Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mammoth Cave

We opened up the vault for this story because it's a fun one and also because the vault is pretty full of great stories.

We went to Louisville, KY this year for Thunder Over Louisville and the Kentucky Derby. While we were there we decided to go to Mammoth Cave because we hadn't been there in a long time and also because we love caves in this family.

Have you ever seen Pee Wee's Big Adventure? Well, the roads that we had to travel along to actually get to the park were JUST LIKE the ones in the movie. We saw dinosaur parks, stores that sold rocks and were darn proud of it as well as signs that told us that "Hell is Real!"

When we got the the actual park we realized that the people who work there LOVE CAVES. They are all about their jobs and take the role of "park ranger" (or whatever they called themselves) very seriously. We also realized that we were going to have to be apart of a huge group who would be taking the tour at the same time. Normally, we do not like guided tours because we like to be obnoxious and ridiculous while we explore things - not polite and quiet. We also don't have the best track record of being able to walk proficiently in slippery, uneven cave surfaces and didn't want to embarrass ourselves by falling.

There was a tour guide at the front and back of the group and we were somewhere in the middle - not up front with the people who asked tons of questions and acted like they were writing research papers about the cave and not at the back with the people who wanted to befriend the tour guide and take their time tightening the kerchiefs around their neck and asking about rock formations.

The tour was 2 1/2 hours and 2 miles long and at the deepest point, we were 310 feet below ground. At one point the tour guides shut off the tiny lights that allowed you to see (somewhat) and it was the darkest moment we have ever experienced - we finally knew what it must be like to be blind. It was cool for a minute but as the seconds passed by we became anxious and scared thinking about how far underground we were and how nobody in our group had a weapon that could be used to save us from the ghosts of Native Americans who had died there or creatures that lived in there like The Descent.

There comes a time when you're in a cave, in the middle of a tour group when, just like the Real World, you stop being polite and start getting real. This moment came, for us, about an hour into the tour when we realized, "We are in a cave! It's dark in here and we are underground! We don't know these people! We don't care about these people!" So, we started making awful jokes to make ourselves laugh and taking ridiculous pictures of each other. This was also about the time when we seemed to forget how to walk properly and began stumbling, tripping over our own feet, rolling our ankles, and, once, falling flat..on our back.

All in all, the trip was awesome and well worth the long drive. The cave was beautiful and it was really cool to know that we were so far underground and imagine what it would be like to build our own little town down there. We definitely recommend checking it out if you happen to be in the area.