Kentucky – Mammoth State

We visited Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It was a big surprise. Before visiting, I had no idea that such a large and complex cave system existed in the states. The great thing about Mammoth Cave is that it is suitable for basically everyone. They have hard core caving expeditions, if you want to try that, but they also have some relatively easy walks. I visited here after badly dislocating my ankle and still really enjoyed the trip.

Mammoth Cave is a great example of one of the wonders of America. It is just so unexpected. It is an amazing natural wonder, but it also has history and stories to tell and fantastic , unique experiences.

Kentucky is also a great place to drive.

This is one of those places that is great to explore and find hidden treasures.

I would rate 8.4.

KY Cave

KY Cafe

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Why is it called bluegrass?

All of the grass I saw in Kentucky seemed to be green. I looked it up and blue grass should be blue green. I am not sure if I didn’t see any of the right type of grass or I am colour blind.

My total score for Kentucky out of 50 is 29.

Categories out of 10

Home comforts Quality of food, accommodation, etc. Score of 6. Pretty good old style country food.

Attractions The quality of the attractions and generally how fun and interesting they were. Score of 6. Not heaps and heaps to do, but a few really interesting parks. I am not sure if the creation museum counts as an attraction, but it is interesting …

Natural Beauty The aesthetic vistas of the state which make the drive easier. Score of 7. Pretty, lots of horses to look at.

Culture Historical and cultural sites and interactions with the locals. Score of 4. Umm. I’m sure there are some.

Value Financial value – bang for your buck, so to speak. Score of 6. Quite expensive for being in the middle of the country.

Day 46 – Light and Dark

Quick lesson about superman. He is basically perfect. He is virtually indestructible, fast enough to turn back time, super strong, can fly and has impeccable morales. Sounds awesome for a superhero, right? Well, the difficulty with superman is that he is boring, there really isn’t a great threat to his safety, he can turn back time, so there is no threat to anyone else and you know he will always do the right thing because he has amazing morales. So here we have Kryptonite, Superman’s weakness (although he is also technically weak against psionic powers and such, but you get the point). With Kryptonite, Superman could die, there is tension and threat.

The basic theme to this is that humans tend to like stories, heroes and even villains that are complicated, that need further exploration and understanding. We need both light and dark, Otherwise it isn’t really a story at all and we don’t learn or grow.

Yes, I did see Iron Man 3, and I liked it. It has all the good bits of a superhero movie, laughs, love, things that blow up, death, retribution, etc. it has an interesting story, because our hero is vulnerable and complex, as are our villains. No/one is simple good or bad, everyone is a little of both. (Except Pepper Potts who is always awesome)

The real reason for my discussion of complexity actually relates to our visit to the Creation Museum which is a centre dedicated to promoting the view that the bible is exact fact, the earth was created about 6000 years ago, evolution is a sham and all of the ills of the world are caused by ignoring gods word as it is written in the bible.

First things first, the set up of the museum is not bad, they have some pretty good a animatronic humans and dinosaurs, the exhibits are well presented and the protection values are pretty good. However, a few issues with the setup. You are encouraged to attend a short movie first, which in in a special effects cinema (which always means they shoot you in the face with water and shake your chairs). You are then allowed into the exhibition space. The space has only one path and no exits. Due to the requirement to attend the movie first you are in the space with about 300 other people, many of them children with worksheets. You don’t really feel like you can look at the exhibition in your own time, nor explore very well. Also, the children were very poorly behaved. They did not see to mind getting in the way of other visitors or covering the text panels with their worksheets.

Now, to the content of the museum. It is weird. Most museums challenge you to think things through, or to explore or find out more. The purpose of the creation museum seems to be to convince visitors that the bible is exact historical fact and anyone who doesn’t believe that is on the path to hell. I am all for people promoting their own beliefs, however the creation museum goes a step further and portrays basically everyone who doesn’t believe them, including other Christians, as arrogant, brainwashed idiots. The film at the start shows teachers as disrespectful and unable to prove the scientific theory of what they are discussing. Throughout the exhibition the text panels frequently portray the opposing arguments incorrectly.

Essentially the basis of the museum is that if you listen the bible, life has purpose. Believing in an evolutionary path to present day, means that life is random and without purpose. I think many people who believe in the scientific explanation of life also believe that life is a wonderful and purposeful thing. I also think that portraying the answers to life as – whatever god says is right, ignores some of the great mysteries and complexities of life, that make stories so great.

We also visited a place which is mostly about light in a more literal sense. This American Sign Museum. The museum showcases a range of archetypical signs from the pre-neon period to present day. They have an area called Main Street which showcases some large and well-preserved examples of neon signs.

Lastly we visited the world’s largest children’s museum in Indiana. The museum is across several levels and includes areas for small children up to early teens. The museum is very well presented and certainly has lots of space. There are exhibits on dinosaurs, science around you, Egypt, geckos and superheroes. The museum also has a really awesome clock in the foyer. The museum is excellent, however I was expecting a bit more interactivity for the amount of funding they have. I was expecting inspired, but I did get a solid museum.

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Day 45 – A Three Hour Tour

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of mammoth cave

Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world with a out 400 miles of cave system explored to date. Mammoth cave is located in Kentucky and is managed by my favourite American institution, the national parks service.

Mammoth Cave has hosted tours since 1941 and has some incredible history, from Native American miners, to mining for gunpowder, to slave tour guides to a tuberculosis clinic. (Not sure how anyone thought that would work). It is one of America’s first real tourist attractions and has lots of different tours for different abilities and interests.

We opted to attend the snowball tour, which is a three hour tour and is of moderate difficulty, although it has 200 fairly easy stairs.

The tour goes to the snowball dining room located in the cave, where you can purchase a box lunch of sandwich, soup, apple, cookie, salad and drink for $8.50. Makes me even more annoyed about the prices in the museums in New York.

We were very lucky and there were only a few people on our tour so we go to talk directly with the rangers. The snowball tour focuses on the growth of gypsum in the caves and also provides an excellent overview of the history of the cave. Our tour guide was fantastic and even let us go “off-trail” and turned all the lights out so we could experience the true darkness of the cave.

Fun Fact: there are many ways to remember the difference between Stalactites which grow downward – while stalagmites grow upward – for some reason I always remember that stalagmites might hang from the ceiling, but they don’t! . I admit this is a weird way to remember it, but it works for me.

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Preview – Kentucky

The Creation Museumis a vast, high-production museum with a rather bizarre scientific principle.  It is a state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum which brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Majestic murals, great masterpieces brimming with pulsating colors and details, provide a backdrop for many of the settings.
Chris is going to see if he can get a discount with his science museum ID card …

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