Mammoth Cave Camping Trip
For my birthday back in September (oh the joy of having a 9/11 birthday), we took a little family camping trip to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. I've lived in southern Indiana my entire life and never been there! It's only about two hours away. It's actually a geographical oddity - two hours from everyplace. This was our first time tent camping for TWO nights in a row. Yes I know that sounds terribly lame to some of you who primitive camp for days or weeks on end, but we are camping lightweights. We've done one overnight several times, but never two in a row. So, the first night there was very nice. There was only one other campsite being occupied so it was very quiet. We made a fire, had dinner, had s'mores, and went to bed. We opened up the top of the tent to look at the stars and I got to see my first shooting star ever! David doesn't believe me that I'd never seen one before, but I think he is forgetting that I grew up in a densely populated ghetto and never went camping until well after we were married. It was pretty exciting.
The next day we took a tour called 'Frozen Niagara.' It was interesting. It's supposed to be one of the easiest and shortest tours they offer so we figured it'd be a good starting point. It was a Friday and they don't offer as many tours on Fridays as on other days, so it was the only one we did. It took about thirty minutes.
We then spent the rest of the day exploring the park, which is enormous above ground too. There are wild turkeys (ugliest animals I've ever seen) and deer that roam around freely, unafraid of human beings. Really, almost to a creepy extent. We went to the historic entrance on a walk and encountered five deer in the woods. They made me nervous with how close they got to Lucy!
That evening, one of the park rangers put on an interpretive presentation about cave art. We went to the amphitheater for this; it was interestingly similar to one we attended at Arches National Park last summer. The ranger informed us there was a chance of some storms coming through in the night and that we should tie down everything. I'm glad he did!
We got lost walking back to our campsite. Yeah. We're not real smart in the dark in the woods. But we finally found it and went to bed. Or so we thought. This was a Friday night so the other sites were pretty well filled up, and a large group across from us was insanely, rudely loud. 'Quiet hours' were supposed to start at 10pm and by 11pm we were still wide awake because they were so loud, so David put on his shoes and went over to ask them to shut up. Nicely, being David, I'm sure. They said oh yeah, okay... but never even quieted down. It wasn't until the rain started at midnight that they finally got quiet. So then it rained. And rained. And rained. And by 3:00 in the morning our tent walls were starting to become wet on the inside. We decided to move into the van and wait for the rain to end. It was SO uncomfortable and hot in the van! Oh yeah and did I mention that this entire time I had a tremendous head cold? I felt pretty crummy the whole time but was determined to enjoy myself. So every half hour or so, I had to start the van and run the a/c for a couple of minutes, to keep the humidity down to a level where I could still breathe. This would wake everyone up, but then the air was nice and cool and we'd doze off, then it'd get too cold and we'd shut off the engine, making the interior lights come on, waking everyone up... I think Penny was the only one who slept at all. Around 4:30 a.m. we thought the rain had let up so we went back to the tent and scooted away from the corners which were pooling with rain water.
But, the rain wasn't over! It started back up right away. And kept on and on and on. By 6:15 a.m. we were all wide awake and it was still raining. Our pillows and sleeping bags were all in various stages of wetness. There was nothing we could do except sit in a soaking wet tent or sit in the van. There's nowhere indoors to go at Mammoth Cave. We had a tour scheduled for 11 a.m. (Snowball Tour, which takes you a mile down into the cave and you eat in a big room), but there was no way we could sit in a wet tent for five hours!
So, we caved in (ha!) and loaded up (in the rain) and left for home. The only place to stop to eat between here and there is a Dairy Queen in the middle of nowhere. It was very strange inside. I felt like I was in the filming of a country music video about small towns and America and dying in the war.
Overall it was a good trip and I'm glad we went, but the rain did kind of ruin it there at the end.