Monday, May 26, 2008

Mammoth Cave

I apologize for the lag in posting. I haven't had access to a wireless signal for the past few days. Over the next two days, I'll try to catch the blog up to my actual whereabouts.

On Saturday, I had a fast and easy ride into Mammoth Cave National Park. Since I had camp set up, had showered, and had done laundry by 2pm, my afternoon was free. So, I went for a bike ride.

My ride took me down a road that dead-ended in the Green River. A free ferry shuttled three cars at a time across the 100-foot-wide river. After catching the ferry to the other side of the river, I biked to a set of trail ends in the park's extensive trail network and hiked a loop. During my two-hour hike, I realized that hiking allows the mind to wander much more than biking. While walking through the woods its easy to fall deep into your thoughts and move down the trail essentially on autopilot. There's no threat of a speeding delivery van broadsiding you on a hiking trail. While biking, you can never fall too deep into thought because you need to remain more alert of traffic, turns, and other obstacles. This all reminded me of a story that a cyclist told me a few days earlier. Before he began his ride, he asked his younger brother, who also had biked the Transamerica, about what music to take along. His brother replied, "Bro, you don't bike cross-country to listen to your ipod, you bike cross-country to listen to yourself." Hilarious. And true.

Sunday morning I went on a three-hour tour of Mammoth Cave. There is a host of different tours of varying lengths and themes. Since it was a holiday weekend, my selection was limited. My tour was by lantern light. The idea of the tour was to recapture the way that visitors experienced the cave from 1816 (when tours began at the cave) until the 1950s when electric lights were first installed. It seemed appropriate to see the cave in flickering lights and shadows. Unfortunately, I don't have any good pictures of the cave because I was on a tour where the only light was lantern light.

During my ride back to the main Transamerica route, one stretch of road had more horse-drawn buggies than cars. It was mid-afternoon and several Amish families presumably were headed home after Sunday services. My destination for the night was the Double L, a gas station and store owned by Arnold and Lucy Lucas, who let cyclists camp out behind the store. After pitching my tent, Arnold and Lucy returned from visiting relatives, opened the store, and fed me. Always a good end to a long day.

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