Mammoth Cave and Group Lunch at Martin’s BBQ

Our first full day in Nashville began with a trip back to Kentucky. We headed north to Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. After 80 minutes of driving, we arrived at the visitor center. We bought our tickets and explored what the park store had to offer. For GLCM student Ally, this was a very important stop as she collects the visitor stamps for each park (this was her eleventh!). A few of us were inspired by Ally, and bought postcards to start our national park stamp collection.

We chose to go on the self-guided tour, and after a short walk we arrived at the cave entrance. Before entering, the park ranger let us know the rules of the cave, which included what to do in case we come into contact with a bat. While this made some of us uncomfortable, he then let us know that he has only encountered three bats in twenty years. This makes sense, as we only saw two bats in the entire cave. The cave was much darker than I was expecting! We learned about the saltpeter (potassium nitrate) mine, fish that live in caves, and growing mushrooms underground. A very kind Park Ranger named Stacey told us that 426 miles have been explored by the Cave Research Foundation. They use tools such as altimeters, compasses, and string to measure distances when they are surveying new areas of the cave.

The cave visit was pretty short, and we wanted to make the visit worth our time. This meant going on a 2 mile hike through the national park. The path was incredibly rocky and uneven, and I really wished I had worn my construction boots instead of sneakers. We walked a total of two miles, which included some very steep elevation changes. After a long hike, we were excited to drive back to Nashville for lunch.

We made it to Martin’s Bar-B-Que for lunch, and the smell walking into the restaurant was absolutely delightful. The restaurant was decorated with many pieces of sports memorabilia and Nashville history. Most people had brisket or pork, but I wanted to try the “taco” with a cornbread hoecake, smoked turkey, and coleslaw. I paired my dish with macaroni and cheese and sweet tea. We couldn’t come to Nashville without eating some barbecue!

We conveniently chose a barbecue restaurant nearby the Parthenon and Centennial Park, so we obviously had to explore. The Parthenon is a replica of the ancient Greek Parthenon, and the original one was built of plaster for the 1897 World’s Fair. Unfortunately, the plaster version was destroyed in a fire, but the permanent version that we visited was built from 1925 to 1931. It was a small museum, but there was a lot to see. The first floor included artifacts from the World’s Fair and from movies that have been filmed at the Parthenon. The rest of the first floor had art, both new and old. The second floor had a 42-foot tall statue of Athena holding a 6-foot statue of Nike in her hand. It was cool to see an interesting piece of Nashville history, but I was still looking forward to what came next. We walked to Centennial Park, and headed to the Taylor Swift bench. I was very thrilled to find out my outfit was the exact same shade as the bench. I was very excited to check this visit off the list. After a short walk around the park to see the tulips in bloom, we headed back home. It was a very fun day in Kentucky and Tennessee and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the trip.

Blog by Joie Gindorf