August 27-31, 2016
This is a long one….Grab some caffeine and set aside 5 minutes out of your day (or just look at the pictures.) First things first, I have to apologize for the long delay between posting. I have been a bit behind and going through a transition period as of late. On July 7, 2016 I packed up my truck and Airstream and left St. Petersburg Florida with my friend Nick. Since then, we picked up Wes, and continued traveling to Washington. Nick and Wes left to head home and I picked up Kendall, who travelled with me for a week before flying back as well. I continued on from Washington to Michigan, across the upper part of the country. I had a great, albeit quick, stay in upper Michigan before getting back on the highway heading south.
So there I was, playing chicken with a horse and buggy, deep in Amish country. I was north of Indianapolis Indiana, trying to skirt some nasty traffic along the interstate. I had gotten off the highway hoping to save a few minutes. While I probably didn’t shave off any time, I did at least, enjoy the drive. All of the back country roads, filled with people going about their normal day. It was cool to see the horse and carriages and imagine how different life can be for different people. Before I knew it, I was back on the highway and heading south.
The 12th National Park on this road trip…Mammoth Cave. I had travelled to Kentucky so many times in my youth and don’t recall ever visiting this amazing cave system. So naturally, with several days to get to Florida, it was a must stop. I spent almost the whole day exploring the cave system. The caves are so amazingly vast and seemingly never-ending. Unlike other caves I have toured on this crazy journey of mine, I found Mammoth to be completely different. It was so open and cavernous. There was graffiti and traces of several hundred years of people interacting with the cave. It was very cool to explore and escape the humid Kentucky heat (one of the most popular uses of the cave for generations.) As I left the park I drove past a place that sparked memories in my mind. It was the Kentucky Action Park (the same place I had gone several times as a child.)
Talk about a place that hasn’t changed almost at all in 20 years…. wow. Kentucky Action Park was once famous for only one thing; the Alpine Slide (which I might add, has not received a face lift since I was 10 years old.) I bought tickets for the slide and the “newer” zip-line that was added years back since I had last visited. I didn’t expect to be blown away by either one but kept an open mind to it. First up was the Alpine Slide, which was still a blast after over two decades! Now I will admit not AS thrilling as I remember it being as a kid but it was still a lot of fun. I rode the ski lift style chair back to the top of the hill and got hooked up for a zip-line run. The zip-line didn’t seem it at first, but it is the longest and highest zip-line in Kentucky. As soon as I pushed off from the platform and tucked my legs for speed I realized how high up I was. It was an absolute blast and I would have gone back for more if the price wasn’t so steep. I grabbed a “Yoo-hoo” chocolate drink and a “moon-pie” before hitting the road again. Both things I distinctly remember hating from my childhood but, I was caught up in a nostalgic moment. Yeah, that was my mistake for getting carried away in that moment, as both of those things still taste horrible.
I pushed on from the Mammoth Cave area and drove south through some beautiful Kentucky back roads, staying off of the highway as much as possible. I pulled into Tompkinsville Kentucky, a small town I used to frequent as a child.
It amazed me how different and similar these places seemed at the same time. It had been 20 years since my last visit.
I remember eating at “Dovie’s” a small burger joint in town so I parked and walked to the diner. It was Sunday and therefore closed, but I still got to look in the window. To my absolute shock, I couldn’t find a single thing that had changed. Other than the “no smoking” sign and the year printed on the RC Cola Calendar, there was no discernible difference.
I can still smell the eye watering aroma of fresh onions being chopped up in the back room. The old timers bellied up to the bar top, finishing lunch with a couple of Zingers and a Yoo-hoo. The smell of the old wood, the sound of the greasy burgers sizzling on the grill top. It was a trip back in time and I was bummed I couldn’t walk in for lunch.
I pushed onward, across the Tennessee State line. I found a campground along side the Obey River at the Dale Hollow Dam Campground. The grounds were near empty as a big storm pushed into the area. The clouds began to billow and grow dark as I backed into a nice spot alongside the river. I almost had the place to myself and fired up an early dinner as the conditions outside my door became more ominous by the minute. With no service on my phone and the conditions outside rapidly deteriorating I was forced to sit back and watch as the storm rolled in. An event that would have been far more enjoyable had I not heard the park ranger driving around telling people there was a possible tornado sighting nearby.
Next up… Smokey Mountains and the rest of my journey south!