Kurt woke me up about 6:00 AM because some damn noisy deer had awakened him. He pointed out to me a doe having breakfast right outside the tent window - only about 15-20 feet away from us. She was wagging her tail incessantly in a warning fashion. It wasn't but just a few moments before a second deer arrived on the scene. The two kept us up for the next half-hour clomping around in the underbrush. They were really neat to watch though.
We both got up around 9:15 AM, broke
camp and hiked back to the Jeep. Free camping again - we saved $13.00
and miraculously didn't get in trouble. Thanks National Park System! The
first thing on the agenda for the day was obtaining gas. Afterwards, we
found the visitor's center (right next to the gas station). We discovered
we weren't the only ones at Mammoth Cave this weekend. We also discovered
that we needed to obtain tickets for a guided tour in order to see any
of the caves. Trouble was all the tours were nearly booked for the day
at it wasn't even 10:00 AM yet. After viewing what tours were still available
for the day, got in line to purchase tickets for the Discovery tour (a
simple easy tour). Kurt ran back to the Jeep to retrieve more money from
the Jeep since there was a ticket fee. I stayed in line for the tickets.
When I finally was called to an open desk, the Ranger told me two tickets
had just been returned and were available for the Historic Tour. Luckily,
this tour started in 45 minutes. The Ranger explained that it was one
of the two most popular tours of the caves. Kurt finally made it back
with our money and we were able to obtain the tickets. We quickly changed
shoes and got an extra shirt out of the Jeep. As we were waiting for the
tour to begin, we browsed the park brochure; in it we discovered that
the second camp ground we hunted for the previous night was indeed closed
and that camping in backwoods is by permit only - oops.
Our guide also informed us about the history of the caves; artifacts have been uncovered indicating man was using the caves as long as 4000 years ago. Oddly the cave was not used from about 2000 years ago until the late 1700's. Overall, the cave tours was excellent - Kurt and I want to go back and try one of the more advanced tours. (Wild Cave - a 6 hour long tour requiring a helmet, lights, kneepads and full hiking boots.) After the tour we decided it was time for lunch and a swim (baths). We found a lake just north of the park called Nolin River Lake. We had a hard time finding a beach so we made our own at the picnic area. We ate our sandwich leftovers and took a swim (without waiting an hour of course). The water was a little green but very clear - you could almost see your feet.
We swam for a total of about 40 minutes
and we felt a lot cleaner than before the dip. We got back in the Jeep
and cruised on over to Henderson, KY. Here we found yet another Wal-mart.
Kurt needed a few more T-shirts and boxers. The natives still talked funny
even though we were only about 15 miles from Indiana.