West Baden Springs Indiana

West Baden Springs Indiana
Inside of the AMAZING West Baden Springs Resort in Indiana.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Echo River, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

"Echo River is the largest body of water yet discovered in Mammoth Cave and a boat ride on this river down on the lowest level is an unforgetable experience.  Here, 360 ft. under-ground are found several species of eyeless fish.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Head of Echo River, Mammoth Cave KY

This postcard was sent postmarked from Mammoth Cave in 1916.....  OVER 100 years ago!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sightseeing on the Green River, Mammoth Cave KY

These two postcards are very similar.  The top one is dated 1962 and shows the Miss Green River.  The one under it is undated and shows the Miss Green River II.

Their descriptions are almost word for word identical on the back, except the first Miss Green River can hold 80 passengers where the second one can hold 122.

The first boat was noted as being operated by Capt. M.E. Nash, where the second one was operated by Capt. Nash and Bob McDaniel.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Wigwam Village- Cave City, Kentucky

Wigwam village has been around in Cave City forever.

I know the place's reputation isn't what it used to be (you can read the tripadvisor reviews).  I also had someone tell me that they had some serious trouble making a reservation.

Here are a few photos.  The place does look cool as you drive by.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Great Onyx Lantern Tour- mammoth Cave Kentucky

I have been trying to figure out all of the tours I have taken at Mammoth Cave over the years.  Many overlap.  Some tour routes are covered in their entirety on other, longer tours.  Anyway, as far as the publicly accessible tour routes go, I think I have been through almost all of the cave.  I know I have taken some of the tours multiple times.

AND, as I have said before, we have taken trips to Mammoth Cave and not even stepped foot inside of the cave.  Its a nice area.

I did realize, however, that I never visited Great Onyx cave.  This cave has a lot of interesting history, though it is not known to connect to Mammoth Cave.  The cave is, however, owned by the National Parks, and it is part of Mammoth Cave National Park.

We called about tickets and bought them ahead of time as it seems that the lantern tour through the cave often sells out.

We had a great guide named Gregg who reminded me a lot of Jerry Garcia (it's the hair).  Anyway, Gregg welcomed the group and told us all about the cave.  Gregg explained clearly that Great Onyx Cave was technically not a part of the big cave- just incase anyone had come from a far distance hoping to mark Mammoth Cave off of their bucket list.

We got on the bus at the visitor center and made our way out to the cave.  I went with my wife and niece, who sat together.  I ended up with a seat next to a charming 8 year old lady from Louisville.  We had a nice chat.  She said that she enjoyed going to caves.  Also, even though she was from Louisville, she had never heard of the Louisville Mega Cavern!  I got to tell her about it!

Our guide pointed out, from the bus, the remains of an old hotel/lodge that used to be on the property for guests visiting the cave.

We got out of the bus near the main entrance.  Gregg gave us some more info on the cave as our bus driver and another ranger prepared the lanterns.

A lantern was given to about every third person.  We made our niece carry the lantern.  I think she enjoyed having the job.

Gregg pointed out many formations, and told us a lot about the cave itself.  There are actually several different stories about how exactly the cave was discovered.  Our guide got into a lot of discussion, as the tour went on, about boundary issues. 

There were a lot of issues over who owned the cave early on, but a death ended the dispute.  Later on, the cave owner was involved in a conflict with his neighbor.  The neighbor pointed out that some of the cave must be under his property.  There was some legal battling....  and it was settled that the neighbor had about a third of the cave under his property.  It was also settled that he owned a third of it.

The original owner had tried to say that, since he owned the entrance, he owned the cave.  The courts found that the property owner owns their land and whats under it. 

Gregg actually showed us original boundary markers inside of the cave!

Gregg told us more of the caves history.  He covered the National Parks acquiring the cave (from each owner).  Adding to the story of this cave, is a spot where "Floyd Collins" is written in the cave, possibly by Floyd himself.  One of the discovery stories involves the legendary caver.  Unfortunately, the signature is farther back in the cave than the tour goes.

Towards the end of our tour, Gregg and his colleagues confiscated our lanterns and walked away, leaving all in total darkness.  They came back, shortly afterwards, showing us a sunrise and a sunset in the cave.

Anyway, this was a very nice cave tour!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Mammoth Onyx Cave in Horse Cave Kentucky

Mammoth Onyx Cave is on the same property as Kentucky Down Under.  There is no additional charge to visit it or anything....  it is kind of a bonus attraction.

The tours are at specific times.  AND, inside of the gift shop near the cave is a very nice and roomy waiting area.  There are rocking chairs.  I could see a family using this room to rest for a few moments during a full day at Kentucky Down Under. 

Beside one of the gift shop buildings is a stone structure leading down into the cave.  This might be the tightest show cave we have ever been inside, but it is still very doable.  There are some tricky steps in this wet cave, and some low ceilings....  You have to be aware of what's around you while you walk through the cave!

This is also one of the shorter cave tours in the area.  I think it was around half an hour.  Still, it was packed, and we felt like we got a lot out of the trip.


Friday, November 23, 2018

Kentucky Down Under in Horse Cave Kentucky

We went to Kentucky Down Under mostly because there is a historic cave on the property.  I guess my impression of Kentucky Down Under was that it was a cave with a small petting zoo above it.

Well, its a lot more than that.

We got there early on a Saturday...  a rainy Saturday.  we still went in and bought our tickets.  For $30, you can rent a golf cart, which we did.  This was actually very nice because there is some uphill walking.  Plus, it was just nice to have a cart to drive around with a covering over it to help with the rain.  On a nice fall day, I might pass on the cart.

There are several areas with animals that you can see.  You kind of just drive around or walk to each of them.

The park (and animals) generally have an Australian vibe.  Of course, the main draw here is kangaroos!  AND, you can go into their enclosure and interact with them!

I thought this would be fun and cool....  but it was EXTREMELY fun and cool!

When you get to the gated kangaroo area, there are some friendly staff there to tell you about the kangaroos and other animals.  It is really some very basic stuff.  They ask that you don't touch the kangaroos' faces.  They also have small cups of food for $1 a cup, or 6 for 5.  We stocked up and went in.

Some of them were a bit standoffish....  some were very social.  Many would take their paws and cup your hands to pull the food towards them.  My own Chihuahua often does this when we give her treats.  There is something very sweet about this.

There was an adorable little 10 month old roo that was the star of the show.  This one seemed very tame and appreciative of the food offered.

There was an impressive bird enclosure too.  Cups of food were available here too.

We watched an interesting animal show at one point as the rain came down.  A very nice young lady showed us a tortoise.  She also brought out a python!  I forget the type it was, but there are only 500 of this particular type in the wild!  She then invited anyone that wanted to come up, and they could hold the snake!  I declined.

A couple of dogs that roam the area were there for the presentation too.  One, a sheep dog, would limp.  We were told that this is a way for the dogs to get sympathy...  When they see humans, they often do this for attention.  Their paws are just fine.

We were also told that the dog and the python at the zoo were good friends!

Kentucky Down Under is a great place to visit and I am sure we will be back soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Crystal Onyx Cave in Cave City KY

I had heard that Crystal Onyx Cave was going to reopen as a show cave after about a decade of being closed!  I definitely wanted to get out there and see the cave!

Opening and closing...  sometimes frequently is a thing with show caves.  it happens.  Nearby Cub Run Cave is a good example.  It briefly reopened a year or so ago, then it was closed again.  I missed my window of opportunity to see it.

I think there is something very sad about this.  The thought of a cave that once had visitors going through it daily...  with lighting and nice paved paths sitting empty and alone....  Well, like I said, its just a sad thought.

Luckily for Crystal Onyx cave, Scott and Sara Sendtko purchased the cave several years ago, and they have put a lot into reopening it.

When we stopped by recently, Sara gave us a tour.

It seemed that everyone there was a member of the family, and the place had a very casual, family feel to it.  Things are pretty informal.

Sara took us to a building with a locked door.  On the other side of the door was a stairway leading into the cave.  There is something so surreal about going inside of a building and then seeing stairs leading down into a cave.  You almost feel like you are in an old sci-fi or fantasy novel.

So we went into the cave which had a slightly more cramped feel than some caves, and I don't mean that in a negative way.  You are very literally right next to the formations.  At several points, a walkway was slightly separated by a stalagmite.  A solid cave rock seemed to have grown from beneath a bench and become a part of it.  The cave is very much all around you here.

Our small group asked Sara about her adventures as a VERY new cave owner. 

She talked very openly about her recent work on getting this cave back open again.  She said that it was owned by a cell phone company.  They contacted the company about purchasing it and eventually a deal was made.  She said that she and her husband had visited Crystal Onyx Cave before as tourists and they loved it, so they were particularly excited about getting it.

She also talked about all of their efforts in getting the cave fixed back up after a long dormant period.  Rewiring, fixing paths, and a lot of other work needed to be done. 

Most impressively, they totally redid the parking area.  If I understood correctly, the paved parking area previously right above the cave had stopped water from coming down into the cave naturally.  This stopped/stalled the growth of formations in the cave.  After correcting this, Sara said they have seen a lot of growth starting up again.

Seeing Crystal Onyx Cave is a unique experience.  It is a more intimate cave, and it is nice getting to interact with the family putting so much into it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Hidden River Cave & The American Karst Center in Horse Cave Kentucky

We have been through the city of Horse Cave many times.  I remember going there a couple of times with my drama class in high school to see plays at the theater!  Anybody else remember doing that?

But, I realized that I had never actually been to Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave.

We arrived early one morning and bought our tickets.  There is a VERY nice cave museum here that is included with your ticket.  I really like this, because you can check things out before your cave tour.  In fact, if you were going to spend several days in this area exploring caves, this might be a great starting point!

AND, the museum gives a lot of information about caves in Central Kentucky.  Floyd Collins and the cave wars (two historic stories that are just as much a part of the Kentucky cave legends as the caves themselves) are covered here.

Our tour guide Anthony talked some about sinkholes in the area...  and he discussed how garbage had been dumped in the holes and caves in the region.  Also, there is a stream in the cave....  and sewage leaked into it at one point.  The cave in Horse Cave was problematic, and unexplorable for some time.

It has had its good days too though.  Tennis courts were built beside it at one time.  With the sewage issue resolved now, the cave is open again for tourists!  Now, the museum, zip-lining, and nice downtown shops surround the cave.

Even though a small town has built up around the cave....  There is something very cool about seeing the cave entrance under the downtown buildings (see my top photo).  If I was unfamiliar with this place, I would see a photo like that and instantly add the place to my bucket list!

Our cave tour was relatively short and strenuous.  My legs were wobbly afterwards, as there is a good amount of stair climbing here.  They are building a bridge in the cave, Anthony showed us, so that tours can go a bit farther in.  I will have to go back once that is finished!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Endless Caverns: An Underground Journey into the Show Caves of Appalachia by Reichert Powell

Reichert Powell's "Endless Caverns:  An Underground Journey into the Shows Caves of Appalachia" was a very enjoyable book to read.  I have had an interest in show caves lately, and this was just a fun read about caves in a specific region.

I know when I have visited show caves, I really like the behind the scenes stories about what goes on at a cave.  I had an interesting conversation with a cave owner not long ago about the things that sell well (and that don't sell well) in their gift shop.  I really enjoyed reading Gary Roberson's "The Longest Year" about his establishing and setting up his Indiana show cave.  I also talked to a former cave manager recently about how they promote and advertise.

So, when I stumbled upon "Endless Caverns" I was pretty excited to check it out.

Powell basically talks about several show caves, mostly in and around Eastern Tennessee.  He gets into a lot of history of the caves.  I enjoyed reading about specific people who came along, often early on in the cave's "show" career.  Most caves have a person or two who really put everything they can into developing the cave.

The author talks a lot about how some caves are made into show caves, but maybe later on, they close up...  and kinda become wild caves again.  Some are literally buried or flooded to the point that they will likely never be accessible again.  Some find their way into a sort of limbo state.  They may sorta be open sometimes, or by special arrangement.

This book really made me want to go out and visit all of them,  Caves are simply cool anyway, but I am so fascinated by the roadside attraction aspect of showcaves.

Theres a lot more than simple show cave histories in the book though.  There is family drama, Johnny Cash, bats......  The book is a lot of fun.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bell's Tavern Ruins- Park City, KY

Here are a few pictures I took of the interesting ruins of Bell's Tavern in Park City!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mammoth Railway Cafe in Park City Kentucky

Inside of the Grand Victorian Inn is the Mammoth Railway CafĂ©.  Check out the photos...  we had a very nice dinner here the night we stayed.

Everything was perfect, and the prices were reasonable!