Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mammoth Memories

The world's longest known cave system can be found in Central Kentucky and it goes by the name of Mammoth Cave. It is aptly named, as Mammoth Cave has more than 400 miles of explored area.

Evidence suggests that visitors have been coming to Mammoth Cave for around 4,000 years. The remains of a Pre-Columbian man were discovered in the cave in 1935. He was crushed by a large rock as he was mining minerals. Ancient items have been discovered in the cave system, items such as: cane torches, gourd fragments, woven grass moccasins and cave drawings.

1797 marks the year that the first white man is supposed to have discovered Mammoth Cave. John Houchin is said to have been hunting a bear and he followed the injured bear into the cave.

Mammoth Cave is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America. Tourists have been visiting the cave since 1816.

In 1841 the cave was owned by Dr. John Croghan. He believed the cave air could cure tuberculosis. That winter he took 16 patients into the cave and housed them in stone and wood huts. When some of his patients died those that were still alive left and the tuberculin "cure" was discontinued.

The picture below is of a tuberculosis hut that still stands in the cave today.

The Colonel and I joined the ranks of Mammoth Cave visitors when we toured the cave in June of this year.

We decided we wanted to take the Historic Tour. This tour would take us to the natural and historic entrance to the cave and lead us to the classic Mammoth Cave landmarks that have been visited by writers, scientists, military figures and celebrities of the 1800s and early 1900s.

We stood in line to purchase our tickets when a young couple asked us if we wanted to purchase their tickets. They were not aware that the tour would last about 2 hours and they would not have the time to take the tour. Their tickets were for the 10:00 Historic Tour...perfect! So we purchased the "scalped" tickets at face value.

Everyone who bought a 10:00 ticket was asked to wait beneath a shelter outside the building until our guide came to fetch us. A park ranger gave us the safety-what-to-expect spiel. There were going to be some tight spots to navigate and some crouching involved. There would be 440 stairs to be climbed up or down. The tour would cover 2 miles in the afore mentioned 2 hours. The difficulty meter would be set at moderate and the cave temperature would be in the mid 50s to low 60s.

Our guide and her helper (she would stay at the end of the line to watch for stragglers) came and we proceeded down a long, ever down-sloping path to the historic entrance of the cave. The closer we came to the cave entrance the cooler the air was around us. We had to walk down steps to gain entrance into the cave.

The first awe inspiring site we came across was called the Rotunda. The area was impressive in size. The rounded ceiling was cathedral like.

Moving further into the cave we saw the Giant's Coffin. It was a huge piece of rock that had fallen from the ceiling hundreds of years ago (still made you wonder if you were safe within the bowels of Kentucky).

This is a picture of the Mammoth Dome and the 155 steps we had to climb. Very beautiful but if you are afraid of heights don't look down.

The tight spots we were warned about came at "Fat Man's Misery".

We had to serpentine our way between tight places. Remember they called this "Fat Man's Misery" back in the day when most everyone was not a large as we are today...but we all made it through.


Then there was "Tall Man's Agony". There was much crouching and bending over I can tell you.

We did not see any bats as we looked up at the ceilings but we did see some smoke writings. These were signatures and dates left behind by early tourists using smoke from candles during the days past when the cave tours were given by candlelight. We saw the dates of 1839 and 1855 written there.

Our tour was ending and we made our way back to the entrance of the cave.

The tour ended just in time for lunch and we ate at one of the three places at the park, it was called TrogloBITES (I know cute, right?). It is your basic burger, fry and soda joint.

Visiting Mammoth Cave has been on The Colonel's "Bucket List" long before the phrase was coined or we all knew what one was (aka his childhood). I didn't even know it was on mine until I did it.

I think a visit to the world's longest cave system should appear on every one's Bucket List.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Seven Year "Itch"

Next May will mark the seven year anniversary of living in our yellow house. We love our house. The Colonel and I designed it. We waited 20 years to build it and can hardly believe it has already been nearly seven years since we moved into our dream home.

The Yellow House is starting to show a little age now. We are having to do some minor "face lifts" to the house.

We are repainting the porches (all four of them). We have most of the columns done and will eventually repaint the concrete floors of the porches (the hardest part will be keeping the cats off while the paint dries).

Next year the yellow parts of the  house will be repainted as the color is fading (Florida's sunshine is a harsh mistress when it comes to paint jobs). The Colonel wants to paint the house himself (with my help of course) but maybe before next year he will reconsider and have it painted by professionals (fingers crossed).

Some of the pickets needed to be replaced on the fence that hides surrounds the two A/C units. The Colonel took this opportunity to change the design of the fence and replaced all of the pickets. He enlisted the help of My-Favorite-Father-In-Law in this endeavor.

The Colonel wanted to have a pineapple motif incorporated into the fence design. He gave his dad a pineapple pattern to cut out. His dad cut out four different pineapple silhouettes (the pattern The Colonel had given him proved to be somewhat difficult to mass produce with his saw, so he came up with three simpler designs. The first picture is The Colonel's design).

My-Favorite-Father-In-Law asked us which design of his we liked best. We liked them all so we incorporated all of them into the new picket fence (this saved The Colonel's dad from having to cut out any more pineapples too).

Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Own Mini Roswell Incident

Recently, one of Yam's college friends stayed with us for five days. Yam and her friend love to hit Goodwill and Salvation Army stores to find great deals on things like clothes, DVDs, games, books, knick-knacks, etc.

The girls went shopping one day during the visit and Yam brought home a unique lawn-art set. She bought it for The Colonel and I (mainly The Colonel I he is the bigger Sci-Fi fan).

This is what she came home with...

The little crashed aliens and their spaceship were originally a faded blue-gray color and Yam painted them as you see them in the picture below. So cute!

I love the expressions on the aliens' faces. The male alien is quite puzzled as to how this crash has taken place and the female alien is ticked-off about the whole affair. Clearly she blames their situation solely on her co-space traveler (Her spouse maybe? Not sure how they pair-bond in outer space and what titles go with it...but looking at her expression, I would say they are a married couple).

The lilliputian aliens now call my rock garden their new home. Yam helped me find names for them. We went to a website that generates alien names. The male alien's name is Taran and the female is named Drazana