“Fat ‘n’ far” is Kentuckian for “fighting fire.” I attended fire refresher today. To illustrate the importance of communication the instructors (one of whom was chewing and spitting into a Diet Sprite can) read us a list of things they heard when fighting fire in eastern Kentucky, which of course was completely unintelligible to those of us in south central Kentucky.
I got a chance to look inside some of the other entrances to the cave. One entrance had this massive chamber with long skinny stalactites. There were bats and cave crickets and even a cave beetle. Later there were deer outside my apartment. I passed within twenty feet of one of them.
Just another spectacular national park somewhere in the middle of America. Dime a dozen.
My folks are in town. This is not high tourism season in south central Kentucky and a lot of stuff is closed. The weather is nice, though. My last week is coming up, then back to Mississippi. Sigh.
There was a urinal at a restaurant yesterday that was simply to high for me to pee in, even if I stood on my toes. It would have required some iffy acrobatics that I wouldn’t be caught dead doing in a public bathroom.
Last week I went bowling. In Bowling Green. A very local place. There were even bowling Pentacostalists.
I was assigned to Lane 28. The place had nice modern equipment and a good floor. The lane looked ready to go and the light was blinking at me, so I bowled. And then I saw a leg come down among the pins. The mechanic was still in there.
“Hey! Look out!” Of course noboby can hear you shout in a bowling alley, and I nailed him right in the ankle.
“What the fuck,” I said to myself. I was pretty incensed and walked up to the counter.
“Hey I almost killed your guy!” I explained what happened. “I hope he’s okay.” They assigned me to a different lane.
The mechanic came out and I went over to apologize to him and ask if he was okay. He said:
“We’ll I got kicked by a horse once, but I’m all right. You’ve got a good arm though.” Which is funny because I’m a terrible bowler. And I only would have gotten one or two pins instead of his ankle.
Rain all day today. Might as well be in a cave. I’m going to give my first cave tour tomorrow. I am not a bit nervous.
I drove down to Bowling Green again last night. I scouted out some places to eat. Couldn’t find the bowling alley so I went to see “Hoodwinked”. Not bad. Good soundtrack, believe it or not.
My folks are coming to visit Monday.
I’ve driven around a little bit. Bowling Green is a half hour away. It’s a college town and has the sprawly commercial drag one would expect in a New South city.
I haven’t seen any Confederate flags yet, but Lincoln’s birthplace is an hour away. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi fame, was born somewhere in Kentucky too. There is a state park named for him, complete with the monumental obelisk.
The Mammoth Cave area is rural and religious. I appear to be in some kind of Catholic-free evangelical Protestant homeland. I’ve read about such places in books.
South Central Kentucky is more rustic and picturesque than Mississippi. I think Mississippi is pretty Old School, but Kentucky takes the cake. It looks like it hasn’t changed in fifty years. A good thing, as far as aesthetics.
I visited the Lincoln birthplace and boyhood home. I got caught hiking there in a rainstorm. It’s getting colder, and snow came down Friday night. I hiked on the surface of Mammoth Cave yesterday. Mostly deciduous forest with cedar trees mixed in. The woods were pretty in the snow, and quiet. Occasionally I’ll scare off some deer or turkeys. After sheltering myself from the rain under some cedar trees I stepped out onto the trail only to frighten three turkeys. If had been patient they would have walked right past me.
I’m taking more of an interest in the rocks, but it all looks like gray limestone to me. Sometimes they have visible mollusk fossils in them. The mud is pebbly and is an unattractive yellow color that I think comes from the sandstone bedrock at the tops of the ridge.
When I got my hair cut last week, the girl asked me, “What have you been doing?” “Sorry?” I asked. “You’ve got dust on your boots, she said. “Looks like you’ve been caving.”
I’ve been trailing the cave guides here at Mammoth Cave. A cave is about the exact opposite of an island in the Gulf of Mexico, where the sun is so bright they issue us sunglasses. The caves are quiet (they are mostly lifeless), whereas the Gulf Coast has near constant waves and wind, and birds and frogs and such.
I just think its funny that some rangers run boats in marshes, some run around the desert, and others crawl around caves.
The Mammoth Cave operation is like stepping back in NPS time. They have this run down Mission ’66 style visitor center. There are a lot of rangers and few volunteers. I rarely see anyone use a computer (there is almost no office space for the couple of dozen people who work out of the visitor center). Most of the rangers have been here for over a decade, and they are all underpaid compared to their counterparts everywhere else.
I power-washed one of our john boats. That was one dirtly little boat. It’s good exercise, I just wish I didn’t have to load the car tonight and hit the road early tomorrow, ’cause I’m bushed.
I’m headed to Kentucky for a month of work at Mammoth Cave. I got the final word a couple of days ago and I’ll travel Sunday. I’m glad to get a chance to work there, but I’m not in the mood for another long road trip. I’ve traveled a lot this past year. Part of me just wants to stay at home for a little while, but then again I’d hate that.
I finally tried one of the two new sushi places in town. Lance and I split a couple of rolls. The place is pretty good. Wasabi is good shit. Then we went to a mellow new bar up the street. Ocean Springs is starting to liven up a little. It has an nice little downtown but nothing was ever open at night. Then again, downtown Ocean Springs is the only thing going on the coast west of Mobile.
There was some celebrity dance contest on the TV in the bar. Some were good dancers, some were not. All were washed up, like Tia Carreri, George Hamilton, and Tatum O’Neal. One of the judges looked like Jacques Chirac. I kept imaging him saying things like… well, never mind. Nobody gets my Jacques Chirac jokes.
More yoga tonight (ouch). Then…
I made a successful hummus for the first time, using the new mini-food processor I got for Christmas. It was obscenely delicious.
Frontline is airing its monthly diatribe against Wal-Mart. Imagine being Wal-Mart. You discovered that China has millions of low-paid workers who are forbidden by law and by the threat of violence to unionize, vote, or criticize the government. What would you do?
Yoga tonight. I am sore.
I need to lose at least ten pounds. I couldn’t fit into some of my uniform pants, which infuriated me to no end. They don’t have any leeway in them, and I notice it when I gain weight. Bah.
I got in okay last night, not too hung over from Evrim’s vodka milkshakes. The flight out of Atlanta was delayed by two hours, but nothing too bad.
Winter in Mississippi means the frogs calling were last night when I came back to my apartment. There was even a toad waiting for me in front of my building.
New Year’s in New Jersey to singing frogs in Mississippi in 24 hours. I love modern travel.
Happy new year. I’m headed to Laguardia within the hour. I’ll be taking dramamine for this flight.
Photos from Evrim’s kitchen: