Saturday, May 14, 2022

Fender Bender Repair and a Busy Time

Elkhart, IN   High: 88   Low: 55. AT&T excellent, 5G in the city

We are at T******* RV Resort.....heh, heh, heh..."Mootchdocking" with family in Indiana for a few days...We have water and electric and a super deluxe shower house! With a BATHTUB! AND SUPER HOT WATER! (That's Eldy's son's house), haha.  Sparky has been waiting MONTHS to have a hot, hot tub bath and soak in Epson salts for all her aches and pains, and boy, does the old body feel better getting to take a couple of them a few days in a row. Lots of people are shower people. Sparky is a bonafide true TUBBER and has been all her life.

We are in a holding pattern to get to Lippert (the slide component/chassis/other stuff) to get our balky slide fixed. They do have mobile RV tech service for their products, but it's super expensive. So we will have to take the rig in for repairs and wait on it. Hopefully, it will be a one day job so we don't have to find a hotel to spend the night. Sigh.... 

In the meantime, Sparky is back to doing a little landscaping, and itching to get back on the zero turn lawnmower, but it's been too rainy to help out. Sparky likes using the weed whacker almost as much, so she is doing some of that and pulling weeds for exercise. Eldy's son has woods behind his house and LOTS of birds flying by. A robin is  sitting on a nest in a forsythia bush and flies away some times. Sparky caught the nest while mama bird was out on her rounds and got this photo. 

Since she has ridden some of the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail from the OTHER side of Elkhart, and a spur trail or two. A lot of the spur trails are through ample sidewalks but residential and industrial areas, so a totally different experience and not as pretty till you get to Abshire Park in Goshen, heading northeast (Sparky had to ask Eldo for the direction, haha) and get back on the true Pumpkinvine Trail that is forest and farmlands. Lots of beautiful trees blooming in spring in Indiana right now, ornamental pears (the white flowered trees) and flowering quince--the deep reddish pink tree in the photo. GORGEOUS! 

Trillium by the hundreds!
If you ride the Pumpkinvine from end to end, it is currently 17 miles one way from Abshire Park, Goshen, to the trailhead in Shipshewanna, downtown off Depot Street. The trail head USED to be in a parking lot just down the street from the elementary school but a little over a mile has been added to take you right to the heart of downtown Shipshewanna. Sparky did the 34 miles from one end to the other couple of days ago, and it was a fantastic ride....perfect temperatures in the high fifties to low sixties, sunny day....and wonderful to see the Amish in their Sunday black and white best, walking together in families, or riding their bikes back home from services. The wildflowers are outstanding this time of year along the trail. Hundreds, maybe thousands of trilliums line the trail, last week there were none to be seen! And if you are lucky, the bison might be out grazing. Bison???? Yep, there is a small herd right outside one of the trailer factories between Goshen and Middlebury. Never would think you would see bison grazing in Amish country in Indiana, would you?

And, if you are riding between Goshen and Middlebury, you can stop off for a delicious ice cream treat at Mooey's. There is a sign advertising the ice cream shop right on the trail, shortly after you have crossed over from the temporary end of the trail past Middlebury, and taken the .7 mile jog onto the county roads to pick up the trail again. Sparky has always wondered about the shop and finally stopped. It's fairly new and opened in 2020. It was terrific! Besides wonderful flavors of ice cream being offered, it's the Amish neighborhood popular stop as well, so you will see lots of Amish or Mennonite folks standing around, waiting for ice cream, and horse drawn buggies or carts hitched to the hitching posts. It's a farm with an ice cream stand! Great cheeseburgers, too. 

Back to another part of the trail, the Maple Leaf Greenway through Elkhart. There are some interesting sights even in a residential area. Some cool artwork on the Goshen Water Treatment plant....

If you visit Elkhart, you will hear the sounds of trains and their horns all over town. No matter where you are. That's because Elkhart is the second largest train yard in the nation! It used to be the largest. You might have trouble crossing train tracks without having to wait on a train in the city and surrounding areas. For a LONG time. Trains sometimes block the tracks and sit for hours, many trains blocking many different track locations because of train yard logistics. There have been instances of trains blocking the tracks for more than 20 hours. What to do if that happens if you don't know the streets to get around the train tracks?

Study the graffiti, the protests and messages, on the side of the rail cars maybe. Just kidding. But Sparky thinks some of the train graffiti is beautiful. Some of it is crudely drawn, others seem to have been done by professionals. She knows, it's vandalism, it's dangerous that they do it and illegal, maybe it's gang related stuff, but she still thinks it's cool. It's hard to read, anyway, but the color usage and the imaginative way the letters and messages are portrayed, is a form of art, in her humble opinion. Let's face it, train cars are ugly! Having said that, Sparky went and did a little research on train graffiti, and after reading a bit, she is tempering her feelings about it based on her ignorance.

Sparky found out that train graffiti sometimes covers up important information such as who owns the freight car, how much it can carry, dimensions, safety information and maintenance data. If the graffiti covers that, railroad workers and shippers lose important information, deliveries get slowed down, maybe an accident occurs. Some railroad companies try a special paint by Sherwin-Williams, called Anti Graffiti Coating, which repels paint, spray can paint, and permanent markers and makes graffiti easier to wash off. By the looks of LOADS of freight cars with most of them covered in graffiti on the lower levels, the railroads are losing the battle or it's too expensive to repaint the trains.

Sparky always thought that these "fly by night" artists were using spray cans from the local hardware store. Probably not. There's  a whole industry devoted to graffiti supplies. Just do an internet search on that, you should get over 20 million hits. Supply stores sell everything graffiti related-among other things- duffel bags designed to hold LOTS of spray cans and special tips for the cans to create a variety of fills and lines. Sounds like cake decorating!

On to graduation weekend! Eldy's granddaughter, Cate, graduated from college this past weekend. So off we went to Illinois to celebrate her success.

It's always wonderful to see your grandchildren grow up and successfully complete a stage in life--with honors, no less! 
Cate and her mom and dad

The rest of the visit in Elkhart was spent visiting with family and fixing a few things on the rig--like our busted fender on the RV. We managed to find a replacement fender and got the old damaged one off (from the tire blowout last fall) without too much of a problem except for the residue left behind from Sparky's overzealous duct tape job. Looks like a tough job! Good old duct tape-- it sure held the fender on for awhile. Gonna try Goo Gone, a light heat gun (crafter one) and a plastic credit card. We will let you know how that works out!
Well, I'll be darned. It worked out pretty well! Sparky ended up using a hair dryer instead, an old credit card and the Goo Gone adhesive removal product. She would like to warn anybody that uses Goo Gone that it did affect the paint a left a little hazy finish on the panel. You barely see it unless you look close. We're hoping that some wax and a bit of polishing will get rid of that.

We put the new fender on with the help of Eldy's son, 
Brian. There were some foam pieces that were on the back side of the old fender, sort of like bumper pads, that the screw went through. They were ripped and torn, so Sparky whipped out some black adhesive craft foam, spliced three long strips together, then cut them into little rectangle pieces to sit behind the screws. We think they are intended to buffer the movement between the fender and the side of the rig at the screw joints, as we are bouncing down the road. Lastly, we put silicone caulk in the seam between the rig and the fender to reduce wind getting in between the panel space and the fender, and it's done! Tada!

After a peaceful week with family and visiting with the chickens Brian is raising in an amazing coop he built, we headed back to Twin Mills. As much as we love staying at Camp T*******, we don't want to overextend our stay and we don't have sewer hookups, so it's time to let the family have some breathing room and prepare for heading to Lippert in Elkhart, IN for slide diagnostics and possible repairs. We will see family again in October..... 

Hopefully, the awful heat that is plaguing some parts of the country now before summer even gets here, is not going to be how the summer will be in Maine where we are heading in a couple of weeks! Our main worry for now is that we have heard there is a diesel shortage on the east coast, and the price of fuel is over 6.00 a gallon! We debated back and forth about staying in the midwest for the summer, but there are fewer membership parks here, and the temps will be HOT, so we think we are going to go ahead with our plans to get to Maine. We will have to be super cautious about watching our fuel tank, as it is a small one on the truck. Big truck, small fuel tank, 36 gallons for our big dually, go figure. Guess Fords come with bigger fuel tanks, but it's still going to be an arm and a leg regardless of whether you have a Ford or a Dodge Ram for filling up. See you down the road!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Why We Do What We Do....

Sometimes people must wonder, "Why would you sell your house and everything in it and go traipsing across the country in the confines of a an RV?" We have a lot of reasons. Eldo loves traveling. He loves to research and plan our trips, although not as far out as we have to do now. Sparky also loves traveling and seeing new parts of the country. Our families are spread all over the US. We see them more now than we did before. We love seeing our country in new and different ways each time we cross it and we love having our home with us wherever we land vs. staying in hotels and sleeping in strange beds every night. Some people keep their homes as a home base, others like us, sell it and take off for new adventures. 

We love meeting wonderful people. It's not difficult to make new friends RVing, and believe it or not, you DO see them again. RVers are especially open to getting to know you if you want to reach out and chat.  They are also more than willing to help you if you are having any kind of problems while on the road. They come over and offer to help, they don't wait for you to ask. They loan you tools. They share resources. We compare notes about where to stay and where NOT to stay. We met two wonderful couples while at Twin Mills, and our paths are going to cross again in the near future.

ornamental pear
Sparky loves learning about the names of plants, animals and the unique parts of wherever we travel. When we get somewhere, and she starts hiking or biking and taking photos, she is always researching and learning new things about the animals, the names of the flowers, the kitschy roadside attractions and the local points of interest. She really loves exercising her mind that way. This lifestyle is great for someone with a short attention span, like Sparky! It keeps her mind engaged and out of trouble. (Well-l-l-l-l, I don't know about THAT, laughs Eldo. It depends on what craft stores are in the area!) Funny you should mention that Eldy!

By the way, in Shipshewanna, (9.6 miles) there is a Bernina sewing center, a GREAT one level department store called Yoders, all in the same building, Yoder's Meat Market down the street, the Pumpkinvine trailhead on Depot Street and a beautiful fabric store in the Davis Mercantile, the newest building in downtown Shipshewanna, called Lolly's. (And Sparky can tell you the entire inventory of that store! adds E.) Haha, not really. How about some homemade pretzels at JoJo's Pretzels, watch them make them while you eat! Don't forget Rise and Roll Bakery,  for THE best donuts in the area, Bontrager's Surplus in White Pigeon, MI, for RV odds and ends, and Hilltop Restaurant in Middlebury for great reasonably priced breakfasts, which is 18 miles from Twin Mills RV park and is a beautiful drive along county roads and worth the drive. For grocery shopping, there's a Walmart and a much better store, Meijers in Sturgis, MI, not far at all.

For instance, we are at Twin Mills RV Park in Howe, IN. We've been here many times before, but there is always something new to learn and to see, especially the Amish lifestyle as the whole area is Amish countryside and farming. We've seen a team of ten draft horses pulling a plow headed to the fields. We've seen a huge gathering of over 50 buggies for an Amish wedding reception. Seeing the Amish gather on Sundays at different locations for their worship in their black and white attire, the women in starched white bibs and black bonnets, the men in white shirts, black hats, vests and coats gets Sparky wanting to learn about what an Amish church service is like. When she first saw the buggies, she researched how they are built, how much they cost....little things like that. She loves seeing the barefoot Amish kids play baseball in the schoolyard while she's biking the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail, and that got her thinking what's a normal school day like for an Amish kid? So she might go do some research, or just do the wondering part, haha, Love the school bell on top in the photo below, but have never heard it ring.

Amish phone booth
Seeing the little phone booths in the front yard (Amish cannot have modern conveniences inside their houses), made Sparky wonder, how has the Amish lifestyle changed? Are they still living as a restrictive lifestyle as they used to, or are they changing with the rest of the world? The answer to that is complex, but the Amish are embracing solar panels for energy usage, their clothing has become a little more colorful, and there are other subtle changes occurring. There are different sects of the Amish and different requirements for them
On the Pumpkinvine Trail

We love the countryside drives that we go on, to get from one small town like Howe, to other towns like Middlebury here in Indiana. Spring is a truly beautiful season in Indiana. It's so nice to see tulips, crocus, daffodils, and many many beautiful flowering trees in this area--pears, Eastern redbuds and serviceberry trees at the time we visited. It's peaceful and a refreshing reminder to the soul to take time, slow down, and enjoy life while you can.

Well, it's time to go...We are headed to Eldy's son's house to stay for a few days, see Eldy's granddaughter graduate from college, and then we will return for another week at Twin Mills, then it's off to head to the east coast stopping through Ohio and Pennsylvania to get to Maine. You probably won't hear from us for awhile. Sparky worries about repeating visits and info, so she will try to keep things fresh and new. If there's something to report, we certainly will....

Sunday Amish church gathering

Oh, yes...there is. The darn slide was being balky AGAIN when we pulled it in to head to Twin Mills. It came in part way, then stopped. Eldy had to keep one hand on the switch, and gave it a gentle pull and then it came in the rest of the way. But life is full of blessings, if you recognize them. There was one when we arrived at the park. One of the new couples we met while here were Shane and Denise Shelby. Shane just happens to be a fully trained RV tech! If you ever see him, his company is Coast To Coast RV Repair. We asked him to come and look at our slide, and darned if the slide didn't work perfectly. In and out five or six times, and it was fine. Oh, well. Watch. It will do again somewhere else, we are sure. The bonus was we became friends with them, promised to stay in touch, and had a wonderful night last night playing Euchre with them after YEARS of not having played. We laughed so hard, we had so much fun. See what we mean about making friends on the road? We feel like we've known them a long time, they were that wonderful! Also a shout out to Rosie and Mike Bottai, who were here for a shorter amount of time, we had a short, but wonderful visit with them, too!

So we will be busy with family next week, back to Twin Mills and the Pumpkinvine Trail for Sparky, then we will see you down the road. Thanks for reading, and bye for now.....Eldy (aka Eldo) and Jeannie (aka Sparky)

Monday, April 18, 2022

What's Thousand Trails Indian Lakes Like? And Eldo's Birthday

Lots of green spaces for picnics
Indian Lakes, Batesville, IN.  April 18, 2022.  Site 4552   High: 50's-60's, Low: 30's -50's.  ATT signals excellent. 5G one bar. Not needing to use our T-mobile hot spot at all.

We are at Thousand Trails, Indian Lakes, which is in Batesville, IN. It's a BIG, beautiful park with over 154 NEW, 50 amp sites, lots of ponds, a lake, a new pool area, a nice dog park, and a campground store/fuel station on the grounds. They sell propane there as well. This park is a jointly owned KOA and Thousand Trails park so there is a KOA section attached to the Thousand Trails park. 

The new sites are amazing! Unfortunately, they didn't plant very many trees in the new section at all, so as the grass starts to grow between the very wide sites, that's about all that's going to be green and there won't be any shade at all. Many of the sites on the outside edges have already been claimed by seasonal, especially the ones that back up to the woods, of course! 

new section at rear of the park

Currently, the total number of sites are well over 800, including the many, many seasonal and annuals. We aren't privy to how many of the sites are for transient (overnight, passing through or a two to three weeks stay,) so that number might mislead you, as the number of sites for Thousand Trails camping members is always limited.  Here we are, in the middle section of the park, phase 4B for a few days. It's a nice site but along the main road from the front gate to the other sections of the park, so lots of traffic. 

our site #4552 phase 4B

Sparky was told that when all the sites in the different phases are completed, the park will be BIGGER than Orlando Thousand Trails RV Park which currently has over 1,000 sites. 

another view of the new section

We like Batesville for the following reasons...There are extremely few park models in the park. There are seasonal/annual site clusters so if you are in an RV and only staying for a few days to a few weeks, you are assigned in the areas where others are doing the same thing. At some Thousand Trails parks, you get sandwiched in between park models and it's extremely difficult some times to back your rig into a site on narrow streets lined with park models. We like it that we are surrounded by other RVers and not residential park model owners. It's just better to be where you feel comfortable and have a similar life style--the nomadic lifestyle!

common area at Indian Lakes

Sometimes we imagine that park model owners are probably not too enthusiastic with RVers and their visible sewer hoses snaking all around the ground lot and occasional smells that go with that when you dump your sewer tanks into the system. But we could be totally wrong about that. Many a wonderful friendship starts up at an RV park because EVERYBODY, well, almost  everybody started out as an RVer, then settled down when they found a park they truly loved, and then maybe bought a park model to stay for long periods of time.

There is ample green space, huge green fields, ponds and lakes, AND the roads are very decent in most areas of the park but a couple. You can ride a bike easily all over the park and get a lot of miles in. You can fish. You can kayak if you have your own. They just completed a new pool construction project coupled with a wading/shower spray fun stuff pool for the young ones. (Sparky forgets what you call that!) Oh, yeah. A splash pad! There is a nice building for an activity center. There is a beautiful playground for the kids. 

There are three laundry rooms currently. Sparky loves it that families are here. It's a great mix of young and old, and of course, Sparky loves kids and interacting with them.

The sites whether they are back in or pull through, are spacious and wide. Plenty of room between you and your neighbor, and they are LEVEL--hallelujah! and are gravel. However, there are very few pull throughs in the park. There are some in the old section as you first come in, and seem to be readily available because they are older and not as level, then there are some pull thrus in the new section at the back of the park, but most of those are already taken by annuals or seasonal it seems. Here is a sample pull through in the older, first phase section.

Overall, the park is easy to navigate around in, no problem driving through the park when you come in to look for a good site. Lots of amenities, friendly helpful staff. You are 20 miles from the nearest Walmart and 5 miles from a nice Kroger store. 

A few nice restaurants around...We ate at the Brau House for Eldy's 74th birthday, a VERY German restaurant in Oldenburg, which is right next to Batesville. It's a town of German ancestry. Eldy had a pork tenderloin sandwich, probably THE most favorite thing he likes to eat, if he can find a good one. Indiana is known for that, but did you know there is a PORK TENDERLOIN TRAIL, just like there is a bourbon trail, or a wine trail or a whiskey distillery trail? YEP! Right here in Indiana. We are going to have to check that out. Nothing better than a humongous breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, in Eldo's opinion. Happy birthday, Eldy! (Sparky thinks he looks good for 74, don't you?)

Our last day in Batesville, we had SNOW! We had already delayed our leaving by one day as we had heard the weather was bad further north. So we stayed in Batesville one more day. Sparky loves, loves, loves snow. Not the kind that stays for a long time, or the icy streets and sleet kind, but just enough for a day to go out and enjoy it and walk in it. It just brings back wonderful childhood memories of walking to school on tree lined streets that made a big canopy overhead. So quiet and peaceful walking to school. So fun "skitching" rides on the back of cars when we were kids. That's where you wait for a car to go by, and then grab the bumper and slide on your feet, then letting go before the driver realizes you're at the back of the car!  The things we did when we were kids!

We are headed to Elkhart and Howe, IN tomorrow and for the next few weeks, so we will be headed to doctors, dentists, and family visits with Eldy's son and his gang. And--the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail. We'll see you later..... Bye for now.....

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Sparky is for the Birds!

In between letting you know where we are and what we are doing, Sparky decided to get her bird pole shepard's hook out after seeing a wide variety of birds at our Diamond Caverns campground. She went and bought a niger seed sock feeder, a big seed ball in the shape of a bell, and a metal cage feeder that holds round peanut butter or similar balls. You just drop the balls in the feeder. The jury is still out whether the birds like the commercial peanut butter ball ones (Sparky got all this at Walmart), but it was a start, and it didn't take long for the birds to decide they like the offerings, at least a few of them. We've got goldfinches visiting, and a tufted titmouse or two.

And of course, the squirrels did, too...ugh...There's no baffle on the Shepard's hook pole, so no wonder the squirrels can get the seed bell which was their favorite, very easily. They proceeded to hit the seed bell hard, so Sparky decided to take it down for a bit, and placed it in a zip loc, (freezer thickness) bag and put it in the storage bay. RVers know where this is going, right? 

After the forecast said a LOT of rain was coming, Sparky decided it was a good thing to have taken the seed ball bell down for a couple of days and forgot about it. The sun came back out on the third day, so Sparky opened up the bay to get the seed ball out and......

MICE had gotten into the bay and chewed a hole through the freezer thickness zip loc bag, then decimated the seed bell, scattering seed shells from one side of the bay to the other, making a big mess and leaving little micey droppings everywhere they went in the bay. Now this is a VERY bad thing for an RVer  Mice like to chew, and being rodents, they are known for getting into the wiring of RV's, trucks, etc. and chewing their way through wires causing beaucoup dollars in damage if you don't spot them fast enough or have some kind of deterrent in your bays.

We quickly got rid of the seed bell, and actually placed it back on the bird pole, vacuumed out the bay, and then deposited wrapper less bars of Irish Spring soap in the bay. Irish Spring soap is a popular rodent/varmint/critter deterrent--they supposedly hate the smell and RVers swear by it. Who knew?!  So we shall see if that did the trick. No idea where they came in, but there are quite a few places mice can find, RV's are not the tightest when it comes to construction.....

The next day, the seed ball bell disappeared off the pole. It's completely gone, hanging string and all. We are not sure how that happened, there's no evidence the ball was ever hanging there! 

Sparky is going to have to rethink her strategy for storing bird seed, that's for sure! Maybe a metal tin canister with an airtight lid. The last thing we need is more varmints/critters/insects coming along for the ride! We've already had a stink bug infestation, a lady bug infestation, and now, a visit from a mouse or two. We don't need no stinkin' mice!

See you on the road again in a couple of days....

Friday, April 8, 2022

Our Second and Final Week at Diamond Caverns RV Park

Shepard's Purse wildflowers at Mammoth Cave

Diamond Caverns RV Park.  Site A-11, back in
Weather: Highs--59, 56, 45, 50, 67, 72, 70, 69
                Lows--42, 39,33, 30, 55, 57, 61, 57, 43
The weather has been crazy....One night we had wind gusts up to 50 mph, but amazingly did not lose power. The coach was a rockin' and a rollin'! Temperatures are all over the place this April, and it's raining a LOT!

In between the rains, Sparky has been hiking the trails inside Mammoth Cave National Park, and biking the Bike 'n' Hike Trail from the campground to the visitor's center and back, for a distance of about 14.6 miles, several times a week.
Swamp along the bike trail

If you want to hike the trails inside the national park, most of them are very short and lead in and out to other trails. By combining them, you can get a nice longer hike in. The longest trail in the park, the Green River Bluffs Trail, is a little over a mile (1.3) until you pick up another trail to add to your hike. The Hike and Bike Trail shown below, doesn't look too bad, does it? Until you get up close and personal with it. More about that in a bit.....

Mammoth Cave Hike and Bike Trail

1. Dixon Cave Trail--0.5 mi....Cool steps lead away from a cave entrance that is not open to the public.
2. Echo River Spring Trail--0.6 mi...easy loop trail, wheelchair accessible, where an underground river is seen exiting a cave. You can also see the ferry system on this trail.
3. Heritage Trail--0.5 mi., easy accessible trail, information boards along the way...
4. River Styx Spring Trail- 0.4 mi., moderate trail with LOTS of steps and some elevation change. You can access several of the other trails from this one.
5. Two Springs Trail--0.6 mi., easy to moderate trail
6. Sinkhole Trail--1.0 moderate trail, view Mammoth Dome Sink and see White's Cave, (not open to the public).
7. Cedar Sink Trail--1.0 mi., moderate trail with very large sinkhole. Several sets of stairs, good workout!
8. Sloan's Crossing Pond Walk--0.4 mil, accessible boardwalk around a small pond. This pond is off the Mammoth Cave Parkway before you get to the visitor's center. A small pond, not much wildlife, but you never know what's there unless you go see!
9. Turnhole Bend Nature Trail--0.5 mi, moderate trail with stairs, views of small sinkholes and the Green River.  Located at the Brownsville Road turn off of Mammoth Cave Parkway, before arriving at the visitor's center.
10. Mammoth Cave Railroad Hike and Bike Trail--9 miles one way if you go all the way from Park City to the visitor's center inside the national park. It's 7.3 miles one way from Thousand Trails Diamond Caverns RV park. It's a STRENUOUS, rocky trail, very hilly, and according to Sparky's Apple watch, it's over 400 feet in elevation change.

a better section of the trail
There are steep hills immediately on the trail where you get on right outside the Diamond Caverns offices across the street from the RV park. Sparky had to get off her bike more than once to make it up the hills. Then the trail levels off for a bit, but then winds up and down in smaller hillier sections. There's a REALLY steep section as you get closer to the two, newly renovated wooden bridge sections. Sparky can ride down it with the brakes on all the way, but has to walk her bike back up to the top, on the way back home. The renovated bridge sections are so nice! You can still smell the new wood as they just had finished them before we got to the park. They have gentle friction speed bump strips, at least that's what Sparky thinks they are, to slow your speed down as you descend coming back from Mammoth Cave. On the old bridge, it was brakes on all the way back down!

The trail is about 50% larger sized gravel. They are actually more like rocks. It is a bone jarring, teeth rattling ride for about half the way. You better have great tires if you take this trail! Some of the trail is very soft sand near some wooden boardwalks so your tires then sink and slide. It's hard to enjoy the forest scenery when you have to be dodging big rocks with your bike tires.  Sparky has ridden this trail MANY times in our visits here, maybe at least ten times, and has never seen any deer until her last bike ride. Two deer came moseying along and crossed the trail right in front of her, a few yards ahead. Other than that, it's a sparse forest right now, being that it's  early spring.

More cave tours have opened up this time. The green buses are running services to other cave site locations. Here are brief descriptions for some of them but check out the national park website for more details. There are quite a few tours that have opened back up since Covid restrictions have been relaxed. You still have to wear masks on the buses, however.  Here are the current Green Bus Tours with adult prices: (Be sure to use your senior pass for half price savings if you are old enough!) 
1. Domes and Dripstones--2 hour tour, 500 stairs, 3/4 mile.  $21.00
2. Frozen Niagra Tour-- 1.25 hours, 12 stairs + optional 98. $18.00
3. Violet City Lantern Tour--3 hrs., 3 mi., 160 stairs, hills, no handrails. $25.00
4. AND--Grand Avenue Tour--4 hrs., 4 mi., 1,313 stairs--physically demanding, yep!  $35.00 Sparky is going to hit some cave tours on the next visit.

The Mammoth Cave Hotel is undergoing significant renovations, so it is CLOSED and so is the cafe/restaurant grill there. The bridge over to the hotel is blocked off and the entire area around the hotel fenced off. The hotel is getting a brand new roof and new insulated windows. There is a mobile little cafe building that has been placed out front of the visitor's center with plenty of meal choices and ice cream. (Ice cream? Did she say ice cream????) Eldo really perked up on that.

Back to the trail. The trilliums are starting to poke thru the soil. These are called little sweet Betsy trilliums.

Sparky likes looking for the unusual within the ordinary. Like this bird's eye view through an old tree stump tower.
Or this pretty pattern of lichens and bark together....
The flowering pear trees are in full bloom....
And this area has LOTS and LOTS of redbuds...They are blooming, too!
Just to recap the Diamond Caverns RV park stay...the park is small, the sites are gravel and clay soil, they do have a small laundry, a "quiet room" for watching TV or reading away from your site, a mini golf course and a nice playground for kids...Neighbors are  close but not as close as some parks. It's more of a rural, country park atmosphere.
The park is not close to shopping, the nearest town for a Walmart and chain restaurants is Glasgow, KY, 15 miles away. We're saving money by not eating out much at all! But Cracker Barrel is in Cave City, which is the next exit up, so we have enjoyed a breakfast or two there. And--Glasgow has a Joann Fabrics! Sparky was absolutely delighted to find that out! (So we are not saving at much in fuel costs as we are restaurant costs, laughs Eldo.) 

With that, we get ready to leave Park City, KY, home of the beautiful Mammoth Cave National Park. In a few days, we will be heading towards Indiana, to the Batesville Thousand Trails park. After that, it's on to Howe, IN where we will be back and forth between Howe and Elkhart, IN to see Eldy's son's family, taking care of routine doctor, dentist, and maybe cataract surgeries for the both of us. We shall see.....(pardon the pun!). Thanks for following along with us...Bye for now!