Sometimes you only have to visit a place once, to know whether or not, you will ever revisit that location. As for me that would be Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky when I was thirteen. That park remain to be one of the best places I have ever visited, the trip to it was a long one, due to the fact that we drove all the way their while making various stops at other locations. The trip began in sunny Ogden Utah, at the time it was the beginning of summer, and then we headed south stopping in Phoenix Arizona.
After our stop we headed east in a large van, the worst part about the driving was the heat, I felt like I was getting baked alive inside of it. A thermometer inside the van read 140 degrees Fahrenheit. We drove through many mountain areas so basically we saw a lot of trees in addition to wild animals alongside the roads, dead and alive, none of them by us though. Another major thing that we did during our drive to Kentucky was spending many nights with other tourists in the parking lots of multiple Walmart’s.
After two weeks of driving we finally arrived at our destination, which was Mammoth Cave, said to be one of the largest cave systems hence the name Mammoth. The area where the cave was located was heavily populated by other tourist’s attractions like diners, hotels, and gift shops all of which were themed with Mammoth Cave. Even though there were many tourists with their cars, the air did not smell or feel polluted.
First of all the things we did their, was take a hike through the forests that were near, at the end of the hikes trail, we came to a halt at the base of a green river. The sound of the water drifting downstream was calming, not to mention the soft breeze you could feel while it whistled in your ears. Unfortunately, when we got back to our hotel room we discovered ticks on our bodies, we removed them with heat from a lighter, and they make a very loud cracking noise from their hard bodies when they are being squished.
Once we were rested we proceeded with our day plans, we purchased tickets for two tours, we headed out to our first tour that we had booked, which the name of the tour we were going on was called “The Snowball Tour”. The snowball tour began with a group of forty people walking through a massive entrance, after a couple of meters we arrived at a set of stairs that led deeper into the cave. To this day I remember a kid telling his mother when walking down “Be careful mommy, don’t break the steps”. At the base of the stairs it got dark rather quickly since we had walked a good distance away from the cave entrance.
Inside the cave you could hear the steps of everyone because it was so silent, that is until they turn on a set of lamps down a large cave corridor that’s when we began to see the vast amount of cave structures, primarily stalagmites though when we got to a certain cave opening there were no lights set up in view of the fact that bats were in that area. The guide we were with got out her flashlight from her utility belt, then proceeded to shine the roof were several startled bats began to fly around startling many of the tourists with us including the adults.
When the light was shut off it darkened the room abruptly, multiple people began to ask what was next. After walking through more corridors we got to another large part of the cave; however, on the roof of the cave where countless white spheres, when they turned on the lights there was a handful of tables in the room with what appeared to be some sort of kitchen. The guide told us the room we were in was called “The Snowball Room”, although it was also a halfway mark for more extensive tours so people could rest up and have a meal before continuing with their five mile tour underground.
When the tour was finished my sister and I went on our second tour which was for minors only, the reason it was for minors only was because it involved climbing and squeezing through tight spaces. The tour was very similar to our previous one the only major difference was that we used headlamps and helmets instead of flashlights, but I loved every bit of it. These are the reasons as to why Mammoth Cave remains to be one of my favorite places that I have visited and I hope to return one day and explore further into the caves underground passage ways.