Kentucky: the Land of Lincoln?

The first day of our trip was filled with driving. We drove through much of Pennsylvania and all of West Virginia. Our only recreational stop was Charleston, WV to see the State Capitol.

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This will sound so insignificant to so many, but we saw a black squirrel which has somehow turned into a highlight of the very eventful trip.

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We ended the first day of our road trip in Kentucky. There wasn’t much exciting to us in Kentucky, but we needed Daniel Boone National Forest to freely spend the night. After a tough time spent finding the campground, we had a rough first night on the side of a camping loop road.

The next morning, we headed out with our overnight oats toward Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, a National Historic Site. We watched the short, informational documentary, then headed up the steps to his “actual” home. After a brief conversation with a very friendly local, we went up to discover that this log cabin was not actually Lincoln’s log cabin. This didn’t bother us too much, so we got back to the car to keep the day going.

We arrived at Mammoth Caves National Park way later than anticipated and bought our tickets for the Domes & Dripstones tour. Our tour guide had more background knowledge of the history of the caves and the area than any other guide I’ve had before. And he certainly had opinions about eminent domain, understandably so.

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He took us down the stairs, into the cave which was way darker and spookier than I’d imagined. There were giant spiders just hanging out, and I was pretty much expecting one to land on me. We walked and climbed up and down some really interesting rock formations. There were lights strategically placed and wet areas that weren’t.

We stopped in a few of the giant “rooms” that gave the park its name and learned more than I expected to. The two-hour-ish tour also ended later than I expected, and we realized our plans for the rest of the day were foiled. After we crossed into Missouri, we had planned on seeing the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but access would end before we’d get there.

Our time in Kentucky was brief, but it was important for me to see that real people live in these states that I rarely hear about. There are beautiful places in Kentucky, places one wouldn’t expect to find. And boy, is there a lot of history there and everywhere.

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Mammoth Caves was my 12th National Park.

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