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May 14th, 2011 | in Family | Leave a comment

Next stop, OHIO 😀    Going to visit some of Jim’s family.  Watch out, here we come!

May 14th, 2011 | in National Parks | Leave a comment

Friday, Jim took a day of vacation, he was maxed out and needed to use up some of the time so he wouldn’t lose it. Darn. So, we made reservations to do one of the tours at Mammoth Cave National Park.  At 2:15, we are to go on a 3 hour, 3 mile (strenuous) tour called the Violet City Lantern Tour. I couldn’t make up my mind between this tour and the Snowball tour. I think Jim was disappointed to begin with, why would you want to walk through carrying a lantern, in the dark. I picked it because of the different parts of the cave that it travels through and because it would be like how it was back in the mid 1800’s when the only light they had was torches.

 

We left a little early so that we could check out some of the other parts of the park, but didn’t realize that we would be driving down into Central Time, so we even gained an hour :) I took the pictures with my P/S, so they aren’t so good, plus, I didn’t have time to use a tripod, so they are blurry in some cases. Here is the “Story” of our visit to Mammoth:

 

We checked in, got our tickets, looked through the visitor center and I got my passport stamp. Did I tell you that I had filled up most of my original passport book? I had to buy a new one, this one is the 25th Anniversary Edition. It now has 5 stamps in it already between the Smokies and Mammoth :)

 

Visitor Center

Visitor Center

 

We left the visitor center in our car, driving the width of the park to see what we could see. One of the first things was this sign:

 

interesting signage

interesting signage

 

hum, better be careful as we drive along. We continue on and what do we find, a small ferry across the Green River. It can hold up to 3 cars at a time. It is motor driven, but still attached to guide wires across the river so that it won’t stray very far in the current.

 

the ferry to cross the Green River

the ferry to cross the Green River

 

We drive to outside of the park and turn around. We see this sign coming back into the park:

 

a World Heritage Site

a World Heritage Site

 

There was a loop off of the road, we checked it out. We found this old church, Good Spring Baptist Church. A plaque near bye says that it is still used by the local families for services, weddings & funerals. It was in pretty good repair.

 

1842 Baptist Church

1842 Baptist Church

 

Right next to the church was this old cemetery. It is still being used today, but looking at some of the headstones, many of them say infant :( many died of cholera.

 

Good Spring Cemetery

Good Spring Cemetery

 

We got back to the main part of the park and checked out the Mammoth Cave Hotel. It isn’t anything to write home about, nothing like some of the lodges at other parks, but it serves it’s purpose. We had lunch in the coffee shop, a bowl of lobster bisque and toasted cheese sandwich.

 

Mammoth Cave Hotel

Mammoth Cave Hotel

 

After checking out the gift shop in the hotel (there were some cute stuff, but I stopped myself), we had to hurry up and wait. Here’s Jim sitting by a picture from the Frozen Niagara tour.

 

waiting for the tour to start

waiting for the tour to start

 

Finally, our tour was called over the loud speaker, we all got instructed on what to expect and what to do or not to do on the tour by our main guide, Alan.

 

our tour guides

our tour guides

 

We headed down the stairs into the original entrance of the cave. There are now several entrances, all through different sink-holes that have openings to the cave. There is dripping water at this one, there had been rain on the way down to the park. You won’t see any water though at all during the tour, it all goes much deeper than where we were touring.

 

Original entrance

Original entrance

 

The entrance is open to the public, but there is a gate once you get inside, you have to have a Ranger tour guide to actually get in.

 

heading on in

heading on in

 

Once we got further into the cave, there were fewer lights and eventually, so that we could use our night vision, all the lights (not that there were many) were extinguished. All we had were the kerosene lanterns, about 1 per 4 people.

 

heading further in

heading further in

 

Before the cave became a park and was privately owned, it was “mined” for Salt-Petre, used to make gun powder to be used in the War of 1812. Once the war was over, as many things, it became to expensive to mine here and it was “out-sourced”.

 

Salt Petre Mining

Salt Petre Mining

 

One of the largest rooms is called the Rotunda.

 

The Rotunda

The Rotunda

 

From here, until the end of the tour, there is not enough light to take pictures and we are not allowed to use flash (messes up the night vision). The stories that the Ranger told us were very interesting, about those that explored the cave, writings on the rocks, a 2000 yr old body that had been found pinned by a rock (still had skin, hair, clothing) that had basically been mummified because of the dryness of being inside the cave. It was great fun using your imagination as the stories were told and you traced through where a lot of people have never been.

 

exiting out the Violet City exit/entrance

exiting out the Violet City exit/entrance

 

It was very sultry once we got back outside. My glasses fogged up immediately. We had some steep stairs and a couple of good inclines to walk up before we could “see the light” 😉

 

This picture is from the NPS website, of course, taken with more light in the room.

 

better Rotunda picture

better Rotunda picture

 

Jim did enjoy the tour, he liked the stories that were told. The next time though, we will do the Snowball tour :)

 

May 14th, 2011 | in Scenic | Leave a comment

Thursday afternoon, I decided I needed to stretch my legs. Not far from where we are “camped”, Bernheim Forest & Arboretum was just waiting for me to come visit. It was around 90 degrees outside with almost the same humidity, overcast, but I had a great time. I just wandered the trails, walked around Nevin Lake, chatted with fishermen, families, and couples. I am not shy 😉 I took a lot of pictures, so here are my favorites.

 

 

I had some fun with several of them, playing with different effects, etc. These were all taken with my new camera, I think I am doing a little better each time, but then, editing is everything :)

May 12th, 2011 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

We are so close to the border of Kentucky & Indiana, and when we mentioned we were out wine tasting, we kept hearing about Huber’s Farm & Winery. I checked out how close it was and if there were more wineries close by; low-and-behold, there were quite a few! All just over the border from Louisville. I quickly put a list together and we were off on our next wine adventure.

 

Indiana seems to make more dry wine than Kentucky, for us, that is a good thing. Once again though, they use varietals that you know and don’t know (but I mostly do 😉 .  They even use a few German varietals that are fun to try. Indiana even has a “state” grape, that is Traminette (hybrid from Gewurtztraminer). It is a white grape and can make really good wine, both dry or sweet. I keep trying to find a bottle that I really like, but just haven’t found it around here yet.

 

Here are the wineries that we checked out on this adventure in Indiana:

 

Turtle Run was not on the original list, but I heard it was a good place to try, so we headed over there after Huber. We met Charla who was working the tasting room and Jim P. came in to visit. He is the owner/wine maker for Turtle Run. What passion, what verve! We had an excellent time chatting with him. The other outstanding stop was River City Winery. Again, I knew they had food, I just thought it was appetizers plates, but we got a surprise in the small menu. Since it was Wednesday night, we also got 20% of bottles of wine if you ordered and drank in the tasting room & live music. The food was excellent, the goat cheese was locally made and the pizza was to die for. I would go back in a heart-beat on this one too, the wine was probably the best we had tasted in Indiana. A couple of the wineries are also part of a wine trail: Indiana Uplands Wine Trail.

 

Here are some pictures from this wine tour 😉

 

 

here are a couple of other pictures of “critters” from the farm :)

 

blue heron fishing

blue heron fishing

 

swan out of water

swan out of water

 

Jim really gets tired of me asking him (or is it speaking rather loudly?) to STOP, I need to take a picture.

 

Chat with ya’ll soon!

 

May 12th, 2011 | in Wine & Wine Tasting | Leave a comment

We (I) truly enjoyed the Bourbon tasting, but wine is still our most favoritist thing to go taste. Kentucky is the 25th state that we have tasted wine in, we are half way through all the states :) Jim is never enamoured of wine outside of the NW or California, but he still gives it the old college try. I on the other hand, enjoy trying new things, especially when it comes to wine.

 

They can grow some of the varietals that you know and love (cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay), but the also grow hybrids that do well in this region (chambourcin, seyval blanc). We have met these grapes before in previous tastings, so we are not strangers, but they are not Jim’s favorites.

 

You also have to take into account where you are tasting the wine. Wine in Kentucky is different than wine in Texas or Oregon. The soil is different, grapes are different, the weather is different. The south LOVES sweet wines, 80% of the population that drinks wine, drinks sweeter types of wines. It’s hard to find dry wines around here, but I did :)

 

We did buy a couple of bottles, mostly white (for me, for some reason, I am into whites right now). We ended at River Bend, downtown Louisville which also happens to have a restaurant. It was an excellent choice, the wines were pretty good, but the atmosphere was fun and the food was excellent! For whatever reason, we were the only ones there, but it just made it that much more fun, we got all of the attention. I would go back in a heart-beat!

 

Here is the list of wineries that we visited in Kentucky:

 

 

25 more states to go 😉

 

May 11th, 2011 | in Travel | Leave a comment

One of my goals on this stop was to experience The Kentucky Derby, I just didn’t want to spend an arm & a leg doing it! Dawn at the Downs (previous post) was awesome, even if we “kinda” got into trouble. We saw the horses up close and personal, I could have petted several of them as we stood at the railing.

 

But what about Saturday at the races? I checked out various sites & tickets, the cheapest tickets I could find a couple of weeks ago (where you could actually see the horses run) was 313.00 per ticket for bleachers out in the open, no backs to the seating. This was at a resale site for tickets. Even infield tickets (which are $40.00 ea at the entrance) were going from $50.00 to $500.00 on the resale sites. I can think of a lot more use for the money than a one time trip to the Kentucky Derby. We decided to use the shuttles that were going on all over town, we parked at the fairgrounds/expo center ($8.00), then walked up to the shuttles ($15.00 ea). My goodness, everyone had their hands out.

 

We settled for the infield, no chairs, no views of the horses, but it got us on the grounds and we could go almost anywhere on the main floor. We did a lot of people watching, checked out the main open area where the winners are paraded once their race is over, and made our bets. It took us awhile to figure out how to even get over to the infield, there is a tunnel that goes under the track. We took one trip over to see what it was like. It is party central for “kids”, lots to drink and eat. We did see a few that had already over indulged on the Mint Juleps :) I did partake of a Mojito and a Margarita, both ok, all from mix. Oh well, they were cold and refreshing.

 

Jim bet on Nehro to win (he came in 2nd, dang) and I bet on Pants on Fire to place (wanted the female jockey). Neither of us made any money, but we had fun. We got to the races around 12:30pm probably just before the 5th race. With all the standing or walking (no place to sit, if there was a bench to be had, it was staked out early), my back wasn’t going to last until 6:30pm then try to fight the other people to get onto the shuttle and back to the parking. We decided to finish watching the 8th race and head home so that we could put up our feet, drink some wonderful adult beverages, and enjoy the race. You get a much better view on the TV anyhow :) It was a wise decision.

 

Here are some pictures of the people, the hats, the clothes, the shoes. I loved the people watching!

 

 

Now I can check this adventure off my list. It was fun, truly, but it’s definitely a one and done if you don’t have the money to spend to be in the Millionaire Row :)

May 8th, 2011 | in Family | Leave a comment

For all of you Moms out there, Happy Mothers Day. Jim took me to breakfast since we are quite a ways from any of the kids. It was full of other Moms and their families. I love going out for breakfast.

 

This is the 2nd Mothers Day without my Mom, we all miss you. Hope you are having a great breakfast with your Mom and sister.  Love You.

 

Mom and little brother Jeff (1965)

Mom and little brother Jeff (1965)

 

Mom and oldest son Mark (1980)

Mom and my oldest son Mark (1980)

 

Mom & Me Mothers Day 2002

Mom & Me Mothers Day 2002

 

Hope you all have a great day!

 

May 8th, 2011 | in Friends | Leave a comment

One of the things I really wanted to do while here in Kentucky was to try some of the bourbons. I found the Kentucky Bourbon Trail info on the internet and made some plans. One that I didn’t realize is that if you get stamps from all 6 of them, mail in a passport with stamps from each of the distilleries, you get a free t-shirt. Cool :)

The Kentucky Bourbon distilleries on the trail are:

One of the things that was interesting, you HAD to take the tour before you could taste. There are a lot of laws surrounding how you make and taste Kentucky Bourbon. It has to be made with at least 51% corn, it has to be put into charred White Oak barrels, it has to be aged at least 2 years and it can’t be blended with anything else other than corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, yeast & water. You can “mingle” barrels to get flavor profiles, but don’t use the term blend. But it makes it all worthwhile, with 44 million barrels of Kentucky Bourbon aging, you will find something you like.

 

Here are a “few” (49) pictures if you are interested in taking a walk with us as we tour 5 of the 6 distilleries.

 


Maker’s Mark is my favorite, that is what is always at my house. Mostly I cook with it, lots of great recipes, but will enjoy a nip now and then. I also liked Woodford Reserve, that is all they make, Woodford Reserve. I bought a derby bottle, it may never get opened. It was a nice change from wine and beer tasting.

May 7th, 2011 | in Travel | Leave a comment

We have been trying to figure out what things to enjoy during Derby week. Someone reminded me about Dawn at the Downs, it’s where you get to watch the horses exercise early in the morning before the race. In this case, Tue – Thur at 7:00am to 9:00am. We chose to head to the track on Thursday morning, the 5th of May. It was suppose to be the best weather day of the week, but it was going to be cool. Well, in this case, down right cold! We left the RV at 6:00am and it was only 35 degrees outside. Where did that come from???

 

We found a Starbucks for some coffee to keep us warm and headed to Churchill Downs. I had done some research and found where there was free parking and we took advantage of this. You could either buy tickets, enjoy a buffet breakfast, and sit in the fancy covered seating OR you could go in free, stand out in the cold, and get close to the horses. We chose close to the horses.

 

We found an entrance and walked in like we owned the place, said Hi to the security guard at the gate and kept on going. We walked through the stables of some really well known names and found where a whole lot of people were hanging out. I wanted to take pictures of the horses, so we found a covered gazebo like thing and stepped right up. I took a few pictures and then saw a few people along the rail and decided to head down there.  Mind you, all this time saw no signs, no “security”, nothing to tell us where we should or should NOT be. Well. WE should not be where we were at all! At around 8:00, we had just decided we were cold enough and I had enough pictures, we started to head out. At that time, a gentleman started asking to see if those down behind the rails had their “Media” credentials! Welllllll. He came directly to us and we just said we were just leaving and walked out.

 

That was interesting! I had already gotten the feeling that we were in the wrong place, but hey, I took advantage of it! We walked back through the stables (still like we owned it) and got back to the car. I decided I wanted to take a few pictures of the Twin Spires from the front if possible before the crowds on Saturday, so we walked around the main floor and checked a few things out.

 

Here are a few pictures from our time at the Dawn at the Downs.

 

 

More derby to come!

May 7th, 2011 | in Travel | Leave a comment

Our next stop is just south of Louisville, Kentucky; Shepherdsville, KY to be exact. Plans are to enjoy Bourbon, Wine, & the 137th Kentucky Derby. We might throw in a trip to Mammoth Caves National Park. Lots to see and do in this area. We could visit the home where Abraham Lincoln was born and another home where he lived for awhile. There are historic towns and lots of museums. The weather hasn’t been that good yet, but we will keep our fingers crossed.

 

Be chatting and sharing some more soon! Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page, always updates going on there. I might even throw in a tweet or two!

 

:)