Saturday, August 28, 2010

DAY 1 Waverly to Arkansas

(1/16/2012 I edited this article to include a link to the restaurant, below.  We still have fond memories and have decided to go back to the area for a weekend.

Spent our first night in Curuthersville at the Lady Luck Casino RV Park.  No, we did not bother to gamble - it didn’t look too inviting. The casino is a fake riverboat sitting on the bank of the Mississippi, brightly painted smokestacks aimed toward the sky topped with pointed jester crowns, apropos  of an industry that  “entertains” by taking your money.  I love to criticize  gambling establishments but you can be sure that I will be donating my share to Nevada’s economy once we arrive.
Yesterday was a good day.  We traveled 637 miles, making a few stops.  
One nice stop was in Bardstown Kentucky where we turned the van into My Old Kentucky Home State Park. The site was nice, and I’ll share some photos in a moment but first I need to tell you about the toilets.  Now I will admit I am not well-traveled and sometimes ignorant about what’s out there in the world,but I was impressed with these toilets.  The seat was wrapped in plastic wrap. before you sat down, if you followed the printed directions, you would press a large red button.  The plastic would then rotate around the seat to a loud “wr.r.r.r.r.r” continuing until the seat was covered in all new wrap.  Very interesting.  

A sculpture of  Stephen Foster with flute in hand

After watching the toilet seat a couple times, I left the bathroom to check out the secondary attraction which were the house and gardens of the estate of Judge John Rowan, cousin to Stephen Foster. 

portico of visitor center.

The estate, Federal Hill, served as inspiration for Foster’s song, My Old Kentucky Home which he wrote after a visit to his cousin’s home

To tour inside the home we would have needed to buy tickets so Jeff and I chose to stick to the garden and grounds, including a small hewn log building representing a similar structure that once stood on the same spot and served as John Rowan’s “office” 

 A sign said that he used the one-room building to get away from the children and to entertain friends.  I see it as his version of the modern man-cave, that he-man room for drinks and man-friends where the women and children are seldom allowed, a room that houses “man-stuff” that doesn’t match the decor of the rest of the house but the man wants to keep. 
cabin foundation
This particular cabin was built atop a spring which may have cooled the building.  

There was no water running now. Everything was pretty dry. The garden area of the estate was small but nice. To read more about the garden, check out  on Monday or late Sunday evening.

As usual, once we left West Virginia we saw little wildlife.  The exception was near an information center for The Land Between the Lakes in far western Kentucky. I had a near-death experience with an American Bison that chased me through the lobby.  The Bison was bad enough, but I was desperately trying to protect a small bobcat resting on my shoulder.  It was pretty scary.  

The information center lived up to its name for inside was a two-legged google-like woman ready with information we needed. After telling us of a nice two-lane road around Paducah that would save us time and provide nice scenery, As an afterthought we asked her if she knew a good place to eat - always an optomistic question which assumes that the informer will have similar interest in food as the asker. This woman did a great job of honing her answer to what we wanted, suggesting Willow Pond, Willow Pond Catfish Restaurant , the link if for one of the restaurant's 3 locations.  We stopped at the one at exit 276 of I-24 but the pictures of the link look just like our food.  Home cooking with a menu that favored catfish.  Her description brought the proper pavlovian response so that is where we stopped.  Delicious. 

Jeff dined on beautiful grilled catfish while I chose a ground sirloin sandwich with grilled onions and melted Swiss cheese. Before any of that, however, the waitress brought us an automatic appetizer of white beans and hushpuppies . There was a wonderful red pepper relish that could go on everything.  Many people put it on their beans.  We bought a can, found a place to store it in the camper and "relished" our meal.

We crossed the Kentucky river and headed southwest until we reached Wickliff where we twice crossed - on small two-lane bridges - First the Ohio then the Mississippi rivers.  My brothers and sister will appreciate the panc that raged through my blood pumping adrenaline to my heart and forcing me to duck as I leaned toward the middle of the van while futilely trying to gain control of my body and mind enough to see the river and take a couple photos. 
Both these concrete bridges were the highway equivalent of skinny jeans. Too thin to make good sense,not enough room to maneuver, especially for a van hauling a trailer and three bikes; a van that floats across the road like a hover craft.  First one bridge then the other; all the while my dear husband says, “Look Nellie.” (not happening) Things were not made better by him turning his head to take in the sights.  I had rolled down the window in anticipation but our speed brought wind roaring into the car that only heightened the panic with way too much stimulation. Afraid of losing my camera and being sucked out into the wide expanse, I attempted to roll up the window while flailing my arms and closing my eyes. The photo you see here is the result of shots taken as the window went up. 

Really, I had no idea where the camera was pointing.  We reached Missouri and the dam burst as tears flowed from a sobbing woman. Shame and disappointment accompanied the tears.  I’ve heard that the view was nice.
Good Bye until tomorrow but I'll leave you with a few more photos I hope you'll enjoy.
Click on any blog photo to enlarge it.
Kentucky Dogs

I'll miss these hills

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