September 26, 2015 Mammoth Cave to Lexington Kentucky

I’m back!

I forgot to mention more about the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield Missouri. This BPS attracts more than 4 million visitors a year! The store started by John L. Morris in an 8 foot section of his father’s liquor store in 1972. In 1974 he began mailing out his first catalog. How many catalogs are produced each year? I don’t know, but I think we get one every two weeks!

We had breakfast at the Huddle House in Kuttawa. Huddle House is very similar to a Waffle House.

Steve was really happy because he had ordered a big breakfast. How big?

Now that is a big breakfast! Notice the circular bone in the ham steak? On many of the nights that I cooked dinner I would make a ham steak and boxed macaroni and cheese. I thought it was hysterical to cut out a piece of ham with the bone in it. I called it “the eye”. I would place the piece of meat (really just a piece of bone) on someone’s plate and say “Have the eye!” Well, I thought it was hysterical. Steve, not so much. He thought it was “stupid”, which it really is! Whenever we have one now, I take a picture of the eye and send it to our son Elliott. He enjoys the joke, our daughter not so much.

No meat for me, but I said “Yes!” To the Grits!

Next stop was Mammoth Cave National Park.

This is a three dimensional model of the cave system.

There were 13 different underground tours to chose from. We picked “Domes and Dripstones”. The description of the tour is as follows:

Wind down through deep pits and high domes via a 280 step staircase. Vertical cave gives way to large canyons and underground hill climbs. Visit the Frozen Niagara formation, then pass through one of the caves most decorative drip stone areas. Total stairs was 500, including 280 on the initial descent. The difficulty was considered moderate.

There were a number of strenuous tours available. Chest or hip measurements could not exceed 42 inches , if you are larger you can not physically pass through the crawl spaces. That’s not why we didn’t go on those tours though, by now you know that I don’t do strenuous anything! Not because neither my butt nor Steve’s butt is too big!

After our trip to the museum we had our briefing by the forest ranger.

Then we loaded into a bus to take a ten minute ride to the entrance of the cave. Looks like we had a few people who wanted to be photographed with us!

A short stroll through the woods.

I see the door! Almost there!

No, it is not an outhouse, but the entrance to the cave. Notice the park ranger, he will be important!

I turned around to take a picture of the outside in case we didn’t make it back out! Good bye world! Into the cave we go!

Down the stairs we went. Except we had to stop and let someone come back out. She had claustrophobia and needed to leave the tour. That is why there were two park rangers at the start of the tour. One ranger to lead the tour and one ranger to escort the people who didn’t want to go on the tour. It seemed to be pretty common, that people would panic and need to leave the tour.

Steve had to bend down quite a bit as he is so tall.

We saw all sorts of interesting formations, like these pillars.

Many sections we had to crawl over sharp boulders.

Some parts of the cave were very open.

Here you can see the stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites grow from the ceiling down. They stay “tight” to the ceiling. Stalagmites grow from the floor up. They “might” reach the top.

These rock formations are called rock draperies.

At one point of the tour the ranger extinguished his flash light and the lights on the wall around us so we could see how very dark it was in the cave. As if we didn’t already know how dark and quiet it would be!

The end of the tour was at the place where the original entrance of the cave was discovered.

It was very cool feeling the cool air rushing from the cave into the warm air outside.

More stairs? Yuck!

I looked exhausted, and Steve looked normal. Well as normal as he can look! You can tell how tired I was, no sucked in gut and my shoulders are schlumped. Wait a minute, that’s the way I always look!

After we reached the top of the stairs from the cave we had to walk on bio security mats to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that affects bats. No, the bats don’t get washed, only human feet. The fungus is in the cave and they don’t want it transported out of the cave via human feet that got wet in some of the puddles in the cave. The sick bats wake up when they should be hibernating. It leaves them weak, decreases their flying ability and they starve when they don’t get food during the winter, as none is available.

Then it was back in the van and off to Lexington!

Lexington Kentucky, calls itself the horse capital or the world. I believe it.

That’s a horse barn! There is a lot of money here!

After we checked in to the hotel we checked Yelp and the best reviews for dinner were for the Gratz Park Inn. It has since been bought by Hilton and it known as the Sire Hotel. (Sire as in father of a horse. Cute!) It was a very interesting old hotel, and there was an Pierce Arrow group holding an antique car show going on that weekend. The parking lot was full of very interesting cars.

These are what the cars look like. I was uncomfortable taking pictures of someone’s car. We were wondering if our van was going to get towed or even ticketed! Thankfully it wasn’t!

The restaurant was called Distilled. Since we were in Kentucky, you know that they were going to have a very fine bourbon menu. Here is just a sample of the brands and the prices. No Pappy Van Winkle! Of course back then we had never heard of Pappy Van Winkle!No bourbon for me, but a nice fruity bourbon drink! It was bourbon, lime, strawberry juice and topped with ginger beer. I don’t normally like my drinks with added fizz but went with the waiter’s selection. It was light and refreshing. I had a lovely Hibiscus poached pear and beet salad with Cambozola, walnut vinaigrette, maiche, and fried croissant croutons to start. Steve had the vanilla bourbon roasted parsnip soup with candied peanut, fifteen year old balsamic (!), celery leaf and lemon to start.With the corn bread and rolls we had fresh honey harvested that day from the apiary on the roof, jalapeño jelly and whipped sweet butter. The corn bread and rolls were eaten faster than I could take a picture! I had the pan seared duck breast with Calvados apple purée, cheddar Gougeres, pecan crumble blackberry marmalade and apple watercress salad. Steve had the pan seared Halibut with saffron cauliflower purée, caramelized cauliflower, chick pea country ham fritter, baby Kale salad and cilantro lime sauce verde.

This was the best restaurant of the trip. Others might have been more fun due to our dinner companions, or the people at neighboring tables, but this was serious dining! No dessert for us. I was stuffed, plus I hate paying for a dessert. If I would go back now, I would have picked the smoky chocolate ginger tart. That sounded really good! After dinner we hit the Liquor Barn to get some Bourbons for Steve. What else would you buy in Kentucky in a liquor store? Steve gets his picture outside the store, I get my picture inside it!

No, they weren’t selling cars. It was just for display!

I am not sure if we found any unique brands, but it was fun!

Then it was back to the hotel and lights out.

Have you ever had a bat land on you and then had your Grandmother catch the bat, pour boiling water on it in a coffee can, and then flush it down the toilet? Well Elliott did a very long time ago! He had to get Rabies shots. As a consolation prize I bought him Nintendo 64. I am a very nice Mom!

Who was your favorite villain or villainess in the original Bat Man tv show?

Are you cheap or do you order dessert in a restaurant?