Gatlinburg TN

Gatlinburg TN
I've been on a HUGE Gatlinburg area kick lately..... Here is a recent picture!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"The Kentucky Cave Wars" by David Randolph Kem

I have really been in the mood to read up on caves lately.  You know I love visiting all of the caves and other sites in the Kentucky Cave area too.  There is a lot of history.

I finally got around to reading David Randolph Kem's book, "The Kentucky Cave Wars:  The Century That Shaped Mammoth Cave National Park" which is a nice intro to the history of the area.

Most of the names you would expect to read about are here (Bransford, Collins, etc.).  The author gives a very nice bit of history on all of the caves, discoveries, cavers, etc., leading up to Mammoth Cave becoming a National Park.

If you are casually interested in all of the history of Mammoth Cave and the nearby cave's histories, this might be a pretty complete book for you.  This would also be a great starting point for someone just developing an interest in the area.

There is so much more to Mammoth Cave, the Cave Wars, and the development of all of the great show caves though.  I bet most people will want to read more about Kentucky caves after reading "The Kentucky Cave Wars."

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Snowy Campbellsville KY

I'm sorting out some pics from the winter....  We drove through Campbellsville early one February morning and I took a few random pictures.  I think Campbellsville is an attractive little town.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

"The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett

I got a copy of "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center (they had a cool selection of books available that you could take simply for a donation!).  This one is a classic though...  and its one of those books I think most people have heard of, but they have never read.

I really knew nothing about the book, so I thought it would be fun to read without looking up any previous descriptions or even looking it up on wikipedia.  I wanted to read it with no expectations.

First off, the story came out in 1929!  I would have guessed the 1950s, maybe even the 60s.

The main character is Sam Spade, who I did recognize from various parodies and similar characters (Dixon Hill from Star Trek).  Oh, and Sam Spade is a PLAYER!

The actual Maltese Falcon really never shows up in the book.  It's obviously significant to the book....  It's talked about and remembered, but it is just never there.  A fake shows up, but not the real thing.

The characters came off as VERY unbelievable to me.  They are too fantastic, and almost seem LIKE stereotypes (maybe because this book created those stereotypes....  The cocky, smart, macho detective and the Barbieish love interest/deceptive antagonist).  The characters don't act how I think real people would act, BUT they do act in a way that makes the story interesting.

AND I thought it was an interesting, fun book to read.  I'm glad I got around to reading another classic!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Berea's First Century 1855-1955 by Elisabeth S. Peck

I picked up this great book for a few bucks at a local shop.  I thought the great cover alone was worth the price. 

"Berea's First Century 1855-1955" by Elisabeth S. Peck was a pleasant book to read while hanging out on campus again.  It does give a VERY detailed description of John G. Fee's early days in the area.  It tells about his and others struggles VERY early on as they set the school up.

I knew a lot of the story, which most students and alumni know....  but this book really completed the story in my mind.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Berea Coffee and Tea

During the 90s, it was very hard and rare to leave campus for the weekend.  I had a pretty tight group of friends, and we would all hang out at Berea Coffee and Tea on Friday nights.

We would usually get together at food service, and then we would make our way over to this nice little coffee shop.  We would always have at least a group of 5 or 6, but sometimes, we would have around 20 people hanging out there.  It was a lot of fun.

I still stop by when I am in town.  The place has been updated but it still has a cool, college vibe.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Dinner at Boone Tavern in Berea Kentucky

While staying at Boone Tavern we did enjoy dinner there one evening.  Of course we had some great spoonbread.  We had a nice seat by a window as the sun went down.

I saw burgoo on the menu so I had to order some.  It was very meaty and not as sweet as the stuff I grew up on.  In my opinion, you can only get real burgoo in the Owensboro area.  Still, this was tasty.

I had salmon and my wife had steak.  We both loved our meals.  Our meats were placed on top of green beans and potatoes.  As we would expect, this was a really special meal.

We shared a pumpkin cheesecake with an espresso bean crust that was a very nice way to end our meal.  The dessert seemed a little out of season but we were super excited to see it on the menu.

The kids working there now wear nice black uniforms that are very different from what we wore when we were students working at the Tavern.  For the boys, a white shirt, white jacket, black pants and black bow tie were standard.  The girls wore burgundy dresses.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Breakfast at Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Before we left Boone Tavern on this stay, we enjoyed breakfast in the restaurant!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Boone Tavern Hotel in Berea Kentucky

We are getting to where about once a year, we spend a nice weekend hanging out at Boone Tavern.

I know I have talked about this some here before, but I worked there briefly while attending Berea College in the 90s.  I literally met my future wife here so it is a very special place to us.

My wife spent her entire college career working at the Tavern, and loved it.  She was a student manager, and she would launch that into a very successful career in the hotel industry that she still enjoys today.

Back in the 90s, getting a job at Boone Tavern was a little chaotic.  You had to work hard there.  I remember many weekends working dinner on Friday, then two meals Saturday and Sunday.  You felt like you barely had time to study or eat.  Looking back on it, it was actually an honor to work at such a cool, historic place.

AND, when we go back now, I think about my time working there, and it really makes me happy.

It is one of the more historic hotels in Kentucky.  Students still do a lot of the work there.

As I think about it, it might be the most historic hotel in the state.... though a few arguments might be made by some Louisville hotels.

They have done a lot of upgrades to the place, and inside, it feels much more modern than some other older hotels.  If you were there in the 90s, I am sure you remember the elevator with the very old gate covering it.  It really felt like an OLD elevator from forever ago.  It is updated now.

Our stay this time was very nice.  We had a room on the corner.  Looking out one window we could see the church and the Alumni building- out another window we could see other parts of campus.

Here are some photos of our room, and around the rest of the place.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Berea College in Kentucky

While we were in town, we walked all over the Berea College Campus.  Here are several photos of buildings that were special to me for one reason or another.

There are a few classroom buildings, the gym, the theater....  etc.

I lived in 3 different dorms during my stay, and two of them have been forever altered.

I didn't know this until I saw the construction work going on...  but my old dorm of Danforth is gone.  It looks like they are rebuilding it, but it is now gone.  I lived here the longest, and I was the monitor and assistant head resident here at different times.  I spent a summer painting, patching holes, and cleaning suites at the dorm.

The building was two towers of six suites each, connected by a commons/lounge area in the middle.

During the summers, all the male students would move to one tower, and we would repair the suites in the other tower, and sometimes rent out suites to high school groups doing stuff on campus.  I remember one summer, I was checking a high school kid into the dorm.  His whole family was with him....  mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins (this is not a criticism....  my whole clan came with me my first day on campus too).  Anyway, the kids mom pulled me aside at one point and asked me if I could help the young man get a room with his own bathroom.  I didn't mean to be rude, but I started laughing.  I explained to her that such a room didn't exist.  I was the assistant head resident, and I shared a toilet and shower with about a dozen other guys.

I also had one of my few possible supernatural experiences here.  I was up very late one evening, having trouble sleeping, so I went in to an empty suite to do some cleaning.  As I worked, I thought I could here my my name, VERY audibly.  I left that suite and from then on only cleaned during the daytime.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

New Purdy's Coffee Shop in Richmond KY

Hey!  We FINALLY got around to checking out the NEW 2nd location of Purdy's Coffee Shop in Richmond!

Its not exactly as cozy as the original downtown location (few coffee shops are as nice at the downtown Richmond Purdy's) but we still like it a lot!  Where the original is in a beautiful old building the newer one is, well, a bit more open and modern.  They still have all of the great menu items, and the friendly staff.

Here are some photos!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

"50 States 5000 Ideas" by Joe Yogerst

"50 States 5000 Ideas" by Joe Yogerst was given to me as a gift recently and I have REALLY enjoyed it!  In fact, I have simply spent a lot of time with this book....  reading through and writing stuff down.

I started reading through and quickly realized I needed to be taking notes.  Then it hit me that I didn't need to take notes; I would have to violate one of my personal rules about books and I would have to underline and make notes right in the book!

"50 States" is organized alphabetically by state, with each of the 50 states getting a few pages of things you will want to see in each state.  I know, this has been done before, but this book has a certain completeness to it.  The author comes off as enthusiastic about EVERY state as he tells you about what you will want to see in each one.  I felt like he hit all of the main attractions, and included several other lesser known places.

Side boxes included info on state capitals, little known facts, and other bits of trivia.  I LOVED reading about art inspired by the states (songs, movies, etc.).

AND info on the Canadian Provinces is included!

As you know, I do keep a list of all of the states, noting places I hope to visit one day.  This book REALLY brought a lot of places to my attention that were not on my radar!

Friday, May 3, 2019

"Myths and Mysteries of Kentucky" by Mimi O'Malley and Susan Sawyer

I definitely wanted to give "Myths and Mysteries of Kentucky" by Mimi O'Malley and Susan Sawyer a huge thumbs up.  This book has actually been out for a few years but I just got around to reading it recently.

This is one of my more favorite books on strangeness in the state...  there have been some hits and misses but this one is very well done.  I felt that the authors covered some of the few standards in the state (the ghosts of Waverly Hills and White Hall), but they also hit some of the lesser known stories.  AND, they really went in some odd directions, at times tying Madoc and Welsh Indians to the area!

The book is easy to follow and I really enjoyed the treatment they gave to the whole issue of Daniel Boone's burial in Frankfort (this is probably the most easy to understand write up on the whole issue I have ever read).  Similarly, they did a fine job of clearly covering the John Bell Hood/Anne Mitchell story.

There is something O'Malley and Sawyer did with this book that makes it superior to other ghost/mysterious type books- they include a skeptical argument in most chapters.  They don't go overboard on this...  and this is far from a skeptical book...  but the counter point is there with the legends.  I really appreciated this.  I have read other works that have omitted this information to a huge fault.  One book I read recently covered a legend that has been thoroughly debunked....  but they left out the well known debunking.

Anyway, this one gets my highest possible recommendation.  This is a solid collection.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire" by Ron Elliott

I had SOME familiarity with the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, but not much.  It really happened before my time, but I have spent a lot of days roughly in the area where it occurred.

I was pretty excited to pick up the book, "Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire" by Ron Elliott.  Most of the volume seems to be the story of Wayne Dammert, who worked there for years before the fire AND he was there the night of the actual burning.  The fire took the lives of 167 people.

Wayne's story is interesting even before the club's most notable moment, as he rubs elbows with various celebrities and interesting characters who stop by the club.  He meets his future wife there as she works as a dancer.

Of course, the heart of the book involves hearing Wayne's first hand account of what he was doing before, during and after the club burned.

Author Ron Elliott also includes the stories of others at the end of the book.  Various Beverly Hills workers, patrons, and family members tell about their involvement, and how the fire affected them.

I am WAY late on getting around to reading this one...  It came out in the mid 90s....  But I am glad that I got around to it!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Red River Gorge Getaway Giveaway

HEY!  I just wanted to take a moment to mention a cool giveaway that I heard about recently.  Cliffview Resort in the Red River Gorge area is giving away a pretty nice 2 night getaway to the area that includes some zip-lining!

Go HERE for more details......  the 2 night lodge stay looks pretty sweet!

Cairn Coffee in Winchester KY

When we walked in to Cairn Coffee House in Winchester the other day we immediately knew we loved the place.  My wife started comparing Cairn to Purdy's in Richmond.  That's very high praise.

This is a very beautiful coffee shop in a great old building.  The shop is clean, spacious and warm.  In fact, we spent a good amount of time reading by their fireplace on a cold day before the seasons changed.

AND, it seems that I keep finding coffee shops that are drive thru, small kiosks, or only have a few seats inside.  This shop is the opposite of that.  Cairn is easily one of the most inviting places to stay and relax.

They have even opened up the store front window areas for seating, which looked cozy too, and it is just a great use of space!

I was looking at their website, and it seems they are a non-profit business ran by Calvary Christian Church.  Check out their site for more info on this, but I really like the spirit of that sort of thing.

They have some very nice items for lunch too!  We had a great strawberry chicken salad and some other items.  They do have an interesting sandwich with beer cheese on it, and they are on the Beer Cheese Trail!