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by Scott

August 1, 2015–Day 26 West Liberty to Home

August 4, 2015 in 2015 Southeastern US by Scott

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by Scott

July 31, 2015–Day 25 West Liberty and Red River Gorge Day 3

August 3, 2015 in 2015 Southeastern US by Scott

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by April

July 30, 2015–Day 24 West Liberty and Red River Gorge Day 2

August 2, 2015 in 2015 Southeastern US by April

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“Dad, do we have to go climbing today? I want to stay home and play with Mittens all day.” Cody asked while roaming around naked because somehow I lost his clothes last night.

Thankfully my cousin had put our clothes in the dryer, so we woke up to clean clothes.  Clean clothes and freshly showered from last night!  Woohoo!  Add to that fantastic company. Life is good.

Scott cooked up some French Toast, I finished throwing some lunch snacks into my Camelback, and we were off.  We were a little earlier this morning. We left my cousin’s at 6:45.

The GPS happily announced, ‘’You have arrived.” This is what we arrived to at 8:33.

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We were a little spoiled after our climb yesterday. There were no signs or markers to indicate if we were on the right route or not. Scott struggled with this route for close to an hour.  Brooke decided to try the route and she was able to get up to where Scott got to no problem, but then she was stuck too.

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Scott decided to try to look around to find another route that might be the perfect 5.6 we were looking for.

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Scott happily announced two minutes later that he found it.  It may have taken us a little while, but we finally found it. Eureka!  Eureka was the perfect 5.6 climb it was promised to be.  I had Scott pose for his Take 2.

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Scott was very excited to have found the actual Eureka.  We were told it would be vertical jug climbing. The holds were very nice.  There were times where I couldn’t see where to put my foot once I pulled myself up and I would have multiple options to choose from, or I would feel above my head and find several large places to grip.  It was worth the wait.  Speaking of waiting, the kids worked on playing with rocks while Scott and I climbed.

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Scott was pretty spent from the first attempt to find Eureka, so the tree provided a little assistance while Scott belayed Brooke.

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Cody made an attempt at Eureka, but he just wanted to bounce off the rock.  Scott was a little bummed. We all tried to help encourage him up, but to no avail.

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Some butterflies enjoyed resting on Scott’s stinky socks.  I am sure they were intoxicated with the alluring aroma. It was time for the hike back.

Today we went back to my cousins to spend some time with him and his wife.  They took us to see the sights in the area and then we watched Minions. Afterwards we stopped for pizza.  Then as if the day wasn’t fantastic enough, we stopped for ice cream on the way home.

by April

July 29, 2015–Day 23 West Liberty and Red River Gorge, KY Day 1

August 2, 2015 in 2015 Southeastern US by April

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Scott’s alarm went off at 6am. After a breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and cereal we headed out the door at 7:45.  Not having to take down the tent and cleaning with running water took off some of our getting going time. It is only 72 degrees and foggy this early, but it is expected to be another steamy day.

The ducks greeted us this morning.

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Muir Valley in the Red River Gorge has some spectacular climbing.  We were along the Guide Wall.  There were signs to help get us to the routes and all the routes were labeled. The hike to the climb wasn’t too bad either, twenty to thirty minutes with some ups and downs both ways.

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This sign nailed to a tree along the path just makes me laugh.  I suppose I can’t give Scott grief for all his potty humor all the time.  It makes me laugh sometimes too.  They said the word Pee.  Their signs to the Guide Wall were super helpful.

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We walked right passed the wooden staircase we needed to get to our climb.  Perhaps that is because at the bottom of the staircase is a rope and some metal brackets that we needed to use to get up to the staircase above our heads.  This was the only slightly difficult part of our hike.  The organization that takes care of this area, The Friends of Muir Valley, had loaner clip sticks at the trailhead.  The pole helps you get in the first quick draw or carabineer so that you are actually being belayed for the first fifteen or twenty feet. It made Scott’s lead climbing a little less anxiety producing.

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Brooke and Cody worked on making Irish Muck under the route Irish Mud.

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The first route we climbed was called Fear of Commitment.  The second route was The Archeologist.  Both routes were a 5.7, but the second route had far fewer options for holds.  Cody was all excited to climb and clamored up a bit, but then it became clear that he was really just excited about repelling down. He pushed himself a good seven feet off the rock and giggled as the rock came rushing at him.

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Scott was giving me suggestions for foot holds when I became stuck mid-route on the second route.  I managed to stretch my legs to where he suggested, but then it was quite the challenge to get them up and back together again.  The best part is as we are both laughing about how I am going to get out of the stretch he suggested he says, “Don’t worry about falling right now. I need to get a picture.” Always what you want to hear from the person belaying you. He juggled the rope and camera while he said, “Smile!”

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Brooke asked to climb a 5.8 Mona Lisa on someone else’s line. Mona Lisa was the first label we spotted for a route on our hike up to the climb.  The crack at the bottom was wet and no where near as simple as Brooke thought it might be. She had a whole cheering section from the adults who were letting us use their rope.

We headed back to my cousin’s shortly before two o’clock.  Scott had to back up in the parking lot to get enough momentum to get up the gravel drive out of the parking lot.  That might be one drawback to having everything in and on your vehicle, including the kitchen sink.

Scott got a kick out of the fact that the Correctional Facility’s Road is named Road to Justice.

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When we arrived back at my cousin’s the kids chased their poor cat, Mittens, around for a while and then Scott came up with putting on a movie for them.  My cousin suggested Yogi Bear. It was stinking adorable. The kids became sucked into zone mode.

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We took showers and chatted and laughed with my cousin and his wife until Cody climbed on my lap looking for bedtime. It was a fantastic way to end the day.

by April

July 28, 2015–Day 22 Cumberland Gap Day 2

August 2, 2015 in 2015 Southeastern US by April

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This morning we had critters all over the van.  A cicada decided our van tire was a great spot to lost his shell.  A fuzzy caterpillar decided  he liked our cooler.  Something else like our cooler in the middle of the night because I heard its little claws clatter against the metal holding the cooler.  The kids and I headed off to find water for breakfast.

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We had pan fried granola for breakfast.  I packed mine to go because the stomach bug from four days ago was still hanging around.  Cody wanted to play in what was left of the fire.  Someone was in a particularly unhappy mood this morning so I tried to think of riddles to challenge before the beautiful children became anymore challenging.  What has eyes but no mouth?  What has a mouth but no eyes? We headed back to the Cumberland Gap Visitor Center to sign up for the 10am cave tour.  Brooke said, “Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee all in five minutes?”  We were right on the border of all three.  Ranger Sharon at the Visitor Center told us about how we could earn cave scientist badges in addition to the Junior Ranger badges.

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We hit the jackpot with great ranger cave guides this summer.  The main ranger was hysterical.  His sidekick was a great guy too. We walked on the Wilderness Trail to get to Gap Cave. Three rangers from Mammoth Cave were on our tour.

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There it is.  The Cumberland Gap.  Before we even entered the cave the ranger warned us not to pick up salamanders. If you pick up a salamander and then lick your hands you could die.  Salamander slime is toxic!  We were allowed to take photos in this cave.  The ranger said if we didn’t use flash then all the photos would like we were in a fight with a bear in a dark cave.

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When we were leaving the cave I heard a grandma tell her grandson that she didn’t want to go in the cave because of the bats.  The only time I have ever seen a bat in a cave was when I was with Scott almost twenty years ago at Mammoth Cave and that was because it was winter time.  The ranger told us the bats eat 1,000 – 1,500 mosquitos a night.  The White Nose Syndrome hit this cave in 2006. We learned that bats actually pollinate more than bees do.  The cave feature in the picture on the above right is called erupting volcano.

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The trail through this cave was established in 1934. 17.3 miles have been discovered in this cave.  The black coloring in the rock is manganese. The orange color is sulfur and iron oxide. The tour was a half mile long.  Uranium was discovered below this cave.  We were eight hundred and fifty feet below the surface during part of the tour.

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The giant stalagmite in the above middle picture is named The Pillar of Hercules.  It is mighty misleading since it isn’t a pillar at all.  In fact, it is dormant and three inches from the ceiling and becoming a pillar.  We discovered there were no whine-a-lo sightings in the cave.  Another clue to a whine free hike, caves.  Perhaps because they are cooler in temperature or cooler in things to see?  The quest for hikes with no whine-a-lo sightings continues!

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The kids were given their cave scientist badges.

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After waiting for ten minutes for the afternoon squall to pass, we cooked up some taco mac for lunch.  The kids loved running through the puddles in the parking lot.

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After lunch…on the road again!  This time to West Liberty, Kentucky to visit and stay with my cousin.  Before arriving at my cousin’s we stopped at the only Super Wal-Mart in the tri-state area.

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My cousin and his wife were kind enough to let us stay with them.  We arrived at 5:30. We chatted until they had to get going to church. The Little Cesear’s we passed was calling us for dinner.  The beautiful Veterans’ Park across the street was the perfect place for a pizza picnic.

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