Monday, May 12, 2008

Mammouth Caves, KY

Have you ever wondered if such a place exists where time stands still? Well, we found it this morning. The only thing is, it doesn’t just stand still, it also jumps around an hour at a time. This place is Cave City in Kentucky.

“How does it stand still?” you may ask. Well, for one thing, you can feel it in the slow nature of the locals. No matter how much of a rush you are in, the man at the ticket counter will take all the time he desires to work the crowd of other future patrons and tell nice little jokes about how the 3x5 cards in his shirt pocket are his palm pilot.

Furthermore, the constantly ticking clock has obviously abandoned the old caves beneath the land in Kentucky. The cave guides are eager to share stories about Stephen, the slave that explored and mapped much of the caves. You can still see signatures on the limestone walls of the late 1800’s elite that were able to afford a trip through the caves. At one point in the tour, the guide turns off the already very dim lights mounted sparingly throughout the cave, and holds up a lighter to show you how the first explorers of the cave saw it.

But that doesn’t explain how time jumps. There can’t possibly be any way for time to oddly jump forward and backward without any logical explanation … oh but there is.

Chris and I stayed the night in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a bit north and very slightly east of Mammouth Cave National Park. The night before, we had booked two tickets for the 11:15am Historic Tour. We set our alarm for 8:15am. We got around, ate breakfast, and were on the road by 9:45am. We arrived at the park around 10:40am. So far so good, right? This was when Chris noticed that they were making announcements that the 9:45 tour would be departing in just a few minutes. Checking his cell phone, he discovered that we had, in fact, switched to the central time zone sometime in the past 30 minutes or so.

We ended up cancelling our tickets and purchasing new ones for the 10:15 Snowball tour, which was very cool. You may be unimpressed by our time jumping at this point in the story. Just wait. After the tour, got in the car, drove about 10 minutes back to the highway and discovered that my cell phone read 2:22pm and Chris’s cell phone claimed it was 1:22pm. Sitting beside each other, we appeared to be in different time zones. Another ten minutes of driving, and I too was in the central time zone. We drove east for over an hour before we were both once again in the eastern time zone, which we had been in the night before when we were an hour north of Mammouth Cave. If that’s not a clear example of time jumping without rhyme or reason, then I’m not sure of much anymore. All I know is that we are now in the “normal” time zone, according to Chris, and all is right in the world again.

But consider this: Is the central time zone in Kentucky perhaps not a time zone, but in fact the twighlight zone?