KENTUCKY – The Family arrived the evening of Day Thirteen at Grayson Lake State Park in Kentucky.
“Nothing much to say about it,” observed Michelle, “except this: why is it that Virginia and Kentucky don’t allow the public use or display of alcohol, when they are well known for their cigarettes and bourbon?”
On Day Fourteen they awoke and promptly went to the nearest Shoney’s for breakfast. Yes, our chain-avoiding family has a weakness for Shoney’s.
“What can we say?” asked Greg, “We like the breakfast bar every few months. It’s a matter of nostalgia for both of us.”
So they pigged out accordingly and drove the rest of the day, arriving at Nolin Lake State Park near Mammoth Cave that evening.
“Still in Kentucky,” observed Greg. “Still no public use or display of alcohol. But we have lots of red cups.”
Shh. Don’t tell anyone.
The Family ended up here out of a desire to see Mammoth Cave National Park. On Day Fifteen, they did precisely that.
“Okay, so first we go up to the Visitor Center and it’s under construction, so if you wanted to see exhibits and history and such (which we did, that’s how we roll), you were shit out of luck,” said Michelle.
“And then before we could go on a cave tour we had to soak our shoes to avoid tracking white nose syndrome around in the cave because OF COURSE we have been in a cave within the last five years, we’re from MISSOURI,” added Greg.
Then Michelle commented, “Yes, so we sat there with our feet in plastic containers full of Lysol solution feeling the way it feels when a cop pulls you over and you’re sitting there, embarrassed, while everyone drives by gawking.”
“Oh, you know that feeling well, do you?” inquired Greg.
“Heh. Not nearly as well as you do,” retorted Michelle. Then she continued, “What was surprising to me was that more people weren’t doing it. Surely of the hundred or so people on our tour, there were more than about eight who’d been in a cave in the last five years. Huh. Guess the rules don’t apply to them,”
Our Family, however, is fond of bats, so they happily soaked their shoes.
So how was it?
“Well…” Michelle hesitated. “Listen, the guides were very nice, and all…”
“Yeah, but we were pretty disappointed,” Greg said. “Outside of the sheer magnitude of Mammoth Cave, there were hardly any cool formations. The best part of the trip was probably the ferry across the Green River.”
Dejected, the Family returned to camp.
“You know, if you’d never seen a cave before, you’d be really impressed,” said Michelle. In fact, that evening at the campground she told another family just that – they were from Detroit and sure enough, had never seen a cave. “Oh, then you’ll probably have a fantastic time,” Michelle assured them. “It’s just that, well, the ocean is a big deal but if you lived by the ocean, it wouldn’t be. Y’know? That’s how most caves are to Missourians.”
“I felt kind of guilty for not viewing Mammoth Cave as the treasured resource it is rumored to be,” Michelle said.
Fortunately, they didn’t feel like spoiled asses for long.
“Another family in the campground asked us how we liked it. We hesitated, but went ahead and expressed our disappointment. Go figure, they said they, too, were let down.”
After that disappointment, Michelle and Greg were eager to get home. At an impromptu Family meeting, Parents floated the possibility of leaving that afternoon. Naturally, the Kids protested. After much deliberation (decisions do not come easily to These People), they decided they might as well just go ahead and stay. The Kids were desperate to swim, so the Parents reluctantly obliged.
“Yeah, I got in that lake and after the second crawdad skittered across my foot – and the first one pinched me, mind you – I’d had enough,” Michelle said.
So she sat on the bank and read a book while Greg and the kids frolicked in the lake.
“Frolicked, my ass,” Greg grumbled. “I was ready to leave as soon as we got here.”
Even so, after pulling the kids out of the lake and eating dinner, they made the best of it.
And for the Family, that can mean only one thing. Ice cream!
“The funniest thing to happen there, aside from the proprietor’s inability to spell ‘cheese,’ was the telephone call she made just after the ambulance went by with lights and sirens.”
That conversation went something like this:
Proprietor: Where’s the ambulance goin’?
Proprietor: Still breathin’?
Proprietor: Okay. See you later.
Greg and Michelle exchanged a knowing look (they do this a lot, by the way). They know how small towns operate. They knew they’d soon have the entire story without needing to ask. Sure enough, the proprietor – who, by the way, was VERY nice – couldn’t resist filling them in.
“My husband’s the fire chief,” she said. “A person with a kidney transplant was found unconscious, but still breathing.”
The Family finished their cones (mostly – Ethan finished Michelle’s) and made their merry way back to camp, where they packed up every single little thing they could in order to effect a hasty exit the next day.
“We’re ready for home,” Michelle said. “We’re just ready.”