"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that"
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Gallipolis, OH to Cave City, KY: West on US-35 to Centerville to SR-279 to Oak Hill, West on SR-140 to Portsmouth to US-52 West to Maysville to US-68 West to Lexington to the Blue Grass Parkway West To US-31E South to Hodgenville to SR-84 West to I-65 South to Cave City to SR-70 to Mammoth Cave. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
The rain finally ends in the morning. The Weather Channel says the back end of the front is just hanging over eastern Ohio. I make a late start and it looks like Iíll avoid getting wet. Itís completely overcast, but I manage to stay dry and work my way west. With each mile the clouds get weaker and as I enter Kentucky the sun is breaking through. As I travel down Route 68, Iím surrounded by horse farms and stone walls that go on for miles.

My first destination of the day is the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site near Howardsville. A marble building looking a lot like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, was built here in 1909. Inside, in air-conditioned comfort, it houses the modest cabin where our 16th President was born on February 12th, 1809.

An hour south down the interstate and Iím in Kentucky Cave Country. I head up into Mammoth Cave National Park. Here, beneath the sandstone capped ridges lies the most extensive cave system on Earth. After 4,000 years of intermittent exploration, the full extent of this water-formed labyrinth remains unknown. More than 350 miles of passageways have been surveyed and geologists estimate there could be as many as 600 miles of cave yet to be discovered.

I hadnít planned to go into any caves, but when I arrive at the visitor center my interest is piqued. I also realize by the clock on the wall that Iíve entered the Central Time Zone and it is only 3:30. So I sign up for the 4:00 Historic Tour, a two-hour, two-mile trek. 29 souls and one park Ranger named Melody (the best looking Ranger Iíve seen so far) venture down into the depths of the cave where the temperature is 54 degrees all year long.

The trip below the surface proves to be quite fascinating and the sites are beautiful. We pass through such places at the Rotunda, Broadway, the Bottomless pit, Fat Manís Misery, the Ruins of Karnak, and Mammoth Dome. Along the way Melody explains the history of the cave and how a self-educated slave named Stephen Bishop became a legendary cave guide and explorer in the mid 1800ís. At one point, Melody turns out the lights and everyone stands still for a moment. You canít see your hand in front of you. The complete darkness and silence is stunning, a relaxing contrast to being on the motorcycle all day.

I had originally planned to camp in the park for the night, but by the time we reach the surface I'm pretty beat. Iíve got a big day planned for tomorrow, so I head back to Cave City and check in to the Comfort Inn. Dinner? Kentucky Fried Chicken of course!

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 321.2
Total Miles: 3169
Time on Motorcycle: 5 Hours 38 Minutes
Average Speed: 57.1 MPH
States Visited today: 2 (OH, KY)
Total States Visited: 11
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 2
NPS Stamp totals: 36 Stamps, 9 States
Weather: Mostly Sunny and Warm

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Now Hiring Smiling Faces" Ė sign at Leeís Famous Recipe Chicken in Lexington, KY

RANDOM PASSINGS:
Instead of riding around Lexington, I decide Iíll stay on Route 68 and ride through town, perhaps even stopping for lunch. I enter the inner loop and Iím just on Broadway waiting for a light to change when all of a sudden I hear a commotion to my left. I look over at the Thornton Gas Station and Mini-Mart and notice ITíS BEING HELD UP. The assailant has just crashed out the door, knocking over some guy and jumping into his waiting get-away car. The beat-up black Chevy Capri peels off a side street as the attendants come rushing out the entrance. Iíve just witnessed the end of a robbery. I thought Iíd see some interesting stuff on my trip but this is not what I had in mind. Suddenly, stopping in Lexington doesnít seem like such a good idea. I ride right through.

 


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