Nomadic Life – Week 8 found us still in Tennessee but finishing up the last of the prep work before heading back out on the road. Jennifer got her library card so she can get digital downloads on the road. We had lunch at Scott’s BBQ in Lexington, TN. They have excellent pulled pork sandwiches slow roasted on site. Highly recommended if you are in the vicinity of Lexington, TN.
The Eiffel Tower
Early Sunday morning we finished packing up YOLOM and headed northeast towards our next nomadic adventure. We weren’t on the blacktop long before we were surprised with a lost iconic structure. We had found the Eiffel Tower in Tennessee. Who knew? This is Paris, Tennessee and in the city park known as Eiffel Tower Park stands a replica of France’s famous antenna tower.
I droned around the tower for a bit and then we once again hit the road. Our path took us across the tip of the Land Between the Lakes which is a beautiful area of Tennessee and we would have probably camped here for a few days if it weren’t so stinking hot.
We continued northeast to the city of Clarksville on the edge of the Cumberland River where we had a nice albeit completely fried lunch at the Catfish House. The food was so good. I had the Cajun Catfish strips with hush puppies and fried corn on the cob (yep, fried). Everything was very tasty, including the complimentary fried okra, but I could have passed on the corn cob breading. There are just some things that don’t need to be breaded and deep-fried. I think corn on the cob is one of those things.
Mammoth Cave Campground
After a few more hours of driving and a grocery run, we arrived at Mammoth Cave Campground. Despite popular belief, the campground does have some Verizon LTE coverage as well as spotty coverage of LTE from T-mobile. We setup site, turned on the cellphone booster, and tested out the internet. At 16 down and 4 up (on Verizon) this was good enough for the work week.
Working at Mammoth
Monday was hot! So we worked outside in the shade to try to stay somewhat cool. While the LTE coverage in the campground is usable with a booster we had to move YOLOM into the sunlight to get some solar in the afternoon as the campground is covered in trees. After work on Monday, we explored some of Mammoth Cave National Park’s above ground trails. It is a super lush, humid environment. Far different from the dry arid Rocky Mountains of Colorado we were in just a few weeks ago.
Luckily on Monday night, we got some rain and that really cooled things down for the rest of the week. On Tuesday I took a bike ride in the late afternoon as Jennifer was on Mountain Time for work.
Violet City Tour
Wednesday started with work, but in the afternoon we had our first cave tour. We went on the Violet City tour ($20/person) which explores 3-miles of the cave via lantern light. The experience is meant to give explorers a taste of what cave exploration was like at the turn of the 19th century. It is a very cool experience and not at all like most cave tours. It gave me a greater appreciation for the developments in cave lighting systems. We can see so much more detail in the caves that we explore today with our modern tools. At the same time, the flicker of the kerosene lanterns in otherwise pitch-black underground passageways was an ethereal experience I won’t soon forget.
Grand Avenue Tour
Thursday started with a four-hour expedition back into Mammoth Cave. This time we found ourselves on the Grand Avenue tour ($30/person). This tour is well lit with very modern lighting systems. The tour took us through 4-miles of caves both wide and narrow. The experience culminated with the Frozen Niagara formation, which is a very stunning and sprawling flowstone. I loved the whole experience. My only complaint is that like most cave tours it felt rushed. Even at 4 hours. I wish there was a tour that was labeled “the whole enchilada at a snail’s (photographer’s) pace.” That being said Mammoth Cave doesn’t allow tripods into the caves because of the possibility of transmitting a bat disease known as the white-nose syndrome to other cave systems.
We returned to YOLOM in the early afternoon and put in another half-day worth of work before setting about the task of packing things up to head north. Unfortunately, this is where disaster struck! Upon cranking the roof down in the camper something in the crank mechanism broke. The crank will no longer hold the roof up so we are living with the roof down for now. Not a lot of fun when your bed is inaccessible while the roof is down.
The Home of Lincoln
Despite the camper trouble, we decided that it was too late in the day to fully deal with it and stuck to our plan to continue on down the road towards Columbus, Ohio. Along the way, we happened to travel by Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home of Knob Creek Farm in Hodgenville, Kentucky. I stopped and took some pictures of the building that sits on that land now. Unfortunately, it isn’t Lincoln’s actual home, just a tourist trap. Continuing on, we rolled in late to a Walmart parking lot where we slept uncomfortably on our couch (even with new cushion material).
Looking for a Camper Mechanic
Friday was an early start with another 2-hour push north. We stopped just across the Kentucky and Ohio border in the small town of Aberdeen with a beautiful view of the Ohio River. Here I frustratingly and frantically called all the RV repair shops within a 100-mile radius of our destination for next week—Sandusky, Ohio. Most wouldn’t work on a slide-in truck camper like ours. This is somewhat of a stunning revelation to me. Unfortunately, I can’t work on the issue myself because the mechanism that broke is located between the truck cab and the camper. Of course, this is the only piece that I don’t have access to on the entire rig because we no longer have camper jacks on the camper to remove it from the truck. They weigh 80 lbs so we got rid of them to save the weight. My luck.
After nearly 5 hours of calling around, I found someone nearly 60 miles to the east of Sandusky to agree to take a look at it on Monday morning. Like the late great Aretha Franklin sang it, “…say a little prayer for [me].” My sanity was tested today and we aren’t out of the woods yet.