travelogue: rochester to alabama


Well, we're finally in Alabama, where we've got cable modem connectivity. We've had a lovely three days of camping and exploring (and driving, which was less fun), with no access save an occasional cell phone signal. (And not even that while in caves, of course.)

If you're interested in a short photo essay of our trip thus far, read on. I'll upload more photos (I took a lot on this trip) to Flickr later this week.

The first day of travel was the longest...we went from Rochester to Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus. We'd hoped to rent a yurt at Delaware State Park, but the yurts were in a part of the park closed for renovations, so we ended up with a tent campsite instead. I couldn't believe how much stuff Gerald had managed to pack into our van!


We bought a new tent for this trip, and it was gloriously spacious. Not only was it tall enough for even Gerald to stand in easily, it easily housed two small air mattresses for the kids and an almost-luxurious queen-sized version for us.


The camping area was quite nice. Lots of paved areas for the boys to ride their scooters around...


A short hike to a very pretty reservoir...


And a nice campfire area for the mandatory ritual of cooking s'mores. (We cooked dinner--steak and salmon we'd brought from home--over a propane camp stove.)


In the morning, Gerald packed up camp while I took the boys to the Olentangy Indian Caverns nearby. I enjoyed the cave tour more than they did, but they had fun doing faux "gem mining" afterwards--they give the kids a big back of sand and dirt that's spiked with a few gems and crystals. They have to dump it into a pan and sift it out in a trough of running water. A bargain at $3.50 considering how much fun they had doing it, and how delighted they were by their little found treasures afterwards.

After lunch we headed south, arrving at Mammoth Cave National Park at dinnertime. We stayed in some lovely rustic cottages right next to the visitor center, which was extremely convenient. The two-room cottage we stayed in (only $52/night after taxes) had four beds and its own bathroom and shower. We crashed early that night, then got up in the morning and did the Discovery Tour of Mammoth Cave. (No photos, because I didn't realize that camera bags were forbidden, and I didn't have a pocket appropriate for my camera.) That's the shortest, easiest tour they give. I was disappointed to find out that neither of my boys were big on caves, so I did the afternoon "Frozen Niagara" tour myself. That tour used a newer, man-made "airlock" entrance--only about twenty people can enter at a time between the two doors, so as to preserve the proper balance of air in the cave system. From there you take 300 stairs down into the cave (you go out an easier path, however).


The Discovery Tour had been all dry cave areas, but the Frozen Niagra tour included some spectacular wet cave areas with amazing flowstone formations and various stalactites and stalagmites.


That evening we took a scenic cruise on Green River, which was really lovely. Here's one shot I took while sitting out on the bow of the boat.


In addition to the caves (365 miles of them) and the river, the park has some beautiful above-ground trails. I got the boys to do a little walking with me, but most of my hiking I did on my own. I'd forgotten how much I like walking alone in the woods. (Don't worry, I told Gerald my route in advance, and estimated the time it would take, so he'd know where to send help if I needed it. Which I didn't.) A few of the trails I wanted to hike had been closed by a storm last month that had apparently downed over 400 trees in the park...and I saw a lot of evidence of that damage even on the open trails.


One of the trails I took was to what they call the River Styx opening where an underground river emerges from the caves and flows down to the Green River. It didn't look much like its mythic namesake.


All in all, it was a very enjoyable way to make the trek down to Alabama. Last night we stayed with Gerald's older daughter, and tonight we'll be out at his mother's house just outside of Lawley, Alabama. Then maybe some camping this weekend (weather permitting), and we're keep our fingers crossed that tropical storms will avoid the Panhandle area next week.


Neeeat. So Lawley, Alabama is named for the Lawley family? It wouldn't just be a stunning coincidence?

Not a coincidence at all. :) In fact, it's the reason I changed my name when I married Gerald...I loved the idea of a family name so closely tied to a place.

If you see any signs with the name "Herndon" on them (e.g. Herndon Oil), those are my kin.

nice photos: does family check into the blog? do the kids pick out the photos of themselves to be posted?

the photos kind of change the tone of writting.

Well, yes, family does check into the blog. I'm Liz's mother, and I'm delighted to be able to follow the children's trip even while I'm home. My 92-year old mother, the Great-Grandmother of Lane and Alex, loves being able to see these pictures so soon after they are taken: I'll show her the current set tomrrow morning. To her, this blog/travelogue is one of the greatest wonders of contemporary technology.

yes: i have used it with my geriatrics practice: i show patients pictures of my one year old son george on my cellphone. I am amazed at how persons brighten up.

i have come up with a photo show that i do at an assisted living facility where i have a small office; i collect pictures of the residents art work and then we conduct a slide show. we pass around the microphone and people comment and ask questions.

i find that many persons who are withdrawn kind of snap out of it and begin socializing. i am seeing this time after time, enough to wonder if we should consider it as a type of activity that should be encouraged institutionally in rehab, hospital, and senior living facilities.

i think alot of preserving ones memory and health involves being connected with a social network.

there is tremendous value to helping many persons with senior blogging. it can really reconnect families.

Great travelogue, Liz. I remember going to Mammoth Caves as a kid. Too bad your boys didn't like it very much. I loved it. We just got back from our mini-vacation (two days in Monterey). It was nice, but I'd like to do something longer next year. Still no word on if (when) we'll be out there.

we also visited mammoth caves on a camping vacation when I was a kid. I loved it! better than any commercial tourist cave.

we did a camping vacation every year; I don't know how much of a vacation it was for my mom, though. The best were at Cape Hatteras in north caroline, but we went as far as the Bay of Fundy one year, starting from DC!

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on August 19, 2004 9:11 AM.

trip planning was the previous entry in this blog.

on the road again: alabama to florida is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Category Archives