Monthly Archives: June 2014

Kentucky Part II: Frankfort

When we left Paducah we went to The Bluegrass. This is a term for a musical genre, but also how they describe the region because the fields of grass on the hillsides look like they are a blue color flowing in the wind. I didn’t see any blue grass – it all looked green to me, but the area was still spectacular. I’ll admit that I didn’t expect much from Kentucky because I didn’t know anything about the state. After we arrived I was enormously impressed with its natural beauty. Our campground was just outside of Frankfort, and we were within easy travel distances from both Lexington and Louisville.

On a return trip I would like to rent a house boat on one of their giant lakes: Cumberland, Barkley, or Kentucky. We didn’t get a chance to get out on any of these lakes while we were there, but we did get a chance to see several charming historic towns and experience the lush landscape via hikes with the dogs or daytrips in the car.

We loved the view from most of the drives in the Bluegrass. Whether it was interstate or back roads, the asphalt was constantly lined with picturesque horse farms on both sides.

We loved the view from most of the drives in the Bluegrass. Whether it was interstate or back roads, the asphalt was constantly lined with picturesque horse farms on both sides.

I think the day we went to Churchill Downs was one of the most fun outings we had while we were camped near Frankfort. I opted for a very meticulous method of selecting which horses to bet on... I chose the names I liked the best. Mike took a bit more of an analytical approach and listened to some of the advice from experts in the racing brochure. I think he got paid on two races and I got paid on everything BUT two races.

I think the day we went to Churchill Downs was one of the most fun outings we had while we were camped near Frankfort. I opted for a very meticulous method of selecting which horses to bet on… I chose the names I liked the best. Mike took a bit more of an analytical approach and listened to some of the advice from experts in the racing brochure. I think he got paid on two races and I got paid on everything BUT two races.

The weather was perfect on the day we went to Churchill Downs. I was afraid it would be crazy busy, since we went on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. However, the place is go gigantic and the crowds were not overwhelming, so we were not cramped at all. We made our way between the paddock and front-row seats in front of the winner's circle - with stops at the betting booths in each direction (either to hand the teller more money or collect our earnings).

The weather was perfect on the day we went to Churchill Downs. I was afraid it would be crazy busy, since we went on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. However, the place is go gigantic and the crowds were not overwhelming, so we were not cramped at all. We made our way between the paddock and front-row seats in front of the winner’s circle – with stops at the betting booths in each direction (either to hand the teller more money or collect our earnings).

The things that made Churchill Downs so special, in my opinion, were the abstract things like the architecture, art, and flowers everywhere. I also really liked the two mint juleps I sampled.

The things that made Churchill Downs so special, in my opinion, were the abstract things like the architecture, art, and flowers everywhere. I also really liked the two mint juleps I sampled.

The Downtown Frankfort Organization sponsors summer concerts on the lawn of the old capitol building on Friday nights. We were lucky enough to be in town for the kick-off event. The first band that played was an eclectic marching band, and their leader was this guy playing the horn on stilts. I never took the photo at the right time, but he also had fire blowing from the instrument while he played!

The Downtown Frankfort Organization sponsors summer concerts on the lawn of the old capitol building on Friday nights. We were lucky enough to be in town for the kick-off event. The first band that played was an eclectic marching band, and their leader was this guy playing the horn on stilts. I never took the photo at the right time, but he also had fire blowing from the instrument while he played!

The Kentucky River runs right through the middle of downtown Frankfort, with a bridge on opposite sides to connect each sector. One half is where all the commercial buildings and business are located. The other half features the actual Capitol Building and Governor's Mansion tucked into an historic residential neighborhood.

The Kentucky River runs right through the middle of downtown Frankfort, with a bridge on opposite sides to connect each sector. One half is where all the commercial buildings and business are located. The other half features the actual Capitol Building and Governor’s Mansion tucked into an historic residential neighborhood.

When we landed at the campground in Frankfort, of course I did a search for DDD restaurants in the area. We were excited to find out that Rick's White Light Diner was featured on the show around 2010. No doubt, we visited for lunch one day. The food was very good, but the portions were tiny and the prices were really high. I guess there is only so much money one can make in a restaurant with 6 tables and a counter when you only serve breakfast and lunch. To retain the 'dive' charm and avoid expansion, I guess he had no other choice but to limit the amount of food he serves and then price it through the roof.

When we landed at the campground in Frankfort, of course I did a search for DDD restaurants in the area. We were excited to find out that Rick’s White Light Diner was featured on the show around 2010. No doubt, we visited for lunch one day. The food was very good, but the portions were tiny and the prices were really high. I guess there is only so much money one can make in a restaurant with 6 tables and a counter when you only serve breakfast and lunch. To retain the ‘dive’ charm and avoid expansion, I guess he had no other choice but to limit the amount of food he serves and then price it through the roof.

This looks like it could be a small marina somewhere out in the country, but it is right off of the 'main drag' in downtown Frankfort.

This looks like it could be a small marina somewhere out in the country, but it is right off of the ‘main drag’ in downtown Frankfort.

Our campground near Frankfort got really busy on the weekends with tent campers. It was a big spot for canoeing. There were even some for rent from the camp store.

Our campground near Frankfort got really busy on the weekends with tent campers. It was a big spot for canoeing. There were even some for rent from the camp store.

Our Still Waters Campground sat right on the banks of Elkhorn Creek where it empties into the Kentucky River.

Our Still Waters Campground sat right on the banks of Elkhorn Creek where it empties into the Kentucky River.

It was an overcast afternoon on the day we visited Lexington. It started raining on us just as we got out of the car to explore the area, so we did a drive-by tour instead. I really loved all the historic homes in the neighborhoods adjacent to the Central Business District.

It was an overcast afternoon on the day we visited Lexington. It started raining on us just as we got out of the car to explore the area, so we did a drive-by tour instead. I really loved all the historic homes in the neighborhoods adjacent to the Central Business District.

Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky with a wonderful downtown situated along the Ohio River. When we first got there, we walked the dogs along an 85-acre waterfront park. After they were tired, we headed toward the historic buildings and found a spot for lunch on an outside patio. As we made our way back to the car, we stumbled upon this ENORMOUS bat outside the factory where they make Louisville Sluggers. Now that is an original landmark!

Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky with a wonderful downtown situated along the Ohio River. When we first got there, we walked the dogs along an 85-acre waterfront park. After they were tired, we headed toward the historic buildings and found a spot for lunch on an outside patio. As we made our way back to the car, we stumbled upon this ENORMOUS bat outside the factory where they make Louisville Sluggers. Now that is an original landmark!

Just another historic building in downtown Louisville with gorgeous attention to detail on its original façade.

Just another historic building in downtown Louisville with gorgeous attention to detail on its original façade.

I had to order a 'Hot Brown' in the state where it was invented. It almost made me want to have a hangover while eating it... seemed like the perfect cure with its layers of bread, gravy, roast turkey, sliced ham, melted cheddar cheese, bacon and tomato. SOOO delicious and incredibly unhealthy! That amount of grease and carbs would make anyone feel better if they overindulged the previous night.

I had to order a ‘Hot Brown’ in the state where it was invented. It almost made me want to have a hangover while eating it… seemed like the perfect cure with its layers of bread, gravy, roast turkey, sliced ham, melted cheddar cheese, bacon and tomato. SOOO delicious and incredibly unhealthy! That amount of grease and carbs would make anyone feel better if they overindulged the previous night.

The Capitol Building is surrounded by a large landscape of lush lawns, big trees and beautiful flower beds.

The Capitol Building is surrounded by a large landscape of lush lawns, big trees and beautiful flower beds.

One morning we took the dogs on a public walking trail that I found a few miles from our camp. When we got to the end we found this clear stream in a little valley.

One morning we took the dogs on a public walking trail that I found a few miles from our camp. When we got to the end we found this clear stream in a little valley.

They had endured a giant rain storm the night before we arrived at Still Waters. When I first went to look at Elkhorn Creek, I thought to myself "brown yucky water'. But that was just because of the rain. After a few days, the water levels dropped back down and it turned to more of a green hue.

They had endured a giant rain storm the night before we arrived at Still Waters. When I first went to look at Elkhorn Creek, I thought to myself “brown yucky water’. But that was just because of the rain. After a few days, the water levels dropped back down and it turned to more of a green hue.

The owners of the campground leased some of their land to farmers from the area. We got the chance to watch a crop of tobacco grow behind our spot.

The owners of the campground leased some of their land to farmers from the area. We got the chance to watch a crop of tobacco grow behind our spot.

Kentucky Part I: Paducah

We made our way west through Tennessee so we could make our way east through Kentucky. Paducah was a town we had heard of on the western edge of the state, so that is where we started our month in The Bluegrass State. Although it was only about a 3.5- hour drive from West Memphis to Paducah, we drove through 4 states to get there. That was a bit of a novelty for these two native Texans. (Three hours on the road in Texas won’t even get you from Houston to Corpus Christi)!

We divided our time on this stop between errands/maintenance issues and tourist attractions. Our park was only 6 miles from downtown, so had time to get to know the ‘local’ scene. Piper went to the vet for some annual tests, the Honda got its oil changed, we had a mechanic look at the engine in the Monaco, we had the ice-make replaced in our freezer, and Mike fixed my broken dryer. We also got to see Kentucky Lake, The Land Between the Lakes, and Lake Barkley. I went to The National Quilt Museum, and we spent our last evening at a Willie Nelson Concert. All in all, it was a good stop.

My first impression of Kentucky was a good one as we drove along this highway painted with miles and miles of bright yellow wildflowers.

My first impression of Kentucky was a good one as we drove along this highway painted with miles and miles of bright yellow wildflowers.

We thought we were going to end up seeing only cows, but then we spotted this big bull grazing on some leaves off of a tree in the shade.

At the Elk & Bison Prairie we thought we were going to end up seeing only cows, but then we spotted this big bull grazing on some leaves off of a tree in the shade.

There was an Elk & Bison Prairie at Land Between the Lakes. We paid about $3 to drive through a protected area and get a first-hand look at these huge animals. The dogs were in the back of the Honda staring intently and quietly. It is as if they understood it would not be wise to bark at these creatures. None of us wanted to see them agitated!

There was an Elk & Bison Prairie at Land Between the Lakes. We paid about $3 to drive through a protected area and get a first-hand look at these huge animals. The dogs were in the back of the Honda staring intently and quietly. It is as if they understood it would not be wise to bark at these creatures. None of us wanted to see them agitated!

It was a good thing we decided to stay a bit longer at our first Kentucky stop. My dryer broke.  Mike was able to take the thing apart, figure out what was wrong, order the correct replacement part, and put it back together again. Problem solved for about $20. I'm incredibly thankful he is so 'handy'.

It was a good thing we decided to stay a bit longer at our first Kentucky stop. My dryer broke. Mike was able to take the thing apart, figure out what was wrong, order the correct replacement part, and put it back together again. Problem solved for about $20. I’m incredibly thankful he is so ‘handy’.

We braved a few thunderstorms while we were at this location.

We braved a few thunderstorms while we were at this location.

I think the best thing about Paducah is The National Quilt Museum. Guests are not allowed to take pictures of any of the pieces inside. All I can say is that it was incredible.

I think the best thing about Paducah is The National Quilt Museum. Guests are not allowed to take pictures of any of the pieces inside. All I can say is that it was incredible.

More murals from the wall that is supposed to protect the city from the river.

More murals from the wall that is supposed to protect the city from the river.

I'm not sure if these carriage rides are offered daily in Paducah, or if she only operates when special events are taking place in town.

I’m not sure if these carriage rides are offered daily in Paducah, or if she only operates when special events are taking place in town.

Paducah sits right on the water where the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers converge. Obviously, flooding is a common occurrence here. The city has built a giant wall along the banks of the river to protect itself from future natural disasters. In an effort to take some of the 'ugly' out of the concrete structure, they have painted murals on each panel. Each panel depicts an different portion of the area's history.

Paducah sits right on the water where the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers converge. Obviously, flooding is a common occurrence here. The city has built a giant wall along the banks of the river to protect itself from future natural disasters. In an effort to take some of the ‘ugly’ out of the concrete structure, they have painted murals on each panel. Each panel depicts an different portion of the area’s history.

The festival had two musical stages, dozens of food booths, and lots of artist booths. The weather was beautiful and it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

The festival had two musical stages, dozens of food booths, and lots of artist booths. The weather was beautiful and it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Our accidental springtime festival sub tour continued when we got to spend an afternoon at the LowerTown Paducah Arts and Music Festival. I even bought a new dress!

Our accidental springtime festival sub tour continued when we got to spend an afternoon at the LowerTown Paducah Arts and Music Festival. I even bought a new dress!

The former Texas Main Street Manager in me was very interested in Paducah's Artist Relocation Program. Since 2000, the community has utilized public private partnerships to use the arts for economic development. The results are restored historic properties centered around an eclectic community of talented artists.

The former Texas Main Street Manager in me was very interested in Paducah’s Artist Relocation Program. Since 2000, the community has utilized public private partnerships to use the arts for economic development. The results are restored historic properties centered around an eclectic community of talented artists.

I had never heard of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area before we saw a sign while driving from Nashville to Memphis. We were only 30 minutes from the north side when we got to Paducah, so we drove over a couple of days to enjoy the natural beauty.

I had never heard of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area before we saw a sign while driving from Nashville to Memphis. We were only 30 minutes from the north side when we got to Paducah, so we drove over a couple of days to enjoy the natural beauty. This was our view at the beginning of one of our walks on the trails.

 

According to Wikipedia,  Kentucky Lake is a 160,309-acre lake that holds the distinction as the largest artificial lake by surface area in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

According to Wikipedia, Kentucky Lake is a 160,309-acre lake that holds the distinction as the largest artificial lake by surface area in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

I continue to try and convince Mike we need to have another adventure on a boat after this tour is complete. That is why I needed to check out these 'dockaminiums' - each boat slip had their own little patio area across the walkway from their vessel.

I continue to try and convince Mike we need to have another adventure on a boat after this tour is complete. That is why I needed to check out these ‘dockaminiums’ – each boat slip had their own little patio area across the walkway from their vessel.

There were no ducks or creeks at Duck Creek Campground. There really wasn't even any grass (except for at the dog park), but we came prepared to make our own atmosphere.

There were no ducks or creeks at Duck Creek Campground. There really wasn’t even any grass (except for at the dog park), but we came prepared to make our own atmosphere.

We drove over to Metropolis, Illinois one afternoon. The tired little town had two things going for it: Superman and Harrah's Casino.

We drove over to Metropolis, Illinois one afternoon. The tired little town had two things going for it: Superman and Harrah’s Casino.

Downtown Paducah had lots of personality and charm... as well as a wonderful bakery that made the most delicious cranberry walnut bread!

Downtown Paducah had lots of personality and charm… as well as a wonderful bakery that made the most delicious cranberry walnut bread!

A pre-concert selfie.

A pre-concert selfie.

We were hoping Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson would sing a duet together, but it didn't happen. She was certainly wonderful with her band Union Station. Once she left the stage, she never came back.

We were hoping Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson would sing a duet together, but it didn’t happen. She was certainly wonderful with her band Union Station. Once she left the stage, she never came back.

We only intended to stay in Paducah for one week, but when we heard that Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss were playing an upcoming concert at Murray State University, we extended our reservation by one week and got in the car to go buy our tickets!

We only intended to stay in Paducah for one week, but when we heard that Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss were playing an upcoming concert at Murray State University, we extended our reservation by one week and got in the car to go buy our tickets!

It was a very sweet scene when Willie Nelson played the first chord of Whisky River and the Texas flag dropped down behind the stage.

It was a very sweet scene when Willie Nelson played the first chord of Whisky River and the Texas flag dropped down behind the stage.

Tennessee Part III: Memphis

Okay, so we didn’t TECHNICALLY stay in Memphis, OR Tennessee, during our last stop in The Volunteer State. We stayed about five miles from downtown Memphis on the opposite side of the river at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. There were only a few options in the area, and we narrowed it down to this place or a campground adjacent to Graceland, behind the Heartbreak Hotel. Tom Sawyer’s was much bigger and less expensive, plus the setting was more unique AND Mike could fish from this park. It was also the closest to downtown, where we spent most of our time away from home. We were a little nervous about making the reservation since the park’s website was very up-front about the possibility of flooding. However, since there were no terrible rain events during this leg of the trip, it turns out that we made a great decision in the long run.

Memphians are duly proud of their musical heritage and their BBQ, although I did enjoy some righteous fried poultry at the original Gus’ on South Front Street. Music and delicious food are two things near and dear to our hearts, so we really liked this place! We made it to most of the major attractions in the area including Graceland, Beale Street, Sun Studios, and the Parade of the Ducks at the historic Peabody Hotel. We saw lots of live music at the Beale Street Music Festival and at the original BB King’s Blues Club. We happened upon BB King’s just as a GREAT act started to play 2 sets. The 3-man band was called Memphis Jones. All the music they played originated in Memphis in one way or another (about, written or recorded there, or sung by a native). The lead singer prefaced each song with a mini music history lesson. I’ve never seen a band entertain an audience in such a unique and interesting manner. I think that might have been my favorite part of our entire week. We could have eaten at a different BBQ place every day, but we practiced self restraint and selected Central BBQ for a sampling of some delectable ribs. Yes, these two Texans gave a big thumbs up for the Memphis-style smoked meat. Mike caught lots of fish that week, and our park was big enough for the dogs to get long walks each day… so it was good for all of us. Lastly, the whole experience of watching the barges make their way up and down the Mighty Mississippi gave us a whole new perspective on the amount of commerce that takes place on the major rivers in our Country.

We didn’t take tons of photos on this stop, but here are a dozen that summarize some of the fun we had.

Elvis' private jet was on display at Graceland. It was lots of fun to be able to go inside and see the interior customized into different rooms and parlors. Lots of shag carpet.

Elvis’ private jet was on display at Graceland. It was lots of fun to be able to go inside and see the interior customized into different rooms and parlors. Lots of green shag carpet.

The living room is the most 'tame' and conservative at Graceland.

The living room is the most ‘tame’ and conservative at Graceland.

The city closes Beale Street to auto traffic each night.

The city closes Beale Street to auto traffic each night.

The antique trolley system in downtown Memphis added lots of charm to the area.

The antique trolley system in downtown Memphis added lots of charm to the area.

This barge had so much cargo that it needed a tug boat along side to help it down the river.

This barge had so much cargo that it needed a tug boat along side to help it down the river.

We accidentally ended up in Memphis in May... which is an organized thing. We really felt lucky when we learned that the Beale Street Music Festival was scheduled for the first weekend we were there. Perfect weather certainly didn't dampen our spirits!

We accidentally ended up in Memphis in May… which is an organized thing. We really felt lucky when we learned that the Beale Street Music Festival was scheduled for the first weekend we were there. Perfect weather certainly didn’t dampen our spirits!

There were five stages at the music festival, which is set on the banks of the Mississippi below the bluff where downtown is situated. We got to see Blues Traveler, Buddy Guy, JERRY LEE LEWIS, and Daddy Mack Blues Band. Two of our favorite acts were by bands we had never heard of before: Memphis Dawls and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The music festival was the first event of Memphis in May. It started on Friday afternoon and ended on Sunday. We chose to go on Saturday when it opened around 2PM, and stayed until the crowd got really thick and pretty drunk just after dark.

There were five stages at the music festival, which is set on the banks of the Mississippi below the bluff where downtown is situated. We got to see Blues Traveler, Buddy Guy, JERRY LEE LEWIS, and Daddy Mack Blues Band. Two of our favorite acts were by bands we had never heard of before: Memphis Dawls and The Carolina Chocolate Drops. The music festival was the first event of Memphis in May. It started on Friday afternoon and ended on Sunday. We chose to go on Saturday when it opened around 2PM, and stayed until the crowd got really thick and pretty drunk just after dark.

Mike's fascination with geese continues... as does Piper's. For different reasons, of course.

Mike’s fascination with geese continues… as does Piper’s. For different reasons, of course.

A view from my morning walk with the dogs. This campground was large and spread out, with several walking paths in the surrounding natural areas. I just had to be on the lookout for snakes, raccoons, rabbits, and bugs.

A view from my morning walk with the dogs. This campground was large and spread out, with several walking paths in the surrounding natural areas. I just had to be on the lookout for snakes, raccoons, rabbits, and bugs.

This is probably the only campground we will stay at that is situated directly on the banks of the Mississippi River. Their website indicated that the area floods regularly, so I was a bit nervous about making the reservation to stay there. However, the weather held out and there were no issues at all. It turned out to be a very unique setting. We enjoyed our time there very much.

This is probably the only campground we will stay at that is situated directly on the banks of the Mississippi River.  It turned out to be a very unique setting. We enjoyed our time there very much.

Most of the coaches or trailers that stayed at Tom Sawyer's were only there overnight, so our neighbors were constantly changing. It was fun to see the new ones arrive each evening, and there was usually a big exodus between 7 and 9 each morning.

Most of the coaches or trailers that stayed at Tom Sawyer’s were only there overnight, so our neighbors were constantly changing. It was fun to see the new ones arrive each evening, and there was usually a big exodus between 7 and 9 each morning.

We crossed over the Tennessee River on the way to the banks of the Mississippi.

We crossed over the Tennessee River on the way to the banks of the Mississippi.