Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mammoth Cave Day

We awoke to a picture perfect morning yesterday. It was cool, clear and the birds were chirping loudly. Unfortunately for the Kentucky farmers, drought would continue as there wasn't going to be any rain on this day. The kids slept while I got busy working on fixing the left tail light and left brake light on the trailer. The mechanic who graciously diagnosed the problem in Manassas before I left showed me the problem was on the van and probably with the converter that converts the van tail lights into matching signals for the trailer. They were busy and couldn't fix it for me so I slipped him a $20 for checking it out and bought the part I might need to replace. The morning before going to the Schuler farm, I looked under the bumper, in the wheel wells, and inside the tail light cavities for the converter to no avail. Today was taking apart the inside back of the van where the wires enter from the bottom. After popping off a few plastic panels, wha la, I found a loose wire and found the converter. The mechanics attempting to get the spare out for Paula as a temporary fix for our last minute flat must have jarred the wire loose. We put the wire back on, hooked up the trailer and low and behold she works like a champ w/o even replacing the converter.

We headed out for Mammoth cave a little later than planned due to the car work and trying to get all the panels back in appropriately. The KY roads are great and we made great time and were to arrive just on time for our pre-scheduled tour. We were blessed to find out we were actually an hour early due to the change to Central time. Now we had time for lunch under a shade tree, a game of catch and a little family hacky sack. Things were certainly going our way now.

The cave tour was interesting. We saw an entire 2 miles of the 367 total miles of cave. Only 12 miles are set up for tours so the vast majority of the cave is just has it has been for millions of years, quiet and dark. Our joke of the day is, "the cave sure is big, but I don't see any Mammoths". Ha Ha. The cave was huge by Virginia standards, but it was also quite plain. We saw very little in the way of stalactites and stalagmites and other interesting formations, perhaps because the cave was formed by rivers and not seepage. The Historic tour was theoretically moderate to difficult, but we had no problem with the 2 mile distance, the 418 steps up, nor with squeezing through the Fat Man's Misery stretch. The Mammoth Dome was over 200 feet tall and quite an impressive site.

Lessons Learned:

1. Get vehicle work done more than 2 weeks before the trip so the mistakes the mechanics make can still get worked out well before you leave.

2. Be pleasantly surprised by the extra time you get going west, but plan for losing an hour and being early on the way back.

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