After nearly 2 weeks on the road we had reached a low point on our cross country journey. 310 feet underground to be exact. We were in Kentucky on the historic tour of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world, with over 400 miles of explored cave. We would settle for exploring 2 miles of the cave and descended into large cavernous chambers, squeezed through claustrophobia inducing spaces and navigated over 440 stairs.
We had arrived at Mammoth Cave National Park after leaving Kansas and whizzing by the Gateway Arch in St Louis (too rainy to stop), pausing at Camp River DuBois (where Lewis and Clark stayed the winter before leaving on the mother of all road trips), and passing through the beautiful cornfields of southern Illinois and Indiana. We even managed to take in the 100th anniversary of the Kentucky State Fair the day before in the sweltering heat. We were ready to be in the great outdoors for the next few days.
After our journey to the center of the earth (well it seemed like it), we took a scenic boat ride on the Green River that formed Mammoth Cave, and saw muskrat, beaver and deer (none of which agreed to be photographed.)
After our adventures in Kentucky, we pressed onward to what became one of the highlights of our trip: the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469 mile linear park running from the Great Smoky Mountains through the gentle Appalachian mountains all the way to Virginia.
Here again the pace was slow and the views enchanting with mountains, waterfalls, wildlife and wildflowers. Original homesteads, that were lived in up until the 1930’s, dotted the sides of the road.
It’s here we had our most memorable camping experience of the entire trip at Doughton Park. While relaxing at our campsite in the warm and fragrant summer evening, we were befriended by locals who serenaded us with their live dulcimer music and shared with us homemade pulled taffy. Now that was some fine southern hospitality!
So this section of the Great American Road Trip came to a close as we reached Virginia where we would appreciate a real bed for a few days, some home cooked meals and a visit with family including 2 darling grandsons. Ahh!
See you soon for the final leg of our journey which will take us the long route back to Seattle. Thanks again for coming along. ~ Susanne