22 July 2014--Stopped in Cave City, KY for a couple nights to check out Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world. They have already mapped over 400 miles of tunnel, and suspect at least another 600 miles will be mapped in the future.
In essence, this entire area has developed the way it has due to the limestone we are sitting on. Water and its mildly acidic properties can permeate and even break down limestone, so not only has that lead to the caves already here but will lead to an ever-changing topography in the years and decades ahead. You can see in the 2nd picture here just how many sinkhole areas dot the landscape around here.
This talks about how most of what is now North America was under water millions of years ago, and that most of our country was also south of the equator. Notice also in the 2nd pic that what is now California, Oregon and Washington wasn't even there millions of years ago. (Makes me even more convinced that it will all one day again return to the sea...haha)
Because the caves are so dark, several species have adapted to life there with no eyes.
There is evidence of humans in the caves going back 5000 years, and different tribes of American Indians called this area home until we forced them off the land. No more than the stuff we saw in Little Rock talking about the Indians being forced to go down the Arkansas River to the state of Oklahoma, they were also forced thru here in what became known as "The Trail of Tears".
Into the cave we go, on a tour with about 120 other people, down 250 feet into the darkness. haha
This is a cave cricket, one of the cave dwellers along with the bats that can actually see...it goes outside the caves every 12-14 days to eat, but it lays its eggs inside the cave. The cave beetles, who can't see, feed on these eggs. It was surprisingly big.
Although the tour took over an hour and a half, most of it was just a regular cave. Only at the end of it did we come to the pretty stuff, the limestone drip formations that we have seen other places. The whole place was really dark though, so it limited the pictures we could take. Cathy is in the last pic...look close. haha
Lots of bat colonies in the country now suffer from what is called White-Nose Syndrome, a disorienting bacteria that has killed millions of them and has now reached this bat population. Bats eat gazillions of bugs, mosquitos, etc., every night, so dying bats is not a good thing! To try to contain the pread of the bacteria, and so we will not track it out on our feet, once the tour is over they make everyone go thru this Woolite and water solution to try to wash it off our shoes.
Lots of churches in Kentucky.
And lots of "toursity" stores here...that's about all that is here, actually. haha
A few things we haven't seen in our travels, beginning with the Aunt Jemima doll, salt and pepper shakers and "Women of the Confederacy" statue. Not sure what they're thinking here. haha
Now this looks absolutely disgusting to me...sliced bologna in a water concoction in a bottle, followed by a roll of bologna, pickled!!! This product was right near the front of the store, so I suspected it was a big seller locally. My gag reflex could barely be contained. haha
More traditional fare...I thought the cheerios as donut seeds was particularly funny.
The dog/hydrant is a good one!
The baseball cards with gum was a real throwback in time, and along with the bologna, I suspect the Dixie plates are are big sellers, too! haha
That about wraps up our short stay here. We are steadily heading to Boston, but finding it harder and harder to find alternate routes there that don't include the horrendous roads of Pennsylvania. Wish us luck!!!