Monday, August 8, 2016

Mission: Mammoth Cave Tour

Originally posted: October 14, 2014

On my way south from the Feast of the Hunters’ Moon, visiting my kids and a few friends, I decided to stop and re-visit Mammoth Cave National Park. I vaguely remember visiting here as a kid, but that’s about it. It was on the way to my brother’s house in Tennessee, so it was not really much of a side trip.

National Parks are always very well maintained.
I made reservations at a nearby campground and got there just in the nick of time as the gas gauge on the car read “empty” (almost). My GPS gave me a scenic tour, but it was wasted on me since it was already past sunset. As the road narrowed, I could swear I could hear banjos playing in the woods. (kidding) I finally located the campground, checked-in and proceeded to my assigned campsite.

I over-shot the branch in the road which took me to my site, so I tried to find a way around. I was very tired, but had much work to do before I could rest. I took a shortcut going the wrong way around. It turned out to be a fatal choice. As I turned the corner around the bath house, (still playing my car’s CD player) I didn’t hear what was happening outside the sound-proofed car cabin. I soon found out.

Damage my trailer did to the bath house.
Having a longer turning radius, but not much road to do that, my trailer grazed the corner of the roof of the bath house. “Oops!” Putting the car in park and setting the brake, I stepped out to see what happened. What I saw was waaaay more than a simple, “Oops.”

Damage done to my trailer by my collision with the bath house.
As those who “heard” the collision came to investigate, I reported to the office to tell them what had occurred, flashlight in hand. As I showed the park owner the damage to his building, he looked it over. “Well, I wouldn’t worry about that.”

I trained my 3-cell Maguire onto the trailer damage. I had already seen it, but I had to look at it again. I was still in disbelief, but it was true. I ruined it – big time. It will never be almost-new again. In fact, at this moment, the whole thing was junk!

One of the women spectators reminded us all that the weather was to turn nasty wet tonight. I was quizzed about having a tarp or something. I didn’t even have any duct tape. Thinking quickly – while I was still absolutely stunned – the park owner disappeared and quickly reappeared bearing a ladder, plastic trash bag and a roll of duct tape. He then proceeded to protect the exposed broken stud and ripped-out, gaping hole in the aluminum siding exposing the insulation as well as the other holes by duct taping the plastic trash bag over the hole.

The patch-over would hold for tonight, but as soon as the weather clears, I will need a more heavy-duty patching material to be able to withstand the pressure of the wind at 55-60 miles per hour during Interstate Highway driving. Ugly… ain’t it?

When push comes to shove ~ I just noticed this last night when the furnace fan came on for the first time in a couple of days. It was very noisy. I wondered why. It was only then that I looked up and the cabinetry surrounding the upper areas of my camper.

Here you can see the degree of separation caused by the outside contact.
The pushed-in outside wall, shoved the entire wall inward causing this damage to the upper cabinetry and affecting the furnace fan blower. The fan blade is rubbing on something and very noisy at floor level as well. I have no idea about fixing these issues.

Contact with the outside wall pushed-in the cabinetry inside rendering them almost unusable.
After a night’s rest – as best I could while worried about the trailer, the potential loss of my investment and the irony of my declining collision insurance coverage in favor of premium savings.

I woke-up unusually early for me, but I know it wasn’t because I slept great. Coffee pot turned-on and awaiting that “good morning” smell, I wondered why my laptop computer displayed an earlier time than my clocks. Ah, I’m camping along the line between Eastern and Central time zones.

Eventually, I got around to my self-assigned mission to visit Mammoth Cave and drove toward the park, the office and the tour ticket counters. The wait wouldn’t be long, but there would be 114 other people on the tour.

The “Domes & Dripstones” tour looked to be a good value at 2-hours of cave touring fun. While a lovely tour full of historic and colorful history of discovery and acquisition as well as preparation of the cave by the CCC during the Great Depression to prepare the cave for tourists. It was a great story, but an under-lit and unremarkable looking cave. I’ve seen some lovely commercial caves and took lots of pictures without a flash. The low light necessitated long exposure times at ISO 800 settings. Hand-holding would be nearly impossible, so I used the handrail to stabilize the camera.

Unfortunately, this is probably the best of the images of the cave interior.

In this low-light situation, without flash and hand-held -- best I could do,
I had to do some wrangling in photo editing software to bring it up some, but at this image was sharply in-focus.

Limestone formation created by dripping water over many thousands of years.
Although each of the cave features are truly unique, is it true that "seen one, seen them all"?
I got back to the campground and offered to repair the damage I had done to the corner of the bath house. After some convincing of my seriousness, they allowed it – as Karma would have it – expecting more severe rain tonight and the damage should be repaired before that happens.

So, I’m staying here another day hoping for better weather so I can add some more protection to the gaping hole outside my trailer. I hope it works until I can purchase replacement siding that matches color and pattern size.

Afterall, what would the pioneers have done if an axle needed greased, or a wagon wheel needs replaced or repaired? They’d stop, fix it and carry on. That’s just what I intend to do.

See you on the trails — AFTER I get this all repaired.


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