Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Across the U.S.: Day 43

by Kathy 1. September 2009 20:28

<< Day 42: New River Gorge, West Virginia  | Day 44: Twin Knobs Recreation Area to Rend Lake >>

New River Gorge to Twin Knobs Recreation Area, Kentucky


This morning I spent a couple of hours doing laundry and catching up on my traveling notes, while the children played in the lake and built a sandcastle.

Then we headed to Kentucky.

Our first stop was to be the Carter Caves State Park. Before our journey, Ben had done some research online and had discovered that “Pioneer Week” would be starting at the park today. The website described a variety of activities that we thought would be fun—tomahawk throwing, rifle demonstrations, primitive fire making, musical entertainment, and other historical programs.

Along the way, we could see the smokestacks and pipes from a factory poking out above the trees, with the American flag waving.

Welcome to Kentucky!

(After all this time taking photos on the road, you would think that I would have mastered the zoom feature and shutter speed of my camera—not so! However, at least I caught a portion of the “Welcome” sign, and it was in focus!)

Some nearby storage tanks.

We drove for less than an hour on a very smooth freeway, lined with dense trees and rolling hills, with an occasional deer by the side of the road.

Arriving at Carter Caves State Park:

At the Visitor’s Center, we discovered that the “Pioneer Week” activities were only offered at specific times.

We had missed the morning events. The afternoon activities included a talk on bats and white nose syndrome (which sounded interesting), a canoe trip (which we opted not to experience because we had spent many hours yesterday on a river) and a potato peeling contest (which was limited to persons who were at least 16 years old). We decided to listen to the bat talk, do some hiking, and get tickets for a cave tour.

The bat talk was short but informative. It was given by Marty, who was also our guide on the cave tour. He was raised nearby in Grayson, Kentucky.

We had never heard of the “white nose syndrome.” We were surprised to learn that it has killed an astounding 1.5 million bats in the eastern United States since 2006, when the disease was first identified in New York. One of the symptoms is a white nose, from fungus. No one knows for certain what causes the disease, but some scientists speculate that the bats’ immune system has been affected from years of eating bugs that have been subjected to pesticides.

Bats cluster when they sleep, with as many as 500 bats in a square foot, so the spread of disease is fast. Once the syndrome is introduced into a cave, there is a 95 to 100% mortality rate for the bats. The syndrome has spread south to West Virginia but has not yet entered Kentucky. Kentucky has banned many caving activities to prevent the spread of the disease by people who might crawl through numerous caves and transfer guano or bacteria from one cave to another.

After the lecture, we set out on a half-mile hike to the Natural Bridge. Marty had given us directions to get to a nearby “wild cave”, so Sebastian brought his flashlight.

The path wandered beside a small stream.

The bridge was quite spectacular (although the beauty wasn’t captured in this photo). It was wide and deep, and stretched high above the small stream.

Walking under the bridge was a bit freaky, as we could see a hole that looked as if it had been caused by a huge chunk of the “ceiling” falling. We could see a big mound of earth below, with a small tree.

We continued past the bridge to get to the "wild cave"—which is a cave that hasn’t been cleaned up and isn’t maintained for visitors. We used stepping stones to get across the stream.

The mouth of the wild cave was large, but there were gates across the entrance to keep people out.

On our way back, we passed two local boys who had climbed to a small cave with a makeshift ladder.

We then met Marty for a tour of the “X Cave.” The cave entrance was a short climb up a path. Here are Ben and Sebastian starting out:

Marty was an excellent guide, with a velvety voice that seemed destined for radio. Another family was with us—Judy and Kevin with their three children, from Irvin, Kentucky. The teenager daughter asked me wistfully, “What’s California like?” I immediately recognized the yearning in her voice, and connected with the dreamy look in her eyes—that was me as a child, longing to be “anywhere but here” in Virginia. (The call of California grew too loud for me to ignore when I was in college.)

Marty took us to the locked gate entrance. There used to be a wooden bridge spanning the creek below, leading to the natural cave entrance; however, the bridge had fallen, so a new entrance had been created by carving out what used to be a crawl-space entrance.

Ben locked the gate behind us.

The surrounding rock was Mississippi limestone. The cave formations were formed by water seeping through the limestone, picking up calcite in the rock, and then dripping downward.

We could see the water was dripping from this formation.

Every cubic inch of a formation represents 100 to 200 years of growth. One large formation that we saw is estimated to be 1.2 million years old.

We walked down to the lowest point in the cave, 95 feet, where there was an “X” formed by four intersecting tunnels—hence, the name “X cave.”

Marty spent a few minutes talking about the history of the caves. The Carter Caves have been known by European settlers since the early 1800’s, possibly the 1700’s. Native American artifacts and graves were found in some of the caves (specifically the Saltpeter Cave). The surrounding fields have an abundance of arrowheads; flint found in the limestone was used for arrowheads and traded among the Native Americans.

The Carter Caves were privately owned by the Lewis family in the 1920’s. Another family owned the Cascade Caves. The cave business had been very competitive between the families. Gates to the entrances had been installed in the 1930’s when economic times were tough and competing cave owners would sometimes hire people to vandalize or destroy the formations in other caves. The city of Carter purchased the two cave groups in the 1940’s and donated them to the state of Kentucky for a park that would attract people to the area.

Marty explained that certain portions of the cave were called “dead” because they were dry and therefore did not have any more cave formations growing.

Other “dead” caves in Kentucky have been mined for saltpeter, which is the explosive found in gun powder. The Carter Caves State Park has a cave called “Saltpeter Cave,” where mined saltpeter was used by the Kentucky Rifleman in the War of 1812.

Marty pointed out a “turkey” that was “so afraid of heights that it was petrified.” (Ha, ha!)

Some of the areas were very moist.

This formation looked like a cascade of jellyfish:

Here is a cave “thumb.”

We all fit through the “fat man’s squeeze.”

We stopped by the “pipe organ” that used to be played for visitors in the 1920’s to ‘50’s. The organ “pipes” are hollow and make a distinct tone when struck. However, the practice of playing was halted because pieces of the organ were breaking off.

Here is some “cave coral”:

We exited the cave out of the natural cave mouth, with was the entrance that was used before the bridge collapsed.

The viewpoint was 75 feet above the ground. We all peered over the edge.

Looking down:

The land formations lead geologists to believe that there probably was a waterfall here at one time, flowing out of the cave mouth.

We re-entered the cave through another entrance. 

The tunnel had “Headache Rock” hanging down from the ceiling, right next to “Migraine.” Ouch!

There were other critters in the cave with us:

Marty then turned off the artificial lights inside the cave so that we could experience total blackness. (Thankfully, no bugs dropped on our heads.)

After the tour, we continued on to our final destination tonight—Twin Knobs Recreation Area, next to Cave Run Lake in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

This old schoolhouse had been converted into a beautiful home.

There were many small, older homes . . .

. . . and an occasional larger new home.

This colorful, historic mural was painted by a group of Workforce Investment Act (“WIA”) Youth between 2002 and 2006.

WIA programs provide employment and training activities for economically disadvantaged people from ages 14 to 21.

The use of wagon wheels to create fences is not limited to the Southwest.

The closed-in porch of this home was different from the surrounding open porches.

We didn’t need to stop at this store (although the unusual combination of products made us laugh).

This low, long building was used to store tobacco.

I loved the weathered wood of this old building.

Yesterday I had started noticing the colorful painted quilt patterns that were hanging on various buildings in West Virginia. These quilt patterns were also hung on buildings in Kentucky, including this old shed.

The “This and That” Trading Post was for sale:

At the campground, Genevieve and Sebastian rode their bicycles for a while. Then they created this “fort”.

We roasted marshmallows after dinner.

Sebastian asked if he could hold the marshmallow bags. He pressed them against his body, saying, “I just like the way they feel.”

<< Day 42: New River Gorge, West Virginia  | Day 44: Twin Knobs Recreation Area to Rend Lake >>

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
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   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
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   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
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   Quebec City
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   Forbidden City
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Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
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   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
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   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
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   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
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   River Dance Lodge
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   Cañón del Pato
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South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
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United States National Parks
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   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
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   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
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   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
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   Anchorage, AK
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   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
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   Dalton Highway, AK
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   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
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   Hackberry General Store in AZ
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   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
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   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
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   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
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   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
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   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
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   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
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   Salt Lake City, UT
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   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

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Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin