Monday, September 02, 2002

Ok. here goes:
The trip, part I. (maybe the only part, I don't know yet. Let's see how far I get now.)
Day 1: Wednesday. We finally get on the road, yay!
Indiana is thoroughly boring to drive through.
We drove really fast, hoping to make the last tour at the Louisville Slugger museum at 4pm...and we rolled into Louisville at 3:45. Or so we thought. It turns out that Louisville, KY, is on Eastern Time. We were so sad because it meant we had driven fast and still didn't make the tour. We visited the bat outside, the wall inside, and the gift shop...and then we went for a walk. We went to the river walk, learned about the floods, about corn island, and the beginning of the Lewis and Clark trail. (We've now been at the beginning and the end, but not much in the middle.) We walked on historic main street, saw some stuff, some historical markers about tornadoes, etc...and then we went to dinner. We ate at the Zen Garden, which is a vegetarian vietnamese restaurant. It was very good. The rice pudding with tarot root was some of the best rice pudding I've every had. yum.
and so we kept driving. We took a bit of a detour when mom saw a sign on the freeway for "National Historic Marker: Maker's Mark Distillery" and we followed it. And followed. And drove and drove and drove. After about 20 to 25 miles, we came to My Old Kentucky Home State Park, and a sign that said "Maker's Mark Distillery: 18 miles." OY! We had gone so far we decided to just stick with it. By this time we had passed Jim Beam distillery #2, another distillery, and the kentucky railway museum. so we kept driving. and turning, and twisting, and driving. by the time we got there, we'd been on so many numbered roads, and seen so many others, that we weren't actually sure we could even backtrack! We saw the marker at the distillery (it was very dark by this time too), we looked at the buildings (old but still working and in very good condition), and we got back in the car. Now, on my Mapquest map from Louisville to Cave City it showed a town we had passed through, from which I discerned that we were East of the freeway and theoretically should only have to drive west to run into it. Luckily our car (new Chevy Blazer) had the direction thing in it, so we were able to just keep an eye on that to let us know what direction we were facing. We drove west (as straight as possible...with curves that always come back to west, in other words) for a long time. Mom says "I hope this works because we only have a quarter tank of gas..." Thanks, mom. Now I feel better! Eventually we came to New Haven, KY, and a Chevron station with a police officer just hanging out inside. Mom got gas, I got directions. On the way to the freeway we passed the Lincoln Boyhood Home! We stopped, looked around, read the signs, etc...and drove along to discover the Lincoln Birthplace! Both of these things were deemed too far out of the way to be on our original itinerary....
We finally arrived in Cave City, found a hotel, and started deciding what to do the next day. At this point we discovered that we were back on Central Time! It turns out that Louisville is almost the only thing in Western Kentucky on Eastern Time. GRRR!!! Anyway..then we were hungry, so we ran out to a convenience store and bought ice cream, pringles, and lemonade. LOL. That was so good. We settled on a plan for the morning, and went to bed.

Day 2: Thursday. Caves, old churches, and "88".
First thing in the morning we set off for Mammoth Cave National Park. We looked around, looked at the tour options, visited the historic natural cave entrance, saw signs for the River Styx but never went to it's spring (or to the river, for that matter, which is on level 5 of the cave, all the way down), and settled on the Travertine tour. We got tix, got on the bus, and went on down. Very cool. It was a small group (early in the morning, no wonder!) and the tour guide was excellent. we were speedy, so we had extra time. she took us down into the cave past where our tour was supposed to end, and we saw some nice formations..and she turned out all the lights so we could see how dark it was! it was so fun. she lit a lighter to show how much light it can give off when you are really in total darkness. She was funny too...the statement was "this is a standard government issue lighter, probably 1, 2 hundred dollars..." LOL.
Anyway, there are some formations in the cave that look like Niagara falls, frozen. So it is imaginatively called "Frozen Niagara"...we saw that. we also saw cave bacon, soda straws, and caramel corn. LOL.
So we got back to the top, bussed back, and drove immediately to Crystal Onyx cave which is down the road and up a hill. We were the only people on that tour, and it was pretty cool. We felt a little more cave-like, because the paths weren't cement, there were narrow stairs, narrow passageways, low ceilings sometimes, and loads of formations everywhere. our tour guide told us some stuff, and let us look around, etc. it was a fun tour. On the way out, there was a sign that said "enjoy your tour? tipping is permitted."

as we were leaving there, we saw a sign for the road we eventually needed to get on, so we just went then instead of visiting Diamond Caverns. We drove along, hoping to see one of the street signs we'd seen the day before because now we had a camera! It was a yellow diamond shaped sign, like any other sign, except that it had a picture of a horse and carriage on it. Do horse drawn carriages regularly cross the state routes of Kentucky? I don't know! But we did see the sign, and mom stopped, pulled into someone's driveway, and I got out and ran back to the sign, took a picture, and ran back to the car.

We drive, drive, la la la, passing through loads of small towns because we are on state highway, not interstates...including a town called "88". That's it, that's the name of the town. Anyway we were going to Tompkinsville, KY, which is the nearest town to the Old Mulkey Meeting House. This is the first church in Southwest KY. Also there is a cemetary with Daniel Boone's father and sister. And Stonewall Jackson's cousins are buried out in the forest. all in all a cool stop. we drove on and on, checking out Standing Stone State Park in Tennessee. The stone was set up by Indians as a guidepost or something. The catch is that the stone isn't in the park, and has never been in the park. It's somewhere else...and the park is just named after it. whatever. We kept driving, seeing all kinds of other brown signs, but by this time we had learned that if it doesn't tell you how far it is once you get off the freeway, it's far away. And we were disillusioned by Standing Stone, and figured that some of these other parks may not have the things in them that they are named after. So we drove on. It rained SO HARD...sheets of water coming down....for a while. Then we passed it and the road was completely dry. very bizarre. we came to Chattanooga..and couldn't find anything. It was crazy. We had dinner, and decided that since we couldn't find a hotel we were going to just keep driving! We drove all the way to Decatur that night. We got in around 10:45pm, found the school, but couldn't find anything else to save our lives. The roads are so curvy and twisting and crazy...crossing over themselves, doubling back, driving in circles....ugh. We finally found a hotel and checked in, and went to sleep.
Day 3: Friday. we're there!
We woke up late because we were in Eastern Time again but had forgotten to change our alarm clock (mom's watch). We had breakfast, got to school, got keys, and moved stuff in. for a long time we moved stuff in. a lot of stuff. My place is huge, compared to where I've lived during college before. A living room the size of my last apartment, a bedroom even bigger, two closets, and a big bathroom. No kitchen, of course, because I am on the meal plan. We did lots of shopping, including buying a refrigerator, microwave, bookshelf, etc. the place is furnished but some of the stuff is just too ugly to use so I've put it out and got new stuff in. We covered the sofa and the Pier 1 chair with sheet slipcovers. The living room is done in blue and silver, and the bedroom in plum and silver. the bathroom is sage and plum. very cool. anyway...
I successfully locked my keys in my apartment on friday and had a big ordeal getting back in. I got the extra keys from the business office...and the one for my door didn't work. I got the master, and it didn't even fit in the door (I'm not sure it was the master for the right building, actually). finally the woman there had to call security and ask them to bring the "grand grand master key", which a guy did and he promptly opened the door. All of this at about 4:15pm on the day before labor day weekend. oy. and mom is sitting outside the building with a refrigerator. LOL.

anyway, the only thing we seem to have done here is drive around in circles, shop, unpack, and generally get ready. yesterday we went to Zoo Atlanta where they have pandas! We spent a lot of time watching the pandas. Great fun. The rest of the zoo is quite small. It is expensive, too...especially to me, because I've been living across the street or within a mile or so of a free zoo for the last four years! anyway, that was good. we finally found the direct route to downtown Decatur yesterday, and walked around it a little. We had dinner at a cute little place, which I cannot remember the name of, and then got back to my place to finish the unpacking, for mom to pack, and do any last minute things.
One of the coolest things on this trip have been the signs. I have pictures of many--the horse/carriage sign, the "church zone" sign, the "vote fat jack for jailer" sign...etc. love them. We were laughing the whole way, the signs were so hilarious. anyway...

Mom left this morning and I am just finishing up the unpacking with my desk drawers. Today I need to decorate--I'm going to make my own painting Trading Spaces-style, stencil some silver stars around the walls, and hang pictures.then perhaps everything will be off the floor! I also need to get out and meet some people--when Mom has been here we've been doing so much stuff that I haven't met many people at all. Of course, not that many people have been around, either...but whatever. Orientation starts tomorrow, and classes on Thursday. yippee! the adventures have begun!

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