Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Betty in the National Parks II: Part Two

More (via email) from Betty AnoninTX!!:

Our first major stop, three days, was Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.  I had wanted to go there for years.  Tagging along were Beth and Alexander (A Star Looks Down).  They had already been to Cheddar Gorge to see the caves, of course, but I thought they would enjoy Mammoth Cave also.  It is the world’s longest cave system.  More than 390 miles have been explored at this time.  I had hoped to take a photo or two with Beth and Alexander inside the cave, but rules state that no purses, backpacks, etc. can be carried in.  The rangers are understandably strict because of white-nose bat syndrome.
We did three cave tours.  The first was the Frozen Niagara tour.  After a short bus ride, we entered through a manmade entrance.  The tour goes through a decorative section of the cave.  The second tour we took was the historic tour.  This tour goes through the natural entrance to the cave.  I really enjoyed this one.  We saw the old mining operations, old signatures, and landmarks.  I managed to squeeze my splendid self through Fat Man’s Misery without any problems, and I also was able to walk doubled over with no problems through Tall Man’s Misery.  The PRT, however, was not so lucky.  He didn’t pay enough attention in Tall Man’s Misery and straightened up too far.  He whacked his poor bald head on a rock and bled for a bit.  He had a lovely scab for a week or so.  The third tour we took was definitely my favorite:  the Great Onyx Lantern Tour.  It’s offered only in the fall.  This cave is stunning.  It’s what I call a “wet” cave with glistening stalagmites and stalactites.  The soda straws were so pretty. The tour group is kept small (38 limit), and we had three rangers with us.  Part of the tour group carries lanterns (no lights in the cave), and it had a totally different vibe to it.  I thankfully did not step on a salamander, nor did a cave cricket fall on me.  This tour is a must if anyone is ever at Mammoth in the fall.
We did a lot “on top” too.  I especially wanted to see Sand Cave, which was the scene of a tragic caving accident in January/February 1925.  Cave explorer Floyd Collins was trapped in a very small passageway by a rock that pinned his ankle down.  Even though rescue efforts were attempted, no one could reach him.  I won’t go into his whole story, but it is a very interesting one to google and read.  The cave is closed to the public, but a short path leads to an overlook at the entrance.  We drove to the three old churches in the park and walked through their cemeteries (plus several more).  There are over 90 cemeteries in the park.  Floyd is buried in the Mammoth Cave Baptist Church one.  We did quite a bit of hiking.  I enjoyed watching the deer and wild turkeys.

More tomorrow…


  1. Betty Barbara here--
    Oh how I envy your successful trip to Mammoth Cave. It sounds fabulous!!
    We had a totally disastrous visit a goodly number of years ago and have never had an opportunity to return and try again.
    (We had a much better cave experience several years ago at Carlsbad Caverns.)

  2. Well, I don't like to brag, BUT if he'd been trapped in Texas we would have had him out of there faster than you could say "Baby Jessica".

    Just sayin'

    B von S

  3. We need a "like" button. I'd totally like the above comment. :)

  4. I still remember being at a football game on that Friday night and hearing the announcer break in at first chance to say that Baby Jessica had been rescued alive. Both sides were cheering, people were jumping up and down... it was amazing.

    Poor Floyd probably would have been rescued had he been trapped today. But not necessarily. In 2009 an experienced caver was trapped in Nutty Putty cave in Utah, and he died after approximately two days. Poor Floyd was trapped for about fourteen days. There's a great book called Trapped! about the Sand Cave incident. The Wiki article talks about what a media circus it turned into.

    Betty Barbara, what happened at Mammoth that ruined your trip? How sad! I wanted to do one more tour, the Grand Avenue tour I think, so that I could see the TB hut. We opted for the Great Onyx instead and are glad we did.

    Carlsbad Caverns was my first park when I was just a pipsqueak. We still go over there every year or two. It's a day trip for us, and I still love it. So pretty. Wind Cave NP reminds me a bit of Mammoth.

    Betty AnoninTX

    1. Nutty Putty? How ignominious to pass in a place called Nutty Putty. Poor spelunker/speleologist/caver/potholer, not sure what they liked to be called nowadays.

      B v S

    2. Betty Barbara here--
      Failure? how to count the ways?!
      Car break down.
      Poor research into hours, tours etc. ie--we were driving by, saw the sign, etc,etc.
      Hysterical child--poor babboo was frantic! and not to be calmed.
      We were able to wander a bit and visit at least one minor cave--but took no tours, and so forth.
      Epic lesson in how to NOT visit a park.
      By the time we did Carlsbad (3-4 years ago) we were well prepared and had a lovely time.

    3. Oh my. Definitely things did not go well.

      I thought maybe it was raining so hard that the historical entrance was closed. A ranger was talking about that.

      Betty AnoninTX

  5. A Star Looks Down into the Caves. Great pictures, the colours of the cover go really well with the caves. Gloomy things, caves, gloomy stories to be told.

    1. Betty A,
      you forgot to put "Mwah-ah-ah-ah-ah!" at the end of your post to make it more scary! LOL

      I think you ladies are getting fired up for Halloween.

      B von S