Mammoth Cave National Park: With a toddler

Mammoth Cave National Park: With a toddler

On June 18, we visited Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky to (1) celebrate my successful dissertation defense, (2) to see our friends who live in Kentucky, and (3) break up the drive from the Northeast to Albuquerque (which itself was just a stop along the way to our ultimate destination in UT — more in subsequent posts).

We arrived at Mammoth caves in the late afternoon. Having passed through multiple thunderstorms (“Ba-ba-BOOM,” adds Sprout) on the way from State College, we scrapped our campsite and traded up for a cabin. Shortly, our friends Shonda and Alexis arrived, and we cooked out for a while before retiring inside for a friendly card game. We opted for a nice, short game of death by accidental bio-weapon detonation. It was fun.

We were up early the next morning (Sprout’s preference when travelling). It worked out nicely because we had scheduled a tour of the cave near the “Frozen Niagara” entrance early in the day. The tour was anticipated to be 2 hours long, entirely underground, traversing about 3/4 of a mile. We were concerned about how Sprout might react to this extended period in a different environment. It turns out that our concerns were unnecessary. She was engaged through the whole tour, frightening/entertaining the other patrons with her strikingly real imitation of a bear (which she understood to inhabit caves from a book courtesy of Aunt Kristen).

We hope the pictures speak to the rare scenic treasures contained in the park ( they don’t do it justice). While the walkways and stairs to the main subterranean thoroughfare aggravated a bit more claustrophobia than I had anticipated, and require constant contortions to advance, the challenge is well worth the discomfort — although neither of us hit our heads on any of the numerous obstacles. It is clear now why backpack carriers were not permitted; Sprout seemed quite safe and comfortable on my front in her Ergo.

Unfortunately, we did not have much time to hang around after the tour, since we were expected in St. Louis later in the evening. However, we had one last “southern” meal with our friends, whom we are grateful could join us.


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