Day 3: Apr. 24, 2004
Getting Beneath the Surface



Wow! A day without rain that let me get a few clear pictures. Yep, we are in wigwam #2. A play ground and picnic area are right in the center of the village. (When we returned, at the end of the day, there was a fire going and a group of young children were celebrating a birthday.) That's owner Ivan standing in the office/gift shop next to Chief Peace Pipe.

Ray and Karen met us at the village so we had to take a shot of the cars backed by teepees. A surprise benefit of this was that a badly worn left front tire caught Ray's attention as we posed. Not quite a panic trigger but riding it back to California was clearly out of the question. Ray was quite familiar with the wigwam village concept having stayed in Holbrook's Wigwam Village #6 just a few nights ago on his drive from California.

We had loose plans to visit Mammoth Cave but breakfast came first. So, based on some good advice from Ivan, we headed to the Old Dutch Mill Restaurant over on US 31E. The building with the tower has been home to owners Carmen & Lewis since a fire destroyed their house. It was built in the 1930s and operated as a road house. One that, according to Lewis, had a pretty rough reputation. That picture of Carmen & Larry relaxing was taken AFTER they hade prepared and served us a great breakfast.

Besides friendly service and good food, we were provided with local and some not so local phone books and Ray worked the cell phone looking for tires. Even though we are just a few miles from the Corvette factory, finding 17 inch F1s isn't easy. We left the restaurant without a solution but, during the drive to Mammoth Cave, Karen used the cell phone to locate a pair of the tires in Louisville.

While Karen was tire shopping, we drove the few miles to Mammoth Cave National Park. By dumb luck we arrived at just the right time to purchase tickets to a tour almost ready to depart and were on our way with virtually no waiting. Shannon would be our lead guide and is shown giving an introduction to the tour before we headed down the first set of steps. This is the Historic Tour and is just one of a number of different tours available. Part of the history that gives it its name is the saltpeter "mining" that took place here in the early 1800s. Saltpeter is a major ingredient of gun powder and the mining operation peaked with the war of 1812.  Leech beds and other artifacts remain in the cave. The pictures show a box used to hand carry dirt to the leech beds and a joint in the pipes used to carry water to and from the leech beds. The pipes were long logs with a hole drilled through their length and the tapered end of one wedged into the opening of the next.

The tour actually involved two guides and Rick was the one who kept stragglers from becoming lost and answered many questions for us folks at the rear. He grew a ponytail after retiring from the military and intended to never shave, never again wear a uniform, and keep wearing the pony tail. The uniform came with the job and the ponytail was sacrificed for personal comfort in the summer heat. He's still doing pretty good on that shaving thing. The last picture is the view as we come back to the surface after being about 350 feet below it.

These are just some miscellaneous pictures taken along our drive back to the wigwams. The only one I can even name is Joe's Diner and it didn't appear to be operating. The area contains plenty of the restaurants, motels, and businesses you would expect near a national park which is a vacation destination for lots of families each year.

The evening's plans included a banquet at the Sloan Convention Center. We had plenty of time and as we drove through Park City, turned aside where a sign directed us to Historic Bell's Tavern. Of course part of the reason was to see if it still served historic cold beverages but we did not hold out hope very long. US 31 through here is also known as the Dixie Highway and sometimes the Old Dixie Highway. The road that passes by Historic Bell's Tavern is the Really Old Dixie Highway. The pictures may not convey this well but the early 19th century tavern seems a huge building for its time. At least two floors and something like a half dozen rooms - maybe more.

We spent a little time in Ruby Tuesdays and made it to the banquet at just about the right time. The meal was quite good and the banquet was well attended but the photographer for this site was pretty useless at the event. Not one picture of the happy people eating, drinking, chatting and bidding on unique Corvette memorabilia. If he didn't have an in with the owner, he'd risk being replaced.

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