The last time we went The Boy was too young to participate in the special ranger program for kids called TROG (short for Troglobite - critters that live both in and out of caves). We were so excited about this program that we registered in February as soon as the summer schedule came out.
The first day of driving was beautiful - it was sunny and clear. It's always so exciting to set out on a big trip, and the mountains of Western VA and KY gave us a good chance to see how the trailer brakes were working, and to see how the engine worked with the transmission cooler (we'd decided to add those two devices to our current Subaru Outback instead of buying a new vehicle). En route to Mammoth we decided that the hitch was too low, and that The Woodsman would spend part of the day when the kids were doing the TROG program in Bowling Green getting and installing a new hitch.
After a quick supper we headed off to a ranger talk about technology used in the cave from prehistory until now. We always learn so much from the ranger programs, and this one was no exception. The ancient peoples explored much of the cave using only reed torches. Then the guides took over using candle and then gas lanterns. Now of course there are electric lights and battery powered headlamps. An illuminating program to be sure...
It was a very hot and humid night, and in the middle of the night the power went off which meant that the generators that power the hotel kicked on - and they were very, very loud! I am a light sleeper which meant that I had a very restless night.
The next day we took an early morning tour of the "New" Entrance (Domes and Dripstones Tour) and saw some formations we hadn't seen before. The Frozen Niagara formation was really beautiful. But, overall, we decided that we enjoyed The Historic Tour more since there was more variety of formations and history of the cave.
After a quick lunch we tore the camper down and sent The Woodsman off to fix the hitch. Then, in the afternoon the kids headed to the TROG program. I was so tired that I did one of Farmer Dan's tricks and took a nap on top of the picnic table. Then, because it was so hot and humid I took advantage of the natural air conditioning flowing out of the cave, and sat at the mouth of the cave until I was cold.
|All suited up and ready to go|
|The Historic Entrance- a great place to cool off on a hot summer day.|
We ended our day with a ranger campfire program (our favorite reason to stay inside the parks) called "Bat Chat" where we got to listen to the Bats using a special tool that brought bat sonar down to a level that human ears could hear.
That night we had an adventure of another kind. Let's just say, there's a reason I carry a bucket, rags, Clorox wipes and Lysol. Hello sleepless night number two. On the up side, if there were going to be sick kids thank goodness it happened above ground and not deep in the cave - that would have been a disaster.
Day three of our trip found us leaving Kentucky with an early morning start as we began the push across the plains and into the mountains. One of the commitments I'd made to myself before leaving was to make sure to walk for at least 45 minutes a day. So, even though I was tired, in the early morning before the rest of the crew was awake, I headed down the River Styx trail to find where the river exits the cave and to see the Green River before leaving. It was a peaceful and meditative close to our time at Mammoth.
As we were driving, we made plans to return to Mammoth again soon. We love it too much to wait until our next major trip west, and because it's so close we enjoyed knowing that we'd be back underground again soon.