Click for mapJune 5 - Wednesday
Scheduled trip: St. Louis, MO - Knoxville, TN
Actual trip: St. Louis, MO - Knoxville, TN (550 miles)

Caves and cars
We started the day by doing some light sightseeing in St. Louis. The main focus of our attention was the Great Arch. After parking illegally we quickly took some pictures of the impressive structure and removed ourselves before any parking attendants came around. The Arch also bears the name "Gate to the West", a fitting analogy since we were in the process of leaving the West behind.
Soon we crossed the Mississippi and entered Illinois and Indiana not long after that. In Kentucky we encountered toll highways for the first time. A small fee of a few dollars gave us the right to travel a certain distance. These toll highways were rather deserted and quickly took us through Northern Kentucky.
The next major stop of the day was the Mammoth Caves, about 60 miles south of Louisville. We arrived just in the nick of time in order to join a guided tour. Standing at the mouth of the cave was a strange experience. Cold air rushed out of the opening and into the forested surroundings. It was like standing in front of an air conditioner. An underground river largely formed the caves although some excavations have taken place throughout the centuries. Our guide informed us that it was the longest cave system in the world, running for scores of miles. The corridors were well lit. As we went along our guide turned on the light in front of us and turned it off behind us. Even with its big "rooms" the whole cave experience could seem a little claustrophobic. We saw daylight again after about an hour under ground. After spending some time at the Gift Shop we got back on the road.

Picture supplied by Marco (13825 bytes)
Mammoth Caves, KY

It was mid afternoon when we passed the National Corvette Museum, not far from the caves. The Chevrolet Corvette is only manufactured one place in the world: Bowling Green, KY, which is also where the museum is located. Except for a 'Vette with a flat tire the parking lot was utterly deserted; the place seemed closed, but we tried our luck anyway. We met a clerk inside. It appeared that the place was about to close for the day but he let us in nevertheless. The first object that caught our eyes was a shiny new Corvette convertible. Visitors were urged to sit in it and admire the cool-looking engine. A price tag of a mere $43,000 seemed more than reasonable! Inside the actual museum classic Corvettes were displayed along with awesome racing versions.
With the yearnings for horsepower, speed, and elegance satisfied, we returned to our own cars that faded slightly in comparison to what we'd just seen, and headed toward Tennessee. After nightfall we reached Knoxville and found a suitable motel close to a large airport.

See more photos from June 5.
Go to the next page in the Diary (June 6).

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