KENTUCKY: HOME TO THE WORLD’S LARGEST BAT AND LONGEST CAVE
A state known for its bluegrass pastures, horses, fried chicken, baseball bats, and caves, Kentucky is rich in history, culture, and nature. A few weeks ago, we had driven right through the Bluegrass State on our way to visit family in Indiana. After our time in Indiana, we decided we couldn’t head north without first turning around to give Kentucky some love.
I called up an old friend from high school, Lindsey, who lives outside of Louisville and told her we were coming to the area. They were happy to let us “set up camp” in their driveway. It was a perfect spot for us. Parking at friends’ houses is one of our favorite things to do. It gives us a chance to really spend quality time with people without feeling rushed but yet we still have our space and they theirs.
Lindsey gave us a list of must-see things in Louisville. We decided to start by getting some exercise with a walk across The Big Four Bridge.
The Big Four Bridge is a former railroad truss that has been converted to a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Connecting Louisville and Jeffersonville, IN, the bridge is 2525 feet wide and was completed with the opening of the Jeffersonville side ramp on May 20th, 2014. The bridge is a lovely place to take in views of the Louisville skyline and the Ohio River.
The bridge is part of Waterfront Park, an 85-acre park running along the Ohio River. The park offers walking paths, gardens, picnic areas, large open spaces, and a water play area where Thing 3 laughed as the mist fell on his toes.
Lindsey told us we couldn’t come to Louisville without a stop at the world famous Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Outside the factory and museum sits the world’s largest baseball bat. It is 120 feet tall, made out of steel, and an exact-scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat.
Inside, we spent time in the museum checking out baseball paraphernalia spanning many decades of baseball history including the bat that Babe Ruth carved notches in for every home run hit during his record setting season in 1927.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the factory (the above pictures were just before we went in), but the tour was fantastic. We saw each step of making a baseball ball bat from a length of wood like Thing 2 is holding to a finished bat. Everyday the Louisville Slugger Factory makes about 3000 bats!
Last, but certainly not least, we spent a day at the world famous Churchill Downs with our friends.
Churchill Downs officially opened its track in 1875 and began the tradition as “Home of the Kentucky Derby” that same year. The track struggled to survive in its early years, but, eventually became profitable and grew into the sports spectacle that it is today.
It was our first time at a horse racetrack and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Even Thing 1 was snapping pictures of the majestic animals.
It also just happened to be Family Adventure Day at the track. Thing 1 and Thing 2 were too old for most of the activities but Thing 3 loved the petting zoo.
We watched a few races and spent the afternoon wandering around the grounds. Our favorite spot was the paddock where jockeys and horses waited to head out onto the track before their races.
Our time with Lindsey and her family went all too fast and before we knew it we were packing up and saying “see ya later.”
Our next stop was a campground in Cave City a few miles away from Mammoth Cave National Park.
Home to the longest known cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave National Park officially became a national park in 1941. We started our tour in the visitor center and we took our time reading about the history of the cave and how its passages were formed.
Later, we hopped on a shuttle bus and were taken to one of the entrances of the cave for our tour. We opted for the shorter “Frozen Niagara Tour.” I was a little worried wondering how Thing 3 might do on the tour. What if he “discovered” his voice in the cave and had a little too much fun listening to himself! No need to worry. He was great and seemed to enjoy the tour as much as us.
Mammoth Cave has a history almost as long as its tunnels. Its first visitors were Native Americans. Over the years, the cave has served as a mine and even a hospital for tuberculosis patients when a doctor thought the cave air would cure the disease. Needless to say, the patients weren’t cured and the hospital went out of business. However, the cave continued to capture the curiosity of man and people continued to come for a look into this underground labyrinth.
Going into a cave is the closest thing we’ll ever get to visiting another planet. It’s another world with its own unique formations and creatures adapted to live in their pitch black world.
Back above ground at the campsite, we spent the rest of our time in Cave City doing our regular life activities. However, we still made time for some simple fun like peek-a-boo between work and school.
Thing 3 is no longer content to stay on our RV mat. He wants to explore everything. He is getting close to walking but in the meantime, he “spider crawls” up on his feet instead of his knees over rough surfaces. It’s really cute!
In the evenings, after dinner, we walked around the campground and took Thing 3 down his first slide at the playground.
Our next stop is Ohio as we make our way up to Niagara Falls where we will begin the Go RVing Facebook audience voted summer tour of the Great Lakes!
Have you ever been to Kentucky or in a cave? Any suggestions for things to do near Niagara Falls?