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!
| DREAM | JOURNEY
| IMAGES | STATS
| PARKS | MAPS
| GEAR | LINKS
| CREDIT | HOME |