Monday, December 30, 2013

A Mammoth Day Trip

In case you were dying from anticipation after reading my TToT Year End Wrap Up post, and wanted to know more about our trip to Mammoth Cave, let me end the suspense for you right here and now.
This year for Christmas, each of the PBA received four gifts from us (plus small stuff in their stockings), and one gift from each other.
I went with a new concept I had heard about this fall; it was the idea of giving “something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.”
Clever and cutesy all at once, right? (Just like me, right?  I know you were thinking it…it’s ok, you can admit it.)
Now, I did deviate slightly from that, in that there was some overlap in the categories…my 12yo wanted the book he received, as well as the hat & gloves (he was quite prescriptive in what he wanted…nothing “generic” for him), and he needed the soccer cleats; the 10yo needed the lacrosse shorts, and he wanted the new Packers hat. In turn, they each had a surprise gift…something (I hoped) they wanted but didn’t know about yet.
But I digress…
In addition to their tangible gifts, we wanted to incorporate an “experience”…on a budget, of course.
That really didn't need to be said, did it? I didn't think so...
We began this “tradition” (can we call it a tradition when we’ve only done it twice?) last year when some dear friends took us to Chicago for a couple days after Christmas.
So this year, we decided that the four of us would go to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Mr. Always Random and I had visited there when we were children and wanted to experience it with our boys.
Plus we had studied caves in science this fall (can you say “field trip”…yes, the day totally counted as a school day).
And it was within driving distance.
Granted, it was a lot of driving (none of which I personally did, however I performed a bang-up job as a co-pilot, if I do say so myself…excepting for the nap I took on the way home), which meant we had the PBA as a captive audience.
It’s always nice when your children have to listen (or, dare I say it, engage in a conversation with you) because they can’t get away from you.
We have a healthy relationship with our kids.
Now, no worries…I promise not to do a whole play-by-play of the day, but will hit only the high points (as I see them…if you disagree, you can feel free to keep such comments to yourself…and how would you know anyway, as I don’t recall inviting you on the trip; you may be thankful for that when you finish reading my post.):
The day before we went, we made our reservations online. The website said the tour we wanted to take only had one ticket available, which clearly was not going to work for us. So we went with our second choice, which the website said there were only 5 tickets available; we jumped on it.
We were shocked that the tours were THAT full, but then again the caves maintain a consistent temperature of approximately 55 degrees year-round, so the outside weather wouldn’t be too much of a deterrent.
However, the next day, when we arrived at the Visitor’s Center, about an hour and a half before our tour (not intentionally, mind you) and checked in, we discovered that there were 57 tickets left for the tour we had originally wanted to take.
BUT they would not just switch us, even though there was ample room. We had to go online, cancel the reservations, and allow the website to keep $3/ticket of the price. And then buy new tickets for the different tour.
As you can imagine, we did not make the change (I’m cheap, remember?), and instead spent that hour and a half in the visitor’s center, looking at the displays, watching a short film, visiting the gift shop, and “touring” the hotel which smelled strongly of the 1950’s.
As it should because everything about it screamed 1950’s.
It was glorious.

In the gift shop, the 12yo became entranced with a book entitled “How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere” by Bradford Angier.

(It’s a gripping title, no?)

So much so that I had to tell him not once but TWICE to get up off the floor, where he’d parked his behind as he read the book page-by-page.

I am secretly glad that a) he was WANTING to read it and b) it was educational.

Gift idea for his birthday? Think he’ll still want it in six months? 

I’m going to hedge my bets. I found it online for half the price at the bookstore.

I love me some

I took this lovely picture (ok, it's really not fabulous but it captures the essence of my boys) while we were waiting at the visitor’s center. It’s not often that they are all three together and no one is on a device of some sort, so I jumped at my chance.

We saw a bunch of deer (at least a dozen…but no worries, I did not photograph them all and you don’t have to look at a bunch of pictures of a bunch of deer).
One thing my 12yo noticed was that they were all females...which prompted him to begin singing:

And now back to our regularly-scheduled post. I will only show you one picture. Taken from the window of the car. There were no deer in the cave, lest you be confused.

In case you didn’t know, let me be the first to tell you that you may not bring firearms into the National Parks.

Which makes sense, although I do have some concerns about this:

Can’t someone cause harm with a needle? And how many needles are being used in the park restrooms which would necessitate a whole box? In every restroom?
I understand the whole diabetes issue and needing to inject insulin, thereby having a needle of which to dispose…but really? Has it come to epidemic proportions and I am unaware of it?
And now just a few shots from inside the cave.
First our family selfie:

In case you are confused in any way...this is black because it is dark inside a cave...get it? Funny, huh?
Sorry, that makes me laugh every.single.time.
Now for a few real photos (with artificial lighting, of course):

Cool, right? I knew you'd agree.
And perhaps the BEST part of the trip for me, as both a mom and homeschooler: my 12yo confessed that he PREFERRED homeschooling to public school. And listed the reasons…without prompting, no less.
But did say that he wished there were more kids to hang out with. Close enough to perfect…I’ll take it!
Thanks for taking this trip with me! Have a fabulous day!


  1. OH my word, that photo of you in the cave made me laugh way out loud! You clever thing, you.I was all, "oh, her picture isn't working" and then you hit me with the punch line. Hilarious.
    So, did you find it to be a very different experience as an adult than as a child? It's so much more built up and commercialized, from what I remember.
    We do love a cave tour, regardless, though.

    1. Yes, the PBA actually brought up the idea of the family photo in the cave...they are a clever pair. :) was different but still nice. Actually Cave City is a ghost town...I was surprised by that.

      I would recommend it. And yes, we love a cave tour...come on, who wouldn't?!? ;)