At the door to the cave entrance, our dry-witted Ranger announced a few do’s and don’ts.
“And finally, guns are forbidden inside the cave. So if you’ve brought your gun with you, you can’t come in” came John’s sardonic precaution.
It tickled the three of us to great length. But looking around the 60-strong tour group it appears we were the only ones who’d consider bringing a gun to a tourist attraction rather inappropriate.
The caves were pretty goddamn cool, but still as a source of written coverage they can prove hard as inspiration. But it’s more the grand size of these caves that provide the most wonder.
It’s estimated that these caves could stretch in total (i.e. not in a liner direction) to around 200 miles, but in reality they have absolutely no idea how big this range of cave is. One of the park rangers back at the hotel told us that she was on an expedition a few years ago when she stumbled into a large cave that appeared to be lit up with diamond and crystal coated stalagmites. However after going back with the rest of her group, she was unable to relocate it. They’ve been looking for it ever since.
They’re no better placed in finding out the reach of these caves. The soft rock means new caves could be opening up all the time.
About 30 miles down the road in Bowling Green (our next destination) a 40ft wide and 25ft deep sinkhole opened up at the National Corvette Museum, swallowing 8 models. This was just last February, with the last one being fished out only last week.
As often the case with the human psyche, the day is broken up by food stops. We get to Bowling Green by 3pm to have some lunch. It’s perfectly placed between our starting position this morning and our final destination of Nashville where we’ll be reuniting with Dad, Auntie Mary and Uncle Kev who’ve been travelling south from Washington DC since last Saturday.
Dad (who did this trip last year on the way to Luke and Ellen’s engagement party) describes Bowling Green as “just like the town from Back to the Future”.
He’s got a point. The central square and clock tower could easily have been where we’d expect Marty to come whizzing past us on a hover board. And just like the film, you’d be just as likely to see somebody still using a fax machines in some of the older looking office buildings. The place seems to range very much from the past to the future, with nothing in between.
We find a pizzeria called Mellow Mushroom (est. 1974) not too far from the central green. We’re drawn by the pink and turquoise exterior and its psychedelic interior. You can’t move on the backpacking trails of South-East Asia without stumbling on a pizzeria with the words ‘mellow’ and ‘mushroom’ in the title. And often the case you leave unable to walk, coming to terms with the possibility your mind will never return to normal service again.
Though this place was actually more committed to a puritan existence, just with individuals pizzas the size of car tyres and a drinks list dominated by 12-15% alcoholic lagers.
Then on to Cheney’s Ice Cream dairy barn before cracking on to Nashville.
Joe and Kate have joined the AirBnB movement and have a nice little house sorted near the Five Points for the weekend. I’m sharing with Dad, Auntie Mary and Uncle Kev. After helping to get Joe and Kate settled, Dad and Kev pull up outside the front lawn and after getting an executive summary of their trip, I jump in to dump my stuff off at the ground floor flat we’ve got over near the German Quarter.
The city skyline gives you the butterflies that only a famous one can seeing for the first time. As I listen, Dad speculates that the dominant AT&T building was used for several Batman films.
I’m not too sure. I mean he’s got a point in that the design certainly does resemble Batman’s helmet. It’s just I don’t ever recall the covert superhero ever needing 33-stories of office space in the middle of a Southern city.
We meet Joe and Kate at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, an aptly suited country music bar on Broadway. Reunited at last!
The next few hours are spent doing exactly what we were advised; let Broadway guide you, and don’t stay in any one place too long.
The older three of our sextet have picked up some new buzzwords since hitting the road last weekend. Dad has been guilty of adopting buzzwords into everyday parlance before, albeit a good solid decade after they’ve first entered the public’s lexicon. But him, Kev and Mary are all at it. It appears with social media, adoption of such language has been exacerbated, as they’ve skipped all the way to ‘Selfie’ and more disturbingly ‘Twerking’. Strange, as neither of them know who and what Miley Cyrus and Instagram are.
Anyways, as long as they remain words and not actions, I’ll be happy this holiday…