Union City Confederate Monument

Union City Confederate Monument
A very old and historic monument in Union City Tennessee to unknown Confederate dead.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tiptonville Tennessee and Kentucky

I recently had a very ambitious trip planned around the far western areas of Kentucky and Tennessee.  I am a little embarrassed about just how much I planned (because we had to change our plans) but we still had a nice trip. 

Our main goal of the trip was to make it up to the VERY south western point of Kentucky.

Look at any map of Kentucky.  Actually, look at a large map.  There is that little point, on the far left bottom side- there is just a spec there, separated from the rest of the state.  Its just above Tiptonville Tennessee.

I will write more about some of the sites of our trip later, but for now I wanted to talk about the Tiptonville area.

This is honestly a remote area with a small population.  The area is however packed with history.  We found several spots on this trip relating to the Civil War.  Behind the visitor center in Tiptonville is Carl Perkins boyhood home.  There is also a prison in the area!

After leaving the Union City area, we made our way to Tiptonville and explored a bit.  From there, we drove north, towards Kentucky.

To get to that little section of Kentucky, you must really want to get to that area.  It is a long and snaky drive getting there.  This took longer than I expected.

Still, we did finally get there.  There are cornfields and a couple of homes in the area.  That's about it though.

We were proud to get to the area, and to explore.  Kentucky is a big state, and this is a very difficult area to get to.  I am glad we took the time to do it.

We saw few people in the Tiptonville Tennessee area, and we saw no one at all in the Kentucky part. 

There is a "Welcome to Kentucky" sign that almost feels more like a joke sign than a real one.  Speaking of jokes....  I kind of want to make one about the visitor center there, but that would be too easy.  There is no reason for a visitor center.

As we stood in Kentucky, we checked our GPS.  New Madrid Missouri was about 6 miles away.  We hit the go button and saw that that journey would still take us about an hour and a half.  There are no bridges close by.

We started to try to get to New Madrid, but after realizing we would have to rely on a ferry for part of the trip, we decided that New Madrid would be an adventure for another day.  We could still explore some places along the Mississippi River before heading back to Owensboro.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Union City TN

We had a nice drive going from Owensboro to Union City Tennessee.  To be honest, I didn't know a lot about the area before the trip.  I did find a few things worth checking out though.

There is a Confederate monument we noted (more on that later).  I also found a cool coffee shop!

Our first stop in town was at Higher Ground Coffee (320 W. Reelfoot Avenue).  You know how I love small cozy coffee shops, and Higher Ground is one of those perfect coffee places.

We did notice a nice line of customers at the drive thru.  Inside, the place was exceptionally clean and comfortable.  The staff was fast and friendly too!  I would really like to visit this shop again!

Elsewhere.....  I had one of those moments where things fell apart.  My battery died on me (AND I JUST bought one 2 months earlier!)!  This delayed us by about 2 hours, causing us to retool some of our trip.  That was OK though, as we were able to spend a little more time in the friendly town of Union City.

I have to tip my hat to the kind folks at AutoZone in Union City.  Oh, and for the record, I DID NOT buy my defective battery at AutoZone.  Anyway, there was an extremely helpful young lady at this AutoZone who checked and REPLACED my battery for me!  She was amazing.  I have received a refund on the other battery AND I will be doing more business with AutoZone in general in the future.

As we had some time to kill, we walked around Union City.  People seemed nice everywhere.  Strangers came up to ask about helping with our car, others nodded and said hello as we walked by.

I did pass a store front in town advertising a local pro wresting group.  That's different entertainment for a Saturday night!

Downtown was pretty too.  I can't exactly put my finger on it.  This is a smaller town, but it had a very comfortable feel.  We liked Union City quit a bit.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Barrett's- Exit 112 in Leitchfield


I am on the Western Kentucky Parkway a lot.  In fact, I have probably traveled back and forth between Owensboro and Lexington hundreds of times.

If you make that trip often, you know that there aren't a lot of options concerning a good place to stop and stretch your legs.

Well, my favorite spot is Barrett's Marathon off exit 112.  The folks that work there are friendly, the restrooms are nice, and they have a nice beverage selection (I like the fact that they carry Snapple and Jones).

Anyway, this is a nice place to stop on the Western Kentucky.

Monday, September 8, 2014

American Road Magazine

American Road Magazine is another great publication I picked up recently!

I read this one cover to cover!  Even some of the topics that I might otherwise not care much about, I found interesting.  For example, I am not a huge Burt Reynolds fan, but I enjoyed hearing abut his museum, and his work in education as I read the exclusive interview.

I REALLY enjoyed the lengthy article on drive-in movie theaters.  This was the follow up to an earlier article, so I might have to hunt down the back issue!  Anyway, I was glad to see that there are so many theaters still around, many of which were started in the 50s!  American Road did note that the future of some is questionable.  It made me want to get in my car and head to Vermont and Canada to see some of these treasures before they are gone!

There was also a great write up on Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."  For those of you who enjoy visiting filming locations, this article is a must!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Civil War Monitor

I have been on a magazine kick lately.  I don't want to say that I was feeling nostalgic about magazines, in our internet heavy, kindle carrying times, but I realized that I have been neglecting the magazine racks at my favorite book store!

So, I picked up the Civil War Monitor the other day.  This is a great magazine on many levels.

I loved the photos in this one!  There is an amazing article, full of large photos showing Civil War soldiers who had limbs amputated.  I don't mention this in a morbid way......  it was nice seeing the proud faces of the soldiers, and I liked reading about how many were doing OK afterwards.

I am sure many of you remember hearing about the recently discovered photo of the Abraham Lincoln funeral procession in New York City.  There is a brief write up on the picture in this issue (and the photo is shown in a nice large version).

Plus, there are many stories about various battles, all are informative but brief.  I feel like there are some stories in this issue that I might want to find more info about later.  Time to buy more books!

I really want to stress how much I liked the treatment to photography in the Civil War Monitor.  These aren't cheaply found, pixelated pics robbed from the web like other magazines might be tempted to use.  This is a quality, well put together magazine!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Carpetbagger blog

Hey, I just wanted to give a quick thumbs up to a blog that I just stumbled across, the Carpetbagger.  Check this out-


Blogger Jacob has done a great job documenting some cool places.  I have noticed some that I have been to, and there are MANY that I am itching to get to.  I am frankly jealous of some of the sites he has covered that I haven't!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Jerry Bransford- 5th Generation Guide at Mammoth Cave

I was disappointed on my last trip to Mammoth Cave.  Well, as I mentioned, I had a lot of fun, but I was hoping to meet Ranger Jerry Bransford.

I have mentioned Jerry Here before- if you haven't done so already, check out this link from the Times about him-


Jerry Bransford is a fifth generation tour guide at Mammoth Cave.  He is the great-great-grandson of Materson Bransford, who was, VERY LITERALLY, one of the original tour guides/explorers of the cave (during recorded times).  If you read up on the early cave adventurers, the Bransford name comes up a lot.

So, since I was unable to say hello to the legendary Jerry Bransford, I sent a note to him.  He very generously wrote back and sent some great info about Mammoth Cave, and the National Parks in Kentucky.  Though he is proud of his family legacy, I felt that the humble Mr. Bransford wanted to keep the focus on National Parks, and their significance.

Thanks to Jerry, I was able to watch a couple of great movies about Mammoth Cave, and another film about all five of the National Park Units in Kentucky.  Jerry appears in both.

There are some great quotes from him in the movies.  He mentions how, when he was a teen he came to the park and he was not allowed to eat in the hotel restaurant.  Later, he was asked to be a part of the park because of his heritage.  Its a great statement, and a bit emotional.

Anyway Jerry, I hope to catch ya next time I am at the park!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lincoln State Park near Springfield Kentucky

The Lincoln Homestead State Park near Springfield is a great state park that is a bit off the beaten path.  Like most of the other Lincoln related sites, you have to snoop around a bit to find it- but it is sure worth the effort!

There are two AMAZING cabins relating to the parents of Abraham Lincoln here.

There is the Lincoln Cabin on the property.  If I understand correctly, this is a reconstruction of the cabin that young Thomas Lincoln (Abe's dad) lived in.  It was built where the original cabin was located though, giving it some serious authenticity.  Even more exciting is the fact that inside of the cabin is a corner cabinet made by Thomas.  There is a bed there that they believe he also made.

A short walk from the Lincoln Cabin is the Francis Berry House, which is a very nice ORIGINAL two story cabin.

Nancy Hanks, Lincoln's mother, was living here while dating Thomas.  This cabin was located about a mile down the road but it has been moved to its current location at the park.  AND, legend has it that Thomas proposed in front of the very fireplace inside of this cabin.

One VERY cool feature about this state park is that the cabins and displays are pretty much totally open!  You can actually touch the corner cabinet made by Thomas.  You can walk around freely inside of the Berry home.

Also the Mordecai Lincoln home is a short drive from the cabins.  Mordecai was Thomas' brother.  It was not open, but you could get a good look around the grounds.

Back at the park near the cabins is a very nice memorial to Nancy Hanks.  Also on the grounds is a replica Blacksmith shop.

We really liked the casual, self guided tour here.  We were literally the only people around and felt like we had the place to ourselves.

There was a very friendly fellow at the gift shop where you bought your ticket (at a VERY reasonable $2.50).  He told us about the park, and we talked some about the various Lincoln Cabins.  It is nice to see people working at the parks who care about them!

Anyway, this is a great park that any fan of Lincoln should visit.  I know in the past they have done reenactments of the marriage of Thomas and Nancy.  It would be exciting to see that tradition brought back!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Calhoun Kentucky

Just a few pictures from Calhoun Kentucky, a nice little place.

I find myself going through Calhoun on my way to other places a lot, but it is always a treat to get a burger at Jays.

I love the Green River too.  It always makes me think of John Prine songs.  It is still pretty, but I saw several large items that had been dumped in it.  My dad says he once saw a fish in the Green River that he thought was a car at first.  There are some big fish in there!

I remember my dad buying the family's first VCR player in Calhoun.  Dad knew the guy running the shop, and talked him in to throwing in about 4 blank tapes on the deal (a huge bonus at the time).

We would rent movies at the theater/movie rental place in town.  I remember being young, and going to see kids movies at the small theater.  I think it was 50 cents or you could get in for free with 6 RC bottle caps.  That was in the 80s I think.  Anybody else remember doing that?

We had friends that worked for the local chiropractor, Dr. Strange.  He was in business for what seemed like forever.  He was always a great guy too!

Calhoun would be a great area to settle down in.  You have access to Owensboro, Madisonville, Greenville, etc. but it is still far enough away to keep its own identity.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Forgotten Historic Sites and the War of 1812

Check out the link to a great article by Lara Lutz.


Lara has written a very interesting article on sites relating to the War of 1812.  She takes a tour of a specific battle area that is not exactly well preserved.  It is still there and all, but the markers are obstructed..... and there is a Wal-Mart.

It sounds like efforts are being made to improve the sites, and there are folks around trying to preserve and remember what they can.

In my travels, I have found similarly hidden and forgotten sites.  As someone who likes to have a small souvenir of a visit to a historic place, I might make a visit to the Wal-Mart part of the trip.  A receipt, or a candy bar wrapper might be in my scrap book next to a postcard or magazine article about the place.  I have visited several historic and interesting locations where a mall, a post office and a general store now stand.  I am sure there are more that I can't think of right now.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Random Thoughts on Friday

You know I love music.  I especially love the independent regional acts.  The ones that you are lucky enough to catch in a park, or at a coffee house during a road trip- I really love these guys.

I had an experience recently though that was pretty negative. 

We saw this group on the road a couple of years ago and loved them.  I bought their cd.  I liked them on facebook.

THEN, I got messages all the time.  Literally, at least one daily about their new album, their tour, etc.  It became VERY annoying.  We were getting more messages about their upcoming album than messages from our friends.

As much as I love independent music, AND supporting the lesser known artists, we had to unlike them.  It felt wrong, we felt bad, but we had to.

The sad part about it is that I really love their albums (we own all of them except for their latest).  I would count one of their cds as an all time favorite.

It has poisoned our memory a bit on the music too.  Instead of thinking about a happy time of seeing this band in concert, their music will always make us think of an excessive amount of facebook spam.

I am reminded of the Tenacious D episode, where they try to give a fan the ultimate experience, and they end up stalking (and annoying) the fan.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kelly Little Green Men Festival

This past weekend the very cool town of Kelly hosted their "Little Green Men Days" Festival.  I was very happy to realize that I would be in the area for the opening day!

This event is very family friendly.  In fact, they started things off with the Pledge of Allegiance, the singing of The Star Spangled Banner, and a prayer.  Gospel singing seemed to be a big part of the festivities too.  In fact, any festival goer could sing during the gospel open mic.

I wasn't at the event on Saturday, but I know local country performer Marty Brown played in the evening, and the alien/UFO influenced band Crashland also played.

I was really excited about meeting Geraldine Sutton Stith at the event.  I had read her book, "Alien Legacy" about her father's confrontation in 1955 with the aliens.  She was extremely polite and happy to talk about the incident, Kelly, etc.  She did about a 30 minute presentation on the Kelly-Hopkins Encounter.

If you are not familiar with the Encounter, I will include some links at the bottom of the page.  In a nutshell, a home was reportedly attacked by small goblin creatures.  Trust me, it is a much more interesting story than that (read Geraldine's book).

Think about 1955 in VERY rural Kentucky.  You had very limited communication ability..... this is a scary tale!

Luckily, the community has fun with their odd notoriety.

Other than Geraldine's presentation, I didn't notice much mention of UFO, ghosts, or other mysterious critters.

We did notice some interesting military aircraft in the area though!  I am sure that the conspiracy theorists felt that the government was keeping a close eye on things.  The fact that a military base is close by had nothing to do with it.

The festival is in a large field in Kelly.  If you are familiar with the town and the incident you know Kelly is very small.  The home where the attack reportedly occurred is literally right up the road from the festival (though I hear the current home occupents aren't thrilled about people coming by to check things out).  There really isn't much to see there anyway, so visiting this festival in August is the best way to celebrate Kelly.

For those of you who like to take road trips to see locations relating to ghosts, legends and the supernatural, this is a GREAT area.  I have mentioned Hopkinsville here before.  The grave of Edgar Cayce is in town as is the Pennyroyal Area Museum- which has interesting displays on the Kelly Encounter, Mr. Cayce, and other local oddities.

Less than an hour away is Adams Tennessee, home to the legendary Bell Witch- also mentioned on this blog many times.




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Explosions in Indianapolis

Fox 59 in Indianapolis has reported on explosions right downtown.  This is one of my personal favorite downtown areas anywhere, and I hope everyone is OK.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Jeanne Mozier- West Virgnia author and fun character!

I have mentioned West Virginia author Jeanne Mozier here before........  She wrote a book that I love called "Way Out in West Virginia" which is about the best travel guide to a state that I have ever read.

I got a note recently that she appears in a great ArtVoiceWV video.  Check this out if you have a moment, it is short, but very well done!


Also check out the ArtVoice WV site-


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Floyd Collins and Mammoth Cave National Park (Part 2)

 After our cave tour in the morning and a nice lunch, we drove out to Sand Cave to meet Ranger Johnny for the "Sand Cave Almanac Caravan". 
I really like the way that this tour/caravan works out.  You drive your car to Sand Cave, which is not far from the main visitor center.  Once there the Ranger does a nice talk about the cave, and Floyd Collins.  Next, you and the others in the Caravan drive out to Floyd's home, following the ranger.  Lastly, you drive out to Floyd's grave.  It's another free program offered at times at Mammoth Cave.
I do think this one is a bit misnamed.  Sand Cave is one stop on this tour, devoted to the very interesting character, Floyd Collins.
If you are not familiar with Floyd, he was a cave explorer in the area, who died at Sand Cave in February of 1925.  There were various caves and Mammoth Cave entrances at that time, and finding a new one could be very profitable.  In fact, Floyd had one on his property already, but wanted to find another.
So, one day he is exploring and he gets his leg stuck while in Sand Cave (which, from what I understand, is more like a long hole in the ground than an actual cave).  He can't get his leg unstuck.  He will remain stuck for the rest of his life (which is only a couple more weeks at this point).

Friends and family tried to get food to him and help him, but it just didn't work.  The passage to get to him eventually collapsed.  Friends and volunteers worked on digging a shaft to try to get to Floyd but time ran out.

The story of Floyd Collins doesn't come close to ending there.  His body was eventually recovered, buried, put on display, stolen... well, it goes on and on until 1989 when his remains were finally buried in its current location.

Seeing Sand Cave and visiting Floyd's grave site are a real treat.  And, if you are a fan of caving, its a bit of a pilgrimage, but visiting his home is a bit more of a challenge, and I am glad that the National Park allows people the chance to see it.

This is just a great tour.  I would have gladly paid to go on this one it was so good.  Thanks Ranger Johnny and Thanks to Mammoth Cave National Park!

After our tour and spending a complete day at Mammoth Cave, we stopped at Big Mikes for some drinks and headed for home!

If you think the story of Floyd Collins is fascinating, check out the whole story in the book "Trapped!".  I reviewed that book several years ago,  check it out!



Monday, August 4, 2014

Floyd Collins and Mammoth Cave National Park (Part 1)

I do find myself in the Mammoth Cave area a lot these days.

Oddly, this was my first time inside the visitor center since it has been updated!  It looks great by the way.  Here is a link to some more information on the update:


I liked the way it was, but it now has a better flow in general.  There is also a nice museum area in it that is very impressive.

We arrived pretty much when the park and center opened, and we quickly got our tickets.  ON a nice day during the summer, tours do sell out quick!  It is always a good idea to get your tour tickets ahead of time for Mammoth Cave.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if all tours on this day ended up selling out.

We had a great guide on our Domes and Dripstones Tour named Matt.  He covered everything on this tour.  We had fun exploring the cave, and we got a great workout, as 500 steps are involved in this tour.

Its funny, Matt said that on a good summer day, tours sell out (there had to have been over 100 people on our tour).  On a winter day, however, there might be just a few people on a tour.  He said that he has done this same tour with only one person before.

I remembered back in the early 90s.  Me and a pal went to Mammoth Cave on a snowy day.  We did not notice any other visitors there that day.

After our cave tour, we stopped by the Mammoth Cave Hotel for lunch.  This place seems to have improved over the years too.  I had a nice wrap and some potato soup.  This was a nice, fresh meal reasonably priced. 

We stopped by the gift shop at the main visitor center, and at the hotel.  Both have different items.  We found postcards for $.50 at the main center, along with a large selection of books on the cave.  We found cool wooden postcards at the hotel.

Its kind of funny, I am always looking at Amazon, and in other places for new books (or interesting old ones) on Mammoth Cave.  Looking at the available books in the gift shop is part of the fun for me at a park visit.

One thing I don't think people appreciate enough about our National Parks is how readily available rangers are.  There were plenty around on our visit,  and these guys generally know everything.  You can just go up and ask them questions.

AND......  There are a ton of free things to do at the parks.  Mammoth Cave is no exception.  A cave tour does require a ticket (prices are $5 on up) but there are some cool things you can do for free!  So, after lunch, we did a FREE tour focused on Floyd Collins!  See my next post!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Corvette Museum in Bowling Green (again)

Yes, I know, I just mentioned the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green not too long again.  Forgive me for bringing it up again but..... the place is cool.

Actually, this is getting to be the "must see" spot for out of town friends.  People visiting Kentucky want to see the sinkhole. 

I got to see it shortly after it happened (see my previous entry).  They are allowing more access to the area now though, AND all 8 cars have been pulled out (only 5 were out last time I was here).

All of the recovered cars are displayed at the end of your museum visit.  Make no mistake about it, the hole, and the recovered cars, are now the main attraction here.

I have enjoyed both of my visits here.  I am always looking for an excuse to take a road trip to Bowling Green, and this museum is classy and cool.  The staff members are all helpful and casual and corvettes are fun.

Check out my photos!