Chattanooga Choo Choo

Chattanooga Choo Choo
Inside of Tennessee's Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel at Christmas time this year!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

"UnCORKED! Kentucky Sports Legend Corky Withrow" by Sherrill Williams and Charles Thurman

I used to really enjoy following baseball.  I still do, but not as much as I did before.  I still enjoy a good book about a former pro baseball player. 

AND, I love books about guys who, well, didn't exactly go on to be Hall of Famers.  I think we all know the stories of Ruth and Mantle.  I love hearing stories about guys struggling through the minors.  I want to read about someone who had his cup of coffee in the Majors, and then had a career in something else later on in life.

"UnCORKED!  Kentucky Sports Legend Corky Withrow" by Sherrill Williams and Charles Thurman is one of those books.

PLUS, it is a book about a guy who grew up in Kentucky.  He hung out in some of the same areas I did (just, many years earlier).

UnCORKED! tells about Central City Kentucky's Corky Withrow.  Most of the first part of the book follows Corky through his super star high school basketball career.  I especially enjoyed reading about his encounters with schools I am familiar with in Western Kentucky.  Horrible (and hysterical) pranks are played- Corky is the victim of a terrible one himself.  He is a member of some very exciting teams, including one that could almost be called perfect.

Eventually he is able to play some college basketball though his college basketball career gets very complicated as Corky signs a professional baseball contract after high school.

The second part of the book deals mostly with his baseball career.  He has a long and interesting career in baseball, mostly in the minors though he does get to play at the highest level with the St. Louis Cardinals!

Characters you might expect pop up, including the Everly Brothers, James Best, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, and many Kentucky basketball legends. 

I want to mention again that the part covering Corky's high school basketball days was much more interesting than I expected.  The authors obviously did a ton of research into specific seasons, games, stats, etc.

This is easily one of my all time favorite Kentucky sports books.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"A Black Night for the Bluegrass Belle" by Ian Punett

When we were at the Kentucky Book Fair, I picked up Ian Punnett's "A Black Night for the Bluegrass Belle".  The very strange story of Verna Garr Taylor's murder truly makes this a must read for anyone interested in true crime in Kentucky.

PLUS, if you are interested in Kentucky weirdness....  well, the fact that Ian Punnett authored the book really adds to this tale's appeal.

I was a little familiar with the case, but I really didn't know the entire story.  Ian Punnett thoroughly covers what he thinks happened to Verna on the night that she died.  Considering those who were in the area at the time, and the questionable character of fiancé/suspect Henry Denhardt, his piecing together of the events makes a lot of sense.  Plus, Denhardt is linked to another strange death in Louisville, at the Seelbach.

There is a trial with tons of publicity, legal maneuvering, and story telling.  Notable lawyers duke it out.  There is conflict with the main suspect and his legal team.  At the end of the trial little is resolved.

BUT the story is far from over.  The victim has three brothers who are eager to close this case.

This is a very exciting telling of the events relating to Verna's death.  Names and places well known in Kentucky appear.  Legendary director DW Griffith shows up at the end.  There is a lot going on in the story.

Author Ian Punnett has a very direct connection to the case, as he is related, through his mother, to Verna.  He obviously had more access to the case through this relationship.  That fact alone gives the book a ton of legitimacy.

Pick this one one when you can!  I give it my highest possible recommendation!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Hillbilly Jim- The Incredible Story of a Wrestling Superstar" by Gary P. West

I mentioned earlier that I got to meet Hillbilly Jim at the Kentucky Book Fair this year.  He was great!

 Well, I was pretty excited about reading his biography- "Hillbilly Jim:  The Incredible Story of a Wrestling Superstar" by Gary P. West. 

I enjoyed reading about Hillbilly Jim Morris and his life before wrestling.  The first part of the book covers Jim's high school sports career which transitions into a very shaky college basketball career. 

As a big athlete, Jim eventually gets involved in pro-wrestling.  He spends some time hanging out in Tennessee with the Lawler promotion, and he gets his first gimmick as a biker type named Harley Davidson.  He also works briefly with Stu Hart's promotion in the Canada.

Hillbilly Jim, with Gary West, covers a lot of ground in this book, including Jim's basketball career, Jim's thoughts on his pre-wrestling career gigs, and his musical talents. 

A brief history of wrestling is covered here and there too, making this a fun read for someone with little knowledge of wrestling and it's classic stars.  Morris does tell some behind the scenes stories, and he lets ya know what he thinks of many of his former colleagues.  For the most part, Jim seems careful about not talking bad about people... but he does open up about a few questionable characters (Adrian Adonis comes to mind).

Anyway, I don't want to give away any of Hillbilly's stories, but this is a fun read, especially if you grew up admiring this big hearted Kentucky giant like I did.  The book had a great, casual feel (you feel like Jim is simply telling his stories to the reader for fun with West's help).

Friday, December 2, 2016

David Warther Carving Museum

I hate to admit it, but I first thought the David Warther Carving Museum was the same museum I visited in Dover Ohio six years ago.  I thought maybe that the one in Dover had moved to Sugarcreek.

Well, these are actually two separate museums.  The one in Dover is dedicated to Ernest Warther, and it showcases many of his trains that he carved.

The one in Sugarcreek just opened within the last few years, and it is an exhibit of ships carved from ivory by Ernest Warther's grandson, David.

We arrived as the museum opened in the morning, and we were surprised and excited to discover that David Warther himself would be giving us a tour!

David (shown in the top two photos) told us about how he legally obtains his ivory.  He has the third biggest tusk set in the US on display at the museum!

He also talked about several of his favorite ships that he has built.  It was exciting to hear about his efforts to obtain the blue prints.  Many museums and individuals have been very kind and helpful to him, with a couple of small exceptions.  You should ask David about what all he has done to obtain blue prints when you visit!

One particular ship was buried in Egypt and only discovered in the last several decades.  Since it was buried in sand, it was very well preserved, Because of its great condition, model ship builders like David can make accurate replicas now!

David Warther took the time to demonstrate how he sculpts the very thin (string like) rigging used on his ships.  He does spend time carving at the museum, and there is a windowed in area where visitors can watch him doing his craft.

David Warther was very friendly the entire time, and he even gave us some great recommendations for the rest of our trip.  He gave us directions and suggestions for exploring more of the Amish sites in Sugarcreek.  He also strongly recommended we try Rebecca's Bistro in town.  he took his advice and we were very happy with everything he mentioned!

You MUST stop by the David Warther Carvings Museum in Sugarcreek.  Artists like David are becoming more scarce by the moment.  It is a very rare opportunity to get to see one person's amazing work like this in one place AND to also get to meet them.  This museum gets my highest possible recommendation.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Yoder's Amish Home in Millersburgh Ohio

I mentioned Yoder's Amish Home in Millersburgh Ohio last year.  Well, we stopped there again this year because we loved it so much. 

If you read that entry from 2015, I said that I would stop here again just to get another fried apple pastry.  Well, I got two this time, and they were just as good as last time.  And, just like last time, very polite young Amish ladies were cooking treats up as you toured the house, and you could buy them at the end of the tour.  Our friend wanted cookies that were fresh made, and the Amish ladies were very kind abut accommodating us.

On this trip, we also did the buggy ride and toured the school house.  The buggy ride was very fun, and our friendly buggy driver told us about how the Amish pick a horse and how dependable they can be.  He was funny and fun!

At the Amish school house, there was an actual local Amish school teacher who told us about how their schooling works!  This was very fascinating, and she was happy to tell us all about the school day and what is involved.  We asked about discipline.  The teacher told us that she can discipline as needed... and the fact that she can do this usually prevents her from having to!  Also, the teachers may be asked to teach again the next year, or they may not.  There is no tenure type of situation for them.

The teacher seemed very friendly and proud of what she does as a teacher.  As we left, we thought she would make a great school board leader anywhere!

The tours here aren't rushed, and there is really no set leaving time.  They have a cool farm with lots of animals too, so you can kind of take your time, hang out, and enjoy the authentic Amish vibe going on here.  Yoder's is a must stop on every trip to the area as far as I am concerned.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sugar Creek and Walnut Creek Ohio

We are working hard on visiting various places here and there that look interesting.  There are still a ton of places on our list that we would like to see as soon as possible.

BUT there are other places that we travel to, and we realize, we need to visit as often as possible.

The Sugarcreek/Walnut Creek Ohio area fits into that category.

I mentioned this area a LOT here and here.  Since I wrote about it before, I will try not to be too repetitive......  but we just love this area.

We again stayed at the Carlisle Inn in Walnut Creek.  We had a nice suite on the 3rd floor with a great view of the rural farming area.  There was a storm one of the nights we were there, and it was so relaxing watching over the green hills from our balcony as lightning flashed in the distance.

A short walk from the Carlisle Inn is the Der Dutchman.  If you like good food, and A LOT of it, this is the place.  We went one evening and had a rib special that was perfect.  The meat fell off the bones with no effort.  Der Dutchman always has a line at popular times, but its worth the wait.

Also a short walk from the Carlisle Inn are some great gift shops, and a nice antique mall (I have had some good finds there!). 

We stopped by Sugarcreek to see the World's Largest Cuckoo Clock again.  That's always fun.

Sadly, our old Amish pal Leroy was not driving his cart around, doing his tour!  We were a bit heart broken to see the cart with a "for sale" sign on it!  I do hope that Leroy and his family are doing OK.  I would really appreciate an update from anyone who might know whats going on....  Leroy would pick up tourists in his horse drawn cart and give them a very nice tour of the Sugarcreek area.  There was no official fee charged, but he did have a tip jar.  This was a very unique experience for travelers to this part of Ohio.

AND, we got to visit one of my all time favorite café/coffee shops- Wallhouse Coffee.  It is kind of hard to put into words how much I love this place.  I talked about it before, but the place is simply perfect.  We ended up stopping by here on each day while in town, and I am already missing their smooth coffee, great sandwiches, and ice cream.  This is easily the most delicious restaurant around that is still a secret.

We are already talking about a trip to this area again soon.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thinking About Gatlinburg......

WOW!  I am sure that everyone is aware of the fires happening in the Gatlinburg area right now.  We drove south on I-75 Friday to Chattanooga, and back up on Sunday.  We could smell smoke both ways- but we were unaware that things were getting so bad.

I am very sad about this and I am constantly searching for updates.....

WBIR has been a great source of information....  I am watching their live facebook updates right now. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, Ohio

The fourth Fort that we visited on this trip was Fort Meigs, in Perrysburg Ohio, near Toledo.

This was another great Fort, and we enjoyed a self guided tour around the place.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Detroit River- Detroit Michigan

Sent in 1948, the back of this card states-

It seems like a contradiction but is nevertheless true that although Canada lies north of the United States, Windsor lies south of Detroit.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Random Thoughts on Friday

Happy Black Friday!

I wanted to take a second to tip my hat to legendary Cleveland Ohio weather man Dick Goddard, who has very recently retired.

Cleveland Scene has a nice little mention of Dick here.

Dick is very vocal about animal cruelty, and his name is attached to a law increasing penalties for those who abuse animals.  VERY COOL.

Dick Goddard is funny as heck too.  I remember him sneaking some funny jokes in to his forecasts.  You had to be paying attention to catch them!

I remember watching a Big Chuck and Little John skit one night.  I forget the punch-line of the skit, or even what it was about, but it involved people sitting in a doctors office waiting room.  Dick Goddard was one of the people waiting around, and he was looking at the centerfold of an adult magazine.  Obviously, they didn't show anything "dirty" on this family oriented show, but you could tell what magazine Dick Goddard was looking at.  It was so funny seeing the local weather guy doing that during the skit.  It was out of character, but it showed that Dick was OK with being goofy for a good laugh.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Windsor-Detroit Tunnel- Canada Postcard

This is a great old postcard that is unused showing an old view of the Windsor Tunnel in Detroit Michigan!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nature's Corner Bakery and Cafe in Ridgeville, Ontario

The great folks at White Meadows Farms in Ontario suggested to us that we should find Nature's Corner Bakery and Café for our lunch.  This was a great recommendation!

Nature's Corner is obsessed with local and organic ingredients.  They are also big on generous portions.  We had great soup and sandwich lunches, and I had honey sweetened blueberry tea that was just perfect.

Nature's Corner was an amazing spot in a great, rural area that made me feel a bit jealous of the residents of Ridgeville Ontario-  Niagara-on-the-Lake is not too far away, they can get pure maple syrup from White Meadows Farms, AND they can ride their bikes down cool country roads to have lunch at Nature's Corner!

I don't mean to over romanticize a place, but, this area is so ideal.  This is the little small town that you hope exists.  Its absolutely country and rural, but it is still casual but upscale and sophisticated.  Nature's Corner seems to be in an old country store- BUT not a dilapidated old country store.  It has a clean and bright, recently painted feel.  There are no dirty walls and no odd smells that you over look.  These guys are uncompromising in their effort to make unique, quality food.

Monday, November 21, 2016

White Meadows Farms Maple Syrup in St. Catharines, Ontario

White Meadows Farms in St. Catharines, Ontario was ANOTHER great, unplanned stop on this trip that really impressed us.

The Farm produces and sales maple syrup.  REAL maple syrup.  I didn't realize how big of a deal that was until visiting White Meadows Farms.  Most of the "syrup" that you buy to put on your pancakes is... well, just a syrupy mess of stuff.  Many don't eve have natural syrup in their mix!

You want PURE maple syrup.  We picked some up while we were at White Meadows Farms.  It tastes great, and you just need a little bit to liven up your cakes.

We actually did a maple syrup tasting while we were at White Meadows Farms.  There are four types of maple syrup, graded by when the syrup was collected.  I forget the names, but to me it seemed that the flavor was stronger and sweeter as the numbers got higher.  We liked the level 2 syrup the best.  it wasn't overwhelming.

We also picked up some great maple cookies, and some BBQ sauce made from maple syrup that I LOVE!

White meadows Farms hosts several cool events over the year, and they do tours.  Its not too far from Niagara Falls, and Niagara-on-the-Lake, so we will have to visit again!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

St. Davids Post Office, Ontario Canada

Here is another Canadian Post Office we stopped at, just a little outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I really love stopping at these small, friendly Canadian postal sites!

I had a great conversation with the friendly postal lady working at the St. David's post office!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario

Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake was the third of 4 forts we would visit on this road trip.  Unfortunately for us, it was also the one fort that we only had an hour or so to visit, as we stopped by later in the day.  That happens on road trips through. 

This Fort is forever linked to Fort Niagara, on the New York side of Niagara River.  You can see each from the other.

Even with a handful of visitors at the late time of the day we were there, we noticed many friendly reinactors available.  One group sang period specific songs that soldiers would have known at the time.  All seemed eager to answer questions, or to offer a demonstration.

AND, after a kitchen demonstration, we were again offered cookies and lemonade!  Sorry America, but the Canadian Forts win again with those offerings!