Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Day #1 (Continued) – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be!

Shortly after leaving Bowling Green and the Corvette Museum, we saw signs to Mammoth Cave, also in Kentucky, and decided that we had time to at least go to the Visitor’ Center and get some information. We probably would not have time for a cave tour.Mammoth Cave Approaching the Visitor's Center

At Mammoth Cave, we spent time in the Visitor’s Center, purchased a few souvenirs, and walked through the grounds around the entrance to the cave. The park offers several different guided tours, both shorter and longer cave tours, as well as woodland and birding guided tours.

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In the Visitor’s Center, visitors get information and purchase tickets for various tours.

There is a campground suitable for tents to motor homes within walking distance of the cave entrance. It is very likely we will schedule several days at Mammoth Cave later this year.

I should point out that we have the “America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass,” also call the “Senior Pass.” This grants access to most National Parks, Monuments, Historical Sites and Forests. This make it possible to simply drive into a park for an hour or two without having to pay entry fees.

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This Bridge Leads to the Cave Entrance

The Senior Pass currently costs $20.00 and can be purchased at many National Parks or ordered online. For more information, go to the USGS Store ( https://store.usgs.gov/senior-pass ). Considering that it costs $30.00 for a seven-day pass in most major National Parks, the Senior Pass, which does not expire, is an excellent investment, and it is good for all occupants in the vehicle—if Grandma has her Senior Pass, everyone gets in on her pass!

Tomorrow, we finally get to leave the camper at the factory for service, but that will provide an opportunity for more adventure.

Gallery

 

 

 

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The National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green, Kentucky

Day #1 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be!

Vette Museum Sign

The Museum Sign is Visible from the Interstate

The first leg of our trip took us northwest through Nashville, TN, and into Kentucky. We had decided to leave a day early to make our appointment in Indiana. This added some time in our schedule that allowed us the opportunity to stop along the way. As we approached Bowling Green, Kentucky, I mentioned (subtle suggestion) the Corvette museum as possible stop and received immediate agreement.

The museum is immediately accessible from the interstate, and there is plenty of parking, including a large area for campers and motor homes.

Corvette in Lobby

A Brand New Corvette in the Lobby, Available for Daydreaming

In the lobby, sat new, bright blue Vette. It was very popular with visitors because you can sit in it—sort of “try it on.” Indeed, to me it seemed much like slipping into a well fitted slipper.

The first stop on our visit was the 200-seat Chevrolet Theater that shows a 20-minute movie that chronicles the progression of the Corvette design and concurrent relevant historical events—a video trip down memory lane for those of us who “were there.”

Cave In Display

The 2014 Cave In is now a major display within the Museum.

The museum’s collection includes more than 80 cars and a vast assortment of associated memorabilia and artifacts. Corvettes of every production year are on display, as well as special Vette racing cars, Indy 500 Pace cars, and special one-of-a-kind concept models and modified cars. Or simply put, a Corvette lover’s paradise. Though I never owned, nor even road in a Corvette, every exhibit brought back memories—not only about the cars but past events and memorable times in my life.

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Five Corvettes were destroyed in the Cave In.

Certainly not planned as an exhibit is the story of the huge sinkhole that opened beneath a display room in 2014 and swallowed eight cars, including a one-of-a-kind concept car. Of the eight, five cars were damaged beyond repair. The remaining three were either essentially undamaged or have been restored. Both the damaged and restored cars are on display, along with a complete gallery devoted to the cave-in and the cave beneath the museum.  They even have a small room where visitors can experience the sights and sounds of the cave-in.

At the Pump

One of the many displays that recall not only the Corvette but the driving experience we all shared at different times.

Allow one to two hours to see everything, read the information plaques, and fully appreciate the museum experience. Regardless of your immediate interest in Corvettes, it is also a history lesson in American transportation culture over the past 70+ years.

The museum has an appropriately themed café, and a well-stocked gift shop with items that will tempt anyone who has owned or ridden (or wanted a ride) in a Corvette. For me, it was neither—just an appreciation of the mystique of the Corvette.

The museum also has a 50s-60s themed soda fountain offering burgers and other lunches, and a well stocked gift shop with almost something for anyone with an appreciate of the classic, enduring American sports car.

Visitor Information

Location:
Museum: 350 Corvette Drive
Plant: 600 Corvette Drive
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101
Easy access off of I-65, Exit 28

Admission Prices:
$10 Adults, $8 Seniors, $5 Youth (6-16)

Gallery

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Rebuttal

Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be! – Special to this Series

A pop-up feature on my MSN home page, apparently authored by Jodi O’Connel (6/7/2017) (Copyrighted by critterbiz) titled “20 Pricey Destinations that are Seriously Overrated” included a visit to Mount Rushmore 1.

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Mount Rushmore

In the author’s opinion, “There is nothing truly free about this national park.” Yes, there is a parking fee of $10.00 per vehicle (for all occupants; $5.00 for senior citizens). There is no other admission fee to take full advantage of Mount Rushmore. I recently visited Mount Rushmore (June 16, 2017). It was one destination of several on a three-week trip in our camper. Many of the other National Parks that we visited have entrance fees of $30.00 that allows access to that park for a maximum of seven days. The Mount Rushmore parking pass is good for one year.

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Detail of George Washington’s Face

From this point on, Mount Rushmore is very similar to other National Parks. The food concessions are not cheap, there are many opportunities for discretionary spending, and a family of four could expect to pay $40.00or more for meals, and maybe $5 to $10 per person for souvenirs, books, etc. But again, this is comparable to other federal parks and monuments.

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Detail of Abraham Lincoln’s Face

The author also comments, “Once you see the crumbling faces of dead presidents….” According to several sources available in the park, the granite that forms the presidents’ faces erodes at a rate of about one inch per 1,000 (one thousand) years. Completed in 1941, it should be several millennia before there will be any visible signs of erosion—I would not characterize the monument as “crumbling.”

 

In fact, I found the details of the story of the carving of the faces fascinating, and the reason for selecting presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt highly appropriate—and an encapsulated and significant history of our country.

There are many no-cost features that add to the Mount Rushmore experience: (1) free films of the planning and carving of the monument, (2) a museum of the geology and “carving” of the faces, and (3) the sculpture’s studio where park personnel explain how measurements were transferred from a 1/12th scale model in the studio to the faces on the mountain.

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The 1/12th-scale model used to transfer dimensions to the mountain during carving.

Finally, the author uses the cost of round-trip air fare specifically to visit Mount Rushmore as a key cost item, as if this was the only way to estimate cost. I suggest it is unlikely a traveler would fly to Paris, France simply to see the Eiffel Tower–and nothing else.  Similarly, it seems that Mount Rushmore is one (outstanding) destination as part of a larger trip (as was the case for us). For example, there are more than a dozen national and state parks and monuments within a 30-minute drive of the town of Custer, SD, including Mount Rushmore. Regardless how you travel to Mount Rushmore, it is well worth the price of parking.

More details  on our visit to Mount Rushmore will appear later in this series of blogs.

1 http://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/tripideas/20-pricey-destinations-that-are-seriously-overrated/ss-BBzNlUk?li=BBnb7Kz#image=13 

All Photography taken and copyrighted by Jeff Richmond

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Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be!

Introduction

If you have followed my blogs at all, you know that we frequently take the camper on weekend, and occasionally, slightly longer treks. These have usually been focused on a single destination or event.

Early this year, my wife, Peggy, asked one evening. “The ‘Sisters’ are having a Southwest Gathering in Bryce Canyon, Utah. Do you think I could go?” She was referring to the Sisters on the Fly or SOTF, a ladies-only travel—camping—adventure group, of which she is a member.

My response was simple, “Not unless I can go, too!”

Our first unplanned, spontaneous stop.

On the road we discovered many interesting stops, including a stop at the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states. Our home-on-the-road, a Riverside 177.

It is not that I had any objection to her going, or even going by herself, if she wanted to. It was just that it seemed like a good opportunity for me to see some parts of the country that I have always wanted to visit. And, in fact, I would get to explore Bryce Canyon and surrounding areas on my own, since the SOTF activities were to be “ladies only!”

The planning commenced.

We decided to take advantage of this event as a focal point for a 20-day tour of several western states and National Parks. While in Bryce Canyon, to avoid any conflict with the SOTF ladies-only policy, I would take along the needed gear to tent camp in a separate campground.

In addition, our camper needed some work that was best done by the factory, so the first leg of the trip would be to Le Grange, Indiana for the needed service.

All planning was scheduled around arriving in Le Grange and Bryce Canyon on time. All other planning involved a high degree of flexibility.  We made no other advanced reservations for camping spots, etc. Our contingency plans included over-nighting (“boondocking” as the Sisters call it) at truck stops, Walmart parking lots, and other businesses that are camper-friendly, as well as “curbing” at the residences of other SOTF members. (“Curbing” is a practice where SOTF members make it known that other members, if passing through their areas are welcome to park their camper at their residences for a night or two.)

Our initial, proposed itinerary included the following stops in order (all times include travel time to that destination and times may overlap, so the numbers do not necessarily add up to the actual total time away):

  • La Grange, Indiana—Camper service (3 days)
  • Proceed to Bryce Canyon—SOTF Gathering (3 days travel plus 4-day event)
  • North to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, Wyoming (3 days)
  • East to Cody, Wyoming (why, I have no idea) (1 day)
  • East to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming (1 day)
  • Continue to Custer, SD (2 days)
  • Crazy Horse Monument, South Dakota and Mount Rushmore, South Dakota (1 day)
  • Badlands of SD, Minuteman Missile Historical Site (1Day)
  • Return home, Tennessee (2-3 days)

The travel times were designed to include time for occasional, brief unplanned and unanticipated diversions and opportunities that presented irresistible opportunities.

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For example, on the very first day, we were just out of Tennessee when we saw signs for the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This was our first irresistible opportunity, followed later that afternoon by a stop at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. We shared an overnight rest area with several dozen tractor trailers, and arrived promptly the next morning in La Grange.

The trip was broken down into discrete events, and each event is presented in more-or-less chronological order in this series of blogs. As you will see, many of these events were unplanned and unanticipated, but just as interesting as our defined objectives.

There is one exception to the order of these posts. The next post will cover our visit to Mount Rushmore. This is because just today, a new item on my MSN opening page had an item that described Mount Rushmore as “overpriced.” We did not see it that way, and I want my response to be timely with regards to the news post.

Now, join me as we travel, the way I have envisioned it could be.

 

 

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Black and White Sunday: Maternal

Taken just this week, this seems appropriate for Paula’s Mother’s Day theme.

Every "Mom" is Beautiful in the Eyes of Her Children

Every “Mom” is Beautiful in the Eyes of Her Children

To learn more about the Opossum, or “possum,” go to “Mama ‘Possum at Last!”

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A Mama ‘Possum at Last

From my earliest memories as a child, I had a several nice big books with pictures and stories about common animals. The images were drawn, pen and ink in subdued colors. There were deer, raccoon, a wolverine and a drawing of a mama opossum (or “possum”) with a litter of babies riding on her back. So, I have known about this behavior for many years.

But, this morning was the first time I have seen it for myself, live, in nature. Looking out the kitchen window toward the pasture, I saw two possums walking along the fence. They then came around in front of Grover’s smokehouse, and it was then that I realized the larger, apparently mama possum had four little ones riding on her back. The second adult, smaller, presumably the male, skulked along behind them.

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Mama Possum kept a sharp eye on me as I approached for photos.

Of course, I grabbed my camera. Possums are not speedy creatures. I was able to get within a few feet to get some good photos.

Natural History

The possum is the only Marsupial native to North America. The female gives birth to up to several dozen babies that are less than an inch long. These babies make their way to the mother’s pouch on her belly. Inside the pouch are 13 teats .  Therefore, only the first 13 babies will survive, initially. Of these, eight or nine will survive to two-and-a-half months, when they will leave the pouch.

They then the climb up on the mother’s back and ride around there for four or five months. Life is harsh for babies, and if they fall off, they will be abandoned. Eventually three or four will survive to the point where they leave their mother. Even then, they may fall victim to predators or starvation. The female possum may have two or three litters per year.

Possums are omnivorous, eating a wide range of plants and animals, including fruits, grains, insects, snails, small mammals and reptiles.

Possums do play “possum” when attacked or threatened. This is an effective survival strategy, provided the attacker is not a hungry carnivore.

Also, possums have a prehensile tail, which means they can use the tail to assist as they climb through trees. They can hang by their tails, but only briefly.

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Angina – From Diagnosis to Treatment Part 3 – Treatment

Part 3 – EECP: “Snake Oil” or Treatment

Photography – Peggy Richmond

My next—and most recent—visit with Dr. B was following the catherization. I was still unsure about the likely course of treatment. After he mentioned EECP (Enhanced External Counterpulsation), I did a quick search to find out about it. My first impression was…, well not real positive. The term “snake oil” came to mind.” So, in my appointment, I was hoping to hear about some treatment options—drug therapy or some other options. He pointed out that, in my case, the only drug therapy would be expensive, and probably be for the rest of my life, and not really produce any improvement—just control symptoms. The EECP, however, would actually improve the arterial blood flow to the heart, around the partially clogged artery, without drugs.

Okay, maybe I should pay more attention, and I did more research.

b and A Heart Blood Flow

This image shows the increase in blood flow to heart muscles after EECP.

The counterpulsation sends blood under higher than normal pressure through smaller arteries of the heart, causing them to gradually expand and carry more blood, making up for the blood not getting through the partially clogged artery.

Dr. B. introduced me to Amy, the nurse who is in charge of the EECP treatments done right there in their offices. She explained how, when lying on the machine, cuffs around my calves, thighs, and abdomen inflate rapidly (essentially instantaneously) immediately after each heartbeat, increasing the pressure in the heart’s smaller arteries. When the cuffs inflate, they squeeze firmly and quickly, first on the calf muscle (gastrocnemius), then (milliseconds later) on the thigh muscle, and finally on the abdomen; then they immediately relax.This sequence is repeated at the pace of the patient’s pulse.

Each treatment lasts an hour, and the full course of treatment is 35 sessions over seven weeks, five days a week. If a patient must miss a treatment, they just add a day on at the end to make up the full 35 days.

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The EECP Bed showing the cuffs that will be wrapped around the calves, thighs, and abdomen.

Incidentally, after more research I learned that EECP became a medically approved form of treatment in 1995, and became approved for Medicare payments in 1998. That boosted my confidence a bit.

We set up a schedule, and I arrived for my first, introductory treatment. Alexis was to be the regular nurse for my treatments. She explained that the first session would be 20 minutes and that we would add 10 minutes each day until reaching 60 minutes. She also suggested that I wear pants without heavy seams (like my jeans) and suggested something like sweat suit pants—which I bought that afternoon after the first treatment.

The basic guidelines for daily treatments are simple: no food or drink within one-and-a-half hours before each treatment. They also suggest urinating just before beginning the session. I am halfway through my treatment program and I can attest that after an hour of being squeezed in the legs and abdomen, repeatedly at the rate of 55 to 65 times per minute, you do not want a full bladder!

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Nurse Amy is about to start the EECP. Note the cuffs around the ankles, thighs, and lower abdomen. Barely visible are wires attached to my chest that sense heart beats and control the rhythm of the machine.

I also learned that the sweat pants I got were not suitable. First, they were a synthetic material, and they were not tight, forming wrinkles under the pressure cuffs. These wrinkles created blisters. Amy found a pair of what looked like tights—supplied with the EECP machine—that fit snugly. I put large patch bandages over the blisters and wore the tights. Soon, the blisters healed and no new blisters have occurred. The key is to wear something that fits snugly to the leg and that will not slide around as the cuffs inflate/deflate. Do not wear shorts.

The daily routine is this: Each day, I arrive fifteen minutes before the scheduled appointment. My first stop is the bathroom, then down to the EECP room. Alexis or Amy is there to greet me. I wear my tights under my street pants, so there is no delay getting started. Shoes and pants off, socks stay on. Alexis takes my blood pressure, and I lie down on the bed. She straps the cuffs around my calves, thighs, and abdomen, snugly but not tight.  She also attaches three electrical leads to my chest. These leads, similar to those used on an EKG, send the signals to the machine to control the timing of the inflation of the cuffs. She also clips a pulse sensor on one finger. Once I am strapped in, she turns on the machine, and the cuffs begin to inflate, lightly at first, gradually building up to a firm, quick squeeze. At full pressure, the inflating cuffs produce a quick, firm, but not uncomfortable, jolt.

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The complete setup showing the control console.

The speed of the inflations is directly controlled by the heart, and the rate of inflations is the same as the patient’s pulse, typically a rate of 50 to 65 times per minute. Alexis has a computer control panel to monitor and adjust the pressures as necessary. The only thing more boring than lying on the bed being jolted by the machine must be sitting at the control monitor for 60 minutes!

It is difficult to move around much at all during treatment. Too much movement may cause the machine to skip a beat or two, which is a little annoying. I am told some people can read during the treatment. I prefer to take my MP3 player loaded with lots of music. Conversation, if there is something to talk about, is also possible, and I think they would allow someone to accompany me if that is what I wanted.

I just completed my 18th day of treatment. I have been out working in the yard, using a powered push mower. Before I started the treatments, I would get the pain in my chest (angina attack) after about 10-15 minutes of pushing the mower around. Now I can mow whole sections (30-40 minutes) with no discomfort. It appears that there is real improvement.

Once completed, the effects of the treatments are supposed to last three to five years. The treatment program can be repeated. For those eligible, the treatment program is covered by Medicare or most comprehensive medical insurance plans.

Angina – From Diagnosis to Treatment Part 1 – Diagnosis

Angina – From Diagnosis to to Treatment Part 2 – Treatment

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