Monday, April 22, 2013

Our Trip To Mammoth Caves - Picture Overload

A few months ago I got an e-mail from the head secretary of Dr. J's residency.  It said, "I just wanted to let you know the end of the year is coming quickly and if Dr. J doesn't schedule his last two weeks of time off he is going to lose it."  Lose 2/3 of his vacation...heck no!  I e-mailed Becky back and asked if I could fill the forms out.  She said as long as he was ok with it she was as well.  Thank you Becky!  So I talked with him and and returned the forms and like that Dr. J ended up with two weeks off.  The unfortunately thing, it had to be in a rotation that started at the very end of the kids spring break.  The fortunate thing, they overlapped four days.  We used those days to get away for a quick trip.  I'd heard mention of this place called Mammoth caves in Kentucky.  We decided we wanted to go there and sort of on the fly planned a camping trip.  

 Cheetah loved camping!  I mean just adored it.  SHE WAS EVERYWHERE!  At one point I put her in the tent to try and keep her from chasing after dogs that she saw going past the camp site.  She screamed and screamed, ran into all the walls and eventually found a ventilation hatch on the back of the tent to escape from.  Oh this girl, containment, containment, containment!  We just continue to have containment issues!  Multiple times we pulled charcoal from her mouth.  She spent most of the trip looking like she'd just eaten an Oreo except there was no Oreos to be had.  Oh Cheetah!

Our kids spend a lot of time of their father's shoulders.  This is how they have seen much of the world.  You have to love the relationship between a father and his children.

A big part of the trip was a tour through the caves.  If you are going to go I suggest you buy your tickets online before you get there.  Even online many of the tours had sold out.  When we got there all the tours were gone.  Thank goodness we'd reserved our tickets before hand.  I was exceptional anxious about going into the caves.  I am a person riddled with anxiety.  I dislike heights and do no enjoy confinement.  When I read the description of the tour I started to get a sick feeling.  It said,

"If you have a fear of heights or suffer from claustrophobia, this tour is not the best choice for you. Please read tour descriptions carefully when making your selection."   

It also said,
"There are hundreds of stairs on this tour."

Not recommended for visitors with known heart or respiratory problems, poor circulation or difficulty walking long distances and negotiating stairs. Evacuation from the cave to a hospital for medical attention could take several hours."

Seriously why would I want to do this?  I said to Dr. J, "I can't do this.  I don't do heights.  I don't like small spaces.  I don't like the dark.  Why would I do this."  His words to me, "You can do hard things."  And so I did.  We started off by going down 280 stairs.  They were steep, they were narrow, they were often times wet.  It was exhausting.  I was carrying Cheetah in a sling.  Sometimes the cave came in on the side and on top and I'd have to tilt and squirm, squeeze her up, squeeze her down.  There were drop offs, and deep holes, my palms were sweating, my back was sweating.  Dr. J had Peach.  Sometimes he carried her, sometimes she was on his back, sometimes the stairs were so steep that he was pushing her forward or dragging her back.  Gigi and Captain E had boundless energy and had no problem with the heights or the encolosure although Captain E said about ten times, "People could fall and die in here."  Well thanks honey that is not helping mama. We finally got to a big cavern where we stopped and the ranger gave us a geology lesson.  And Cheetah screamed and screamed.  She did not like being forced to stay in my arms and I'm sure my sweaty stressed out body was giving off terror hormones.  Finally we started hiking again and the gentle up and down of the stairs finally lulled her to sleep.  Meanwhile my legs were jello.  We saw some more of the dry cave and then we finally made it to the part called Frozen Niagara.  It is the only part of the cave that has stalactites and stalagmites.  It was pretty cool.  There were also several bats flying around and cave crickets.  And then two hours after we entered the dark stuffy cave I saw the sweetness of natural light again.  It was glorious, one of the best feelings I've ever had.  I guess I'm not ready for the city of Ember.  I was covered in sweet, I was exhausted but in the end I had made it.  I guess Dr. J was right.  I can do hard things.

Man I was happy to not be in the cave anymore!

In the end it was a great place to visit and they had all these little touristy places that the kids were super excited about.  There was a Western Village, a dinosaur land, a huge Alpine Slide, and Yoggie Bear campsite.  We took the kids to Dinosaur land.  They spent time uncovering bones, sifting for fossils (Gigi spent all her time looking for shark teeth and then left them in the parking lot :(, and they had a fun dinosaur walk.  It was overpriced for what it was but it was fun and the kids loved it.  I was glad that we went!

Peach got a little tired and decided she didn't want to walk anymore.  Being three is hard work.  Sometimes you still want to be the baby but your parents want you to be all grown up!

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