Mammoth Cave National Park and Visiting Stephen Bishop’s Grave.

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Last month we finished up Journey to the Bottomless Pit: The Story of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Cave by Betsy Mitchell. The boys and I were fascinated by Stephen Bishop’s discoveries in Mammoth Cave. We were intrigued by the owners of the cave before it was a National Park. We loved hearing about the excursions, visitors, and news in the 1800s. Finally, when we read he was still buried in a little cemetery at the park, I thought it would be crazy not to go one last time and see it.

Last week’s warm Friday provided the perfect chance for a visit. We arrived around noon and spent time surveying our National Park passport options. Our first book is weathered and needs to retire. We thought new books for this road trip was in order. The boys settled on the blue passports (they have different kids versions or larger more elaborate versions) because they have ample stamping room and are pocket-sized. Each fella got his own book to stamp as he wishes at all the National Parks (and probably State Parks) we’ll encounter. The store employee was incredibly helpful and instrumental in helping us decide.

We then met up with some school friends for a hike to the grave site and around the grounds. It was a quick walk to the site and with clear signage we located his stone placement easily. We headed just a bit further to Sunset Point and looped down and around to the natural entrance. Little fella kept breaking off icicles in large sections. Dear Husband and my older son walked ahead at Mack’s (our dog) pace.

After the hike, we meandered into the museum. I was thrilled to catch a short movie about Stephen Bishop and his two fellow guides Mat and Nicholas. It spoke to their adventurous spirits and contributions to Mammoth Cave. I watched it through and then found the boys and watched it with them as well. I’ve not seen this movie at the museum before and wonder if I just didn’t notice it or if it was new. Either way, we enjoyed it.

Feeling satiated, we headed back for the evening. Passports in hand, their first stamps and National Park clicked off, we were ready for another National Park the next day.

Our Airstream’s Maiden Voyage to Mammoth Caves.

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We took our 1978 Airstream trailer on it’s maiden voyage as per our youngest’s fifth birthday wish. We loaded up “Maddy” and headed to Mammoth Caves for a chilly camping weekend celebration. I suspect the smores were part of the attraction, but we all enjoyed the fire, hiking, frisbee playing, and hammock.

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It’s not lost on me that this was the weekend prior to Earth Day. In past years we have celebrated by walking roadside and picking up trash, (something we just spent doing in our own yard recently.) We have also planted trees, which we seem to have checked off the list recently too. I suppose years of doing that has taught us it’s not only on Earth Day we should plant trees or pick up litter. As those are now easily integrated into our lives, it was particularly nice to spend the weekend with some real Mother Earth time. DSC_6541

Chilly nights under wool blankets, my husband’s amazing morning breakfast spread prepared entirely outdoors, laying in my hammock and staring up into the trees, discovering sink holes on our hike, sawing firewood…Well, I think my little guy is onto something. My birthday wish is a camping trip as well. One big lantern candle will serve me just fine…. but you know what? I think I definitely will take a few of those smores:)

For information on camping at Mammoth Caves, our airstream, a good children’s caving book or where to get great Montessori Earth Day cards, check below.

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Mammoth Caves Information:

Mammoth Caves National Park is huge and it’s not just below ground that is amazing to hike and explore. In fact, we like to stop here just to hike above ground. Their trails are well marked, easily tread by our little fellas and feature sink holes and springs. The caves are formed from the top down and these sink holes really help children see the beginning of a cave. Their campground is large, features tent sites, pull thrus, and back in sites. There are no electric or water hook ups at the sites. The campground store has camping essentials, firewood, showers, potable water, and a dump. The sites are large, wooded, and feature firepits and concrete picnic tables. For more information look here.

For a great children’s book on caves check out:

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Vintage Airstream Info:

Our Airstream trailer is a 31 foot Sovereign with a rear bath and separate twin bed configuration. I suspect there will be many more photos of “Maddy” before the camping season is over:)

Montessori Earth Day Every Day Cards:

At Montessori Print Shop