On Tuesday of this week I had a bright idea. I decided to take Luke to see Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It was his last week of summer before starting school and I was hoping to build some memories. Since Brantley was working in Memphis all week it would just be a Luke and Mom trip. I booked us two nights at the Mammoth Cave Hotel, and off we went.
We were there in less than two hours and all Luke could talk about was exploring the cave. When we arrived at the hotel I was a little surprised to see that the clientele appeared to range from rednecks to Amish people. I told myself that I was just experiencing a little bit of culture shock and I did my best to suck it up. A lady with rotten teeth gave us our room key and we set off to find our room. As it turned out, the rooms were in a separate building, that to me, resembled a housing project. To make matters worse, the hallway leading to the room wasn’t air conditioned. “Calm down,” I told myself. “It’s just a little rustic.”
|Amish folk. Yet another clue that we didn’t belong there.|
We found our room and upon entering were hit with a cloud of cigarette smoke. Considering that I had specifically requested a non-smoking room, I immediately called down to the front desk. After telling her my problem, the lady with rotten teeth told me that someone had been living in that room who was a smoker. She said it as if I was going to say, “Oh, that makes sense. Sorry I bothered you.” However, that isn’t quite what I said. She said we could change rooms and assigned us to one on the second floor. “Is there an elevator?” I asked. “Naw,” she replied.
Luke and I gathered our things and headed back out into the hallway. On our way to our new room I glanced through an open door only to see a cleaning lady busy at work in another of their rooms. Hanging from her mouth was… (you guessed it) a cigarette. That was it. She smiled at me with her rotten teeth, but the smile was not returned. We promptly went back to the office and got a refund.
Luke was terribly sad. He loves a hotel more than anyone, but I wasn’t going to chance us waking up covered with bed bug bites.
|The fanciest part of the hotel.|
By that time it was three o’clock and Luke was exhausted, but I’ll be damned if we were leaving without seeing the cave. We bought our tickets, found our tour group, and set off for the cave. By the time we made the trek to the cave entrance Luke was so tired that he was crying for me to carry him. I couldn’t exactly let him cry and ruin everyone else’s cave experience. So I carried his enormous, man-sized four-year-old body through one whole mile of cave exploration.
|All bundled up for our cave exploration.|
Luke thought the cave was awesome, and rattled off some completely incorrect facts about bats as we traversed through the darkness. By the time we made it back out of the cave I had learned that bats eat chicken nuggets, grow up to be giants, and mostly live in Nolensville, TN.
|This is approximately the spot where Luke passed gas so loudly that it echoed throughout the cave.|
We hadn’t been in the car five minutes before he fell asleep. As we headed back to Nolensville I reflected back on our chaotic day, and hoped that Luke had absorbed some good memories in that giant head of his. I wondered if he was left with more questions than answers like, “Why are mountain people so creepy?” “Why did everyone there give off such a strong pedophilia vibe?” “Where were all of the dentists?” and “Why was it called Mammoth Cave if mammoths never lived there?” These would turn out to be some of life’s greatest mysteries.