Day 4 was our day to come home. It was a rainy, foggy, dreary day. The kind I really hate driving in. I was very tempted to stay an extra day and just chill in the hotel room with Tippy, but I had to get back home.
Yucky driving weather.
I still don’t like the room moving, but I know it’s not going to hurt me.
Tippy was still a little unsure of the elevator, but was doing much better by the end of the trip. I think she knew it was necessary to get from the room to the outside, and back again.
Because of the rain, I decided to come home via the Cumberland Parkway and US 25E, thus bypassing the interstates. The traffic was light and the weather cleared up about 2 hours into the trip. One of the downfalls of not being on the interstate, is that there are no rest areas. Half-way home, we pulled into a Taco Bell for a break. I always feel the need to buy something when I stop at a fast food restaurant for a potty break, but I was a rebel this day and did not!
Of course, we had to stop at Veterans Overlook near Bean Station. It’s just too pretty of a view to bypass. We had a nice conversation with an English lady who was there with her son and daughter-in-law. They are the ones who took the picture of me and Tippy.
I know everyone is here to see me, not the view.
The Veterans Memorial.
Tippy and I at Veterans Overlook.
The monument and flowers at the base of the flag pole are a new addition from when I was last there. It says, “This monument is to honor all veterans, past and future, for service to the United States of America.” Some people have placed items with the names of their loved ones there. It is very touching.
I was able to capture this picture of Tippy in the back seat of the car. I think the caption pretty much expresses how she was feeling at this point in the trip.
After we got home, we took a walk back in the fields. Then, she got to relax while I unpacked the car and packed it up again with items needed for a Relay For Life fundraiser the next day…..a Jaguar Concours. I think we both loved our trip, but, as always, it’s nice to be back home.
Mom, I loved the trip, but it is good to be home.
Now, this is a proper drink of water.
Everything seems to be just like we left it.
Awwww. It’s great to be back on my couch.
I do want to give the TownePlace Suites of Bowling Green a thumbs up as a great place to stay with your dog/pet. All of the staff was very friendly and they thought it was great when Tippy would put her paws up on the counter to see them. She got lots of lovin’ from them too. The rooms were very clean and spacious, and the beds were extremely comfortable. They also had a “free” breakfast, which was decent. In addition to the cold items, they also had fried eggs and sausage. However, they do have a fairly steep, non-refundable, one time pet fee of $100. L. and I think it could be because this is an extended-stay establishment, so, maybe they feel the longer someone is there with their pet, the more likely it is that something will happen. We were able to negotiate a slightly lower fee. I would recommend staying there if you are in the Bowling Green area. (I did not receive any compensation for this truthful review.)
Day 3 was Tippy’s day, even though it started out on a somewhat of a sour note.
Our room was at the end of a very long hallway. (Pssst! Don’t tell anyone, but L. and I would get on opposite ends and call Tippy back and forth, so she could get some off leash exercise. She loved it, but I’m not sure what the other guests thought about the herd of horses they heard galloping up on the 4th floor.) When I took Tippy out, if no one was in the area, I would let her leash go and she’d head for the elevator. On this morning, the maid was already making her rounds, about half way down the hallway. I didn’t think anything about it, as she was in a room and only the cart was outside. I forgot that Tippy barks at things that are “out of place,” which is what she perceived the cart to be. She let out one of her “I’m going to get you” growls and then barked/howled, just as the maid stepped out of the room. She jumped back as I ran to retrieve Tippy. I assured the maid it was the cart that she was growling and barking at, but I’m not sure she was convinced. I saw this same maid the next morning and apologized again. She was very nice and said that it had just startled her…one minute it was very quite and the next…….
After all of the normal morning things were done, Tippy and I set out for a day of hiking on some of the trails in the Mammoth Cave National Park. We met L. at her office, and all three of us set out for our morning hike.
We started out at the picnic area, see below, went along Bluffs Trail, followed the Green River trail down to the river, over to the River Styx, back up to the Historic Entrance, on up to Dixon Cave, and back to the picnic area. It wasn’t a particularly long hike, but, with the hills, rocky trails, and stops along the way, it took us about 2 hours.
I made the mistake of using Tippy’s short leash for this walk, so, she keep pulling me to get to all of the interesting things she wanted to explore. I eventually released the leash and let her go on ahead. She didn’t stray far from us and never got off of the trail.
Something different has been here!
The beautiful Green River.
Chillin’ at the Green River overlook.
She enjoyed all of the new smells. Our first stop was the overlook for the Green River, which helped carve out the Mammoth Cave system.
Exploring the trail ahead of us
Me and Tippy at the River Styx.
River Styx spring.
Taking a break by the River Styx.
The next overlook was for the River Styx Spring, which is still working, along with the Green River, to carve out the caves. It emerges here for a short distance before disappearing underground again. The water was really clear and beautiful. I wish we could have gotten closer, but I guess they keep people away for a reason.
From there, we hiked back up the mountain to the Historic Entrance, which is closed for repairs. Some of the workers were taking a break, so we stopped to talk to them for a few minutes. I failed to take any pictures.
Wow! That was a steep hill!
Mom, there’s a cave down there. Can we go explore?
We hiked on up to Dixon Cave. That was a very steep portion of the trail, so we took our time and found excuses to stop and rest – like taking a picture of Tippy. Dixon Cave is a protected habitat for the endangered Indiana Bat. People are not allowed in this area of the cave system. All of the bats in the area are in danger from a fungal infection called White Nose Syndrome. In an effort to help prevent the spread of the disease to other cave systems, everyone who visits the caves are required to walk through a turf mat treated with fungicide after every cave tour.
We went back to L.’s office, an old farm house converted into an office building, for a lunch of leftovers from dinner the night before. We had a lovely rest on the screened in back porch.
L. had to work in the afternoon, so Tippy and I set out on our own for a hike recommended by one of the staff. After a 15 minute drive, we arrived at the trailhead for Cedar Sink.
This is, as the information states, a Karst Window, a sinkhole where a subterranean river emerges and then disappears again underground. I was excited to see this process in action, but, wound up a little disappointed. It had been so dry in the area for the past couple of months, that there was no water flowing. Still, it was a nice hike.
This time, I remembered to use Tippy’s long line. It was so much better – no pulling at all.
The trails here had recently been updated and were covered with a packed down, finely ground up, rock layer. It almost felt like a walk on the beach. The path down into the sink was not a path, but several flights of stairs. Tippy was not so sure about the open grate design. I let her step up and off as much as she wanted. It only took three tries before she got on with all four feet. I did have to coax her down the first flight, but, after that, she was fine with it.
Mom, are you sure this is safe?!
I think I can do this.
On the way down, we stopped to take a short side trip on a rock ledge with a giant rock overhang. I have been in similar situations before and always feel like the overhang is going to fall on my head. So, we didn’t stay there very long.
Once we got to the bottom, you could see at least 3 places where the would be river flowed underground.
Mom, I hear something.
Another area where the water “sinks” into the ground.
Area where the water goes underground
The trip back up out of the sink was another set of stairs. Fortunately, these were not of the grate construction and Tippy ran right up. We took lots of breaks on the landings, as I do NOT do well with stairs. The second picture below is of the same area as the last picture above, but taken from the top of the stairs.
That’s a lot of stairs
From the top of the stairs as we left.
We passed a couple of people on the way back to the car, but, for the most part, we were alone on this trail. It was beautiful. I just wish water had been flowing.
There were wild turkeys in the lawn of L.’s office when we pulled back in. Tippy really wanted to get to them.
It was a very nice day, and we were tired, so sat outside to wait on L. to finish her work. We then drove around the park, stopping by the Green River. On the way back, we spotted a huge deer in the field beside of L.’s office. By this time, Tippy was ready to get back to the hotel, so she ignored it.
Waiting on Aunt L. to finish up work.
Sitting on the banks the Green River.
Me and Tippy at the banks of the Green River
Large deer near Aunt L.’s office.
Day 3 was adventure filled, and I was proud of how Tippy handled all of the new things she experienced.
Interesting things for day 2 started shortly after we went to bed. I heard Tippy go into her Aunt L.’s room. A few minutes later she came into my room and put her paws up on the bed. She is NOT allowed on the bed at home, but, assuming that L. had let her on her bed, I went ahead and told her she could hop up. She slept there a few hours and then got down and went back to the couch for the rest of the night. In the morning, I found out that L. had not let her on her bed. Tippy knew how to play me. LOL
After we got up, I took Tippy out for her morning constitution. She was better with the elevator, but still a little unsure. She definitely enjoyed all of the new smells. There were several other dogs in the hotel and we saw some in the apartment complex next door too. So, plenty of reasons to leave a little “pee mail.”
Aunt L. and I decided to leave Tippy out of her crate while we went down for the free breakfast, just to see how she would do. We heard her whining as we walked down the hallway, but I don’t think it lasted very long. By the time we got back, she was sleeping on the couch and seemed really relaxed. Because she did so well, I left her out of the crate when we left for the day. I did leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so the maid wouldn’t come in.
You know the old saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men…..” Well, that applied to us this day. L. had to go to work and I had planned to take the 10:00 a.m. Domes and Dripstones tour, go back to the hotel to take care of Tippy, and then go back for the Onyx cave tour at 2:30. L. had told me that it took 30 minutes to get to the park from the hotel, so I took a shower, got ready, took Tippy out again, and left at 9:30. When I entered Mammoth Cave Visitors Center into Google Maps, Mary Ann (that’s what I call the voice that gives me the directions – from Gilligan’s Island) told me that I would reach my destination in 40 minutes! Humm. That’s not good.
I drove like a bat out of hades to try to make it. But, alas, I was late. I met L. at her office and she arranged for me to take the next Domes and Dripstones tour, at 11:00. Since they were an hour apart, we assumed the tour would last an hour and I’d still have time to go back to take care of Tippy. Well, you know what assuming does? Once I had the ticket, we found out that the tour was actually 2 hours long. With the drive being 45 minutes, that would mean that I would not have time between tours to go back to the hotel. I decided that Tippy would be okay, especially since I was able to leave her out of her crate, so went ahead and took the tour.
Before we got on the bus to ride to the entrance, the guides warned us that if we were claustrophobic we might want to consider a different tour. I am slightly claustrophobic, but decided to go ahead. How bad could it be? She told us that those who were nervous about it might do better either toward the front or the back of the line. I opted for the rear. The area that was iffy was at the beginning of the tour. I didn’t get any pictures of that, as I was concentrating on going down the stairs and being calm. There were some really narrow passageways, where the walls were within inches of your head on both sides. Fortunately, they were all a fairly short distance before it opened up again, so I just waited until the people in front of me were through and then went. That way, I didn’t have to stop in the closed in space and I did fine.
We were allowed to take pictures inside the cave, but were not allowed to use the flash. Since I only had my cell phone, my pictures aren’t the greatest, so forgive me for the quality.
Here is the entrance for this tour. It had been excavated/blasted out by the owners of the land before it became a National Park. In order to try to help mitigate the impact on the cave system from having outside air enter from a non-natural opening, this was an air-lock of sorts. Only a few people could go in at a time. Once they were in, the outside door was shut and then they were allowed to open an inside door and enter the cave.
There was only one chamber that contained a lot of the normal stalactites and stalagmites. This is because the Mammoth Cave system was formed by an underground river and a layer of sandstone covers the area. That layer keeps water from seeping into, and dissolving, the limestone which is what forms those structures.
Area full of stalagmites and formations.
Frozen Niagra Falls.
Trying to show the vastness of the cave.
I took the bottom, right picture after we had stopped for a lecture. I was trying to show how large the chamber was. When I turned around to join the rest of the group, I accidentally starting walking on the wrong side of the hand rail, so was on a forbidden part of the cave! Yikes! I figured out what I had done about the time the tour guide told me I needed to get on the other side. He was really nice about it, thank goodness.
There are actually several animals that live in the caves, besides bats. The only ones we saw were a couple of spiders and these cave crickets that were near the exit of the cave, which was a revolving door.
I ate a snack and charged my phone battery while I waited for the second tour.
It turns out that the Great Onyx cave is NOT a part of the Mammoth Cave system. They believe it is completely separate, having not yet found a passageway that connects to it. Exploration of this and the Mammoth Cave system is still ongoing today.
I didn’t realize that the name of the tour was literal until we arrived at the cave entrance and one of the guides started getting the Coleman lanterns out of the cabinet and lighting them for us to carry. Every 4th person had to carry a lantern to light our way. There are no artificial lights in this cave.
Getting the lanterns ready.
It was very cool and very unexpected. It did create a wonderful ambiance.
We learned that, prior to becoming part of the national park, both this and Mammoth Cave were privately owned and competed for tourists. Tourists were given souvenirs from Mammoth Cave, like pieces of the formations, and they were allowed to write on the cave walls. However, the owners of Onyx Cave understood the treasure they had, and did not allow anyone to touch the walls or any of the formations. Because of this, Onyx Cave is very pristine, appearing much as it did in the 1800’s.
Laterns lighting the way.
This one looks like a chocolate fountain.
Stalagtites, stalagmites, and columns.
Our tour guide, Joel.
Ms. Lucy thought this looked like the Nativity Scene.
Ms. Lucy, the owners wife, was in charge of tourism in their cave. She named the formation in the bottom right picture “The Nativity.” I didn’t really see it. Do you?
There were some awesome gypsum formations. The guide shined a flashlight on them so we could see them better, but it made it hard to get a good picture.
Gypsm crystals looking like shag carpet.
Gypsym floral formations.
Ms. Lucy’s orchod.
The formation in the first picture looked like feathers hanging from the ceiling, or, as some of the tourists said, it looked like shag carpet. The bottom right one is called Ms. Lucy’s Orchid. It was beautiful. The bottom left is something called heleitites. They are a distorted form of stalactite – looking somewhat like a swirl of spaghetti or a twig. Scientists have no definitive explanation as to why they form.
The speed of dripping water, that has dissolved some of the limestone layer, determines how fast the stalactites and stalagmites form. As seen below, when the speed drastically speeds up for some reason, it can drill holes in stalagmites that had already started forming.
Of the two tours I took, I enjoyed this one the best. There were many more interesting structures to see. I wouldn’t mind going back to the park so I could take some of the other tours that are available.
It was around 4:30 p.m. when we got back to the visitor’s center. I really was concerned about Tippy. How had she gotten along? Had she whined all day? Did she bark at noises outside of the door? Had she “done her business” in the floor?
I hurried back to the hotel. All of my worries were in vain. She was sleeping on the couch and nothing in the room had been disturbed. She was, however, ready to go outside for a potty break and a nice long walk.
The second day came to a close with lots of lovin’ on Tippy. Her Aunt L. has her spoiled.
If you have been following my blog, or have read my “about” page, you know that one of the things I want to do is travel with Tippy and let you know about the dog friendly places that I find along the way. Well, last week, we finally got to go on our first real adventure. A park ranger friend of mine was temporarily stationed at Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, Kentucky. She invited Tippy and I to come visit while she was there, and we took her up on her offer.
Tippy knew something special was up when I was packing the car, including her bedding and crate. She was so excited when we set out for our longest road trip yet.
At about half way through the drive, we stopped at a Rest Area for a pit stop. There were lots of great smells where other dogs had been and, interestingly enough, we saw someone sunbathing. It was a very nice day, but I think I would have been afraid to fall asleep at a place like that, out in the open. I guess she felt there were enough people around that she would be safe. I hope she was.
So many new smells!
Sunning at the rest area.
After about 5 hours, Tippy’s excitement had worn off and she decided to stretch out for a nap.
When we arrived in Bowling Green, my friend, who calls herself Tippy’s Aunt L., was still at work. This was probably a good thing, because Tippy and I walked around outside of the hotel for about 30 minutes before she arrived. That got rid of some of Tippy’s stored up energy and she was able to get used to some of the smells before heading into her very first hotel, the TownePlace Suites, by Marriott. (For your information, here is a website that lists all of Marriott’s pet friendly hotels by state/country.)
All of the staff was very friendly and Tippy loved the attention. She got a small bag of treats from the hotel, as a welcome gift.
Aunt L. has had several temporary assignments this year, so, was able to get a free upgrade to a 2 bedroom suite. It was very, very nice. However, it was on the 4th floor, so that meant a ride in the elevator, a new experience for Tippy. She was a little scared at first, partly because it was a small room that moved and, I think, partly because the floor was slick and hard for her to stand on. But, she did great!
Mom, Do you realize this room is moving!?
Ok. I’m ready to get out now, please.
Aunt L. stayed with her while I went out to get our luggage. She said Tippy whined the entire time I was gone. 😦 But, she quickly got used to being in the hotel room with us. She even enjoyed the view from the 4th floor.
Relaxing with my mom.
Wow! Everything looks so little.
To be on the safe side, we left her in her crate while we went out for dinner. She was fine when we got back and enjoyed her first evening in a hotel.