road trip travel Uncategorized

Pandemic Road Trip: Day 2

Pandemic Road Trip, Travel, Road Trip, family vacation, Covid-19 Road Trip, Coronavirus Road Trip,

We started day two of our Pandemic Road Trip in a different time zone (central). So of course I woke up at 04:30 am CST which was 05:30 am EST. The good thing about being up that early was it give me some time to fine tune my plans for the day.

After I finished my Day 1 post I looked up the campground at Mammoth Cave National Park. Just like visiting the cave for this day the campground too was all booked. It was booked for the next 2 days. So I needed to decide what we where going to do. I didn’t want to stay in Cave City, Kentucky for another night since on Day 3 we check into our hotel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

I’m thinking I probably should have done a little more planning for our coronavirus road trip. Either way we are still going to make the best of it.

My daughter found a brochure for Rock City which is near Chattanooga. So now we knew where we would be staying the night. Up next was what will we be doing from now till than.

Kentucky Down Under was a MUST do for her and I. It opened at 9 am so I knew we had to be there first thing in the morning. The last thing I wanted to do was miss out on another attraction. Now the night before I checked there website to see if I needed to get a timed ticket or anything like that.

You can purchase tickets on their website but you can also just get them on site. I’m sure they limit the amount of tickets they sell but I was planning on arriving by 08:45 am. After Kentucky Down Under we would be visiting some of the local gift shops and we wanted to visit Dinosaur World. Of course, I was still going to Mammoth Cave National Park to at least say I’ve been there and get my National Park Passport stamped.

Kentucky Down Under

Kentucky Down Under, Kangaroo,

This place was amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kentucky Down Under is our favorite place that we visited during our Pandemic Road Trip. Being able to get up close to Kangaroos so you can pet and feed them.

There was so many kangaroos and a few Emus in there too. Some were just basking in the sun. Others were relaxing in the shade. Some would even come up to you.

The highlight for my daughter was seeing a joey. One of the kangaroos had its baby in her pouch. She thought that was the most amazing thing. She kept taking my phone to try and get a video and pictures of it.

I must admit it was pretty cool seeing that. Let me tell you when the joey is hiding in the pouch you couldn’t even tell he was in there. The whole experience was one I will remember and I am sure my daughter will too.

Kangaroo, joey, Kentucky Down Under, Horse Cave, KY,

Having a kangaroo hopping over to you and grabbing your hand as they eat is a unique experience. I’m not sure if there is other places in the US you can do this. But I know you can do it in Horse Cave, Kentucky. I’m so glad a friend of mine suggested visiting this place.

You can also feed birds. Unfortunately, I forgot to get the species of bird, However, that was another amazing and unique experience.

As soon as you walk into the huge cage with you cup of liquid the birds swoop in. Some land on your hand. Others land on your arm and shoulder. One even likes to land on your head.

I watched a guy that when in a few minutes before us have the one black and red bird land on his head. It could have only been on there for a second or two before it pooped. Right when it was done it took off and heading back above the door.

Kentucky Down Under also has its own cave. It is a small cave but would be a good first cave experience for anyone. It has all the formations you would expect to find in a cave.

Kentucky Down Under, Horse Cave, KY, Cave, rocks,

There weren’t too many steps that we had to travel up and down and it was pretty well lit. I ended up taking up the rear of the group. If you are in the back the tour guide puts you to work.

I had to make sure the door closed behind us and walk anyone out who decided to leave while we were letting our eyes adjust. It gave me a chance to practice my social distancing and take some pictures. Kind of wish I took my DSLR but then again I’m glad I didn’t as some areas got a little tight.

Everything at Kentucky Down Under was amazing. I must go for anyone planning a visit to the Mammoth Cave area of Kentucky. Heck, even if you aren’t planning a trip to Mammoth Cave you should plan a Covid-19 road trip here. We spent 3 plus hours here with no problem.

Dinosaur World

Cave City Kentucky, Dinosaur World, Dino

Unfortunately, due to Covid 19 many of the interactive elements at Dinosaur World were closed. However, they lowered the price since you couldn’t do them. The playground and fossil dig were closed but I am not sure what else was.

The dino trail was open where you could walk and see many different dinosaurs. I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that the dinosaurs are true to size but I think most are. However, I can say I am pretty sure the colors are not correct. But then again does anyone really know?

Now the fossil dig was closed but my daughter did get a little bag with 3 fossils in it. Sure she didn’t get to dig them up herself. But she does have something to bring home and remember her time at Dinosaur World in Cave City, Kentucky.

T-Rex Skull, Dinosaur World, Cave City Kentucky,

There was also a small museum that housed my different fossils. They had teeth, eggs, and even a fossilized turtle. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time here but we could have easily spent 3 hours here if we read about each of the dinosaurs on the dino trail.

If you are a fan of dinosaurs or your kids like them it’s worth a stop. Otherwise I would say just continue on towards Mammoth Cave National Park. There plenty of small shops to check out along the way.

We also decide to stop by some of the nearby shops to see what they had. Nothing really jumped out at us. However, Big Mike’s Rock Shop was interesting. It claims to be the largest gift shop in Kentucky. It is on the way to Mammoth Cave National Park.

Big Mike's Rock Shop, Cave City Kentucky, rocks, glass,

As you would guess they had lots and I mean lots of rocks for sale. The gift shop also had many things you would typically find in places like this. Mugs, picture frames, key chains, t-shirts, and much more. I do think it is worth a stop if you are on your way to Mammoth Cave. I can’t say if it is the biggest gift shop in Kentucky but it is a nice size.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park, National Park Service, World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve,

I am so disappointed that we were unable to visit this cave at this National Park during our coronavirus road trip. I wasn’t letting that stop me from at least checking out the visitor center and getting my National Park Passport stamped. Let me first say that you are driving for about 15 minutes through thick forest.

It is a nice peaceful drive. I am sure you may get the chance to catch some wildlife on your drive but we didn’t see any. Now the visitor center is huge. However, most of it seemed to be closed or offered very limited access.

Like I said before we didn’t get tickets to enter the cave. The tickets were sold out for the day we went. They were sold out the night before when I checked. I was pretty bummed out but the more I think about it I am kind of happy.

If I went into the cave I may never have a need to come back out and visit. If we were able to go we would have only seen a small part of the cave since all the social distancing and other precautions that are currently in place. Now it gives me a reason to come back and visit.

Mammoth Cave National Park, National Park Service, World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, visitor center

Next time I will make sure I book a ticket a few days in advance. Hopefully next time I can also get my National Park Passport stamped. We couldn’t seem to find the area where they would do it. It wasn’t at the info desk or at the gift shop like it is a many of the other National Parks.

Camping in Mammoth Cave National Park was also out of the question. It too had all of the campgrounds booked. Plus they only have a handful (if that) of first come, first serve sites. I didn’t want to be bothered with it so we decided to head to Tennessee and visit Rock City and Ruby Falls.

On the way to Chattanooga

We left Mammoth Cave Visitor Center a little disappointed but ready for our next on the road adventure. We almost made a few stops along the way but decided to just head towards Chattanooga and stay as close to Rock City that we could.

Originally I was planning on spending a night in Nashville. That was when we were going to do the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway as our first stops. Now I would just be traveling through.

The drive took around 3 hours from Mammoth Cave to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The only spot that was a bit of a pain was around Nashville. Boy was driving there similar to driving around Philly. Traffic was horrible. Trucks everywhere. It was a slow go but it never stopped.

Once the speed picked back up it was like driving in the Daytona 500. Cars passing left and right. Flying down the highway. It was a high pace, stay aware type of drive. Once outside of the Nashville area you were back to the laid back driving.

Highway, Tennessee, mountains, road trip,

The rest of the drive was really nice. The rolling mountains made for a peaceful drive. Now I knew that Chattanooga was in the Eastern Time Zone and I was currently in the Central Time Zone. Pretty much from Nashville till I can only assume about 15 miles from Chattanooga did I finally cross back into the Eastern Time Zone. The whole drive I was just waiting for my phone to switch back to my normal time.

When I did my quick planning for this covid-19 road trip I didn’t think I would be crossing any time zones. It really through my daughter off. She just didn’t understand the concept.

My whole time in Kentucky I kept myself on EST. Since I wasn’t spending long in CST I didn’t want to adjust myself to much to that time zone. Now like I said the drive from Nashville to Chattanooga was a nice drive but I was about to be in for a bit of a surprise.

I wasn’t planning on visiting or driving through Georgia this trip but it turns out Google Maps had other plans. We were only in Georgia for a couple of miles till we were back in Tennessee and in the area we would spend the night. Later tonight I would find out that I would be visiting Georgia for a lot longer than a couple minutes since Rock City Gardens was located in Georgia.

The last time I spent any amount of time in Georgia was back in my Marine Corps days. I stayed with a buddy at his parents house near Brunswick, GA. Any other time I’m in Georgia its just a drive thru on my way to Florida.

We got off the highway in Chattanooga Lookout Mountain West and I decided to stay at a Days Inn right off the highway. That was my first mistake. This hotel was horrible.

Days Inn, Wyndham Hotels, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, Chattanooga, hotel

It had a weird smell to it but the room did look clean overall. The door also sucked. It seemed like one strong kick would knock the door in. Plus it was hard to open. From the inside, you had no problem seeing light coming through the door. I will have a full review on this hell hole soon. I was really disappointed in Days Inn and expected a lot more from them.

The cost was also $20 more from the app to what they had when I booked in person. Next time I will just go outside and book it through the app. I will also be writing Wyndham and Days Inn about this poor excuse of a hotel.

Before I went to bed I made sure I purchased my tickets for Rock City. When I purchased the tickets for Rock City I was under the impression that it included all three of the attractions (Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline). It wasn’t until the next day that I found out I needed to purchase a ticket for each place. I really thought I purchased a combo ticket but I guess I didn’t.

Day three will be another day of exploring, driving, exploring, driving, and sleeping. I have high hopes for our hotel tomorrow night and I hope it doesn’t disappoint. After the night at the Days Inn, the bar isn’t set very high.

Check back tomorrow for Day 3 of our Pandemic Road Trip. Did we get to see Ruby Falls? Will we stop anywhere else before we go to Gatlinburg? You won’t know unless you come back tomorrow. Also follow us on Facebook. All of our latest post, tips, and pictures hits Facebook first.

As always, please remember to follow us on our different social media accounts. It helps you so you know when our next post goes live. You never know what the next guide might be about. Don’t forget to follow our travel board on Pinterest for all your travel needs.

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