Checking out Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, the longest cave in the world.
For well over 24 hours I have been without e-mail or Internet access. It is a good feeling to know that I am now reconnected, even though I probably won't be using it due to the onset of Shabbat. The drive back from Bloomington was uneventful, but long. Last night our group stayed outside of Nashville, Tennessee at Boxwell Scout Reservation. I had the opportunitiy to enjoy a nice meal at the Cherokee Steak House there where I had a filet mignon, baked potato, salad and rolls for $12.95. It was the best bargain I had all week! And, for those who know of this out of the way place in Lebanon, the food was prepared as good or better than some of the more expensive steak house chains I've been to in the past. I felt so guilty that I was having such a good time away from the members of my Order of the Arrow lodge that I bought three half-gallon containers of ice cream for them to enjoy. Unfortunately, they were so tired from play and the drive down from Indiana University, most of them skipped the ice cream and hit the sack or sleeping bags, if you will. I suspect most of them were tuckered from the three-hour hike inside the longest cave in the world, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. My poor dogs were feeling the heat of the walk and I wished for a nice foot massage or hot soak. But it was not to be. Boxwell was deserted and had no such amenities, but it did yield a most interesting show. It would seem the Scout camp was virtually overrun with deer (even some fawns with telltale spots and ever-present mothers nearby). I don't recall ever seeing that many deer running free on a Scout camp before. Just a few days before just off the Indiana University campus, I was amazed that a deer was only a few yards away before it scampered off to hide in the woods. These deer on the Scout reservation weren't all that concerned about my presence, but didn't hang around too long once Scouts headed in their general direction. Yet, there were so many of them, I believe it was the largest concentration of deer I've ever seen. Up north many people consider deer to be vermin, akin to a large rat. Down South I would imagine some would think of Bambi as "good eatin'," but for city folk like myself, there's very little chance we'll be eating venison any time soon. Generally, we are appalled that someone would want to shoot a deer with a bullet or an arrow. It may be considered sport, but it doesn't strike me as particularly fair. I would say when hunters tackle bucks by their antlers or capture them in a trap that doesn't mame the animals, then it would be considerably more fair. In Solon, Ohio, I know there have been large kills where the deer are killed with a helmet that drives a steel post into their tiny skulls. I'm sure none of the deer would willing don those helmets and the kills have generated a great deal of negative publicity. I guess shooting the deer is against the law, hence the recommendation to use the helmets and skirt the law about dispatching them with a rifle or bow. Deer are such graceful creatures it surprises me people would think about tearing them asunder with a weapon of long-range destruction. But as I said, in this part of the world there is that contingent that swears that Bambi is "good eatin'" and there's nothing that can be done to change that. I'm all for someone who needs to hunt to put food on the table for his family. I guess I'm somewhat opposed to killing for the sport of it. If anyone cares, I like the way animals are slaughtered in a the kosher ritual. In theory (and hopefully in practice), they are tied down, prayers are uttered over them to beg forgiveness of the shochet (kosher butcher), their carotid arteries are severed, they slowly go to sleep and bleed to death. Or perhaps they bleed to death and slowly go to sleep. It may not matter to many, but I like to think that the animal whose body I am eating didn't go through an enormous amount of pain at the moment he was slaughtered. Of course, I'm not so dead set against slaughter to become a vegetarian or a vegan. That way of life is good for many, but I don't think I could become adapted to salad days for the rest of my life. In any event, it's good to be back in New Orleans, far away from Hoosiers, Volunteers and deer.