,  after a restful night’s sleep in Cave City, KY,  Jens and I discovered (contrary to what we had read) that there is no Uber or Lyft here.  There is also no public transportation to Mammoth Cave National Park.  So what did we do?  Ride our bikes, of course, the 20 miles  up to the park and back. 

I was not happy to ride my bike on a “day off.”  We took everything off the bikes.  Boy, what a difference!   The bike felt so wobbly and unstable without the gear.  I couldn’t believe how used to the extra 50 pounds of gear I had become.  It took me about five miles before I felt stable on the bike.

The ride was beautiful,  especially through the trees along the parkway inside the park.  When we arrived, we enjoyed some lunch and some time in the Visitor Center before our tour of the cave.  Because of Covid protocols, the park only allowed  self-guided tours of one cave in small groups that left every fifteen minutes.   The tour allows you to walk underground about a mile through two different parts of the cave.  The whole cave system that has been mapped in the park is about 400 miles, which is just mind blowing.  

The cave was massive – appropriately named “mammoth.”  At the end of one of the branches of the cave there were two stone shelters a doctor (who owned the cave at the time) had built to house and treat patients with tuberculosis. That lasted about six months, until the patients realized they were not getting better.  

We also saw remains in the cave of a saltpetre mining operation. The saltpetre was used to make gunpowder in the 1800’s.

There were even remains of a mushroom growing operation in the cave.  It was mysteriously sabotaged before a single mushroom was grown.  

We enjoyed the tour,  and then rode our bikes back down to our motel, promising ourselves that today will truly be a day of rest – no bicycling.  Today we’ll eat some good food, do laundry, plan our next week’s rides, and get the bikes cleaned up.

Tomorrow we ride, heading across western Kentucky and into southern Illinois.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jeff Svejcar

    It’s a hoot reading about your bike trip! Glad you’re on the Trans-Am route. When I rode it, I was worried about dogs and coal trucks in Kentucky. I don’t think we saw but one or two (coal trucks – saw plenty of dogs) until we reached a spot about ten miles from Chester, Ill; then there were a bunch of them as their is a river terminal where they were dropping their load off to barge down the river. None after that.

    Carbondale had a nice bike shop where we were able to replace a busted spoke. The gent fitted us in so we could get in and out that day.

    Say “Hi!” to Popeye for me when you go through Chester, Ill. There was a restaurant in Chester that had the best biscuits. We discovered why when we went to the counter to pay our bill – they sold pint jars of bacon grease to go….

    May I suggest having lunch or dinner at Cooky’s Cafe in golden City, MO? They have the most awesome varieties of all kinds of pies! Maybe have a light lunch or dinner for those two pieces of pie afterward? I’d read about it beforehand and wasn’t disappointed.

    How’s the tent?

    Our love and prayers to the both of you.

Leave a Reply