A Cave, A Quarry and A New Friend

While we enjoyed our week at Shady Valley, cell service was non-existent and wi-fi was iffy at best. We used one of our days there to scout out a new park. We decided on Carter Caves State Resort Park. There wasn’t any availability until the following Sunday so we booked a Sunday to Friday stay and finished out our week at Shady Valley.

In the mean time, we had a bit of maintenance to do on Waldo. One day we stopped at a local parts store. I waited in the Jeep while Steve did his shopping. A guy pulls up next to me in a home made street legal dune buggy, gets out looks at our license plate and asks if we “drove that thing all the way from Florida?” I laughed and said “No, we tow it behind our motorhome, we live in it full-time.” We were still chatting when Steve came out. The guy stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Eddie, my wife calls me Gabby.” Steve and I nodded our understanding and hung out in the parking lot for another half hour BS-ing. It was a completely comfortable conversation by some like minded adventurers. We told him we were going to be moving to Carter Caves at the end of the week. He informed us that is his “stomping grounds”, he drives through nearly every night (since he doesn’t live far away). We left him with an invitation to stop by if he sees the Jeep.

Sunday rolled around and we made our move, wondering if we would see him again. Sure enough, on Monday, Eddie stopped by. He was driving a different buggy this time…

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He turned down my offer of a beer, proclaiming it was against the beer rules. You ALWAYS bring your own beer. Only if you run out, is it ok to drink someone else’s. We sat around, each drinking our own beer and talking until late in the evening. He was a fountain of information about the area and gave us lots of ideas on places to visit. 

One of the days we were there, we toured Cascade Cave. It was a really cool series of caves, with lots of bats getting settled in for their winter hibernation. Unfortunately, none of my cute bat pictures came out, so you’ll have to settle for cave pictures…

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The last part of the cave we visited was a 30′ waterfall..

There were also several hiking trails to explore. We took the 3 Bridges Trail as far as the first bridge which was impressive in size…

The person gives a bit of perspective on the size
Looking back towards the entrance

One evening, Eddie stopped by and asked if we had found the quarry he had told us about. We admitted we had looked, but not found it. He offered to lead the way. He needed gas, so we followed him to the station where we both filled up. He said, “Hey, we aren’t far from my house, wanna stop in there first.” “Sure”, we said. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but his home is beautiful! Complete with a huge fishing pond his wife is working on. Eddie grabbed a bowl of dog food and tossed into the pond, the result was dozens of huge catfish vying for their share. About this time, his wife came from working on the other side of the pond and introductions were made. Her and I chatted while Eddie showed Steve the garage and his “buggy in progress”. Eddie checked the time and said we should get going if we want to see sunset at the quarry.

15 minutes later, we came to this…

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Eddie offered to take our picture, he laughed when he handed me back my phone. He had taken several pictures, including…

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He explained he always takes a bunch of pictures, especially before people are ready. Turns out the best picture of us WAS before we were ready…

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Later, he proved again the best picture is probably the one before you are ready…

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My expression leaves something to be desired, but it is clear we were laughing and having fun. I took a couple pictures of our rides by the pond…

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And further up the trail…

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Just before sunset, I got a picture of Eddie drinking “The Best Damn Beer I Ever Drank”

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Steve and I called it a night while Eddie settled in for his evening at the quarry.

Thursday, I texted Eddie and invited him over for a campfire on our final night at the park. He said he was working on a souvenir and would be over later. When he arrived, I had a roaring fire going and we sat around talking about how much fun the last week had been. Eddie walked over to his buggy and came back with a surprise for us. Walking sticks he had made from locust tree limbs with our names and Kentucky 2020…

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We were shocked. It was such a “from the heart” souvenir. We have crossed paths with so many people over the last 3 1/2 years, very few have made us feel so special.

Up next – A Kayak Trip to Grotto Falls

Adventures in the Bluegrass State

We headed straight to Kentucky – The Bluegrass State when we left New Hampshire. Time with family and friends was great, but I was ready for some adventures. Our original plan was to boondock in the Daniel Boone National Forest, just outside of Morehead. There were two main reasons we nixed that idea, first being the was absolutely no cell service but the main reason was when we got to Paragon Road, the sites were muddy and soft. I could have lived with no service, but if we had gotten Waldo into the site, it would have taken a tow truck to get him out.

We spent the first week at Shady Valley Campground in Grayson. I rarely book a campground that has a Facebook page as it’s website, particularly if it isn’t updated regularly. But, I made an exception and it turned out well. Our site was fairly level and spacious…

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We did have a freaky visitor make his home on our picnic table…

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Several Google searches later, I learned it was a female Arrowshaped Micrathena spider. I know lots of people don’t want anything to do with spiders, but I thought she was cool.

We spent most of the week just driving around the area and seeing what there was to do. We explored backroads and small towns, we discovered the fact that Kentucky still has lots of dry counties – in 2020 – who’d have thought that!?!?!?

Anyhow, one of our daytrips included a stop at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park . We were quite surprised when we learned there are no day use fees for any of the Kentucky State Parks. As we toured the park, we saw how much there is to do, they even have miniature golf (for a very small fee). As we were leaving the park, we came across this…

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It’s hard to imagine all of the work that went into building it. I’m sure it produced a heck of a lot of Kentucky iron in its day. On the way back to the campground, we took a detour to see this…

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I have always loved covered bridges and photographing them. There were picnic tables inside, but the gates were chained shut, presumably because of Covid.

Back at the campground, I searched for somewhere to explore the next day. What I found piqued my curiosity! An abandoned town with an abandon mine. Who could resist?

We came to the abandon town of Lawton first. We explored everywhere it was safe to go…

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When we came to the final building, I didn’t think much would still be inside…

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As we walked around, we found an intact door that had a lock on it. I’ll go through any open door, but I draw the line at breaking in. There were several boards missing along the foundation so I was able to peek inside, imagine my surprise…

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I have no idea how long those vehicles have been in there, but I can’t imagine it’ll be easy to get them out. The roof is failing, the walls are leaning precariously and who knows if the floor is safe.

We drove on a few miles and found the entrance to what is now called Mushroom Mine. Originally, it was the Tygart Limestone company which shut down after WW II. Some time in the mid-60’s a group of Kentucky farmers decided to turn it into a mushroom farm. That lasted until the mid-80’s. In 2004, 2 bodies were found inside about a 1/4 mile from one of the entrances. The couple had been missing several months and their son was ultimately charged in their murder. In 2006, the mine was the center of a scam involving the building of a data storage site. Read more history here.

I was surprised how accessible the mine was…

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Armed with flashlights, we entered the mine. It was obvious lots of people drive in, but we left the Jeep outside and walked. Near the entrances, there is plenty of light…

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But the further in you go, the darker it gets. We found plenty of evidence of the mushroom farm…

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Rooms and rooms of growing trays. The farther in we went, the more water we encountered until we were forced to turn back. A selfie in the nearly pitch black surroundings…

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Back outside, we explored what was supposed to be the data farm buildings. Half built structures with tons of graffiti. I don’t care for the subject matter, but some of the “artists” had talent…

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Nature taking over
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Graffiti

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The mine was definitely creepy, but so much fun to explore.

Have you ever explored an abandon place?

Up next – the move to Carter Caves State Resort Park.

Kayaking the Black River

I had big plans for Thursday and was pretty exited when I awoke to beautiful, sunny skies. This was the day I would take the 14.5 mile solo kayak trip from Black River Falls back to Lost Falls Campground. 

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Lost Falls Campground rents canoes, kayaks, SUP (Stand Up Paddleboards) and tubes (doubles, singles and cooler). We shuttle guests to one of 3 different landings and everyone arrives back at the campground, hopefully, having enjoyed their day on the Black River.

Steve outfitted my kayak with a phone mount, now I can take pictures and videos, hands free…

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We’ve had A LOT of rain this spring and the river was moving pretty briskly as I set off. It didn’t take long before all I could hear was the sounds of nature, the river churning and a chorus of birds. The evidence of high water was all around me. Some of the smaller trees were barely above the waterline…

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You can see the wet line on the trees, overnight, the river had gone down at least 18″. Usually there are lots of sandbars to stop at…

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But most were still underwater. It was a lazy paddle for me. I let the river current do most of the work while I steered occasionally and just enjoyed being on the river. I hadn’t seen another sole in hours and was surprised as I came around the bend to see these 2 “people” watching from the bank…

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I chuckled to myself as I floated by, a good reminder, someone is always watching.

The Black River State Forest borders a large stretch of river and offers campsites for paddlers…

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After passing Mason’s landing I came across a tall limestone bluff…

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I could hear the sounds of rushing water so I set off to investigate. I had heard there was a gorge with a waterfall near here so I was hoping I had found it. I was a bit disappointed with the “waterfall”…

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But decided to get out and stretch. As I walked along the banks of the creek, I found lots of white trillium thriving in the shadows…

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The cool water felt good on my feet as I walked along as sun dappled tree stood sentinel over me…

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Back on the river, I saw a slough and decided to check it out. There were lots of turtles sunning themselves on the fallen logs…

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When I reached Hansen’s Landing, I knew I only had 2.5 miles to go…

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I had spent the first 12 miles being lazy, but wanted to make a time lapse video of the trip from Hansen’s Landing, so now it was time to paddle! It took me 28 minutes to reach the shore of Lost Falls Campgound, so the video is only 28 seconds, whew, what a workout…

It was a peaceful, relaxing way to spend the day. I can’t wait to do it again!

Where is your favorite place to kayak?