Great Smokies to Mammoth Cave

Since we had gotten in from Clingman’s dome very late the night before, we found a View next to us in the morning. We awoke to discover Robbie and her husband Cory from southern Mississippi  parked next to us in the morning. It was a 2008 View H, identical to ours, except cleaner and with some tricked out windows and accessories.  They are exceedingly nice people.  We talked for a while about the pluses of owning a View.  They bought theirs new, and Cory built a storage shelter for it by their house with full hookups.  The condition of the View’s roof looks as if new, so it was a good decision on his part to build the structure.  They have a married daughter and a son who attends Florida State University. The outside colors of the View is happily the same colors as FSU.

After we checked out I had the opportunity to speak with a female Law Enforcement ranger, and asked her about the rules regarding handguns in Tennessee.  She was very forthcoming in an involved conversation that touched on street tactics, training and the second amendment and politics.  Suffice it to say that she is doing an exceptional job under difficult circumstances, and I’m glad I’m retired, and not required to deal with the issues of constitutional rights, and my own and my officers safety in that environment.

Leaving Cades Cove, we anticipated a short (4 hour) drive that transmogrified into a seven hour ordeal.  I also expected that it would be a long slog out Cades Cove (1880) to civilization  (2013), but when we made a left, and took the road to Townsend, Tennessee, within 20 minutes of leaving, we were in civilization, cell service Bar B Q and fuels.  Surprise!

We were on the Interstate for a period of time,  and then took off to the side roads indicated by the GPS and drove through rural Tennessee and Kentucky on a series of two lane road that went through every small hamlet in both states.  At one point we hit a portion of  roadway that said slow down, congested area, only to find 80% of the businesses and houses to be abandoned or closed.

There were two surprising things in the route we took.  The first was a compete lack of supermarkets along the route we took, and the second was the disconnect between prosperity and the visible means to secure it.  We passed through areas that plainly had money.  Groomed pastures, four board black stained fences, large manicured yards, brick landscaped houses, ornate driveway posts and long driveways, a lack of manufactured housing, in all stuff that would be VERY expensive  in suburban New Jersey, and I’m sure, not cheap in Tennessee, but passing through the area, there was no clue as to how the money was obtained.  Very puzzling., .  There was a store that was an IGA, but changed brands, and a Wal-Mart but for the most part, over 100 miles, there were four places where you could allegedly buy groceries.  We got lost, what a surprise, and stopped at a Rite Aid simply because I felt guilty about driving through their parking lot without buying something, since we needed milk.

WE had just come from a small town, and this was clearly as small a town, and the state was in the process of putting in a modern 4 lane superhighway between the two tows of population of, oh what, 2, 000 residents each.  They hade taken a map, drawn a straight line and connected the two towns.  Hollow In the way? No problem, build a BIG bridge.  Mountains in the way, no problem, cut straight through and leave a 200’ cliff.  I thought that Tennessee and Kentucky had snow and freezing weather.  I know that they have an alternate approach to science hereabouts, but chemistry and physics is chemistry and physics, no matter what.  Freeze water and it expands, place the water in a rock and it breaks, release something from a connection and it falls.  I’m not sure what they were thinking when they made vertical cliffs adjacent to the highway, but I know that there were already repairing the road before it was completed.  My hat is off to the elected officials who bankrolled the project, because it surely injected tremendous amounts of money into the local economy, and the project has the look of Federal Funding all about it.  The lady in the Rite Aid was happy because the road was very windy and up and down, and its much better than it was in the past.

We finally got back on the Interstate and arrived at MammothCave at 6PM or 7PM time depending upon if you stayed on EDST or CDST.  We’re staying, mostly, on EDST.  The temperature was a balmy 95 degrees with 95 percent humidity. HOT!  The site I selected required massive blockbuilding to keep the coach level and had lots of neighbors.  I found a vacant site, 35, that was mostly level, had no neighbors and asked the lovely ranger cocooned in the air conditioning at the entrance station if it would be OK to change.  A green light was provided, we left, filled the RV with water, visited the Cavers Store adjacent, and took a peek at the train car and engine that was used to drag tourists to the fringes of the Old West in 1880’s so they could view the mysteries of the MammothCave.

It was really hot so we went to the visitors center, bought tickets for the tour the following morning, purchased a pin for Louise and a sticker for the RV for me at the store, disinfected our shoes against white nose syndrome, since we had visited Endless Caverns within the last two weeks, and hung out for a little.  It was bleeding hot when we got to the site and I decided to be a conspicuous consumer and burn what little propane we had to cool off the RV.  I always maintained that it would be pointless to try to cool one of these things with a generator, but 78 degrees is a lot cooler than 97, even if it’s for a short time.

We sat in the cool, cooked a couple of Italian hot dogs, wrote, planned the next couple of days, and went to bed to await the mysteries of Mammoth Cave tomorrow.