Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bardstown and Distilleries

Our next stop was Bardstown, KY, more commonly known as the home of Bourbon.  Since we were in the area, of course we had to do the Bourbon Trail again.  It's not the free t-shirt, it's the quest.  Most of our distilleries were nearby, but we did have to go into Louisville for 2 of the places required on the Bourbon Trail.  But anytime I am in Bardstown, I have to make it to The Old Talbott Tavern at least once.  Although the stone portion of the building dates before 1790, the first tavern license was issued in 1805.  Now it is a nice place to have lunch, and it is still an inn.

Wandering around town (trying to find one of the distilleries), I turned down the wrong road and found this home, built in 1815.  General Polk used this home as the Confederate Headquarters during his occupation of Bardstown during the Civil War.

But right next door was a home I liked even better, although there was no info on when the home was built.  It looked quite old and it seemed more friendly than the house next door.

This is the still for the Barton 1792 distillery. And no, it doesn't mean the distillery started in 1792.  It is named for the year Kentucky joined the United States since Kentucky is considered to be where good American whiskey started.  Just a note, when I was here in 2009, this distillery wasn't here, instead, it was a bottling operation for a large corporate alcohol distributor.

In 2009, I visited the distillery for Four Roses, which is located outside of Frankfort, KY.  But they now have a visitor center and warehousing operation with tours located outside of Bardstown.  I like their use of whiskey barrels.

Heavens Hill has the largest of the warehouses we saw.  They are not just one distillery, but they produce numerous brands of whiskey.  I wondered how they did this and found each brand has its own distinct recipe and yeast, which Heaven Hill bought up at some point over the years.  So each of their brands, really did start as individual distilleries, but now are owned by a big conglomerate.

I did think their museum and visitor center was better this time than in 2009.  I especially liked their reference to liquor being the reason for the American Revolution.

These are the high wine and low wine (moonshine) for Jim Beam.  In 2009, Jim Beam was remodeling and no tours were given.

And this is at Makers Mark.  I do have to say their facility is, for me, the most impressive.  Maybe it's all the brass.  And they let you stick your fingers into the mash while its fermenting!

And this is Willets, another new distillery on the Bourbon Tail.  This is their first year open and they are very small.  Below is their entire operation.

But they did have the coolest still.  They use the old style pot still.

Two of the required stops were in Louisville.  We drove out to Bulleit, but between the wait for a tour and their charge, we decided to just get the stamp and move on.  We didn't even get a taste.

And our other stop in Louisville was the Evan Williams Experience.  Now Evan Williams is one of Heaven Hill's brands, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was a tour of the underground speak easy's which sprang up during prohibition.  I just like the big glass.

This isn't all the distilleries we visited, more are in the Frankfort, KY, area, which is our next stop.

Owensboro, KY

We had orginally planned to go straight from LBL to Bardstown, but for reasons I don't remember, we decided to follow the Ohio River and ended up in Owensboro.  There they The International Bluegrass Music Museum.  They had lots of information on some of the early performers, like Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatts.

And a several displays of instruments commonly used in bluegrass music.

But most of the information was on Bill Monroe as the founder of bluegrass.  They say he took the music he had grown up with and remade it into something people had never heard before.  Of course, Bill Monroe was from a small community not far from Owensboro.  

The statistics below are from 1995, but I thought they were interesting.  Most people associate bluegrass and the people involved as being "hicks".  In other words, lower blue class and uneducated.  But the information below says quite a different story.

The banjo below belonged to Pete Seeger, who played it from the 1950s to the 1970s.  I always assocaited Pete Seeger with folk music, not bluegrass.

We arrived on a Friday, just in time for their Fridays at 5 celebration.  Venders, bands and lots of fun.

Held along the waterfront, where there are greenbelt areas, parks with children's play areas, fountains and two convention halls.  There were at least three different bands, playing totally different types of music, so you could wander until you found something you likes.

This young group caught our fancy.  They plays a type of modern folk.  You can't see it, but the keyboard player was barefoot.  None of the group looked over 20 years old and I believe one of the guitar players was underage and because they were playing in a location which sold alcohol, he had to have a parent present.  They were very good.

Every city has to have its claim to fame, even it other towns also claim the same.  For Owensboro, it is the Bar-B-Que Capital of the World.  He did have lunch at one of their noted BBQ places and it was good, but I don't think they deserved the Capital of the World.  Maybe I should have eaten at one of the other establishments, too.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Metropolis, biking, Paducah and Land Between the Lakes

After leaving Cape Girardeau, we headed up the Ohio River to Metropolis, home of Superman.
I never knew he was so big!

Metropolis is also the home of Ft. Massac, first built by the French in 1757.  A larger fort was built on the same site by the French in 1760, but the fort was abandoned in 176 after the French lost the war to Brittain, and the Chickasaw burned the fort later that year.  In 1794, President George Washington ordered General Anthony Wayne to rebuilt Ft. Massac because of all the troubles between settlers and indians.  Below is a reproduction of the American Fort Massac.  The fort had wooden walls until the flood of 2011 destroyed and damaged the fort.  It is now fenced off and you are not allowed to wander through the buildings.

On the way to Land Between the Lakes, we stopped in Vienna to bike 9 miles (18mi RT) of the Tunnel Hill State Trail.  The trail is just part of the 55 mile rail to trail that has 23 trestles and the tunnel, once 800 feet, a collapse in 1929 shortened it by 300 feet.  When I got my bike off the back of my motorhome, I found this nest.  I guess that says how long it had been since I last went for a bike ride.

After 9 miles of biking, we arrived at the tunnel.  Because we wanted to get to our campsite and get situated, we decided to turn around at that point.  Some day I would like to bike more of this trail.

I love camping at the COE park at Land Between the Lakes.  Although I'm not much for kayaking on lakes, I do enjoy kayaking this lake.  Here I took a picture of my campsite from the kayak.

This osprey didn't like me kayaking close to her nest.  Everytime I got close she flew off as if to tell me I should follow her.  Then as soon as I moved away, she would return.  I had to take this picture using all of my zoom and I couldn't capture it with my camera, but I'm sure there were babies in that nest.

This is the only place Fancy went kayaking, but she seemed to enjoy it.  I had bought her little life jacket several years before when I was camping here.  Sadly, this was only a few weeks before she got died.  I miss my little friend.

We ventured in to Paducah, which is only about 30 miles away.  I always enjoy the murals on the river wall. This shows Paducah in the early days of steam boats.

In 1950, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission built the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant just 10 miles from town.  Today this is the only uranium enrichment facility in the country.

We found a small distillery downtown, too.

It also was a museum of the history of distilling, including lots of old stills.  This one is small enough for my motorhome since it is used on top of a stove.

And of course, I had to buy some some of their moonshine.  They had several different ones to choose from, including Peach Moonshine and Lemonade Moonshine.  How to choose?  I didn't, I bought one of each.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cape Girardeau, Cairo, Kaskaskia and St. Genevieve

I'm still catching up.  This was back in May 2015.

Our next stop was Cape Girardeau, MO.  Boy, what a nice Elks Lodge.  Here we are, parked next to the lake behind the lodge.

Cape Girardeau is on the Mississippi River.  I couldn't help but get my feet wet. (And Fancy's, too.)

I just love wandering around old town, especially when they seem to still be active with shops and restaurants and people.   I am down at the waterfront, looking back up the hill to the old courthouse.

You know if there is a fort around, Max will find it.  

Although the original church was founded much earlier, this building was not built until 1853.  

This is the Red House, now the visitor center and museum, but it was built in the 1790s by a frenchman.  It uses the vertical log cabin styling instead of the more common horizontal log cabin.  

Do you know what this is?  I didn't until we took the interpretive tour.  This is a block of tea.  Tea was shipped from China in solid blocks like this.  When you wanted tea, you broke off a small bit and ground it up before steeping it in hot water.  

Cape Girardeau has their entire river wall decorated with murals.  Here are just a few depicting some of its history.

I spotted this poster at one of the local restaurant/bars.  I had no idea what it was all about.

We just happened to be back downtown on May 31, so we stopped by to see what was going on.  It was Americana music and the name of the band was The Big Idea.   We had a great time listening and enjoying the music.  We even bought a CD.

There was something going on at the Harley Davidson Dealer, so stopped to check it out.  The band got rained out, so we went inside to look at the motorcycles.  I really liked this bike, but I do think it was just a tad too tall for me.  I was on my tippy toes and could still just barely touch the floor.

Just down the road is Cairo, IL, the spot where the Ohio River flow into the Mississippi.  Here I am standing at the junction.

Cairo also has a mural on its river wall about Lewis and Clark's visit to Cairo on the 1803 Journey of Discovery.

The Ohio is still used for transport.  Notice all the barges waiting to head down river.

I love finding old, historic homes.  Or just old homes.  Love to look at the architectural styles and wonder how many of the homes we built today will still be around in 100+ years.  This was built in 1869 and today is a museum.

The home below was built in 1865 and is still someone's private home today.

Kaskaskia, founded in 1703, was an important place back during the French and Indian Wars because of its strategic location on the Ohio River.  Today little remains of the town, except for the church, a few homes and some historic signs.
This church was founded as a mission in 1675, but although the current building is old, it's not that old.  Couldn't find out when this church was built.

The town holds the Liberty Bell of the West, given to Kaskaskia by King Louis XV in 1741.

Do you think this home owner is concerned about flooding?

Just upriver from Kaskaskia is St. Genevieve, founded in 1735.  It was a french trading town and has the distinction of having the largest concentration of french vertical log homes in the U.S.  Most of the old french vertical log homes have been stuccoed over and you can no longer see the vertical log construction.  Many of the homes are still in use today, and some are now museums.  All of the homes below were built in the late 1700s to early 1800s.

The home below still shows the vertical log construction.