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Old 21st May 2012, 00:05   #1
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Default Kentucky Kronicles

Work took me to Kentucky, US and made it my temporary home for some time - one month in Nov - Dec 2011 and continuing till now from Feb, 2012. Most probably this will be my longest stay outside my beloved country in lifetime, surpassing my UK stay of 5 months back in 2001.

This travelogue I will share some of the sights I have visited over the many week-ends stayed here (some of the week-ends I had to go to office and some others I just spent lazily).

Now where is Kentucky?
Disclaimer: I picked up the map from internet (A Free United States Map), and did a highlight job using paint.
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Now looking at the map, I always wondered why it is referred as one of the southern states, and that ensued asking 'google' and I found the article in Wikipedia, and the reason goes back to the civil war.

The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South— is an area in the southeastern and south-central United States. The region is known for its distinct culture and history, having developed its own customs, musical styles and varied cuisines that have helped distinguish it from the rest of the United States. The South owes its unique heritage to a variety of sources, including Native Americans, early European settlements of Spanish, English, German, French, Scots-Irish and Scottish importation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans, historic dependence on slave labor, presence of a large proportion of African Americans in the population, and the aftermath of the Confederacy after the Civil War.
The below map (again taken from wikipedia) shows the Southern States.
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If you are interested, you can read more in Southern United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Now, some more trivia about Kentucky. It has area of 40411 sq.mi. ( Land 39732 sq.mi., Water 679 sq.mi.) and estimated population of 4,369,356 (source: Kentucky State Information - Symbols, Capital, Constitution, Flags, Maps, Song and More and Kentucky QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau). Did you notice it has only 4 million people, half of Bangalore's 8,728,906 (List of most populous metropolitan areas in India - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)!!!

Last edited by arindamray : 21st May 2012 at 00:07.
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Old 21st May 2012, 08:21   #2
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Default Re: Kentucky Kronicles

Excellent start Arindam. Looking forward to this log of yours. When I was in Cincinnati, I considered many places in Kentucky to visit but I ended up doing places up north. The only place I visited in Kentucky was Red River Gorge Scenic byway and it was beautiful.

Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
Now, some more trivia about Kentucky. It has area of 40411 sq.mi. ( Land 39732 sq.mi., Water 679 sq.mi.) and estimated population of 4,369,356 (source: Kentucky State Information - Symbols, Capital, Constitution, Flags, Maps, Song and More and Kentucky QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau). Did you notice it has only 4 million people, half of Bangalore's 8,728,906 (List of most populous metropolitan areas in India - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)!!!
Amazing it is. The population comparison really leaves little to imagination.

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Old 31st May 2012, 01:05   #3
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Default Frankfort, Lexington, Blue Grass region

My work is in Frankfort, the state capital of the Kentucky. A tiny little town with population of around 25,000 people. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.0 square miles (39 sq km), of which 14.7 square miles (38 sq km) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 sq km) is water.

A bit history from wikipedia (Frankfort, Kentucky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The town of Frankfort likely received its name from an event that took place in 1780s. Native Americans attacked a group of early British-American pioneers from Bryan’s Station, who were making salt at a ford in the Kentucky River. After the pioneer Stephen Frank was killed, the settlers called the crossing "Frank’s Ford." This name was later shortened to Frankfort.
First week, I stayed in Frankfort, and then moved to Lexington, the 2nd Largest city of Kentucky, which is in the heart of Blue grass region.

Bluegrass is not really blue--it's green--but in the spring, bluegrass produces bluish-purple buds that when seen in large fields give a rich blue cast to the grass. Early pioneers found bluegrass growing on Kentucky's rich limestone soil, and traders began asking for the seed of the "blue grass from Kentucky." The name stuck and today Kentucky is known as the “Bluegrass State”.

Now enough of gyan, time for some pictures:

The hotel I stayed inititally
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Inside the room
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The view from the hotel front
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My vehicle for the first week
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Old 4th July 2012, 10:09   #4
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Default Mammoth Cave

Visiting Acadia National Park last time (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post2193363 (Back from Boston)), I had a high regard to the National Parks in the US. So planning for the first week-end started with going to National Park website, and chosing the state as Kentucky - and it gave the result as 'Mammoth Cave National Park'.

With more than 392 miles of cave passageways, Mammoth Cave ranks as the longest known cave in the world. Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941.

So that was it for the first week-end, and icing on the cake was a special event for Christmas (done on first Sunday of December). Little bit of research on the NPS website for the various ranger lead cave tours, lead me to zero down on Historic and New Entrace tour. So the plan settled as start Saturday morning, do the two tours on Saturday (one get a discount on second tour done on the same day), Sunday morning for some hikings and afternoon attend the Christmas events and then head back.

In the morning December 3rd 2011, started my journey. The journey was scenic.
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With one hour gain (Mammoth Cave is in Central Time zone, whereas Frankfort is in Eastern Time zone), I was few minutes early for the park opening hour, IIRC 9:00 am during winter.

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Bought the ticket for the tours - New Entrance at 10:00 am and Historic at 3:00 pm and started browsing throuh some books and brochures. The tours start from the shelters just outside the visitor center. As announced proactively came to Shelter B for the new entrance tour, 5 minutes ahead. They do announce for visitor's convenience.
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We were taken by bus to the entry point.
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We had two rangers for our tour, one who leads the group and narrates, the other trails the group and also has the responsibilities of switching the lights off after the group.
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Before the start of the tour, the ranger was explaining the history of Mammoth cave, geology on how the cave systems are formed, the different layers (there are five layers) of the mammoth cave, etc.
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And we listened attentively.
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Per the website, the New Entrance Tour
A wonderful complement to the Historic Tour, this trip includes a dramatic series of domes and pits, typical large trunk passageways, a short journey through dripstone formations and stairs, stairs, stairs! (Small children may find this trip overly challenging.)
• 2 hours, ¾ mile. Tour limit: 114. Total stairs: 500, including 280 on initial descent. Elevation change: 250.
• Includes the complete Frozen Niagara Tour route and a portion of the Grand Avenue Tour route.
• Difficulty: Moderate.
The entrance was narrow and flights of stairs into the darkness, till the eyes got adjusted.
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In the way, we saw some pits
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and the bottomless pit
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We came to a portion which is big. This portion and as we went along we were more and more convinced of the naming of the cave.
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When graffiti becomes history
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This tour also takes us to the only section of the Mammoth cave where the stalactite/stalagmite formations are. Much smaller in grandeur compared to the Luray Cavern which I visited in 2003 and then visited recently again in 2012.
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The drapery room, which houses the maximum formation
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Frozen Niagara, nothing but a huge formation of stalactites together
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You can get an idea of scale from this picture, look at the person in red shirt
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Some more formations
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And then we were out.

Last edited by arindamray : 4th July 2012 at 11:07.
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Old 5th July 2012, 02:42   #5
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Default Mammoth Cave

After the tour we were taken back to the visitor center by the Bus. It was almost noon and I wheeled my small suitcase to Mammoth Cave hotel. It was already booked for one night through internet (watch out: they charge the credit card directly at website, not put a hold like other hotels).

The entrance
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The rooms from the parking lot, my room was on the other side overlooking a hiking trail
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The room - cozy
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As someone said, narcissism
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Love to sit there having a cup of coffee, gazing afar...
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The hotel has two restaurants - a cafe and a fine dining restaurant. Had lunch in the cafe, and headed back for the next tour. Visitor center can be accessed from the hotel lobby directly through a bridge.
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The road below the bridge
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Had some time, and took couple of snaps inside the visitor center
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and outside
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The Christmas is round the corner and the festive light is everywhere
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The Mammoth Cave National Park is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
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So again dot at three our tour starts, this time from Shelter A. The ranger gave a little brief before heading out.
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Historic entrance is nearby and we walked down.
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From the website about Historic Tour
Been in other more decorative caves, but never in Mammoth Cave? This journey through the natural entrance leads to “classic” Mammoth Cave—landmarks visited by writers, scientists, military figures and celebrities of the 1800s and early 1900s. A great family trip!
• 2 hours, 2 miles. Tour limit: 120. Total stairs: 440, including 155 at Mammoth Dome. Elevation change: 300.
• Limited areas of the Mammoth Cave Discovery, Mammoth Passage, Star Chamber, River Styx and Violet City Lantern Tours are visited on this route.
• Difficulty: Moderate.
As soon as you enter, you are awed by the massive size of the passageway, almost as wide as a 4 lane road
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The Rotunda, prepared for the next day's special event
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The mammoth cave was also a source of Salt Peter which is used in Gun Powder, the evidences of extraction of Gun Powder is abound, the wooden waterline, the mud after the extraction
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Due to low light other photographs had a long exposure and shaken (tripod is not allowed in the cave. There are very few things allowed, check the website). But the names like Broadway, Gothic Avenue stood true to their names. Fat man's misery is a narrow twisted passage way, but not that much of a challenge. There is also a place called Methodist Church where earlier services used to happen.

Satisfied we came back to the twilight zone and then out.
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Now little bit gyan on cave formation -
Limestone underlies the Mammoth Cave region. As rainwater infiltrates the soil, it picks up small amounts of carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide reacts with the water to form a weak carbonic acid, making the groundwater mildly acidic. Like most major caves, Mammoth Cave was formed by the slow dissolution of limestone by groundwater.
Over time, as groundwater dissolves the limestone, it forms underground streams. These streams converge, as surface streams do, and create Mammoth Cave's underground rivers. Over Mammoth Cave's geologic history the Green River, the region's master stream, has carved deeply and entrenched itself in its valley. Cave streams responded by creating younger, lower routes and abandoning older and higher channels, creating a
network of cave passages. At depths of up to 450 feet below the surface, cave streams are still forming passages today.
When the water runs horizontally it creates the horizontal passages, till it gets a vertical gap to go down creating a vertical shaft. It may be possible to have multiple horizontal passages one above another (as the water stream abandons the above level and go below). Karst Topography, formation by eroded limestone, is typical in Mammoth Cave area and also have sinkholes - a natural depression or hole in the Earth's surface caused by karst processes — the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks.

The sun was down by the time we came out, and there is a distinct chill in the air, the park sleeps early, so had an early dinner and hit bed thinking to explore the areas above ground tomorrow.

Last edited by arindamray : 5th July 2012 at 03:47.
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Old 5th July 2012, 04:40   #6
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Default Mammoth Cave

Sunday, 4th Dec 2011

Got up early morning, and got ready to explore some of the trails. The first being the heritage trail, which starts just behind the hotel.
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From the trail, my room can be seen. The one in the ground floor, with the curtains open.
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Just a random shot from the trail.
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First stop was Old Guide's cemetery.
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Stephen Bishop was a self-educated enslaved person who became a legendary cave guide and explorer. He began guiding visitors at age 17 in 1838. He was the first person to explore many miles of the vast cave.
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Proceeded to the Sunset point (though at a wrong time).
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Then took the zigzag path down to echo river spring trail
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And reach the place where River styx emerges from the cave to the surface
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The wooden railing on the pathway also gave me an opportunity to place the camera there to click couple of quick pics of mine. I am typically uncomfortable to approach any unknown person to click picture for me, apart from the fact that in this entire hike I didn't meet a single person,
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The place where river styx is meeting green river was used for old boat landing space.
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The green river
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At a cross road. Which one to chose - travel north in Green River Bluff trail or south in Echo Spring trail (following the river styx trail to east to go back to visitor center obviously was not in the choice set).
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Chose the Green River Bluff trail and it gave some nice vistas to look at. Who would not like to sit in this bench and enjoy a nice sunset.
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Met a deer family too
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In between took a detour to Dixon Cave.
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And finally was back to the parking area

After a quick breakfast, took the car out and went to Green River Ferry area
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Old 5th July 2012, 09:27   #7
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Default Mammoth Cave

Next destination was Cedar Sink trail, to see the sink hole.

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The board says "The small body of water below you is a very short section of the much larger Hawkins-Logsdon underground river system. This water has traveled for tens of miles before surfacing here at Cedar Sink, and disappears again at the foot of this bluff to continue its journey to the Green River at Turnhole Bend..."
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It was a short walk but had climbs up and down (stairs). Was feeling tired from all the walking since morning, and it was also the time for next activities, so went back to the hotel, checked out and put the luggage in the car.

This time had the lunch in the fine dining restaurant.
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While waiting for the food, saw these just outside the window.
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Lunch over and its now time for the special event "Cave Sing".

The idea for the Cave Sing dates back to 1883, when residents held a Christmas celebration in Mammoth Cave. An article about the event stated, "the halls of the cave ring with joyous carols and the laughter of happy children."
It was restarted in the year of 1980 and it was the 32nd Annual Cave Sing. "The Cave Sing began in 1980," said Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Patrick Reed. "Now, people return year after year, bringing friends and family. It's no wonder - music is a tradition in the cave and the smallest notes resound in the large chambers and passageways. Please join us for yet another memorable afternoon."

The event started with Christmas story telling at the Mammoth Cave Hotel Rotunda room.
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If I recall correctly his name was Mr. Richard. And his narration was really good and the stories had a nice feel about it. One of them I still remember (even after 7 months)...

It was one of those Christmas gatherings few years back. Everybody is enjoying the afternoon sun. All the young ones, my nephews and nieces are playing around. Sweet little niece Liza were also there. I was watching them, they then started running. Liza, one of the youngest ran her full steam, but came last. They ran again, she came last, the routine continued for some more time.
After some time Liza came to me, asked "Uncle Rick, Uncle Rick, are you enjoying?".
"Yes sweet heart" I replied while taking her into my lap, "did you?"
"What you liked the most?"
I was surprised. You remember she huffing and puffing and coming at the end. But then with her eyes beaming in the sun she continued,
"You know uncle Rick, when I ran, I liked the grass under my feet, I liked the wind blowing in my hair, I liked the trees going behind, I liked it all."
And I learned the true meaning of running.

After the story telling we gather around the shelter and this time its a huge crowd. The briefing at the Shelter
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followed by the crowd moving to the historic entrance.
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Post another briefing at the entrance
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We climbed down
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The Glasgow Brass Quintet was performing in the Rotunda.
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They had the beautiful Christmas tree in the background.
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Tried to capture one of them close, but the light just permitted this much.
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Enjoyed the music there (the carols were not known to me, but the music in the natural auditorium of cave was an experience in itself), and then moved ahead into the place called the Methodist church (within the cave).

The Lindsey Wilson College Singers and Commonwealth String Quartet were about to start their performance there, and I could capture them in a little light mood before the start.
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Then it started, and the music filled the cave.
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During the last song candles were passed across and the electric lights were switched off. The effect was mesmerizing.
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At the end of a dream afternoon, people walking out of the cave.
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Complementary refreshment was waiting for us at the mammoth cave hotel after the event. With a satisfied soul and smiling face I started the return journey.
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Last edited by arindamray : 5th July 2012 at 09:29.
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Old 6th July 2012, 12:19   #8
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Default Re: Kentucky Kronicles

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th July 2012, 13:26   #9
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Awesome write up. Your style reflects how a perfect solitary laid back trip should be. The pictures stand out and bring the calmness and the solitude of this place. I guess spending time here brings a lot of inner peace to oneself.

Originally Posted by arindamray View Post
From the trail, my room can be seen. The one in the ground floor, with the curtains open.
Attachment 951292
That's the first floor as per American nomenclature.

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Old 6th July 2012, 13:57   #10
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wonderful details and pics
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Old 6th July 2012, 18:22   #11
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Nice clicks Arindamray. The Green river area looks so haunted. Reminds me of the movie "The Blair witch project"
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Old 6th July 2012, 23:57   #12
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Wow! Thanks for posting. I lived for a couple of years in Nashville, TN and had visited Mammoth Caves circa Oct 2007. Your photos and narration sure bring back fond memories.

Did you get to visit the Corvette museum and Lost River Cave not too far from Mammoth Caves?

Don't mean to hijack your thread but just couldn't resist uploading a couple of pics from the corvette museum.
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Old 7th July 2012, 03:29   #13
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Nice travelogue Arindamray. We just visited Mammoth Caves during memorial day weekend (last week of May). You did captured some nice pics. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 22nd September 2012, 01:21   #14
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Default Dayton

Another week-end is coming by, and a close friend of mine invited me to his house in Dayton, merely 3 hours drive from Lexington. After readily accepting the offer, the search begin in the net for places to visit in Dayton and found couple of significant things.

a) Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
It is in Dayton the world aviation took its baby steps. From wikipedia
Through the invention of powered flight, Wilbur and Orville made significant contributions to human history. In their Dayton, Ohio, bicycle shops, these two men, self-trained in the science and art of aviation, researched and built the world's first power-driven, heavier-than-air machine capable of free, controlled, and sustained flight. The Wrights also perfected their invention during 1904 and 1905 at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field near their hometown of Dayton.
b) National Museum of the Unites States Air Force
The NMUSAF is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum[3] with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display. The museum draws over 1.3 million visitors each year making it one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Ohio.
So an early morning start on Dec 10th 2011, saw me driving along the Interstate 75. Nearing Cincinnati, there was a major pile up before the Ohio river bridge. Forwarding inch by inch, it tested my patience. A quick look at the GPS revealed there is an alternative bridge to cross the river, so took the next available exit went through the downtown, to cross the river and join the interstate after certain distance. In subsequent trips went straight ahead and got nice pics of Cincinnati skyline.
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Bridge on the Ohio river
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Ohio River, seggregating state of Kentucky and Ohio
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The museum entry is free, and there is guided tour at 1:30 pm daily (Saturday also has an extra tour at 10:30 am). Though a heavy breakfast and sumptuous lunch got us delayed for that. But we quickly caught up with them, keeping the first few exhibits for later viewing.
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We started through the early years gallery. After couple of shots where I forgot to capture the details of the plane and a balloon model
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it dawned on me, and started capturing the details as well. Otherwise all the details given by the guide was getting jumbled up from the third exhibit itself.
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In this you can see our guide as well.
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These were some of the planes during the World War One era. Will move to the interwar years (between WW I and WW II) in the next post.

Last edited by arindamray : 22nd September 2012 at 01:24.
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Old 22nd September 2012, 01:43   #15
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nice, thanks for sharing. We stayed in Columbus , OH for some years and have very fond memories of the state and and the museum. Do try and visit the Kings Island if you are interested in amusement parks, its pretty near to Dayton and in Mason , OH
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