We woke up to the same bad weather- gray and rainy. We dried off a table in front of our cabin to set up the stove to make coffee and toast our bagels. Then we ate inside sitting on the bed. It really felt like autumn weather when just a few days before we had been in stifling heat in the middle of the Great Plains. Fortunately, the main attraction in the park was inside- the cave.
As the name suggests, Mammoth Caves are enormous. It is the largest cave system in the world with more than 1000km of explored passages. We took a guided tour with a park ranger. When we entered the cave, we were surprised to find out that it’s a dry cave. There were no stalactites or stalagmites because there’s no water to create them. The cave was kept dry by a layer of rocks above our heads. We learned about the history of the caves and saw some of the enormous caverns. The cave’s first guide and expert was a self-taught slave. During the American Civil War, they mined saltpeter in the cave to make gunpowder. The structures from the saltpeter operation are still visible. Artifacts from Native American habitation have also been found in the cave.
By the time we had finished our visit the rain had stopped and we were able to picnic outside. We had time to do a nice hike through the woods above the cave system. We saw several deer along the path and also had some pretty views of the Green River, popular with kayakers. It was the Green River that carved the vast cave system.
From the park, we picked up the road towards Nashville, Tennessee. We were planning to spend a couple of days exploring the Country Music Capital but we hadn’t reserved a hotel. We found a motel on the outskirts of town run by Indians. We were tired after the long day so we made dinner in our room and spent the evening watching tennis.