We chose to pop on over to Atlanta so we could visit Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library. We stayed at the Stone Mountain Park again for a quick 2 day stay. Since our last stop there, they have done quite a few improvements such as adding yurts and park model trailers for rent, erected a large, very nice playground area for the kids, and across the lake a huge Marriott’s hotel sprung up.
The Carter Presidential Library (it is actually called a “Center”, not a library) was OK. I was disappointed not more attention was devoted to the Iran Hostage Crisis. Even the Bush libraries had extensive displays regarding their wars, whether you consider them justified or not. I think the hostage crisis overshadowed the Panama Canal Treaty and even the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. It should play a more prominent part in Carter’s Library. Just my two cents…
We had a little bit of spare time so we wanted to do the walk up Stone Mountain. The mountain does not look very daunting, but it is actually a good leg workout, continuous incline with numerous rocks/steps thrown in for good measure. But the view at the top was very nice.
So with another Presidential Library notch in our belts, onward and upward. Weather looked to be getting a bit more mellow, so we decided to start our northward trek. Chattanooga, Tennessee was our next chosen stop. We found a Camping World campground on the south side of town which was actually an OK stop; full hookups, level site, $17 per night, and close to town. We used this opportunity to do a Costco run and load up.
A short trip into downtown found us at the Walnut Street Bridge which is a foot bridge across the Tennessee River. We walked around the area a bit and found a sidewalk that was anything but straight. Not much had changed in the area since we were here last. We already checked out Rock City and Point Park on Lookout Mountain (Civil War site). This time we were going to visit Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall, but seeing it was a short excursion, we opted instead for a 9.6 mile hike on the Mullen’s Cove Loop Trail in the Prentice Cooper State Forest. That was one killer hike! My hams and quads are still singing…
From Tennessee it was up into Kentucky for our next adventure, at the Mammoth Cave National Park. We stayed 4 days at the park campground, right next to the visitor’s center. The park offers several different cave tours and we started out with the Historic Entrance self tour. This was a short walk/tour and pretty uneventful as far as caves go, especially if you’ve ever been anywhere like the Oregon Caves or Carlsbad Caverns. We also took the short hike down the River Styx Spring Trail to see the spring. Unfortunately, the park does not allow flash photography inside the cave system, so cave pix are sadly lacking here. But I tried, as evidenced by the photos posted.
While at the campground, we found the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail. The bikes got a little work in (NO! My hams and quads got all the work! Ouch!) on the 16 mile ride which included a couple of healthy (read: steep) inclines.
After all that physical exertion, I was ready for some sedentary living and beginning the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was just the ticket. From our base at Mammoth Cave, we were able to start both trails. There is the Kentucky Bourbon Trail that consists of 10 distilleries (the ones I call “corporate”, large conglomerates like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour that consists of 13 small distilleries (the mom-and-pop family outfits). All 23 are scattered pretty much around the Bowling Green-Louisville-Lexington triangle. Our start got us visiting 6 of the 23 from our home at Mammoth Cave.
We concluded our stay with one more cave tour, the Domes and Dripstones Tour. The name of the tour is more spectacular than the sights along this tour. There are a few cave features at the end of the 2 hour tour, but, if you have seen anything like Carlsbad Caverns, you will be disappointed here.
Time to move along, we relocated to Bardstown with a 4 day stay at the White Acre Campground. We started here with a little walkabout town, steeped in Civil War lore and architecture.
From this stop we were able to snag another round of Kentucky Bourbon Trail stops. Trying to hit up all 23 distilleries is certainly giving us some exposure to back roads and some beautiful scenery. Some of the horse farms we passed were spectacular, especially when your looking at a huge mansion, then realize it is just the horse barn! We should live as well as some of these horses…
After 4 days and a couple of very large thunder/lightening spectacles, we motored a bit north to the Louisville area. We found the Add-More Campground actually in Clarksville, Indiana for a short 2 day stop to finish up this area’s Bourbon Trail participants. Besides the distilleries here, Jeanne found an area of downtown called 4th Street Live! which we took a stroll through. It was daytime as we did, but it looked more to be a happening place for the nightlife. The area is similar to Fremont St. in Vegas, sans the freakazoids, with stage area for bands and all the food and liquor you could imagine. While there, we ventured over to Main St. and found the Louisville Slugger factory/store as well as the Louisville Slugger baseball field, home to AAA Cincinnati Reds team, the Louisville Bats.
There was also a foot bridge called the “Big Four Bridge” that crossed the Ohio River and gave good views of downtown. That bridge was a railroad bridge built in the 1880’s-1890’s and in 1929 they built a new bridge inside the old frame. 42 workers died while building the bridge, so now it is considered a monument to those who died.
Well, it’s moving time again. Headed east now, gotta finish the Bourbon Trails with the Lexington area stops. Lookout, Lexington, here we come!