Friday, 16 October 2009

From Mammoth To Missouri

Having not had to think about where to go, eat, sleep or get online for a few days, getting back on the road was a bit of challenge. However, after the initial shock and a short period of mutual snarling we found ourselves heading into Mammoth Cave. This is the longest cave complex in the world at over 300 miles (and still counting) and it was awesome. I’d never actually seen stalactites and stalagmites before and it was fascinating to hear how they are formed and about the reactive properties of limestone in general. It was also fascinating to discover that the temperature of any large cave remains at a constant average for the area around it regardless of the season, so Mammoth Cave is always at the average temperature for Kentucky.

After a very nice drive out of the Mammoth Cave Park (with sightings of wild turkey, deer and what we think was a coyote) we got back on the road heading west eventually stopping at the Econolodge in Russellville. At $75 this seemed rather expensive compared to our usual choice of cheapskate, seedy motels but it provided a good breakfast (unusual in motels), a flat screen TV and free, if erratic, wireless access. The following morning there was light rain, the roads were empty and the clouds were hanging low over the autumnal trees, hills and fields of south western Kentucky. Accompanied by an excellent soundtrack of modern Americana donated by our friends in Frankfort, the drive out of Russellville was quite dreamy….

Our next stop was supposed to be Paducah and we did stop there… briefly. I’d been told about a programme that had actually paid artists to go and live in Paducah’s empty buildings to try and kick start creative regeneration in this rather depressed and unattractive town. It sounded like a great idea so I was interested in seeing how it had worked out. Unfortunately there wasn’t a sign off the main drag even indicating a downtown, let alone an art area or even its famous quilt museum! So all Paducah seemed to be was a huge, cheap, drive-thru strip mall and by the time we realised it was too late to go back and look for a turning that may, or may not, have taken us to a bunch of artists! However, we did end up accomplishing something. Part of the plan for this trip was to pack very little, buy clothes from charity stores as we went along and then return them to charity stores before we left. So we were delighted to spot a large Salvation Army store in Paducah where I bought a sartorially criminal but very warm coat for $5!

Nice drive from there too and ended the day in Charleston, Missouri after crossing the bridge over the mighty Missisippi....

1 comment: