Getting Salty with Bigfoot

This past weekend, I ventured way out of my comfort zone and drove Van Geaux into the Daniel Boone National Forest of Eastern Kentucky. I had prepped myself (somewhat) for what I might encounter, as far as no cell signal and few gas stations, and I knew there might be some winding roads, but holy smokes, did I ever underestimate things!

On the way, I stopped in Somerset, KY. I once knew a guy from Somerset (Robert something-or-another) who made it sound like a decent sized place. Nope. It has a population of about 12,000 people, and the wonkiest town square I’ve ever driven around. And believe me, I drove around and around and around it, looking for a quirky roadside attraction called the International Paranormal Museum. Like Fox Mulder’s office, it’s in the basement of a building (that I think is a restaurant but looks like a bank). I plopped down $4 to get into this 3-room museum that does house some interesting things, like Charles Manson’s fingerprint card and vignettes of local folklore, along with the cutest little Sasquatch I ever saw. I wanted to take him home and put him on the porch.

From Somerset, things took a turn for the worse. The roads went from narrow to gravel, and I arrived at my campsite, which I booked through Hipcamp, to find it was not quite what I was expecting. I immediately texted the host to see if I could swap my 2 night primitive stay for 1 night in an RV site. She immediately said okay.

Let’s just say the primitive sites were not marked, had grass over my ankles, and seemed to already be occupied by a large extended family of mosquitoes. Of course, in true Southern fashion, they all greeted me with hugs. The RV site was no less of a disaster though. The electricity would not work, and there was no picnic table or fire ring. So basically it was a site twice the price with the same amenities as the primitive one…just a lot closer to the bathroom. So of course, I texted the host. The communication between the host manning the app and the one actually on site was just as lacking as the site amenities. The one on site got snippy with me for changing sites…snippy to the point that I started packing my stuff up, intending to leave.

When I’m mad, I cry. And boy did I cry! It was one of those ‘the world is falling down around me, I can’t possibly go on like this any more’ cries. And in the midst of my cry, I did that thing you’re never supposed to do when you’re upset – I texted my ex. I’m not sure what I expected but what I got was a flashback to another time in my life (2009 to be exact, when a blubbering Melody stood frustrated beside her broke-down car and instead of calling AAA called the girl that had just broke her heart). I swore then I wouldn’t do that again. It was embarrassing and it turned out horribly, but…fast forward, and here I was on Friday night, blubbering once again, and texting a different ex. Luckily, Angie has never been anything but kind. She gave me a few brief words of encouragement, and I called it good, though in my state of mind, I wanted to say a whole lot of other things.

But I didn’t. I made myself an Impossible burger instead, turned on the fan, crawled inside the van, and closed the door on the world.

The next day, I woke up to rain and the realization that I had not brought appropriate clothing for the cave adventure I was going on that morning. I did however, have a raincoat. So under my raincoat I layered a couple of t-shirts and took off for the Great Saltpetre Cave Preserve.

The cave is only open one weekend per year and offers free cave tours, along with lunch, for anyone who wants to make the trip out. I say it like that because the roads getting to the cave were pretty winding. Not quite as bad as the day before, but still, not fun either. At the cave, I met up with members of a Meetup group I recently joined and we took the tour together. It was no less than awesome! I’ve been to some nice caves before, but for a ‘free’ tour, this was so much better than expected. It was beautiful!

Fun facts:

  • The Great Saltpetre Cave is a non-profit operated solely by volunteers.
  • It was the largest producer of saltpetre during the War of 1812. Saltpetre is used to make gunpowder.
  • It was used as the set in the movie ‘Fire Down Below’ with Steven Seagal.
  • The sign inside the cave used to be on the outside but it washed away in a storm, ended up in a landfill, and they had to buy it back for $50.

After lunch (they provided soup beans, cornbread, and beverages), we all caravaned to Anglin Falls. If the me from the night before was the me driving the van on Saturday, you would not be reading this post. I’d either be dead or locked away somewhere in a padded room, because there’s no way that person crying over mean people could have negotiated the road to the waterfall in a 3/4 ton van. It was downright scary! If I were still a Girl Scout, I’d expect to be getting my badge for ‘white knuckle driving’ right about now. In all my life, I’ve only been in one other situation like this, and on that day, I stopped the tiny car we were in, got out, and let Angie drive us to safety.

This is the road to Anglin Falls! And yes, that is a hairpin turn…on a hill…with no room on the other side for mistakes!

Strength comes from testing your limits. Resilience comes from passing the test.

Today, I feel pretty resilient.

The waterfall was nice, the company even nicer. I joked with one of the guys in the group that I had to drive 3 hours to meet my neighbor, because, as it turns out, he lives on the street over from me and knows some of the same people I do. I also met a woman from Alvaton (about 10 miles from me) who invited me to go hiking with her sometime. She’s training for a distance hike. I’m just training for friendship building. So it’s a win-win.

When I made my way home on Saturday night, it didn’t matter that I got lost and had no cell service. It didn’t matter that I had 1/4 tank of gas and didn’t know where the next station was. It didn’t even matter that I had to backtrack out the same wicked roads that I came in on. Life was good. And I was on the road to being good myself.