Sunday, August 30, 2009


It's been a couple of weeks since our last post. We were enjoying the company of the DeCarlo's in Shepherdstown, KY, when we experienced a mechanical issue that had to be addressed, and would mean we needed to think about heading for the Tiffin factory in Red Bay, Alabama, earlier than we had anticipated. The problem meant we had no front air conditioner, water heater or microwave oven. The transfer switch had shorted - don't even ask me what that is.

However, we did have the back air conditioner and a coffee maker. So we decided to enjoy a day in Elizabethtown, not too far away, where we had planned a day excursion. The Schmidt's Coca Cola Museum, one of the biggest collection of Coca Cola memorabilia EVER - they say bigger than the Museum in Atlanta. At the end of the tour you can purchase a nickel coke.

Another famous attraction in Elizabethtown was Swope's Cars of Yesteryear, a private collection of automobiles and rare vintage automobiles. There's even a letter from Clyde Barrow (of the Bonnie and Clyde fame)to Henry Ford complimenting the performance of the Ford V8.

Before we say goodbye to Ray, Louise and Abby, we head south and spend the night in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the location of the Corvette Plant and the National Corvette Museum. We all picked out Corvettes - there were several waiting to be picked up by their new owners. So much history! The Corvette plant is still open - however, they were closed for a couple of weeks when we came through. We found a campground called River Bend which would be the dream of everyone who loves amusement parks - this place comes alive on the weekends...we had caught it JUST right!

We say our goodbye's to Ray and Louise the next morning. They head back to Florida and we go our separate ways while navigating through Nashville. We wanted to stop so bad to see some close friends; however, it was now a necessity to get to Red Bay...on the northwestern side of Alabama - about a mile from Mississippi.

Friday, August 14, 2009


We can go home now, RV says. He's seen the Louisville Slugger Factory, and it was more than he ever imagined. He held Mickey Mantle's and Rod Carew's bat, etc. and I don't EVEN know all the other significant things. Bob really enjoyed seeing the "Ft Knox of Louisville Slugger's on display that were used by so many stars as well as super-stars. They were making Josh Hamilton's bats in the factory. The 24,000 sf museum has interactive displays, exhibits and a film highlighting the history of the company and baseball's greatest hitters. I had been there when I was about 11 years old; however, they still gave me a mini bat. You know if any of these pictures are too small, just click on the one you'd like to see. It is pretty impressive that what used to take 30 minutes to produce one bat, now takes 30 seconds with the use of modern techology.

We continued on to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. A terrible rainstorm last week that brought about 7 inches of rain in about 45 minutes was devastating to the museum and it has been closed until they can repair all the damage to very valuable items that were on exhibit. However, we did get a fantastic tour from a very knowledgeable guide.

The horse in the pictures is Phantom, on permanent exhibit at the track. He is the grandson of Secretariat, also a Derby champion. The horse is at the end of his career and the Foundation will sell them to you if you're serious. No kidding, the prices for the older horses who cannot be bred or raced again, is about $500. Phantom is on exhibit with a miniature horse, just to keep him company. Phantom had just eaten lunch and couldn't hold his eyes open.

If we're going to be in town a couple of days I usually do a little research on places we might enjoy eating. Well, we found a place called Lynn's Paradise Cafe, and I'll have to say it was most enjoyable, most eclectic. The food was very good and you could tell a lot of the students from the University probably enjoyed it as well. There is a long list of celebrities that love to eat here when they are around. If you have time, look them up on the internet. I hope my pictures do it justice. I think we counted about 3 parking lots just for the customers who come to the Paradise Cafe.


The Belle of Louisville is currently having maintenance done so we decided a luncheon cruise on the Spirit of Jefferson (Jefferson County)would be just what we needed on such a beautiful day. These cruises are done on a regular basis - we went about 6 miles up the river, turned around and enjoyed a fantastic history lesson regarding the steamboat era which lasted for nearly 100 years, from the early 1800s to after the turn of the century. The skyline of Louisville is interesting - seeing the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory to the murals showing famous Louisville natives; i.e., Mohammed Ali, Diane Sawyer - and lots I didn't recognize. CSX trains were crossing the river and you could see the huge Colgate Palmolive clock across the river in Indiana - it's been deserted since the entire Colgate Palmolive corporation relocated to Mexico.

Downtown revitalization seems to be taking place all over. It seems the river is also being cleaned up wherever possible. Why wasn't anyone fishing ... anywhere?

Thursday, August 13, 2009


One of our surprises in what is called the Derby Area of Kentucky was the prominence of the Abraham Lincoln story. We visited a National Historic Site, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln,a 19th century Kentucky cabin, symbolic of the one Lincoln was born, preserved inside a HUGE memorial building at the site of his birth. Thomas and Nancy Lincoln settled on the 328-acre Sinking Spring Farm near Hodgenville, in the fall of 1808. Two months later on February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born. Here the Lincolns lived and farmed before moving to Knob Creek, a few miles away. On July 17, 1916, Congress established both as national park sites. You probably agree what a gem our country has in our National Park System - so just know we love to visit our designated national treasures if possible.

In the center of Hodgenton, KY is the Abraham Lincoln Museum, another museum filled with collections donated by many local families and individuals or historical organizations with a lot of significance to our history. Not only were there 12 dioramas showing pivotal times in AL's life but there were so many rare memorabilia, my head is still spinning.

The State of Kentucky has established a Lincoln Heritage Trail across the Bluegrass State which was so helpful in showing Lincoln's influence in Kentucky, but also for the role that Kentuckians played in shaping the Lincoln legacy.

Driving back to Bardstown, we were getting hungry, so we decided to go by the Toll Gate Cafe, just outside the entrance to the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, KY. We ate at the same time the master distiller and the assistant master distiller stopped in to eat lunch. There were so many interesting things about the tour and the property that have been in the Samuels' family for 5 generations; but one of the interesting designations was that the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest operating distillery in the WORLD, and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

Good Bye, Bardstown...Hello, Shepherdsville!

Before we left Bardstown, we had an opportunity to visit the Bardstown Civil War Museum. This museum is ranked nationally in the top four among 500 Civil War museums. Like I said before, Bardstown runs the gamut from Indian Heritage to historic homes and military heritage. Outside the Civil War Museum is the Old Bardstown Village, a re-creation of a 1790's frontier village representative of the first westward movement of the nation. The cabins are 150 to 200 years old.

Bardstown, KY turned out to be an excellent base for us while we were getting to know central KY. It was very easy driving through rolling hills on excellent roads; however, it is best not to drive the coach until you have to. Taking the back roads can be a little challenging but you just take it easy and enjoy the scenery. Our trip to the next base for us would be about 25 miles northerly to Shepherdsville, KY, to a little campground known affectionately as Grandma's Campground. What a day - 45 minutes to our next home.

We immediately made contact with the local post office to have our mail forwarded and should receive our mail by Friday, if all goes well. We decided to ride around in the area since the country was so beautiful and came upon a beautiful little vineyard, Brooks Hill Vineyard, just in time to receive a tour of their beautiful vineyard. We really enjoyed meeting several ladies who had stopped in to enjoy the tour - and they were from Bardstown. It was like we had just run into our old neighbors. Tomorrow morning, we'll take our first trip into Louisville to have lunch on The Spirit of Jefferson, and cruise down the Ohio River.

Just a side note - it sounds like all we do is go, go, go. Seems like that is what is happening on this trip; however, we really enjoy the times we can sit and enjoy the countryside, breathe fresh air, and maybe do a little "people watching". Our daughters remind us we are not on vacation - this is our lifestyle. The next week or so we should slow the pace a little, but for now, enjoy Kentucky with us.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


My Old Kentucky Home, Federal Hill, is so covered by foliage and trees it was difficult to take a good picture of the house; hence I just didn't try to take but a few. You weren't allowed to take interior pictures during the tour, so it had to suffice that you enjoyed walking the grounds, gardens, carriage house, smokehouse, as well as the family cemetery.

When I used to travel full time, I learned to inspect local grocers in about every town we travelled to. You find such treats, and while we travel, I make it a point to stop at local markets, farmer's markets and bakeries to buy what might be in season, that we may not ever have been so fortunate to try. Sometimes I buy produce I've never seen in my life - like yesterday, a scalloped squash. Imagine a white squash that looks like a UFO. I prepared it as an appetizer - but it was just placed in an egg wash and floured and fried, like fried green tomatoes. I would have liked to prepare it another way, but that was suggested by a local farmer. Other items I purchased were the heirloom tomatoes, small potatoes, green beans and spaghetti squash. Another place I love to go, if possible, are local butcher shops. Bardstown's butcher shop is called Boone's, and I'm not sure, but I think this is the most popular store in town. We purchased several types of meats as well as their thick sliced peppered bacon for breakfast. I just couldn't resist the Homemade Bratwurst. We don't serve it every day, so every once in awhile I try to justify such a treat.

After visiting the State Park, we felt it would be enjoyable to go to the State play, Stephen Foster - The Musical. Apparently, this is the 51st year (since 1957)the play has been produced. The costumes, scenery and singing was quite a tribute to America's first great composer, Stephen Foster, who died at the age of 37.


Traveling to Bardstown, KY would be a long day - 299 miles (we're retired). But we made it to White Acres Campground, and wouldn't you know it, there is a traveling antique car meeting in town. These weren't stationary cars - they entertained themselves and others by traveling local country roads every day. About 50 cars - all under 1919 Models, were in tip-top shape and we really enjoyed talking to the owners. I'm ready to buy an antique car. We're going to be here a couple of days so we decided to take the Trolley Ride for a couple of hours, go to the historic Bardstown Museum, Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, and the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, created in 1808. Along with the dioceses of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, Bardstown was chosen as one of the original dioceses because of the migration of Catholic settlers to the west, concentrated in central KY.

No, I had no idea of the historical significance of Bardstown, KY, the second oldest city in KY. No, I did not know this was the beginning of the Bourbon Trail, but it's kind of hard to ignore it once you arrive. There is even a famous whiskey museum connected to the Catholic diocese museum. The museum has a 50 year collection of rare artifacts.

I also was unaware of Stephen Foster's huge significance in Bardstown, and KY. We enjoyed touring "My Old Kentucky Home", a stately Georgian Colonial mansion, known as Federal Hill, c.1818. It was the home of Judge John Rowan whose Pittsburg cousin, Stephen Collins, Foster, visited in 1852 and was inspired to write the song. The house and grounds was sold to the State of KY in 1922 and became a state park, campground, golf course and gardens.


A good day for us is about 200 miles, so going to Elko to Twin Oaks RV (190 miles from GCS) was fine. Our friends, Ray and Louise also arrived and we decided a nice quiet evening would be best for all of us to get ready for the next day.

We arrived at Holiday Trav-L-Park in Chattanooga (232 miles)mid-afternoon and just enjoyed the beauty of the park, opened in 1972 by the Holiday Inn owners - and is still under ownership by the same people today.

Over a 100 years ago, men fought and died where the park is located. In the SW corner of the park there is a monument placed by some of the men of that regiment who became famous for fighting in the Chattanooga area.

This is definitely a town you say "we've got to come back" ... so much to see and do, so we had to make some choices. So we're here for 2 days and then head north.
We've seen signs all our life about "SEE ROCK CITY" and "LOVER's LEAP", so we did, and cowabunga. Hope the pictures are louder than words, because I just couldn't describe it. For more than 65 years, this attraction, with its 145 foot natural waterfall and caverns deep inside Lookout Mountain, draw visitors just like us. While it was during the Civil War that claims of being able to "See Seven States" surfaced, it took a visionary promoter to spread that message to the world. Garnet Carter, the owner at that time, invented "Tom Thumb Miniature Golf".

Moving right along, we decided to go round trip on the "World's Steepest Passenger Railway" that begins in St. Elmo, TN and takes you up to the top of Lookout Mountain at a breathtaking grade of 72.7% near the top. On a clear day you can see over 100 miles to the Smokies! Since this has been in operation since 1895, we felt it was pretty safe.

A trip to Chattanooga wouldn't be complete without visiting the hallowed grounds of Chickamauga National Military battlefield, about 3 miles from our park. The battles for Chattanooga changed the outcome of the Civil War. About 15,000 Union soldiers advanced against a Brigade of about 1,300 Confederate soldiers on Lookout Mountain. It was the beginning of the end for the South - the next spring, Sherman used Chattanooga for his base as he started his march to Atlanta and the sea.

45th Andrew Jackson High School Reunion

Andrew Jackson High School, Jax., FL, Class of 1964, recently held their 45th high school reunion at the Marriott at JTB, Jax., FL. While there were about 130 people present, I don't know what we would have done if more had shown up. My jaws hurt at the end of the event - smiling, laughing and talking with all our friends we hadn't seen since the past reunion - some of them attending their first reunion. Of course there were many friends you just couldn't talk with as much as you'd like - and some of them had changed so we didn't recognize them. Wow!

While we're not looking forward to talking about our 50th, we are looking forward to seeing old friends in 5 years. We appreciated all the time, effort and work of the Reunion Committee. It was a fantastic weekend. Oh yes, it was great to be at the Marriott, but we looked forward to getting back in our comfortable sleep number bed in the RV!

On Monday morning, we're saying goodbye to everyone, and heading out to Perry, GA to meet Ray and Louise DeCarlo, Davenport, FL, and travel with them for the next couple of weeks.