APPALACHIAN SUMMER: MAMMOTH CAVE, KY, JULY 30th

100_0839100_0838Well, it was a cave, and it was mammoth. We took the short tour, and we were sated. Lots like this. The Park Ranger who guided the tour was very good. Later we visited Lincoln’s birthplace at Sinking Springs, most memorable for a majestic temple which contains a replica of the humble log cabin where Lincoln was born. Apparently, they have a humble cabin where some other bloke was born. Weird.

WILDCATS!

My poor girl Cara had to work during the NCAA Finals last night, but as she says, thank God for streaming. And thank God, also, that the post-victory party was still going on after she got off work. Here she is, left, with her roommate Nicole, celebrating in Lexington. As she put it on Facebook, “YES NCAA MENS BASKETBALL CHAMPS!!! I LOVE MY SCHOOL AND I LOVE MY CATS!!!! BEST WAY TO FINISH UP MY FRESHMAN YEAR!” Not to be a buzzkill, dear, but I suppose it’s my job: the year is over when finals are over.

SPORTY NIGHT!

Almost as though we were living a double feature of A Day at the Races and Horsefeathers (minus the Marx Brothers and the mayhem), we followed an afternoon at Keeneland with some exciting SEC pigskin action at Commonwealth Stadium, where were saw the visiting Mississippi State Bulldogs take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Both teams cam in at 3-4, but there was no doubt that State was superior on both sides of the ball. Kentucky’s quarterback Morgan Newton seemed to have no arm at all, and the line wasn’t doing much of a job opening holes for Kentucky’s serviceable runner CoShik Williams. Kentucky’s chances perked up in the second period, when Newton suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by freshman QB Maxwell Smith. He did much better, completing 26 of 33 passes and for 177 yards, and leading the team on a couple of strong drives. The game, of course, was irrelevant; what was fun was being in the rah-rah atmosphere, and seeing the bright lights, the marching band, the cheerleaders with the flaming batons, the dance team, and some pretty spectacular flag work by the Mississippi State spirit squad. (Top: Field goal, Kentucky! Above: Marching Band! Fiery Batons! Left: When in Lexington, Molly and I do as the Wildcats do. Below: Bulldog flag-wavers sure can spell.)

LEXINGTON, CAVALRY AND HORSE

Our visit to Lexington wasn’t all college services, matriculation, basketball, and Wildcat tchotckes. As it turns out, a fortuitous left hand turn plopped us into the middle of beautiful, charming Historic Lexington, where we saw the home of John Hunt Morgan, the Thunderbolt of the Confederacy, one of rebeldom’s dashing, glamorous, gallant, and ultimately ineffectual cavalry officers (above left), as well as the post-war home of John Breckinridge (above right), who was James Buchanan‘s Vice President, the man who finished second to Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 election, and, once the war broke out, a Confederate general. How the anti-slavery, pro-union Breckinridge, who lived in this home until his death in 1871, ended up with the confederates in a question worth investigating at a later time. After indulging in these surprise Civil War edifices, Cara and I visited the Kentucky Horse Park, which is a pretty impressive momument to horseracing and horsebreeding. I would be happy if Cara gets to spend some time there over these next few years learning some inside ropes.

CALL US WILDCATS

Months ago Cara chose the college where she will spend the next four years, and there really wasn’t a second choice: Cara fell in love with the bluegrass of the University of Kentucky, and the good news is that apparently Kentucky returns the affection: they have offered her a $40,000 scholarship. (Please don’t anybody tell them that they had her at hello.) This weekend Cara and I traveled to Lexington where she had been asked to attend, flatteringly, Merit Weekend, which is for all the top applicants. You can see why they would want her: high grades, excellent SATs, exotic New Yorker (maybe 80% of the meritorious attendees were in-state), with a Latin flair (She will be a Westchester chili pepper among white bread.) Long story short, I couldn’t be happier for her. I think she has chosen wisely: it seems like an excellent school, especially when it comes to equine studies, with top notch facilities (see photo), and purposeful administrators who take what they do quite seriously, although apparently not themselves. And Cara seems to have a great confidence and a great attitude about this next adventure. I am delighted for her. (To top it off, the men’s basketball team, a traditional power whose fortunes are followed with religious fervor in those parts, reached the Sweet Sixteen with a hard fought win over West Virginia. I suppose we’re, if not hooked, then at least drawn.)