Part 22: Clintwood, VA to Memphis, TN


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The Trip

We stayed at a Corps of Engineers campground near Clintwood, WV.  COE camps totally rock.  Each site had a large concrete pad, electric and the bathhouse had hot showers for only $17 a night.  Best of all, it was on our intended route.

After a good night, we broke camp and headed toward Mammoth Cave, KY.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

There were a number of incredibly fat folks in the campground.  During my conversations with one of the campers, she said that with the exception of Kathleen and I, the balance of the campers were "locals" and lived close by.  These two caused me to blink.  Dirty-white-tee-shirt-guy could not bend over to pick out his tent stakes, so he compensated by learning to lean to the right while elevating his left leg to counterbalance his overweight upper body.  I failed in being able to capture that stunt with my camera.

I caught this fellow in profile on his way to the head, an act which produces an uncomfortable visual image in my mind.  Let's just say that access to various equipment is blocked and that raises process questions in my mind.

On our way to Mammoth Cave, our path took us through a town that has LA-class traffic.  We passed bumper-to-bumper oncoming for perhaps 10 miles.  Along the way, we encountered this military convoy.

Jed was in front of us driving a rolling dumpster.

We camped at the state park campground at Cumberland Falls.  The camp was marginal and the sites were very small.  But, they did have power and it was very, very hot making a/c an absolute requirement.  Next day we left the campsite and went to see the falls.  Our highway crossed the Cumberland River via this cool stone bridge.

The falls were interesting and the view point allowed us to see a rainbow caused by spray from the falls.

There were access trails that allowed visitors to get to the level of the river.

This caught my eye; some folks should not wear spandex and I think she is one of them.  The profile was MUCH worse than the rear view.

The access trails allowed an unobstructed view of Cumberland Falls.

The side of the river channel had debris dams that were 20+ feet above the current level of the river.  Signs indicated that the flow of the river has been observed from 5 cfs to 65,000 cfs.

We left the Cumberland Falls area and headed directly to Mammoth Cave National Park.  The campground at the park was "primitive" and the whole area was suffering an intense heat wave.  Our thermometer in the camper was well over 100 degrees and very high humidity.  The camp had not electrical and prohibited generator operation past 2200 hrs.  So, we hooked up or 3kw Honda and fired up the a/c to cool off prior to quiet hours.  We were both VERY happy to have the generator.

The camp did not have water at the sites and we were low, so we used our siphon device to fill our tanks from the spare cans we carry.

Our water system stopped working.  My first thought was that the tanks were dry despite our adding water.  But the truth was the water pump had given up the ghost.  We had a spare with us, so we replaced the bad unit.

The pumps are pretty simple and there are no user-serviceable parts.  So, if it breaks, you have to replace the whole unit.

The replacement was pretty simple and when we tested it, it ran as expected.  But, it failed to prime the system.  After a number of tests we concluded that the suction hose had either broken or had a crack.  If that was true, it was the cause of the failure of the pump.  In that case, the pump would continue to run until it achieves prime (which would be never) and then it burned up.

We had to noodle on the situation for quite awhile before we came up with a viable solution that did not require drilling extra holes into the tank.  Our plan was to construct a 3/8" copper tube to fit inside the existing suction tube and connect that tube to the existing plumbing.  Our prototype solution was constructed in the parking lot of the Ace Hardware in Bowling Green, KY.  I had to cut the existing suction hose to provide an entrance for the tubing.  The hole is visible on the floor at the bottom center of the photo.

The new tube was inserted into the old suction hose and tested.  It worked.  So, we purchased some silicone caulking and sealed up the fitting and headed on down the road back to the Mammoth Cave area.

We checked out Mammoth Cave and did not like what we saw.  There were no tours available due to the large number of tourists until the following day.  And to get that tour, we had to be an the door in line at 0800.  So, we bailed on that idea and instead visited a small private cave that was nearby.  Diamond Cave was discovered in the late 1800s and has been a private enterprise since then.

There were only 5 folks on our tour.  There were some nice formations in the cave.

Many of the formations have been damaged over the years.  There are several areas of damage visible in the photo above.

These formations were quite high on the roof of the cave.

Further into the cave, the formations were closer and therefore more visible.

One of the damaged stalactites.  Note the black marks due to skin oil from being touched.

Diamond is a live cave and many areas of the cave were quite wet.  This formation appears damaged as well.

A column being formed.

At one point the roof consisted of dolomite that had been eroded by the carbonic acid resulting in the honeycomb effect.

There were some pretty nice drapes in the cave.

Note the water at the bottom of the formation.

Some of the formations were lighter colored.

Nice drapes.

This bank of drapes was quite long.

A nice set of fins.

More multi-colored formations.

More nice drapes with some broken ends.

The early cave owner had cut a formation and polished the exposed edge showing the growth patterns.

Odd erosion patterns in the dolomite roof.

Another multi-color formation.

I am not sure what this type of formation is called.

This formation was also cut and polished.  It appears that two stalactites fused into one.

The last time I saw a pink elephant was back in college and that vision require the assistance of substantial alcohol.  This one was sitting in plain view outside a convenience store that we passed on our way to Memphis.

I was astonished by the girth of some of the folks that we passed in West Virginia.  But, based on our travels so far, this seems to be more of the norm than the exception.  Diamond Cave was nice and the length of the tour met our timetable.  The general formations were so-so but it was still worth doing.

Our primary objective in Memphis was to allow Kathleen to see Graceland.  And since we were in the area, we will visit Beale Street, the home of the blues.

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