Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What a difference a parking place makes;-)

Two changes of venues in the last three days – a very nice, clean, friendly ‘parking’ spot in Mammoth Cave, KY and a wonderful, green, spacious ‘parking’ spot at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.  It’s interesting that when we get back to Magic after our day’s activities we can go in, close the door and have our own space – no matter what the surroundings are.  BUT – knowing that Magic’s surroundings are wonderful, pristine, green and peaceful allows us to enjoy our daily adventures even more knowing what we have to ‘come home to’.

So – with Magic parked in a flower garden – the Scenic Byways of Kentucky were calling.  They were filled with changing colors, does feeding their fawns and “roads end" -  

Another green dot road.

The leaves are just beginning to change.

We spotted Bambi having a snack.

Someday we will have to do a posting on the variety of signs we see along the way.

The Road DOES End in the Water!!

Green River.

All of the above was within the surface area of Mammoth Cave NP, which encompasses about 80 square miles.  Below these Kentucky hills is a limestone labyrinth of more than 392 miles of cave passageways that makes Mammoth Cave the longest known cave in the world.  It became a NP in 1941, was designated a World Heritage Site in 1981 and became the core area of an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990.  While much of the ‘modern’ mapping/discovery was completed during the early to mid 1800’s, carbon dating has placed activity in the cave back 5,000 – 6,000 years ago!

‘Modern’ cave use became very active in the early 1800’s (this was in the easily accessible area near the entry as the more extensive areas had not yet been discovered).  The activity centered around the ‘mining’ of saltpetre (for ammunition) in the mineral rich soil of the cave dirt.  The saltpetre from this cave became very important during the War of 1812 as it provided much of the ingredient for most of the ammunition utilized in that War.  Saltpetre is ‘mined’ by putting the dirt through a series of water filters.  In Mammoth Cave the water was carried to the filtering areas through a pipe system, where the ‘pipes’ were made of hollowed poplar trees, many of which remain in a perfect state in the cave.  The entire operation was very interesting – as was the experience in the cave!!  And again we owe a BIG thank you to our NP Rangers for caring for our national treasures for our enjoyment.

Mammoth Caves were...mammoth.

Work stations from 1806 for mining saltpetre.

Not PVC but it got the job done.

Snug fit going through "Fat Man's (and "Tall Man's") Misery"

Back above ground, Lexington, KY was the next adventure – after more Scenic Byways – 

Many country lanes like this one wind their way through rural Lexington.

Lexington is the center of Kentucky’s bluegrass country spread over fifteen counties and 4,000 square miles chockablock with Tara-style manor houses, classic white or black oak-plank fences and stables to die for!!  It is the undisputed international center of thoroughbred horse breeding. 

One of our travel reference books – “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” – writes “while Louisville’s Churchill Downs may be the site of the storied Kentucky Derby, the Keeneland Race Course in Lexington is actually the South’s most beautiful.”  So – off to check out the Keeneland Race Course.   

Keeneland Race Track.

Colorful placard holders.

After walking through the grandstand to see the track, we were off to the Sales Pavilion to see what all the activity was over there.  AND – what a treat!!  The 2012 September Yearling Sale was in process.  The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the sales of almost 400 yearlings (this was just today and it appears there is a like amount sold in each of 11 days) and all the behind the scenes activities.  The largest sale we saw was a descendent of Seattle Slew for $200,000!!

Today's catalog had almost 400 horses being auctioned.

Gorgeous animals escorted in, one by one.

I'm not sure how the auctioneers keep the chatter going for such a long time.

Lots of shoppers milling about throughout the facility.

In awe from the peaceful serenity of the Kentucky Horse Park – E & G

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