Jeff and I began our adventure early Sunday morning at a friend’s house in Cincinnati. Our first leg of the trip was to Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, IN http://www.fallsoftheohio.org/index.html . It was a beautiful park, but a bit intimidating with signs a sirens to warn you of rising water. There were some of the largest fossils I’ve ever seen, but it was incredibly hot, especially out on the rock beds. We perused the gift shop in the visitor’s center and then set out for lunch.
Vietnam Kitchen in Louisville, Ky http://www.vietnamkitchen.net/ was our noodle peddler of choice. The staff was friendly, the dining room was clean, and the food was delightful. They were also a favorite of some famous not-so-locals whose pictures are hanging inside, but you’ll have to go visit yourself to find out who.
After lunch we were ready to go set up our campsite before finding some local attractions, but it was HOT outside and only getting hotter. In fact, it was 119 degrees Fahrenheit with the heat index! And ragweed season was in full swing, as an allergy sufferer, an air conditioned hotel (preferably with a pool) was in order. However, finding a hotel within 300 miles that had any availability was proving difficult. One that was en route even more so. We lucked out in Shepherdsville, Ky and found a Super 8 with one room left and at a reasonable rate. There was a pool, but it was temporarily out of order. That was no biggie as it forced us to get out and comb the surrounding area for entertainment after a brief rest in the A/C.
We found a magical place less than a mile from the hotel called Kart Kountry http://gokartkountry.com/ . It was a hillbilly wonderland. They of course had go-carts but also an arcade, bumper boats, mini golf, and BATTING CAGES! Bumper boats were up first. Each boat was equipped with two joysticks, one controlling the motor, and one controlling the squirt gun. In addition to drenching or ramming your friends (read: enemies) you could also crash into poolside targets to activate water cannons. We got off this ride soaked. Next, I watched the guys race each other on a 1.5 mile track on go-carts that reached twenty-eight mph. Well, I watched for one lap, then I ran off to the batting cages. I had not been to batting cages for thirteen years. The guys caught up with me forty-eight pitches later and took a few swings too. We closed it down cracking balls until the machine shut off.
Now back at the hotel, Jeff (determined to use his jetboil camp stove on this trip) went down to the parking lot to grill sausages for dinner. Fast-forward to forty-five minutes later where we sat eating sausages while Jeff retold his account of parking lot grilling. Apparently, it gets you free beer from other hotel patrons who mistake you for a homeless guy.
Monday morning we woke up and rushed breakfast trying to beat all the other hotel patrons who were also headed south for the path of totality. They had matching 2017 eclipse t-shirts and had packed their cars the night before. Clearly, we were out of our league. So, we filled our cooler one tiny bucket at a time in hotel break room and hit the road. We were headed for Lost River Caves where we would arrive before they open, guaranteeing our seats on the first boat out. When we rolled up the parking lot was already full with a line out the door. Of course everyone else had the same brilliant idea we had. We did manage to get on the first tour though, barely.
After a nice walk through the woods and a forty-five minute cave boat ride we changed clothes back at the car and were south-bound for Gallatin, Tn. Our final destination was a private park that the college had rented out just for the eclipse. There were about 25-30 people in the park. This made for a perfectly relaxed viewing opportunity. Some of the students had rigged telescopes to view the eclipse and put a sheet down to see the crescents projected through the tree leaves:
All in all it was a fantastic trip that I will never forget. Do not let someone hassle you about driving hundreds of miles to get totality. It really does make all the difference, even between just 90-100%. Take the time to go big or go home. It’s a sight many people will never experience personally. And when the interstate turns into a parking lot for twelve hours after it’s all over-go see a movie (or nap through it). Ours was Spiderman: Homecoming. What a great adventure.