MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Heading Off To Visit Another Park - Kentucky is Calling!

There are 59 National Parks (as of this moment), and well over 500 units in the park system (including monuments, historic sites, sea/lakeshores, recreation areas, battlefields, etc).  I have visited 37 parks, about 155 units in total.  After this weekend, those numbers will tick up slightly.  I am off to visit Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, along with Lincoln's Birthplace and Boyhood homes in Kentucky and Indiana. 

The caves have been on my list for quite a while.  I started reading up on them before my first and only trip to Kentucky in the early 00's. I did not know much about Kentucky, so out came the maps to study up ...  With that trip, I was in Moorehead for work and wanted to explore the area.  Mammoth was too far away for a weekend journey, so I used my time to explore eastern Kentucky. And explore it, I did!   I traveled down the Daniel Boone National Forest in late autumn, hiking some trails while enjoying the rolling topography; I took in the colors, the geological features (stone arches) and soaked in the views.   The end of the trails brought me to  Southeaster Kentucky.  I ended up at Cumberland Gap and Cumberland State Park for one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon I have ever witnessed, moonbows!  Think rainbows but at night using the light of the full moon.  Cumberland Falls is the only place in North America you can see a moonbow and one of only 2 places in the world to see one consistently.  Of course you need perfect full moon conditions to see one - and I got that and more.  That night, I got a perfect moonbow, followed by a lunar eclipse with a meteor shower, followed by the return of the full moon for a double moonbow. I saw bows in basic colors to a white halo glow.  It was glorious.  You can't make this stuff up... and as I stood in the falls mists, on that cold late autumn evening, I knew I was gonna get seriously sick (and I did), and it didn't matter because the stars aligned for one memorable shows of nature. I still recall this lunar opportunity with awe.   I ended my journey  with something completely different, by traveling back to Lexington (where I started), celebrating horses and their power.  I was able to pay respects to Secretariat.

So while my travels through eastern Kentucky was thorough, Mammoth Caves has always been out there calling me to return.  I have visited the other cave systems in the park system, including Carlsbad, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, but this one is the longest system in the world (over 400 miles explored). It was unique and I needed to go.

I finally bit the bullet! 

I have a 4 hour cave tour scheduled and a plan to visit the area.  Calgon, take me away... Actually the National Parks are taking me away (and I need it). I need to recharge.  I am  looking forward to seeing what Mammoth Caves and the surrounding area has to offer... and I will report back! I am ready to learn something new and my camera is packed.  See you on the flip side.

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