Caves, Lakes and Mountains
We woke up to blue skies, yet again, and saw a brochure while eating breakfast for Kentucky Downs. Apparently they had retired race horses there that you could feed carrots to. We thought this would be an awesome experience for Hobbes, but sadly they didn’t open until 11am, and we were trying to make it to Mammoth Cave National Park for our morning in Kentucky. So after breakfast we made our way there instead. After an hour and a half of driving we arrived at the National Park. We took a picture by the sign for the cave and drove to the visitors center to explore. All the tours were booked except the self-guided tour, which in and of itself was an awesome experience.
After our exploration of the cave, we bought souvenirs and then continued on our way through Kentucky. We had no other plans to stop along the way, but as we were driving I saw signs for Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace and boyhood cabin. Having to stop anyway, we pulled off the highway and followed the signs. It wasn’t quite as close as we thought it would be, but eventually we pulled into Hodgenville, KY where we found a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a museum. I paid $3 and walked around the museum – getting to see one of Abraham Lincoln’s hats – and then we took some pictures by the Lincoln Statue and got some ice cream. Then on the way back to the highway we stopped at Lincoln’s boyhood home. It was not open, and Antonia was too tired to get out of the car to take a picture of the chair. So I just took in the experience of being there before heading north again.
It was about this time that Antonia started drawing on the windows with her window markers and tried to make ridiculous jokes. It was rather entertaining.
Just before crossing into West Virginia I wanted to take a moment and stop in the Daniel Boone National Forest for a photo. So we looked around on the map and saw a lake called Cave Run Lake, which had a huge dam by it, so we decided to stop there. It ended up being an awesome choice! The view of the mountains were some of my favorite from the whole trip. The place felt a bit like home because the dam was designed by the US Army Corp of Engineers who also built the Francis E. Walter Dam, which is a few miles from our home.
While we were there a man ran over to us and asked, “What’s the story behind the chair? I saw you walking around and immediately thought, ‘There has got to be a story behind that chair!'”
I told him about our trip and how the Orange Chair Adventures began and then he asked, “Can I get a picture?” He pulled out a funky camera, took some photos, remarked on my book, and then I took a few pictures of him in the chair as his wife and dog hung out with Antonia and Hobbes. It was really cool to have someone so interested in the chair, and to spend some time sharing our story. I also find it ironic that he is a professor with a background in Literature and Writing.
After this we finally found our way into West Virginia. We have a few friends who live here, but sadly we only had time to visit one. It started getting dark and the hills wound up, down, and around unlike any other state we had traveled through. It was quite a relief to finally be at our location for that night – though it was quite a drive down unknown backroads. We stayed at a friends house in Sand Fork, WV that evening and it was really nice to be with friends yet again – especially ones we hadn’t seen in almost 2 years. The place wasn’t very child proof so we kept having to move breakable things around that Hobbes wanted to play with. The next morning, we woke up, ate breakfast, took a few photos outside and then began our final day of driving.
We didn’t have too much time left in West Virginia, and so we wanted to stop somewhere fun for one more photo shoot. Slowly, as we drove northeast our elevation started to rise and suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by snow! It was strange to go from nothing to a few inches of snow, but there it was. A few exits after the snow showed up we pulled off into Coopers Rock State Park, and took some photos in the snow. I would have taken the chair out to Coopers Rock, but Antonia wasn’t for walking through the snow with Hobbes for a photo. Either way it was fun to get a picture in the snow after we thought it had all melted.
Books from Kentucky / West Virginia:
‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Mammoth Cave / Hodgenville, KY)
‘New Collected Poems’ by Wendell Berry (Cave Run Lake, KY)
‘Shiloh’ by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Sand Fork and Coopers Rock, WV)
- Mammoth Cave was huge, and it was so fun to let Hobbes walk around in it! It really was an experience I’d want to encounter again.
- There was just something cool about being in the place Lincoln grew up. It is funny how seeing someone’s hat can feel so significant.
- Antonia kept drawing things on the window and making comments. She would say things like ‘Why did I just draw the dark tower? Now it’s always going to be watching us.’ or ‘I drew a polar bear just in case we get LOST. I think I’ll name it Jack.’ It was quite ridiculous.
- At our friends house Hobbes fell down inside a big pot, and then after us helping him out, decided he wanted to sit in it again, and he proceeded to do so.