Tuesday, April 06, 2010


The day and the adventure go on. We are staying at the Best Western in Cave City KY tonight. I was somewhat startled upon our arrival in this tiny, sleepy town this afternoon--we were the only car in the motel parking lot--by the "This motel owned and operated by the Krishna of Cave City". It was a bit... unexpected... to say the least!

After checking in we headed up to Mammoth Caves--and a parking lot packed with spring breakers from all over over this side of the country. First we picked up a Junior Ranger program book from the information desk for Jessie, and she is on her way to earning her first junior ranger certificate. We were disappointed to find all the cave tours we wanted to take sold out for the next four days. We took a short self-guided tour this afternoon and tomorrow we'll do the New Entrance Tour and that will end our time here in Mammoth. Tonight I'm going to research a bit to pick another cool Kentucky State Park between here and Natural Bridge State Resort Park (where we have reservations for Friday and Saturday).

Eagle Falls--More Hiking...

I sit in the dappled sunlight on the little deck off the bedroom of our cabin at Cumberland Falls for a last post before heading to Mammoth Caves National Park a few hours west of here. Yesterday after the in-laws left we took a little 2.3 mile hike to Eagle Falls (including the bottom and the top of the falls) and the surrounding area. I am not whining or a wimp--really--but it was the weirdest hike I've ever taken.

First we went from the river at the top of Cumberland Falls all the way up to the ridge line on the eastern side of the river. Then we went all the way down to the river again--but this time at the bottom of the falls (also the bottom of Eagle Falls). Then we went up to the top of Eagle Falls, then up to the top of another ridge line, then down into a valley between ridges, then back up to the original ridge line, THEN, finally, back down to the river at the top of the falls. It was so steep for much of it that the trail had stairs--either rock, wood or metal--built into it.

We didn't see any black bears (in spite of the warning signs posted everywhere), nor did we see any other wildlife--not even a squirrel. Do you think they have all been eaten by the locals?

As with any good trail there were periodic trail markers painted onto the trees to let you know you were still on the right path. However when we got back down to the river by Eagle Falls, the trail sign was painted on the boulders in a follow-the-yellow-brick-road kind of way. I figured it was enough to hear the noise of the falls and follow it, but I guess a little reinforcement never hurts.

It was a gorgeous trail, I'm really glad we did it, but wow was it a tough 2.3 miles! The beer back at the cabin was especially welcome.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Spring Break

It's spring break. J has the week off and Dave took the week off (at my insistence) so the least I could do was take it off too. Our destination? Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky, a place from Dave's childhood family vacations and source of find memories--just what we all needed after a long stressful winter!

We packed up the minivan and headed into the wilderness--just like our pioneer ancestors--to meet up with my in-laws here in Kentucky. I'm from Montana, how daunting could Kentucky be? Turns out to be pretty daunting. For one thing, it's dry, and I mean dry as a bone (as in NO ALCOHOL!). For another, Tennessee just across the border is dry but for beer... Oh joy. I am getting in touch with my inner redneck. Then there's the whole no cell phone coverage (even the cabin at the lake in Montana has cell coverage). At least there's Internet (wireless in the cabin!) and three tv's in the cabin--which is moot for me as we left the Apple tv at home the better to enjoy the wilds.

But it is beautiful here in a southeastern mountains kind of way. The first night we were sitting out front waiting to go off to see the moonbow, and we heard an irritated squeak followed by some rustling. Turned out to be a couple of raccoons behind the cabin. J was all excited and wanted to follow them down the cliff. We dissuaded her. We actually came a couple of days early just so we could see the moonbow (shown at left). The moonbow we saw was very subtle--only about 30% of the arch visible and a soft misty white instead of rainbow colors. The one in the photo is someone else's photo of another moonbow night at Cumberland Falls. For us, it was the last night of the full moon and maybe that made it less bright. We were also told to go at 1:30 in the morning as the moonbow is most visible a half hour later on each successive night of the full moon (it was at 11:30 on the first night).

We all took naps starting at 10:30 and got up at 12:45 to drive down. I'm glad we didn't try to walk the trail as it is steep and narrow and we only had one little flashlight between all of us (so much for our wilderness skills). Even with the nap J was pooped and not up for Mom taking pictures.

Yesterday we walked from our cabin to the falls. It is hard for me to refer to it as a hike because we went steeply down to get to the falls and I think of hiking as going up (first). We got the hike part on the way back up and it was really warm--84 degrees and it's only the beginning of April! The deciduous trees are all still bare of leaves which only emphasizes the stark columnar skeletons of the pines decimated by southern pine beetle. The damage is so bad they warn you not to hike on windy days as there is serious risk of damaged or dead trees falling (and killing you).

Okay, everyone's back from their walk. It's time to have some lunch, play a game or two
(Alhambra, Set, Race for the Galaxy, Waterworks or one of several others). Maybe later I'll have a beer and a nap...