Well let me tell you, the National Weather Service had alerts going all morning about tornadoes, thunder and lightning, flooding, heavy rainfall. We had massive rain while driving on the freeway. The clouds were hanging almost at ground level. Between the rain and the semi-truck spray, it was hard to see. We were hydroplaning from the standing water on the roadway. Speed limit: 70.
We stopped at a rest area to calm ourselves down and to ... wait for it ... rest. A few miles farther north, we turned off the interstate and took back roads to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Much more scenic and relaxing than the freeway.
Because it had been raining so heavily, the falls were not their customary 60' high. The river was flowing so heavily that the falls looked 20' high. The water was blasting over the falls and when it hit the frothing water at the bottom, bounced back up almost as high as the waterfall itself.
The viewing area was closed as the water was starting to go over it. We walked the trail a little beyond the viewing platform and were able to lean over a railing to see the bottom of the falls. Muddy, churning current with large waves is the best way I can describe the base of the falls. As we walked back to our car, sharing a small umbrella, we saw the handicapped paved path, which we assumed normally went down to a peaceful riverbank, disappear into the river which had risen over its banks.
From Cumberland Falls, we headed west and north with a quick stop at the Parkers Lake Post Office to buy stamps and mail stuff. Bob went in to buy the stamps because I didn't want to get out in the downpour. As I'm relaxing in the driver's seat, Bob motions for me to come in the post office. Braving the downpour once again, I go to see what the fuss is about. The postmaster is also a photographer. On the walls behind the counter are his framed pictures of waterfalls in the area. Really great photos. He had a picture of what Cumberland Falls looks like most of the time. It looked like a very impressive waterfall, but nothing like the torrent we saw today.
We stopped at Bob Evans Restaurant in Somerset where I had potato-crusted flounder, a baked potato, steamed veggies and buttermilk biscuits. Bob had a turkey melt sandwich and fries. Good stuff.
From Somerset, we made a beeline for Mammoth Cave National Park on the Cumberland Parkway (future I-66). While driving, I got so tired I had to pull over and have Bob drive. As soon as he started driving I conked out (snoring included, according to Bob) and slept for about 1/2 hour.
The tour we decided on today is the Historical Entrance Tour. Again, the tour was two miles, two hours long with 440 steps (this time going mostly up). We learned about the bear hunter who discovered the cave, saltpitre mining to make gunpowder for the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, a tuberculosis hospital that used to be in the cave (didn't work--people died), how the cave was made accessible for touring, music in the cave, the bats, the eyeless fish and crayfish that inhabit the cave, how the cave was formed, discovering a whole complex of caves in the area and how they're connected to Mammoth Cave, different levels of the cave...Do you want me to give you the whole two-hour tour? I didn't think so. You'll have to plan a visit and discover it for yourself.
Because it had been raining so much, the cave entrance had a waterfall coming over the top of it. Luckily, we could get around it without getting too wet. Also, inside the cave there was much more flowing water than usual, so we had some waterfalls inside the cave too.
|Mammoth Cave Historic Entrance.|
|Area where saltpitre was mined.|
After our cave tour, we plan to go to see Aaron and Claudia's place in Rineyville, KY. Claudia is cooking a German meal (sauerbraten) for us.
From there, we're off to Louisville for the convention Bob and his brother are attending.
Oh, as for the tornadoes, apparently there were three tornadoes somewhere in the vicinity. We didn't see them, thankfully. The news in our hotel was from Chicago, so no local news for Kentucky! Bummer.
Time to sleep. Finally!