I have the internet!!

Hey all!! I know, I’ve been a little MIA lately, hopefully that is over. Something not many of you may know is that I didn’t have internet before, oh I don’t know, about 20 minutes ago. What? How can that be? You may be wondering, especially since I’ve been blogging for over a year! Well to be honest, all this time, I’ve been blogging from my phone. Needless to say I’m super pumped about being able to use an actual keyboard to express my thoughts and yummy treats I prepare. Why if I’ve been going 5 years strong without internet did I finally cave? I’m a college student again! Ah, right?! I thought that it would be great to go back and learn some more stuff. Being the dinosaur that I am, I mistakenly thought that if I went to class I would need a book and to remember to turn in my homework, wrong! My math class has all the assignments and even the book online. So here I am, with the internet, you all have been warned! I’m hoping that I will be able to be more active on my blog now that it is easier to write the posts, although it looks like I’ll have some learning to do with writing posts on an actual computer. Well it is a beautiful day out today and I’ve got the windows open and have to get back to studying for my test this weekend! I should have a treat or dinner recipe up soon!

xoxo

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Hiking, hiking, hiking

We did a lot of hiking this past weekend. I’m well on my way to completing the Red River Gorge Hiking expedition on my summer bucket list. With the hikes this past weekend I’ve covered 9 trails! I’m so thankful for the friends that I have that allow me to drag them along on my adventures; especially after we found a copperhead on our last trail

Hidden Arch Trail #208
We started out on trail #220, Koomer Ridge Trail before it intersected with #208. This was the least travelled of the trails we ventured on. The trail was partly overgrown; but my biggest concern wasn’t copperheads, it was Kristen! She’s an adventurous one, and I didn’t want to have to tell her husband (of less than a month) how I let her fall of the side of a cliff.

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We made it!! Thankfully I had my “big” camera with me.

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The big camera has a timer on it, so I set it and then busted a move to get into position and pretend like I didn’t almost fall over and crack my head.

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We hiked along the trail until we came to a fork in the road and decided to take a snack break, since nobody wants to see me hangry!

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Silvermine Arch Trail #225
Thankfully this trail was in the same general area as Hidden Arch Trail, so we meandered around the camping area until we found this second trail. Be prepared this trail has stairs.

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If you’ve hiked Gray’s arch before you’ll be fine! There are only 78 stairs on this one. Once we found the arch we climbed around a bit.

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This is such a pretty arch.

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Sky Bridge #224
Oh how I love this trail, it is one of the few heavily trafficked trails that I truly enjoying.

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My enjoyment probably just has to do with nostalgia since this was the first trail in the Red River Gorge I hiked back in 2009. Especially since this time it was infested with horseflies, and there is absolutely no fun what so ever in getting bitten by a horsefly, it hurts! If you look really close on the next picture you can see one attached to my forehead. Ugh I still itch thinking about it.

20130706-121008.jpg There she goes again, and this time she got Carolyn to join her, it is one of my favorite pictures of them though.

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Check out my other hikes in the Red River Gorge!
Double Arch
Gray’s Arch
Whittleton Branch Trail

Blog war…

What was I thinking… I’m not really sure. Since I jump without really looking where I’ll be landing this is just another example of that, a friend of mine Erin Life in Act IV, mentioned that her and some friends were doing Blog Wars. It sounded like fun so I decided I wanted to join too! After I signed on I looked at some of the blogs I was competing against like Cory A Multitude of Drops, Kelcie at On the Fringes, who along with Erin are the organizers of this event. The other newcomer like me is Dut at Revelation in Reverie.

My normal posts are about food, hiking and the general awkwardness of my daily life. I’m hoping this war will help me branch out a little bit. After looking at the other warriors blogs I realize I’m going to have to step up my game and purchase a thesaurus. Be prepared all this is a month long battle, and I’m going to be making a lot of food and maybe read a book or two.

Whittleton Branch Trail

I posted a the below picture on my Facebook wall and one of the comments that was posted by a friend was, “Is that a northern Copperhead aka poisonous?” You know what? That question made me realize several things, first I need to make sure I can identify the poisonous animals/bugs in the area, two that we are really lucky not to have gotten bitten, and three, yes I believe it was a baby copperhead snake.

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To be honest this past weekend when I went hiking was the first time I’d ever seen a snake by the trail, and it just goes to show how important it is to stay on the trail! If we hadn’t been on the trail, where we could see the ground there is no doubt in my mind that sooner or later one of us would have been bitten by a snake. Which brings me to another safety point; don’t hike by yourself, please. Even Bear Grylls has a camera crew with him.

Alrighty! Now on with the fun stuff, the hike! I was pleasantly surprised when my friend Kelsey texted me and asked if I wanted to go hiking. You better believe I did! Wittleton Trail is also at a camp site, we had to ask where the trailhead was, I was super pumped about going on a new (to me) trail! If you are planning on taking this trail, the hikers parking is at the front of the campgrounds, and then follow the road to the end of the campgrounds and there is the trailhead. Now we’re off!

Nature absolutely amazes me, for instance look at these trees that are growing on the side of a massive boulder! Could you do this? I think not!

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The total mileage of this trail was right around 4 miles, we actually took two trails, the first was trail #216, Wittleton Branch Trail (1.80 miles, one way) and the second was trail #217, Wittleton Arch (.20 miles, one way).

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There were several bridges that we got to cross, like this mossy bridge.

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The water was a bit low, which made for the below picture a lot easier, as this would have been an active stream we would have had to hike up to continue on the trail.

20130617-192640.jpg That is one thing I really like about the trails in the Gorge, is that sometimes you have to hike up a streambed to continue on your path. That was something I had never encountered before in the forest preserves of the Chicagoland area. Here is another streambed that is all dry.

20130617-192732.jpg Let me tell you, even if there was water hiking through it would have been worth it! look at these trees!

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Along the trail to the arch there were several nice green cliffs along the way

20130617-192942.jpg Spring is a great time to hike in Kentucky, it is just SO green!!

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We made it!!

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20130617-193204.jpg There was a little bit of a waterfall, again I believe if the water levels were higher it would have been a bigger waterfall!

Another trailed marked off my Spring/Summer Bucket List! Click here to see all I’m trying to accomplish this year!

Check out my other hikes in the Boone National Forest:
Gray’s Arch
Double Arch

Gray’s Arch

Gray’s Arch

This hike was during the last weekend of May, my friend Kate, her pup Tux and I went out to the Red River Gorge. Several years ago during my first summer exploring the Gorge I took this trail with a couple of friends and was amazed at how big the boulders below the arch was. I’m not sure why I would think things would be very different this time! The boulders were still enormous.

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It’s a moderate trail about 4 miles, there are several sets of stairs, being that it was Memorial Day weekend when we went the trail was full of people. Although this is one of the more popular trails in the area, beside Natural Bridge, which has a ski lift. Tux, a very sweet pup came along for the hike, he was having a blast after he had gotten used to all the new smells along the trail.

20130610-204710.jpg Here he is scouting out the other people on the trail.

20130610-204803.jpg The trail goes up to right below the arch, we didn’t go that far, since it was pretty steep and we didn’t want Tux to pull us down it, he’s a strong pup! This is a great trail with really pretty views, the stairs were recently redone at the time of our hike and were in great condition. Now on to some pictures of our hike!

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20130610-204934.jpg Kate and I

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20130610-205147.jpg Boulders near the arch.

20130610-205231.jpg Tux chillin on the ride home, precious!

Related:
Cabin Fever = Adventure Planning
Other Hikes I’ve taken this Year:
Double Arch Trail – Red River Gorge
Whittleton Branch Trail

Squat challenge

Have you all seen this? I am going to try and finish this challenge, but that’s a lot of squats near the end. Anyone else want to take up this challenge with me? I’m starting it today!!

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I know I haven’t posted much about my workouts lately but I have thankfully been getting back into the routine of working out early in the morning! Also I found that the gym I go to has Nautilus weights, which I love. Now, if for some reason I can’t make the morning weights class on Tuesdays and Thursdays I can still get my lifting in!

Strike a Pose – Cincinnati Zoo Style

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I find that when going to a museum, zoo or really any public place imitating the animals or statues or paintings can capture some of the best pictures of your friends and you. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts going places with people who like to have fun is key to making it an amazing experience. This is the final and possibly the funniest installment on the Cincinnati Zoo.

What animal am I?

20130507-110522.jpg What has black and white stripes? Kyle of course!

Maybe if I act like one I’ll gain the speed of a cheetah? Not so much but it was worth a try.

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20130507-110847.jpg Are the real flamingos the ones in the above picture or the below picture? I just don’t know…

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The prettiest bears at the zoo.

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Is there anything more awkward than a turtle, only people pretending to be an awkward turtle.

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When statues are scattered throughout parks sometimes they can be overlooked in favor of the living exhibits, animals. This is the; become living art! Bringing living elements to those statues.

Do you see the raw emotion she has captured here?

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One of the joys of doing this in public is that there are numerous people that benefit and get a great laugh out of it. During this picture we saw the guide who spoke at the Cheetah Run, he laughed at us :)

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Atlas

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You can grow up to be anything you want! Like an archeologist.

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This before and after is wonderful, of course I like the after picture much better!

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20130507-112732.jpg Watch out Carolyn! Thankfully the guy in the next picture came to the rescue and saved her! It was a close one there for a few moments.

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Sometimes taking these amazingly awesome photos doesn’t go exactly as planned, it’s not always easy taking fun pictures. There are a few things to note before scrolling down. 1- I had no idea what was going on, other than I was getting pulled on 2- Check out the expression on the little kid in the background, we are probably the strangest adults he’s ever encountered and 3- nobody was hurt making these pictures.

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Success finally!

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Like I’ve mentioned before Carolyn Loves! Elephants, unfortunately they had their backs to us for most of the time, but that didn’t stop us from capturing some great pictures with them!

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These last couple of ones didn’t really fit into the other categories but are still fun!

Bear Hug!

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We discovered some hidden talents for example Kyle is a Butterfly Whisperer in his spare time. He was even featured in his local newspaper displaying this skill when he was younger!! Local celebrity here guys.

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Me just being a punk.. And below is Kristen doing an awesome photobomb.

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He says he was taking a picture of the cheetahs, but since it is so unlike him we like to pretend this is a picture of Kyle taking a selfie! Hilarious!!

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Wow he’s just like a scuba diver in the Manatee Springs

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One of these is not like the others!! Those goats have no idea that there is a lion in their midst.

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If when you go to the zoo you don’t have these kind of pictures I would definitely recommend taking some on your next adventure!

Click here and here to see the others posts on our adventure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Or here to see what other adventures have gone on this spring/summer!

Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My! Zoo 2

The main part of going to a zoo is of course to see the animals. I find it so interesting that zoos in the middle of a city seem to transport you to a completely different place. I forgot that we were in the middle of Cincinnati, but to the residents that live within close proximity of the zoo I wonder what it is like to randomly hear an elephant, or a lion roar in the morning? I remember when the circus came to town not too long ago that I was taken by surprised when I hear an elephant on my way out of work. To ensure we saw everything the Cincinnati Zoo had to offer we checked our map and made a plan to head out after lunch. 20130430-112104.jpg
One of the first places we went after lunch was the Cat Canyon. The path lead us into the Night Predators house, now this next picture is quite scary, Kristen took this picture and did a stare down with this animal. To be honest I’m not sure what this animal was but I do know two things, 1) it’s a predator for sure and 2) if it ever got out it would track us down. At first I thought this was fake because of how still it was, but no, it is real. 20130430-112143.jpg Outside of the Night Predator house we saw a mountain lion; again, seeing these animals up close really gives you a sense that these are really wild animals. Cognitively I know this, but seeing them stare me down is something different. 20130430-112216.jpg The next animal was a white tiger! This took me back to when I was about 11 or 12 years ago and my parents and I took a road trip to California and we stopped off in Las Vegas for a couple of days. I remember seeing the white tigers there and it was awesome! This tiger is a little blurry but he was sleeping anyways. 20130430-112255.jpg All of the big cats in the Cat Canyon that were awake; they were alert and all seemed to just stare right at you. There was a large viewing area in the tiger enclosure; the two tigers were right up next to the glass walking back and forth. 20130430-112418.jpg20130430-112433.jpg The last cat in this area was the snow leopard. 20130430-112525.jpg
At work I had a conversation with a coworker after looking at the pictures I took of two different rhinoceros, I was convinced that they were some kind of modern day dinosaurs. I googled it, and was wrong, not this first nor the last time I’m sure, but look at these guys!
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I found the orangutan to be the most interesting primate we saw at this zoo, the gorillas were lying down and hiding, which is understandable I would probably do the same if I was in their situation. There was a baby primate sleeping which was really cute!

20130430-112736.jpg This orangutan kind of reminded me of big foot in Harry and the Hendersons.

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20130430-112905.jpg There were some monkeys that were having a blast swinging around, to which my friend Carolyn mentioned that she wished she looked that cool on the monkey bars…

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Lions are the King of the jungle! And these two lions at were taking that responsibly with ease and grace expected of one in power. They were taking a power nap!!

20130430-113049.jpg Now an animal I would expect to be taking a nap was ACTIVE! I mean we watched this sloth move non-stop for a good 15 minutes! For some reason I thought sloths just kind of slept a lot and didn’t move, but this little guy proved that thought wrong.

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Do you know what Kristen’s favorite animal is? I didn’t until this trip, it is a polar bear!!

20130430-113627.jpg The first time we walked by the polar bears they were sleeping, so we went and saw the lions, which were also sleeping. When we came back the polar bears were active!!

20130430-113719.jpg We walked through the childrens petting zoo, and near the end was some penguins! A couple of years ago there was an event downtown, and they brought a penguin! I got to pet a penguin, they even had stickers that you got to wear after you petted the little guy!! And yes, I was in my 20s when this happened, but you better believe I wore that sticker with pride! This little penguin was splashing around in the water, so cute right?! Kyle thought he was trying to splash us, I don’t know but either way he was adorable!

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As a little girl I remember going to Brookfield Zoo that we would walk in and take the first right we could and there would be the zebras! These zebras were pretty much chilling like I remember the other zebras doing at Brookfield.

20130430-113956.jpg Interesting fact… I went to a Renaissances Fair in Wisconsin several years ago and got to pet a zebra, and ride an elephant! Elephants might have been one of the last animals we visited, but it is Carolyn’s favorite animal!! We spend a decent amount of time hanging out at this exhibit. It took us about 15 minutes to realize that there was more than one elephant in the habitat! There were in fact 3 elephants in there!!

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Stay tuned, because the next, and last post about our trip to the Cincinnati Zoo is going to be something you don’t want to miss!

For more on my trip to the zoo and other summer adventures check out the below links!
Adventure planning
Cincinnati Zoo

Cincinnati Zoo

There is something to be said about the people you experience life with, good people can make any place into an awesome once in a lifetime trip! The people I went to the zoo with are a bunch of fun loving people who made the most of this zoo, so if you all have never been to this zoo it is definitely one I would recommend going. First of all it is one of only 5 zoos in the world that have a smart phone app, cool right. Not only can the gps be used to pinpoint your location on their interactive map, it also has the schedule and a whole list of animal bios at your fingertips. This post will talk about what we experienced at the zoo with some pictures; there will be a second post of pretty much just pictures of the animals and a final one of all the funny poses we did! We didn’t even get into the park before a photo opportunity presented itself! Now being a true gentleman our friend Kyle helped all of us girls to be able to sit on the large rhino and then jumped on the smaller one, much to the amusement of the random people we asked to take our picture.

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Before we embarked on this adventure I asked around and was told that the cheetah run was a must see and to feed the giraffes. Conveniently they are located almost right next to one another, with the feeding the giraffes scheduled first

20130429-121308.jpg and then the cheetah run was scheduled to go on right afterwards. While we waited for the cheetah run

20130429-121354.jpg we chit chatted about our plans for the day and how hungry we were. Kyle super excited that we were going to lunch after the cheetah run.

20130429-121437.jpg Right before the cheetahs were to run, the zoo keepers spoke about what an amazingly powerful animal the cheetah was, and how they helped train them. Now cheetahs do love to run and are the fastest animal on land, but they are still wild and dangerous animals. This was clearly demonstrated when the second cheetah did not want to give up what she chased (they exchange the toy with a bowl of fresh meat). The zookeepers were very cautious with trying to get the toy back, and actually just left the cheetah alone for a while before they even tried to get it.

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One of the things the Cincinnati Zoo is known for is it’s tulips. The website says it’s one of the largest displays of tulips in the Midwest.

20130429-121626.jpg There were tulips everywhere and they were beautiful! There was a wide variety of colors

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Not only were the flowers beautiful but the entire zoo was like a beautifully manicured park that had animals.

20130429-122241.jpg Stay tuned for more animals and funny pictures to come :)

What’s you’re favorite thing about visiting a zoo? Which is your favorite zoo to visit?

One more thing crossed off my list of things to do this summer!

Cincinnati Zoo part 2

Mammoth Cave – Grand Avenue Tour

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I used to call it Mammoth Caves, until a coworker mentioned that it is Mammoth Cave. You know what… he was right! Mammoth Cave is the largest cave in the world, with about 400 miles of the cave explored. 400 miles! Guys that’s a lot of miles!! According to our tour guide most of that 400 miles is all within a 7 by 7 miles square. The tunnels are layered upon one another. The tour I took went down to the third level… not sure what that really means. What I do know is that when this picture was taken I was approximately 267 feet underground.

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The tour I took was called “The Grand Avenue Tour” I got a little mixed up on the times, I thought it started at 11:15 am, but in reality it was 11:30 am. Which doesn’t sound like a big difference until you factor in that I arrived 45 minutes early for the 11:15 tour, I was an HOUR early. Oops!! I had some time to kill and the weather was beautiful so I found a patch of grass and laid down and relaxed.

According to the NPS website the Grand Avenue Tour is 4 miles, 4 ½ hours and has 670 stairs, there was an optional 98 that I took because why not! The pace of the tour was good, I didn’t feel rushed or that it was dragging on. There were parts of the tour that were pretty hard, but conveniently there were rest spots right afterwards. When I first entered the cave and descended the first set of stairs my throat kind of felt like it was closing…. It may have been the fact that before we were loaded on the buses that took us to the cave entrance there was an extensive if this… then maybe this isn’t the right tour for you. Well I didn’t think I was claustrophobic until they mentioned that it would take HOURS before you were rescued if something happened there. I had to just stop thinking about that and that we were underground.

The first hour or so was what our Ranger said was ‘a walk in the park’ the end was ‘the hike’. We started out on Cleveland Ave and then had our lunch in the Snowball room. Words and pictures cannot capture the beauty of this place, or if they can I do not have the skills to adequately capture it. We had about a half an hour to eat in the Snowball room, which was named after the snowball shaped formations that were on the ceiling, we got to ask our Rangers questions and find out more about Mammoth Cave. They said that in the old days Mammoth Cave was privately owned and that one of the highlights was writing your name in the cave. Now Mammoth Cave was authorized as a national park in 1926, but was fully established in 1941 (source) When they ‘wrote’ their names it was actually smoked on with a candle! That’s kind of cool, they don’t allow people to write on the cave walls anymore, some people took it upon themselves to write on the picnic tables we ate at.

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Next to the Snowball room there was a waiting area that also had “the last legal bathroom for a long while” as our guide stated. Our next adventure lead us to Boone Avenue. Along the way I discovered ‘cave grapes’ that are formations that look like little grapes all over the ceiling, ‘cave crickets’ while also all over the ceiling these were not formations… Bugs we were over a mile from the entrance and there were bugs on the ceiling! They moved, AH! When I asked our Ranger if they bit, she looked at me like I was crazy and said ‘They’re crickets, they don’t bite’. How was I supposed to know that they were legitimately crickets and not something else that they called crickets, to help keep people like me from freaking out? Asking questions sometimes gets me responses like the one above, or can sometimes lead to interesting stories. It was a tight squeeze for a long while, single file, there were some places that the rock was just a couple of inches from touching me on either side.

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When thinking of hiking and going up hills in Kentucky, one normally thinking of the Red River Gorge or Natural Bridge, not hundreds of feet underground. There were parts that were really tough, this little 8 year old boy was behind me and kept telling him mom, ‘I’m not sure I’m gonna make it, just leave me here”. She didn’t and he made it just fine, a bit winded but he made it. After one such mountain we stopped at the top and saw what our guide affectionately called ‘Cave Zombies’. There were individuals who volunteer their time and labor to help the park out with maintenance that the park doesn’t have either the manpower or the budget to do. Think about it 400 miles of cave to maintain! That’s a lot of cave! Off we went to our next and hopefully final mountain, finally as we crested our last mountain we sat down to have our final chit chat before our last leg of the hike. Our Ranger spoke a bit on the history of the ownership of the cave, and the discovery of the New Cave Entrance. He spoke to us by candlelight, to show us what it was like for the people first exploring the cave, and then he blew out the candle and had everyone be as quiet and still as we could be to see what it was like when nobody was in the cave. WOW, just wow!

We finished up our tour with seeing the Frozen Niagara and leaving through the New Entrance to the Mammoth Cave. Overall the hike was amazing, and just beautiful. I wish that I could recommend that you all run out to Mammoth Cave and experience this tour first hand but I cannot. Due to the sequester and budget cuts this tour is being discontinued it just a couple of weeks. What makes this sadder is that I was talking with a lady on the way out to the cave who said her grandparents had taken her on this tour when she was a little girl and that she is now taking her granddaughter on it, a 5 generation tradition. While this tour may no longer be available I am sure that any tour into this cave will be breathtaking.

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