Sunday, August 2, 2015

Rough River Lake Kentucky

Monday (Jul 27):

Monday morning we ate breakfast at the local McDonald's and said our good-byes to Fran and Mal. They are headed to Ohio while we are going to Kentucky. We got the Duchess ready for departure and made the 100 mile drive to the North Fork Campground on the Rough River near McDaniels Kentucky. This campground is a COE park located on the Rough River Lake. We had made reservations for our site which is the largest one in the campground. We got set up and made a trip to Leitchfield KY to visit the Walmart and get resupplied.

Site 38 @ North Fork Campground
After returning from Leitchfield we went to visit Terry and Coston Lawson who live in a house here at Rough River Lake. Terry and Coston are finishing out the house they started building several years ago. The last time Connie had seen them was 32 years ago so a lot of the conversation was getting caught up on everyone's lives.

Tuesday (Jul 28):

On Tuesday we decided to visit the Mammoth Cave National Park which is located about an hour from our campground. On the way over to Mammoth Cave we stopped in Leitchfield at the local bike shop, Embrey's Bike Shop, and had the inner tube replaced on the rear wheel of Connie's bike. From there we continued on to the park where we purchased our tickets for the Historic Tour of the cave and then sat down to eat the picnic lunch Connie had put together for us.

After we had finished lunch we returned to the Visitor Center and took a short tour of the informational area of the center. At 1:40 PM we met with our tour group outside of the visitor center, got our marching instructions and then proceeded to the entrance to the cave.

Ranger Booby giving us our final instructions before entering the cave.
He has been guiding tour groups here since 1977 and this is his last year  before retiring.
Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system in the world with over 400 miles of cave that have been surveyed. The cave system goes to a depth of over 300 feet below the surface and there is an underground river that still runs through the bottom of the cave. We decided to take the Historic Tour since we were only going to be there for the day and it gives you the best experience of the cave. There have been tours of the cave since 1816. These original tours were guided by slaves of the owners of the property and Steven Bishop (who was a self educated enslaved person) was the first to explore some of the depths of the cave. They were limited by the technology of the day for lighting their way down into the cave. Mammoth Cave became a National Park in 1921 and the CCC finished a number of improvements to the park during the 1930's.

Entrance to Mammoth Cave

Area where they mined saltpeter in the early 19th Century

Largest "room" inside the cave, The Rotunda

The cave tour was very interesting and Ranger Bobby did a great job of explaining interesting facts about the cave and answering questions from members of the tour group. The tour has a lot of steps along the 2 miles route and part of the tour route is called Fat Man's Misery for a reason. The temperature in the cave is 54 degrees so it was nice to be out of the heat for a while. The tour lasted about 2 hours after which we came back to the Visitor Center and finished up our visit to the informational center. We are glad we were able to tour the cave since next year a large section of the cave that we went through will be closed for improvements to the trail.

Coming back from Mammoth Cave we took a different route and went across the Green River on a small ferry. The river is not very wide and there was not much traffic using the ferry when we crossed.

That night we spent time visiting with another couple that Connie had not seen in a long time, Vicki and Gary Edelen. Vicki and Terry are sisters who Connie knew from her life in Dallas through her second husband, Butch Boone (Butch's cousins).

Wednesday (Jul 29):

On Wednesday we spent several hours on Gary and Vicki's pontoon boat touring Rough River Lake. The lake is a COE built flood control lake that was finished in 1961. This summer the lake is full with all of the rain that Kentucky has received. There are three different COE campgrounds located on the lake along with a state park. A number of private houses have been built around the lake, some small and some very large. We stopped in the boat in several locations around the lake and went swimming.

Thursday (Jul 30):

Thursday we spent the day in our campground. We walked around the campground (which has been almost empty during the week). We also spent time on Terry's pontoon boat. We traveled down the lake to the dam and also spend some time swimming in the lake. That evening we went over to Gary and Vicki's lake house to eat dinner with them and Terry and Coston.

Gary, Terry, Vicki, Coston and Connie

Serious discussions after dinner
Friday (Jul 31):

On Friday morning we joined Gary and Vicki on their ski boat to watch Gary ski. Gary is part of a group here on the Rough River Lake that maintains two ski courses on different parts of the lake. Gary has been skiing since he was a teenager and is an excellent water skier. It was amazing to see Gary on skis going through the course.

The rope is shortened each time the course in completed and the goal is to see how short you can make the rope and still finish the course. Gary skis the course at 32 MPH and was able to shortened the rope a couple of times this morning and still finish the course. Gary told us about one lady who lives on the lake and skied until she was 90 so Gary hopes he has another 30 years of skiing.

After eating a quick lunch we joined Gary, Vicki, Coston and Terry on the lake to kayak. We inflated and launched our two man kayak, Gary and Vicki started out in one-man kayaks while Terry and Coston were on paddle boards. We went up the lake on one of the smaller and less busy areas and paddled for about 3 hours on the trip up and back. The weather was great and we switched around so that Gary, Vicki and I could try the paddle boards.

Starting up the lake

Vicki and Gary in kayaks

Gary on the paddle board

I got on the paddle board and managed to not fall in the water
There were sections of the lake where the surface was like glass. This part of the lake gets narrower and narrower as we paddled along.

That evening all of us went over to Terry and Coston's house where they cooked us Conk Fritters, fried oysters, blacken Snook and fried Snook. Terry and Coston had spent several weeks in Florida earlier in the year and had purchased and frozen the Snook fish. It was delicious and we all ate too much. Then Terry served us a fresh blackberry cobbler along with ice cream for dessert. Better than eating at a 5 star restaurant.

Connie and Mike standing under the "Blue Moon of Kentucky" at Terry & Coston's
Notice Connie's new glasses!
Saturday (Aug 1):

Saturday we took it easy most of the day around the Duchess. We did "fix" the overhead light in our bedroom that would not stay on very long since the ballast in the light fixture is going out. So we swapped it out with one that is in the front of the motor home that we rarely use. In the evening Connie went over to Vicki's house to join in a party that was being held for Vicki's cousin's daughter who is getting married soon.

Sunday (Aug 2):

We ended up putting the kayak back in the water this morning and rowing over to Vicki's house to visit with Vicki, Vicki's daughter Maggie and Terry. From there we kayaked around the lake for about an hour before returning back to the campground.

Once we finished putting up the kayak to dry we decided to visit one of the local restaurants, Rubbie's River Shack, for lunch. Connie had a fish sandwich and I had a pulled pork sandwich both of which were very good.

We returned home to take it easy before spending the evening getting the Duchess ready to travel north to southern Indiana on Monday morning.