Monday, January 8, 2024

Mammoth Cave National Park

It was a January day with no plans and nice weather, so we decided to revisit Mammoth Cave, about 2.5 hours from here. We left about 8 am taking the Bluegrass Parkway from Versailles to Bardstown then Rt, 31 east to Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home at Knob Creek which is part of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. Lincoln lived here from about 1811 until 1815 while his parents leased a 30-acre plot after they lost their Sinking Spring Farm in nearby Hodgenville from a property dispute. There is a cabin on the site dating to the time that the Lincolns lived in Knob Creek, but the cabin is unlikely to have belonged to Thomas and Nancy Lincoln.

Lincoln's Boyhood Home

We drove the short distance to Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park where we walked up the 56 steps (Lincoln’s age at death) to a stone building. This building with 16 windows (for the 16th president) houses a log cabin that was reconstructed in 1911 as similar to Lincoln’s birthplace. We watched a 15 minute film on Lincoln and his family where we learned that, contrary to what we learned in school, Lincoln’s family was not poor but was probably upper middle class. Thomas Lincoln farmed and was a carpenter, so the family lived well for the time. We walked around the recreated cabin and Mary got her National Park stamps in the passport.

Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace

A short drive to R & S Salvage Grocery in Horse Cave was our next stop. Emily told us about this place from one of their visits to this area. We ordered sandwiches from the Amish deli then browsed the shelves. They have lots of marked down grocery items that are overstocks or dented cans. They also have a large selection of bulk items that have been packaged in smaller plastic clamshell containers. There were spices of all kinds, flours, dried fruits and groceries of all types. Our sandwiches were huge. Mary had roast beef and I had turkey. On a slice of sourdough bread they put a slice of cheese, then a quarter pound of shaved meat, another slice of cheese, another quarter pound of meat, a third slice of cheese and a top slice of sourdough. It was quite a meal.

We arrived at Mammoth Cave National Park in plenty of time for our 1:30 tour. Since we did the Historical Cave Tour when we were there in 2010, we decided to take the Domes and Dripstones tour this time. Because tours fill up quickly, we made our reservations a few days before to assure our spots. I traded in three annual senior National Park passes for a lifetime pass for $20. The pass got us discounts on the tours nearly returning the $20 cost of the pass.

We thought that the group was large, but the ranger said that it is common to have groups of over 100 touring during busy times. Our guide, a National Park Service ranger, was a former teacher who had a great presentation style and injected a lot of humor in the information he presented to us.

Unlike the parts of Mammoth Cave that we visited before; this two-hour tour was to some of the wetter parts of the large cave. The water caused the formation of tubes that we walked through on our tour as well as formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and pillars. We very much enjoyed the tour except for two twenty-something girls who insisted on ringing a bell as they walked to “ward off ghosts” in the caves. We tried to position ourselves as far from them as we walked through the caves.

When we finished the tour we headed back home, arriving by 6:30 and had a small supper at home.