Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heading east and south in direction and 250 years back in time

Friday, June 24.

Tim Horton's, Ashland, KY
Paramount Theater, Ashland
We left home for eastern Kentucky at a reasonable hour, for a change.  Barry suggested that instead of staying over one night in eastern Tennessee, that we stay in eastern Kentucky, then move on to Eastern Tennessee.  That proved to do the trick.  Our entire trip was more relaxed, and we found more time to "shunpike" than we would have otherwise.

Our first highlight was in Ashland.  Tim Horton's!  Didn't know there were any of those in Kentucky.  SOOO good.  Next highlight was also in Ashland -- the Paramount Theater.  Many country music greats got their starts or spent their early careers here.

Coal is life in eastern Kentucky.  One sees coal trucks all over, and most of the small valleys have train tracks to get the coal out.  Much of it is done by truck, but rail is still the most important way.  Love coal or hate it, without it, eastern Kentucky would have nothing.

Welcome to Paintsville
We headed south from Ashland along US Route 23, officially designated in Kentucky as the "Country Music Highway."  Many of the greats of country music were born, lived, or died near this highway.  Now, I'm not really a great fan of country music, but it IS part of American history, and some of it I really DO like, so this was OK by me.  Barry on the other hand, can tell me details about each of the singers I'd never have known otherwise.  This time, it was HE who was the history teacher.
Country Music Museum

Near the end of the afternoon, we arrived in Paintsville.  We were in the motel in plenty of time to visit the Country Highway Museum, have a great Chinese buffet, and walk around town for awhile, just taking our time.

Saturday, June 25.

Today was a really interesting day.  Because we had plenty of time, we didn't have to stick to the highways and do 80 in a 55 mile zone like everyone else.

Loretta Lynn's homeplace
East Kentucky Road Sign
We took off on a local road, found the community of Van Lear, and followed the signs to Loretta Lynn's birthplace.  We went up a side road, then off to another smaller side road. Then we saw the hand-painted sign, "Butcher Holler", off to what was barely more than a paved path through the woods.  Driving a couple of miles up the road, we came to the old home place.  It's not the original (that is at Lynn's theme park in Hurricane Mills, TN), but it's a good reproduction.  Hard to believe that the small one-lane road we were on was not even there when Lynn was born there in 1932 (not 1934, as most of her literature says).  Her younger sister, Crystal Gayle, was born in Paintsville, the only one in the family born in a hospital.
Webb's Store, Van Lear, KY

Dewey Lake
On leaving Butcher Hollow, we drove by the Webb Grocery, run by Loretta's younger brother, Herman.

Jenny Wiley Park marina
We then took a back road, to get to Ky-3, which a fellow at the Van Lear post office said was the route the coal companies use nowadays to get the coal out of the hills.  We kept going without taking the now-four-lane Ky-3, and ended up at Dewey Lake.  It's a man-made lake on John's Creek, and the location of the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.  There's a music theater there, a huge marina, and the water is blue-green, unlike most of the water in Kentucky.

Then, by back roads from Dewey Lake to Prestonsburg, which we expected to be bigger than it was.  But it was back to the Country Music Highway, headed for Pikeville.

Betsey Layne, KY
On the way, we passed through Betsy Layne, KY, birthplace of Dwight Yoakam.  Not much here but a wide place in the road with a liquor store!  But when we got to Pikeville, I understood why the city wanted permission to remove a mountaintop to provide more flat land.  The only flat land left apparently was the Wal-Mart, Lowe's, McDonald's shopping center.

Then it was overland to Virginia.  The Country Music Highway in Kentucky is now a four-lane divided highway, where the speed limit is 55, and it didn't take us much time at all to get to the Virginia border, the city of Wise, VA, then on to Tennessee at Kingsport.

Entering Tennessee
Kingsport is a place of great historical significance to Kentucky.  Settlers from southwestern Virginia would gather at a 4-mile-long island in the Holston River, called the Long Island of the Holston.  From here they would go down the Holston then up to Cumberland Gap, where the Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky borders meet.  This route in Virginia is called the "Old Wilderness Road," roughly the route followed by US-58 today.

Barry at Hooter's, Johnson City, TN
Then off to Johnson City, TN, where we again arrived early enough to tour the town -- about 65,000 people, but most business is now outside town at the malls near the main highways.  Downtown is being restored, but almost no one goes there any more.  The highlight of Johnson City was stopping at Hooter's.  Neither Barry nor I had ever been in one, and we understand the food was good.  However, we were going out for steak that night, so all we had was a drink there.

Sunday, June 26.

Chuckey, TN
Two goals today -- visit Barry's niece in Chuckey, TN, then go through the Cumberland Gap.

We found Chuckey, and Lisa's house just fine, spent the morning with her while it stormed outside.  We were very fortunate that all the rain got out of Mother Nature's system before we headed out.

Davy Crockett's birthplace
Lisa took us to Davy Crocket's birthplace, a nice state park on the Nolichucky River, another route to the west.  And no, he wasn't born on a mountaintop in Tennessee -- that's just another Disney myth; somehow, "born in the Nolichucky River valley" doesn't sound right.  I somehow doubt that he "kilt him a bar when he was only three" now, as well.  But it's a nice place, and an historic place as well.

Cherokee Reservoir on Holston River behind Barry
When we left Chuckey, we headed west, then turned to the north, passing through Greenville, and a number of other towns along US Route 25E, headed home.

Cumberland Gap, TN/KY
Clinch Gap, TN
We spent a great deal of time and mileage driving near the Holston River many miles down from Kingsport -- at Cherokee Reservoir.  A bit after that, we began to climb Clinch Mountain, named along with the Clinch River, and went through Clinch Gap, an easier gap than Cumberland, apparently.  But it wasn't long before we actually saw Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap from Tennessee
For many people, Cumberland Gap is a place they may have heard of from their US history classes (at least those who stayed awake).  But this was the gap through Cumberland Mountain which, other than possibly the Mohawk River in New York, funneled more people west than any other break in the Appalachian Mountains.  The Gap was known well before Daniel Boone's day, long before 1770, indeed, as far back as the 1680s (just read that in "The Wilderness Road" by Dr. Robert Kincaid).  But with the push west shortly before the Revolution, Cumberland Gap became THE place to cross. 

The Wilderness Road began in western Pennsylvania, followed the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, then down the Holston and Clinch Rivers, turning north to cross the Cumberlands.  It then ran as far north as present-day Corbin, KY, where it split, one route going north to the Kentucky River (Daniel Boone and Boonesborough), the other heading northwest toward the Falls of the Ohio (present-day Louisville, KY).  I'm more interested in the northwest route because it passed through or near present-day Mt. Vernon, Stanford, Danville, Perryville, Springfield, Bardstown, and in general, our area.  In fact, our telephone book says "Wilderness Trace" on it.

Middlesboro, KY from Cumberland Gap

Fern Lake, and the meeting place of KY, TN and VA.

Cumberland Gap Tunnel, TN entrance

Town of Cumberland Gap, TN

Cumberland Gap and Harrogate, TN

Powell River Valley, US 58 in Virginia
Google Earth screen capture of the Cumberland Gap area
The Cumberland Gap and Wilderness Road saw over 300,000 settlers come into Kentucky between 1774 and 1810.  Many of those settlers stayed in Kentucky, but many also moved on to Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and points west.  So the Gap was really our first great highway to the west.  As more people came, the trail became a rude road, and by 1810, wagons could pass through.  By the 1920s, US-25, running from Detroit MI to Jacksonville FL was paved for the most part, renamed the "Dixie Highway", and saw an enterprising guy nicknamed "The Colonel" in Corbin, KY, open a motel and small restaurant where he sold his "secret recipe" fried chicken.  Today, US Route 25E from Corbin to Interstate-81 near Knoxville, is four-lane, divided, and one of the best roads around.  The part through Cumberland Gap was known as "Massacre Hill" in the 1950s, with trucks and tourists not mixing well on the narrow road.  So in 1991, Tennessee and Kentucky began work on the Cumberland Tunnel.  This new road takes a four-lane highway 4000 feet through Cumberland Mountain, roughly half a mile west of the original road, which is now a hiking trail in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.

The beauty of the area, and the historical significance were, for me, the highlight of the trip.  Well, meeting Barry's niece was the highlight, too.  And so was Butcher Holler.  They all were wonderful experiences, all done in a nice, relaxing three-day weekend.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Latest goings-on

I know, I know.  I'm NOT faithful about writing in this blog.  I promise to do better, then I don't.  My bad!  But let's see how this one goes...

On Saturday, May 21, I attended the genealogy fair at the Forkland Community Center, about 10 miles from here.  It was a well-organized meeting, and I learned a great deal about researching Kentucky land grants -- in Maine I never dealt with land grants -- so this is a whole new area for me to explore.

After the meeting, I came home, and Barry and I headed for Paducah for the weekend.  It was his grand-daughter's third birthday, and we had a great time, seeing her, opening some presents, seeing Rick's law office, and helping him with some yardwork while there.  He and a friend have a firm called "Sanborn and Pridemore law", and if you're in the Paducah area, needing legal assistance, give them a shout.

Back home, and Barry's been working in the garden.  He does so well growing everything.  I'm convinced he could stick a cane in the ground and it would grow.

The strawberries are gone by now, and unfortunately the mockingbirds got the last of the green berries.  But we have enough to freeze, and he made several delights including strawberry-rhubarb pie (two).  The chard is doing well, and tonight we're having the first peas.  In Maine, salmon and peas are traditional for the Fourth of July; here it's for Memorial Day!

The garden now contains strawberries, lettuce, beets, swiss chard, peas, tomatoes, corn, beans, canteloupes, and probably some foods I can't remember.  Before going to Paducah, we bought two "knockout" rose bushes which Barry planted along the walkway from the carport to the house where we'll see and enjoy them daily.

Next weekend it's the Harrodsburg Beef Festival, and it'll be our fourth time attending.

The weekend after, it's the Great American Brass Band festival in Danville -- brass bands, balloon races, a parade led by John Philip Sousa IV, in general a wonderful time.

Later in June, we're headed for eastern Kentucky, driving down the "Country Music Highway" through western Virginia and eastern Tennessee, back through the Cumberland Gap, where Daniel Boone first entered Kentucky, then back home.  Looks like that will be a great overnight trip, and we'll visit Barry's niece while in Tennessee!

Then in August, we're headed for Maine for a week.  We plan to camp out in Appleton at Sennebec Lake and also plan to eat good Maine seafood EVERY DAY while we're there.  Also it'll be a great time to visit relatives, and Maureen and Josh and the kids will be camping with us.  I've also been invited to the Messalonskee High School reunion for the Class of 1976, and will be attending and re-meeting many former students. 

No photos to post this time, 'cause I just wanted to get something posted.  But I've got some great photos of the garden and the grandkids to post shortly.  If I don't do it in the next few days, REMIND ME!

Monday, April 18, 2011

April Goings-on -- Random photos

 Barry enjoying Spring with our new cat, Snowflake.
 My mother's Bridal Wreath.  It was dug up in Westbrook and left to die, so I brought it back to Oakland.  Then it moved to Waterville with me where it blossomed twice in one year.  Then we brought a small slip with barely no root to our first house in Kentucky.  Then we moved it here.  Apparently it likes it here in the Bluegrass.
 One of our three Dogwood trees.  The "petals" are actually modified leaves.  They are iridescent at night -- wonder what they would look like under ultraviolet light...  In the fall, the red berries are prime food for the starlings!
 Kwanzaa Cherry -- sure wish it fruited, but the blossoms are gorgeous.  With the wind today, the ground is covered with pink petals.

Strawberries are blossoming, so it won't be long now.  They are almost gone by Memorial Day.

Apple Blossoms.  We have three, but all are on the same tree, so we don't know if they will pollinate.

Our Tennessee Iris.  We bought this in 2008 on a trip to Knoxville and the University of Tennessee Botanical Garden.  It actually blooms twice a year down here!

OK, can you see the white cat?  That's Snowflake, sitting on a stump, just watching the world go around!

Here she sits on the grill cover, hoping we're not doing steak for dinner.

Not everything happening is going on outside.  I decided, after Barry did some baking, to do some of my own.  The oatmeal-raisin cookies and the blueberry scones are to be RATIONED!

Normally, he won't eat "people food."  Well, this evening was no exception.  You can see him sniffing and saying "Hey, this isn't Purina One!"

Now, we took a little tomato plant in for the winter.  This is the result.  Grown in our own living room, with snow outside!

The other night, and apparently, MANY nights, we've been visited.  This is a Virginia Possum.  And we are NOT going to feed him.  Bought a trap today, and plotting on where to let him go when we trap him!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring in the Bluegrass

Barry and I worked outside today.  Temps were in the low 70s, and the sun was shining brightly -- yeah, he DID get a sunburn.  Pruning the crepe myrtle and purple lilac, transplanting a hosta into a more shady area, mowing the 1 acre of lawn we have here.  We went to Wal-Mart and got a "Bruce" plum tree to replace the Methely that died, and in general enjoyed Spring!

This past week, Sunday and Monday, we were under another tornado watch, with a warning in the next county west.  The winds were fierce for two days, but no tornado here.  About 2.5 inches of rain, then it turned off cold, 45 for a high, but that has rebounded.

The citrus trees in Barry's bedroom and the living room are covered with scale, so we decided, reluctantly, to part with them.  He picked 4 fruits off one -- sort of like a pomelo, but we're not sure -- then cut them all back to the stump.  They are beautiful and comforting in the winter, but they've gotten to the point where we simply can't afford new, larger pots, and more potting soil for them.

We also had a tomato plant we took in last fall, which was about 6 feet tall, and actually produced 4 or 5 green tomatoes -- maybe they will ripen.  He pruned that back too, and when we plant what's left in the garden, we should have tomatoes about a month earlier than otherwise.

The lettuce, buttercrunch and bibb, are all in, the peas are up, he's had a "mess" of collard greens, the chard is growing well, the horseradish is producing great leaves which he likes for sandwiches, and the rhubarb is up far enough to make a pie tomorrow -- with the frozen strawberries from last year.

The blueberries are budded and hopefully we'll get a good crop this year.  The raspberries look very weird -- cut down to the ground in half the bed, left to grow in the other half.  That way, the ones we left should produce summer raspberries, and the others should produce fall raspberries.  Last year we were eating them from June until November, and actually had enough to freeze, and to make loads of raspberry jam.

Now, all the trees are pruned, including "Bruce", and we're awaiting the next round of severe weather coming in this weekend.

We went up to Frankfort yesterday.  Rick's website and phone ads for his law practice had to be submitted to the Kentucky Bar Association, so rather than have him mail the info up to them, we just drove it up.  It was a beautiful day, an we enjoyed downtown Frankfort, including the Kentucky Coffee Tree restaurant, rated by Tripadvisor, as the number one restaurant in Frankfort.  I've been working on the website since December, and now it's in the hands of the KBA commissioners to tell me what I need to change in order to comply with the 35 pages of advertising rules for lawyers!

Anyway, it's been a long, but productive day, the kind of day when you lay your head on the pillow, you can say, THERE, I accomplished something!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where have I been?

Wow, just checked.  I haven't blogged since November, wen we got back from Key West.  So to get caught up, I've been thinking...

I've been trying to write about all the wonderful, exciting things happening here with us.  But frankly, since we've settled into a routine, there isn't much wonderful, exciting, or even interesting (to others) to write about.  Maybe I should just do diary-type entries.  Every day or every few days, rather than long, rambling blogs might be easier for me to do.  It's not that I don't have the time, it's more that including pictures, and writing a long story is something I really don't want to get involved in most of the time.

So here goes.  Brief run-downs of what's happened since we got back from Key West.

Snowball or Snowflake?
In early November, we began to be "adopted" by a white cat, probably from next door.  For the longest while, we called her "the outside cat" as opposed to Ramses, the "inside cat."  She wouldn't come in, even in temperatures in the single degrees, so we rigged a shelter for her, with some hay, and worried.  She made it just fine.  Now, we have been officially adopted, and she goes in to the vet tomorrow to have her checked out.  I guess we ARE hers now.  And she now has a name -- "Snowball" or "Snowflake" -- cannot remember from one day to the next, so she's still unofficially "the outside cat" or just "Snow".

Gannon and Grandpa
In early December, Barry and I drove up to Maine to visit family.   The weather was quite good on the way up, and it rained some while there, but the problem was on the way home.  Through western Maryland, we ran into snow, and West Virginia, where we really anticipated problems, was actually quite fine.
Garnet and Barry

While there, I got to see Gannon and Garnet and Maureen, and Barry got to see Karen, Shirley and Bruce, as well as Carol.  We also made our pilgrimage to Ming Lee's where we enjoyed the company of Alison and Glen, as well as Brenda.  It's too bad Pushpa wasn't feeling well, because we all missed seeing her.  But next time...

Elizabeth's and Rick's snowman
Christmas was, as usual, celebrated in Paducah with Rick's family there.  Got some great photos of Rick and Elizabeth making a snowman -- a rare sight in Paducah, by the way.  It was funny watching people drive by, as though they had never seen a snowman.

Since Christmas, not much has been happening here, other than the weather.  We snow on the ground most days from about December 8 until early February.  Now that doesn't seem like much to Mainers, but many old-timers here said it has been the worst winter they remember in a long time.  Not only was it snowy, but it was cold.  In fact, much of the time, it was warmer in Maine than it was here.  So we really didn't do much except watch Kentucky basketball, movies, and a few of our favorite TV shows.  Oh, and cook.  Yup.

Farm Show, Louisville
In February, Barry and I went up to Louisville for fun and games.  We went to the largest farm equipment show in the world, stopped to get a dozen hot, fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts, some Nova Scotia lobster ($7 per pound) and some frozen minced clams.  It was a fun day, doing some weird things, but satisfying knowing that we can get lobster any time we want right there in Louisville!
Barry wants one of these to harvest our corn!

On one of our few warm days in February, Barry did get out to prune the fruit trees, and to cut back the raspberry canes.  He had been waiting anxiously to do that.  Now he's waiting anxiously to get the peas planted.  Last year he had them in March 1.  This year, with the cold and all the rain (and flash floods and tornado watches) they MAY get in this weekend, during what may be our only day of sun in March!

Highlights in the kitchen?  Barry made home-made English muffins last week.  They were easy, quick, and TOTALLY delicious.

Well, to counter him, I just finished baking some home-made raspberry scones.  We'll see how they are once they cool off.

Back in February, I was the guest speaker at the Boyle County Genealogical Association.  My topic was "Turnpike Companies in Boyle County" -- for Mainers who are used to only the ME, NH and MA turnpikes, let's just say that nearly every road in this county was a turnpike.  Twenty-nine separate companies in an area about a third the size of Kennebec County, smaller than the Norway-South Paris school district (whatever it's called now).  Not many people there, but the talk went over very well, and I've agreed to give it again some other time.

Other projects I'm working on?

1.  Transcribing the roster of the 12th US Colored Heavy Artillery unit, organized about 12 miles from here.

2.  Transcribing the Census of 1880 for Casey County, just south of here.

3.  Putting my genealogy and Barry's up on Ancestry.com, and continuing to add to both.  Mine includes the ancestry of all four of Garnet and Gannon's grandparents, and Barry's actually includes all four of his grand-daughter, Elizabeth's grandparents.

4.  Working on a website for Rick's law firm.

5.  Planning possible trips to Memphis, Nashville, and a week's camping in Maine in August.  I had hoped to get to Arizona to visit my Aunt Val, but the cost of heating oil and plowing for my house in Maine has left me with a deficit (so far this year) of over $1000, so there's no money for a major trip like that right now.

OK, if there's anything else I think of later, I'll write it up in the next blog.  I will try to write every day or so, even if it's only just to say the weather and our day-to-day doings.