Custer State Park in South Dakota

Custer State Park in South Dakota
We saw a LOT of these guys at Custer State Park in South Dakota!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Mammoth Cave Post Office in Mammoth Cave National Park

I stopped by the post office at Mammoth Cave to get a couple of postmarks for my collection!

I encountered another cool post office employee here (MOST POs are ran by cool people who love local history) in Felecia Janes!

Felicia showed me several cool items from her collection relating to Kentucky and Mammoth Cave!  She told me some cool stories about legends who have stopped by the cave, including Elton John!

She also knew a lot about the only President to visit the cave, Ronald Reagan!  In fact, she had a VERY COOL personal story relating to Reagan and his visit!  You should stop by and ask her to tell it to you!

I TOTALLY missed out on getting something postmarked inside of the cave in 2016 (I'm gonna have to keep an eye on ebay for that one).  Anyway, stop by the post office next time you are in the area and get an actual Mammoth Cave postmark on your postcards!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Green River Grill- Mammoth Cave National Park

We had a nice meal at the Green River Grill in the Mammoth Cave National Park.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Gothic Tour at Mammoth Cave

I know I have said it before....  but I simply can't get enough of Mammoth Cave.  We try to get there at least a few times a year, and I really look forward to every trip.  I really get excited about our trips there.

I think a lot of people even in Kentucky don't understand how epic the place is.  It is simply a spectacular place, but it is also a world class treasure that is absolutely on the same scale as anything else in the world.  It is the world's longest cave (our guide on this day made the argument that it is the longest in the universe....  then he challenged those on the tour to prove he was wrong).

BUT, for such a well known legendary location, it is freakishly easy to visit.  Even on a busy crowded day, the park is easy to deal with.  Its located in rural Kentucky.  the drive there and around the area is pleasant and relaxing.  They limit numbers on tours to keep things manageable.  There are rangers all over the place to answer your questions.

We made a trip there towards the end of winter to meet our niece who lives in Bowling Green for a nice day at Mammoth Cave National Park.  Its only a couple of hours from where we live, and its easy to do in a day trip.

We have noticed that there are certain areas right by the visitor center where deer must hang out all the time.  There are two spots in particular.where I see them every time.

I remember going to the park with my buddy Brent in high school back in the 90s.  it was a snow day...  and we weren't too bright, so we drove to Mammoth Cave.  The whole state was under a white blanket of snow, but the park was still open.  I remember me and Brent being in the visitor center with a couple of rangers and no one else.  We felt like we had the whole park to ourselves!

The crowd at Mammoth Cave on this day wasn't quit that small, but it was still nice and uncrowded.

I THINK I have pretty much been through most of the publicly accessible parts of the cave, but I noticed that I didn't have a "Gothic Avenue" ticket stub in my collection, so we went on that tour.

We had a great, informative, and witty tour guide who obviously loved his job.  He took us through the cave and talked a lot about the history of the cave.  This tour doesn't focus so much on formations, but it really gets into the history.  He pointed out a number of names written on the ceiling (which is totally illegal to do now...  but if you did it back in the 17 and 1800s then your name is a historic part of the cave).  One guy wrote his name in the cave a lot, including a very notable spot where he left a letter out.  The names could be written using torches.

Another spot of interest involved Edwin Booth, brother of presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth.  In an effort to show the world that the other Booths were OK, he toured around making theatrical appearances.  He did some performing in the cave.

We were also told about the bridal alter in Mammoth Cave, where marriages were held at one time.

Our tour involved a nice walk of a couple of miles, and lasted a couple of hours.  It was a pretty easy walk, and just a nice tour to take on a Saturday morning.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"The Kentucky Cave Wars" by David Randolph Kem

I have really been in the mood to read up on caves lately.  You know I love visiting all of the caves and other sites in the Kentucky Cave area too.  There is a lot of history.

I finally got around to reading David Randolph Kem's book, "The Kentucky Cave Wars:  The Century That Shaped Mammoth Cave National Park" which is a nice intro to the history of the area.

Most of the names you would expect to read about are here (Bransford, Collins, etc.).  The author gives a very nice bit of history on all of the caves, discoveries, cavers, etc., leading up to Mammoth Cave becoming a National Park.

If you are casually interested in all of the history of Mammoth Cave and the nearby cave's histories, this might be a pretty complete book for you.  This would also be a great starting point for someone just developing an interest in the area.

There is so much more to Mammoth Cave, the Cave Wars, and the development of all of the great show caves though.  I bet most people will want to read more about Kentucky caves after reading "The Kentucky Cave Wars."

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Snowy Campbellsville KY

I'm sorting out some pics from the winter....  We drove through Campbellsville early one February morning and I took a few random pictures.  I think Campbellsville is an attractive little town.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett

I got a copy of "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center (they had a cool selection of books available that you could take simply for a donation!).  This one is a classic though...  and its one of those books I think most people have heard of, but they have never read.

I really knew nothing about the book, so I thought it would be fun to read without looking up any previous descriptions or even looking it up on wikipedia.  I wanted to read it with no expectations.

First off, the story came out in 1929!  I would have guessed the 1950s, maybe even the 60s.

The main character is Sam Spade, who I did recognize from various parodies and similar characters (Dixon Hill from Star Trek).  Oh, and Sam Spade is a PLAYER!

The actual Maltese Falcon really never shows up in the book.  It's obviously significant to the book....  It's talked about and remembered, but it is just never there.  A fake shows up, but not the real thing.

The characters came off as VERY unbelievable to me.  They are too fantastic, and almost seem LIKE stereotypes (maybe because this book created those stereotypes....  The cocky, smart, macho detective and the Barbieish love interest/deceptive antagonist).  The characters don't act how I think real people would act, BUT they do act in a way that makes the story interesting.

AND I thought it was an interesting, fun book to read.  I'm glad I got around to reading another classic!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Berea's First Century 1855-1955 by Elisabeth S. Peck

I picked up this great book for a few bucks at a local shop.  I thought the great cover alone was worth the price. 

"Berea's First Century 1855-1955" by Elisabeth S. Peck was a pleasant book to read while hanging out on campus again.  It does give a VERY detailed description of John G. Fee's early days in the area.  It tells about his and others struggles VERY early on as they set the school up.

I knew a lot of the story, which most students and alumni know....  but this book really completed the story in my mind.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Berea Coffee and Tea

During the 90s, it was very hard and rare to leave campus for the weekend.  I had a pretty tight group of friends, and we would all hang out at Berea Coffee and Tea on Friday nights.

We would usually get together at food service, and then we would make our way over to this nice little coffee shop.  We would always have at least a group of 5 or 6, but sometimes, we would have around 20 people hanging out there.  It was a lot of fun.

I still stop by when I am in town.  The place has been updated but it still has a cool, college vibe.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Dinner at Boone Tavern in Berea Kentucky

While staying at Boone Tavern we did enjoy dinner there one evening.  Of course we had some great spoonbread.  We had a nice seat by a window as the sun went down.

I saw burgoo on the menu so I had to order some.  It was very meaty and not as sweet as the stuff I grew up on.  In my opinion, you can only get real burgoo in the Owensboro area.  Still, this was tasty.

I had salmon and my wife had steak.  We both loved our meals.  Our meats were placed on top of green beans and potatoes.  As we would expect, this was a really special meal.

We shared a pumpkin cheesecake with an espresso bean crust that was a very nice way to end our meal.  The dessert seemed a little out of season but we were super excited to see it on the menu.

The kids working there now wear nice black uniforms that are very different from what we wore when we were students working at the Tavern.  For the boys, a white shirt, white jacket, black pants and black bow tie were standard.  The girls wore burgundy dresses.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Breakfast at Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Before we left Boone Tavern on this stay, we enjoyed breakfast in the restaurant!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Boone Tavern Hotel in Berea Kentucky

We are getting to where about once a year, we spend a nice weekend hanging out at Boone Tavern.

I know I have talked about this some here before, but I worked there briefly while attending Berea College in the 90s.  I literally met my future wife here so it is a very special place to us.

My wife spent her entire college career working at the Tavern, and loved it.  She was a student manager, and she would launch that into a very successful career in the hotel industry that she still enjoys today.

Back in the 90s, getting a job at Boone Tavern was a little chaotic.  You had to work hard there.  I remember many weekends working dinner on Friday, then two meals Saturday and Sunday.  You felt like you barely had time to study or eat.  Looking back on it, it was actually an honor to work at such a cool, historic place.

AND, when we go back now, I think about my time working there, and it really makes me happy.

It is one of the more historic hotels in Kentucky.  Students still do a lot of the work there.

As I think about it, it might be the most historic hotel in the state.... though a few arguments might be made by some Louisville hotels.

They have done a lot of upgrades to the place, and inside, it feels much more modern than some other older hotels.  If you were there in the 90s, I am sure you remember the elevator with the very old gate covering it.  It really felt like an OLD elevator from forever ago.  It is updated now.

Our stay this time was very nice.  We had a room on the corner.  Looking out one window we could see the church and the Alumni building- out another window we could see other parts of campus.

Here are some photos of our room, and around the rest of the place.