Shelley told me enough was enough. I needed to take a few days off to catch a breather from the last three months of trade show and event craziness. After all, she said, there never seems to be a good time and “you keep telling me the next two months will be just as busy”.
So what better way to relax and recharge for a few days than to continually expose myself to my two biggest fears: heights and being in confined spaces.
Off to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky to hike the hills, venture out on treetop walkways, mountain bike with drop-offs a few feet from the path, and explore caves 250’ underground. I spent the better part of a day, ducking to avoid hitting my head on limestone ceilings or bumping into a bat or cave cricket.
Adding to the excitement, was the experience of driving 12 miles through a driving rainstorm to find a decent place to eat, with official emergency warnings coming over the radio, calling for tornado conditions and 80 mph winds in our exact location. It was enough to add a third “worst fear” to my current inventory. I experienced the “worst-fears jackpot” in only four days: acrophobia (heights), claustrophobia (small spaces) and a new one, lilapsophobia (severe storms and tornadoes).
There was a relaxing part of the trip, and it was listening to classic rock radio stations on the ride there and back. I needed that! Give me more “Hotel California”, Bob Seger and Steve Miller, please. For me, listening to the radio is one of the best parts of a road trip. This one certainly had that feel.
I did get a chance to take a breather, recharge the batteries a bit and get back on the bike after a long winter. The overall experience we had at the park was a good one .The welcome station was newer, exceptionally clean and “welcoming”. The exhibits were current and engaging. Staff was helpful and friendly, and the process of reserving cave tours, along with the follow through, was above par. Anyone who has questioned how the U.S. Department of the Interior delivers experiences at our national parks has not interacted with them lately, at least at Mammoth.
I took mental notes about what impressed me. You could still flatten a souvenir penny for 50 cents. I also noted what was not impressive. There could’ve been a better selection of places to eat in the surrounding towns. This is a tourist area, overloaded with fast food and all the national restaurant chains. I can get endless salad and bread, and a chalupa back home. So that was a bit disappointing.
What we did experience, unexpectedly, was non-existent cell phone service within the park. It was refreshing not being tethered to your phone, not interacting with it every few minutes, and not relying on it for directions. That was really a “breather”. It was also nice knowing we could still get around by reading a map.
All good things have to come to an end. It was time to leave my old and new-found fears behind, set my phone for the best way to avoid Louisville traffic, and find my new favorite station on the radio WQMF 95.7 (at least until we got through Indianapolis).
“Let’s take those old records off the shelf....”
Time to get back to the real craziness.