Thursday, August 16, 2012

Moutardier COE, Leitchfield, KY

August 8-13, 2012

This was our first stop after leaving Gin and Syl.  After traveling 3+ weeks with them, it was bittersweet but know that we will see them "down the road".

We pulled up to this Corp of Engineer campground and got the bicycles off the back of the RV.  We wanted to scout out a good site for us.  When I had checked online, there were plenty of spaces (well over 40) available.  However when we pedaled around the loops, we saw that a number of them were "closed" meaning that they could not be used.  This was not referenced online!  A big oops and I will make sure that I call campgrounds from now on!   Dan picked out site B25 and we got set up!
The campground only had about 5 or so RVs in it and we thought we would have a few days of quiet.  It sits right on Nolin Lake which is supposed to be infamous for it's blue-green waters.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the lake for two reasons...this is one.....

Woodpeckers were ALL over the place.  I have never seen so many woodpeckers all over the place, all the time.  They were amazing to watch.

The other reason I didn't get pictures of the lake were the weekend warriors!  Yep - the campground filled up completely starting Friday afternoon.  And, for every RV, there must have been an equal number of boats.  We were wondering why the sites were so large...that's so you could park your RV and your boat on your site!  It was very entertaining watching everyone zoom in on Friday night.  We got quite a few laughs watching people get set up.

While in Leitchfield, we took a day trip to Mammoth Cave National Park.  The cave is the longest known cave system in the WORLD with more than 390 miles have been explored!  I also found out that it is the second oldest tourist attraction in the US...Niagara Falls is the oldest.  Tours have been led in Mammoth Cave since 1816.  

I had researched the different tours and decided on the Snowball Tour.  I wanted a tour of moderate difficulty and one that didn't have too many people!  Some of the tours were open to 100+ people.  The Snowball Tour was capped at 38.  Another neat thing about the Snowball Tour was that you got to eat lunch in the cave.   You could either pack your lunch (which we did) or you could purchase a box lunch from their concession stand.   I had read that it was highly advisable to reserve the tours online and I am glad I did that.  Ours sold out just a few minutes after we arrived at the visitor's center!  When we first arrived at the visitor's center, I was amazed at the number of park employees.   I bet I saw a couple dozen!  After we got our tickets from the "will call" line, we walked around until our tour was called.  We gathered at one of the shelters and the guides gave a little speech.  They wanted to make sure that no one was claustrophobic, had no physical limitations that would prevent them from hiking a few miles or climbing almost 400 stairs, or had any concerns about being in the cave.  They also talked about White-Nose Syndrome which is a virus that is affecting our bat population.  All participants would have to walk on a bio-security mat after exiting the cave.  This is supposed to prevent the virus from spreading.  It is not harmful to humans; only to bats.  After this, we all boarded a bus to the Carmichael entrance of Mammoth Cave.

I was a bit apprehensive about the cave...I'm not really claustrophobic but don't like the "unknown"!

The section that we were on is softly lighted with motion lights but there are other tours that are only lighted by lantern.   It was a very, very refreshing 59 degrees in the cave.  Here are a few pictures I was able to get inside the cave....

Our guide Matt leading the way
The paths in the caves were made by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) during the Great Depression.   
One item that really interested me were the candle writings.  These are similar to graffiti as we know it today.     However, they are "written" with the soot of the candle.  This was something that was done in the 1800s and early 1900s.
A gentlemen by the name of Wad Wallace wrote this in 1868.
More cave writings

  We got to eat lunch in the Snowball Dining Room (in the cave).  Here's a picture of the snowballs...
The gypsum formed like snowballs
It was a great tour that lasted about 3.5 hours. We also got to take a walk into the only natural opening of the cave....

More stairs!!
It was a great day and I would recommend visiting Mammoth Cave if you are in the area!  It may not have stalagmites and stalactites but it is an awesome site to see regardless!


Sherry said...

LOVE those COE campgrounds but I must admit, being in a commercial campground is really nice on the week-ends. No week-end warriors. Hope yours wore themselves out during the day.

I've been to Mammoth Cave several times and never tire of it. It is just amazing. Of the caves I've seen, which are large in number but do not include Carlsbad, it's definitely my favorite.

I can't remember, does Mammoth have a campground? I think we always stayed in their really neat cabins.

Al and Karen said...

Mammoth Caves was our first National Park as full-timers...we went there right after the Tennessee RV Dreams rally. I forget which tour we took, but being April it wasn't as busy as it was in the summer. And we LOVED that they had free dog kennels for the pups while we were on the cave tour, and then allowed on the hiking trails we went to in the afternoon. Kudos to this park :-).

Catherine, Jo Beth and Grace said...

Great red head picture! Love the caves.

Gin and Syl said...

Caves are so cool...literally! Enjoy the down time. Scoot on down to the Gulf.

Gail Houle said...

Your woodpecker photo was awesome! I think Carlsbad Caverns has spoiled me for any other caves :)

Nancy and Bill said...

Great Red Head Woodpecker photo!!!

We had the same "Weekend Warrior" experience at both Modoc and Oconee Point COE. It was amazing the amount of equipment they brought with them for less than 48 hours;o))) We were always glad when Sunday afternoon rolled around!!

Nice tour of the caves!