The four of us arrived at Mammoth Caves on a Friday. The air was chipper and the wind cut through our jackets. Though it was November, it was the beginning of the month, and something about heading in the direction of south gave us a deceptive sense of warmth. We hadn’t prepared for the late Kentucky autumn. Yet below ground, under our parked car, lay the longest cave system in the word where the temperature, regardless of time of day, season of the year or of the year itself was always a consistent 54°.
We reared to get below the damp and chilly ground and into the damp and chilly caverns. Ben, Mike, Bocheng and I had signed up for two different tours. We would save the lantern tour for the second day as we figured to begin our exploration of the National Park/World Heritage Site with a lengthy and general historical tour with a large tour group.
We pushed into one of the two buses that took us to a manmade entrance. Our tour guide, a young college student from nearby Bowling Green gave us a bit of information about the tour in a southern drawl.
“While we hope to have a light and cheery tour, I am obliged to remind you of the precautions we must take to ensure the safety, welfare and satisfaction of everyone else on the tour,” Bocheng looked at Michael and Michael looked at Ben and Ben looked at me and together we all smirked. “We’ve merged two tours together today, and due to the large size of our tour group, we have to be especially courteous to others and respectful to the cave. I hope you can manage this.”
We hoped so too. Stay tuned for part two of this tale where we find out if the four of us were able to manage courteously and respect.