After leaving Ithaca, we drove to Mogadore, Ohio just outside of Cleveland. This was mainly a stopover for us in order to get closer to our next destination: Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
But, since staying a single night anywhere is rarely worth it for us (we work full time and a single night stop over the weekend basically removes any spare time we have to stop and explore our surroundings – plus we just don’t wanna be sitting in the truck for two days in a row).
We stayed at Countryside Campground which was great from an amenities and family activity perspective – the spots are extremely crammed in, though, and had it been full I’m not sure we would have had space to park our truck or get in and out very easily. Plus we were at a site that wasn’t too far from the highway – so definitely not our fave, but fine for a Friday to Monday.
Sunday the 15th was my birthday – Travis planned an entire day for us in Cleveland. We went to the Museum of Natural History followed by a stop at the Cleveland Animal Protective League so that I could play with ALL the sweet kitties.
After my little heart strings exploded, he drove us to Great Lakes Brewing Company for some lunch. Sadly, it was closed (are brew pubs usually closed on Sundays or is this a Cleveland thing?). So we went to the Flying Fig next door instead and I had the best avocado sandwich on the planet.
After that was a stop at the West Side Market – a covered, open-air market with tons of food vendors. A chocolate donut and mint macaroon later we were on to our next destination, the Cleveland Arcade. Normally we avoid malls like the plague, but it was raining and windy and we had some time to burn before dinner. Interestingly enough, again, the entire thing was shut down on a Sunday, but the building inside is breathtakingly beautiful.
We’re still not sure why Cleveland goes to bed at 4pm on Sundays (seriously, all things retail and small business were completely closed) but with yet more time to kill we went to the Christmas Story House. We couldn’t go inside because apparently they let people rent the actual house itself and stay overnight – the changeover happens at 5pm and we rolled up just before then.
So we did what any respecting adults who need to kill time before dinner do: we went to the local arcade bar, 16-Bit. All the games are FREE (except pinball), you just pay for drinks. They didn’t have 4-player PacMan but plenty of other old school games kept us busy until we grabbed dinner at Ty Fun.
From Mogadore we drove to Frankfort, Kentucky just outside of Lexington…and got our first flat tire, WOMP. Thanks to AAA, though, we were back on our way in about an hour and a half (super happy we opted for the added RV service on our plan).
We stayed at Elkhorn Campground – it’s right on South Elkhorn Creek and spaces were a touch more spacious than Mogadore, but not by much. We actually had rigs on 3 out of 4 sides this time so it felt more squeezed in from that perspective.
Temperatures have dipped significantly, too – we’re talking high 30s at night which we weren’t expecting this far south yet!
In any case we were able to grab lunch in Lexington with friends from NYC – our former upstairs neighbors – and meet their adorable baby girl while sipping local brews at at Pazzo’s before making a quick stop at Buffalo Trace for a whiskey tasting.
From Frankfort we drove to Cave City to post up at Singing Hills RV Park – five miles from Mammoth Cave National Park.
The campground is peaceful and we didn’t feel squished. I’ve been so excited to finally go to a National Park, too! With highs in the 70s over the weekend it seems like we picked the perfect time to be here.
This weekend was Travis’s birthday, so it was my turn to plan all the festivities. Saturday we did the Domes & Dripstones tour – I’m not always a fan of guided tours but it’s the only way to get into the cave system.
The only downside of these tours is the group size – we easily had more than 100 people, which made the entire thing much slower and…crowded? But I get it – definitely better than the possibility of not going at all due to smaller tours selling out much more quickly.
In any case, we learned all about the way the caves formed (from layers and layers of ancient shallow seas forming limestone layers over time; rainwater mixed with carbon dioxide forms carbonic acid which eats through the limestone over time, eventually creating underground rivers and caverns) and how much has been mapped (412 miles and counting), and a lot more.
We were able to see a large section of cave that is completely dry due to a shale and sandstone “roof” overhead that water does not penetrate. This section has a completely flat roof, unlike any other cave I’ve seen. Our guide also turned all the lights off so we could experience total blackness – an amazing experience.
This was the time I wished tour groups were smaller – to be honest, I wanted more than anything for everyone to be quiet for 3 seconds so that in addition to the darkness we could also experience the type of silence that Charles Harvey did in 1838 when he was lost in the cave for 39 hours without a lantern.
The next part of the cave, where the shale and sandstone switches back to limestone, was where we saw all the amazing formations – stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, cave bacon. Just breathtaking. We didn’t see any bats – 80 to 90% of the cave’s bat population has been lost to White-Nose Syndrome – a fungus that attacks bats while they hibernate. We saw lots of cave crickets, though – which look like massive spiders.
After caving we went kayaking on the Green River – the water was on the low side so it was lazy and lovely. The trip ended at the Green River Ferry, where a ferry shuttles up to 2 or 3 cars at a time back and forth over the river. The boat itself is probably half the width of the river itself so it seems like a novelty more than anything else.
Sunday we hit Dinosaur World and the Kentucky Action Park for ziplining and the Alpine Slide. They’re all within 5 minutes of one another so the convenience factor was a 10/10.
We also went to Hidden River Cave in nearby Horse Cave – this cave has a massive entrance you can see from the street – and the temperature dips about 20 degrees as you approach its mouth.
On to Tennessee!