Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
31Trip End Sep 2008
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Mammoth Cave is the longest cave in the world... by a lot. They haven't yet mapped all of it but they have about 367 miles of connected caves and caverns mapped so far. If they combined the lengths of the second longest and third longest caves in the world, Mammoth Cave would still be about 100 miles longer than those two combined. Rainwater filtering underground carved the cave network out of limestone but most of it has a sandstone cap over the top that makes it a dry cave - water ran through the limestone carving the cave but doesn't continue to filter down so the cave system is very stable.
The cave has an interesting history as people competed in the 1800's to lure visitors into their part of the cave. Those who owned a part closer to town would stop cars coming up to see the cave and tell them an entrance had collapsed up the road, the cave workers had contracted TB or whatever story they could concoct to convince visitors to stop and spend their money where they were, rather than drive on by. Rock was blasted to create new entrances to the mine through which visitors could be conducted. They even told people that some feature in "their" part of the cave was a well-known named feature that was actually in somebody else's part of the cave - such as a narrow passageway known as "fat man's misery."
I was interested in the fact that the Park Service now has airlocks on the entrances to keep outside air out. Apparently some of the critters living in the caves are very sensitive to temperature differences. Sorry I have no pictures.
Continuing on through Kentucky I pass close to Owensboro, known to motorcycle racing fans as the hometown of the Hayden brothers - Tommy, Nicky and Roger Lee. I'm guessing that Nicky is probably there since Indianapolis just finished and that's only a day's journey from his home. I, however, ride on by.
The Land Between the Lakes is a National Recreation area; a narrow strip of land sandwiched between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkely. It's a beautiful area and I stop at the visitor center to learn something of the area and buy camera batteries before I visit a prairie that's being restored with native grasses and supports wild elk and bison herds. When I get there, however, I discover that motorcycles aren't allowed so, even though I now have an operable camera... still no pictures.
I'm not finding any campsites along my route as night falls so I stop in McKenzie, Tennessee at a motel... in large part because they advertise free internet and that will give me time to catch up on this blog. Tomorrow it's off to Arkansas.