Lee's headquarters Gettysburg

Lee's headquarters Gettysburg
The recently restored area around Lee's Headquarters in Gettysburg PA!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Henry Clay Philatelic Society Stamp Show Lexington

This past weekend, the Henry Clay Philatelic Society hosted a stamp show at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington.

I had a great time at this event. I was on a bit of a time limit, and only had a couple of hours, but it was time well spent.

Stamp collecting is a very welcoming hobby, and it is one that can be done very economically. The Henry Clay group had an info/welcome table set up at the front. Their were many brochures on the hobby, club business cards etc available. Several club members took time to ask if I was having a good time, and they asked my opinion about the show on my way out. There was no admission fee.

Cachet maker/show cancel designer John Cropper was busy at the desk preparing the shows exclusive cancel and covers. John designed this years special show cancel, featuring a picture of Abe Lincoln. A specially decorated envelope was also available. They were selling the stamped, cancelled envelopes for $3 a pop, or a complete set (4, each with one of the different Lincoln Stamps recently issued) for $10.
I personally love this sort of thing. I think a lot of people think of stamp collecting as a dull hobby. You just go out and find old stamps. The hobby gets more complicated (and interesting!) when you get in to collecting special cancels.

Many areas have special pictorial cancels (cancels with the general info, place and date, along with a related design) for certain events. Some of these cancels coincide with recently released stamps. Many areas had special cancels when the new Lincoln stamps came out. The Henry Clay Philatelic Society chose a great subject for their show this year with their cancel, cover, location, and the popular new stamp set all relating.

Many dealers at this show were selling nicely designed cancelled covers. Very interesting ones for the general collector (me!) could be found for 50 cents to a dollar. Pricier ones were available, but for someone dabbling in the hobby, and more concerned with finding an attractive item than a pricey rarity (me again!) this event was perfect. I could have spent many more hours looking through boxes of covers at this event. I plan on doing just that at their next show!

Obviously a lot more went on at this show than I have mentioned. There was an area where framed displays were being shown. Oh, and there were lots of stamps being sold. The US Postal Service had a table set up too, which was pretty cool.

There was a good crowd at the show. The vibe was very casual and relaxed. No squabbling collectors fighting over rare items here. Friendly conversations with with other collectors seemed common. Several dealers and show staff were chatty about their hobby, and some gave me some great advise and suggestions relating to my collecting niche.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lexington Stamp Show

Just thought I would throw up a note that this weekend (March 28th & 29th) there is a stamp show in Lexington. I have started to collect First Day Covers myself, and I will probably try to attend this one Saturday or Sunday.
http://www.henryclayphilatelic.org/
Check it out!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Montgomery Inn, OH

I am pretty much on the edge of my seat waiting for baseball season to start up. I am getting out, but not as much as I would like. I have been trying to get out towards Western Kentucky for several weekends now, but things keep coming up.
I did make another trip to Cincinnati, a pretty regular trip for me these days.
My friends Nate and Holly took us to the original Montgomery Inn.
I am sure anyone from the area knows all about their ribs. It was a bit funny though. I didn't know what to expect. Our friends thought we really needed to go here. I walked in, and just figured it was a nice, classy restaurant. OK, a classy restaurant that serves ribs. Our very professional waiter asked if we would need bibs. I thought this was a bit strange.
Anyway, everything was good. People in southern Ohio know their ribs and everything else is good. I was a bit hypnotised with all of the sports stuff. I love looking at signed jerseys, baseballs, and bronze statues. There was just no way to take it all in. The Montgomery Inn made me think of a less chaotic version of a Hard Rock Cafe, but for the sports lover instead of rock lover.
It also looks like everyone has been here. Presidents, ball players, rock stars, etc.
After our wives dragged Nate and I out with our heads still twisting around for one last peak, we walked around this neighborhood. Nate and Holly are very familiar with the area.
There is an exclusive baseball museum/social club next door. the place looks great, but it is very private.
This is a cool little area though. I am excited about getting back here for more Ribs and baseball relic looking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baseball

Not a lot going on at the moment. I am edgy at the moment waiting for baseball season to start. I have my other blog about baseball in and around Kentucky, but I am so anxious! In fact, I am planning some small road trips through Kentucky and THREE neighboring states (possibly 4) within the next couple of months.
I think it is so exciting that so many smaller cities have brought independent pro teams in. Kentucky has 2 pro basketball teams at the moment and 4 pro baseball teams. When I was a kid in Owensboro, I was pretty excited about getting to see pro-wrestling at the Sports Center! I am a bit embarrassed about that now.
3 of the 4 pro baseball teams are within about a 1 hour drive of my area. The Legends are very close.
Going to a Legends game has almost a party atmosphere at times. You can get a lawn ticket for $4! Thats pretty much free. They do charge for parking, but there is usually street parking available close enough.
A Louisville Bats game is similar to seeing a game in the majors. At the AAA level many of the guys you see playing have some Major League experience anyway.
The Florence Freedom, near Cincinnati, are a great, economical alternative to seeing the pricier Reds up the road. I love the Reds, but the Freedom is my team. Tickets are $6-$10, and there is not a bad seat around. Florence is a fun area to hang out in too. I love this area, and I love this non-affiliated team. Their web site is super cool too.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods start play this season. I really wish this team went with the Cave Shrimp theme (they are an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays- Cave Shrimp would have been appropriate for the franchise, and for the area). I am excited about this team too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Creepy Ohio Books

I often like to visit places that have a history, or that may be a little Creepy. There are a lot of good general books on strangeness in Ohio.
Chris Woodyard's extensive Haunted Ohio series covers the better known locations, and the other ones too. I think it is up to 6 volumes. It is ALL here. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the state, and you like ghosts, go ahead and pop for all of them.
John Kachuba has a really interesting book out called Ghosthunting Ohio. This is a great book too. John seems to be around the Cincinnati area a lot so its not hard to track him down to discuss his book or things ghostly. I read this book not long ago, and I might try to put a review up.
I have bumped in to 2 of the authors of the cool "Weird Ohio" book. This book has lots of info, and lots of pictures. I like this series. I met one author James Willis at an under promoted book signing in Indianapolis. He is another fun guy that knows his stuff. He could talk weirdness all day long. Willis is always out ghost hunting, or looking for the unusual. I met his co-author, the legendary Loren Coleman (cryptomundo.com) here in Kentucky last year. he might be about the last serious person still looking for Bigfoot. He is keeping it scientific though, and in many cases he is very sceptical. If either of these guys contributes to a book, its worth a look through. Weird Ohio comes score points for having both of them credited.
Craig Cartography's Hidden Ohio map is painfully informative! As far as volume goes, the map might be as informative as Woodyard's series. I hope this MAP gets re released in some type of book form. Because it is a HUGE map, it is difficult to use. It's worth its price though because of the volume and accuracy of the information. Most Half Price Book Stores in Ohio seem to be well stocked with this map. Pick one up before other people start to realize how great this resource is for the traveler who appreciates hidden attractions.
Southwest Ohio is Haunted is another fun read written by the guys who do the Miamitown ghost walk. Sadly, on their web site, it says that this book is no longer available. Fortunately, the last time I talked to them they talked about a new version coming out. Miamitown Ghosttours do their research. The book talks about local legends, and they research the legends. The book was put out independently, and it does have some editing flaws, but their writing style alone is worth the price. The stories are more specific than most. They give locations, details about the legends in the area, and when possible, they try to figure out from where the legends originated.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ohio: The Whole State

I have spent a lot of time in Ohio. Its the only other state I have actually lived in. I am, in general, pretty fond of the state, especially to the south. It is without a doubt worth a visit. Since I haven't put anything up in the last few days, I thought I would take a moment to mention some of my favorite things in the state, by location. I've talked about much of it before, but there is still a lot more to cover.

Cincinnati
I have really become a fan of the city. LaRosa's Pizza alone is worth the drive north. There are plenty of malls and shopping areas, and I have already covered Jungle Jim's and the Golden Lamb.

This is the starting point of Ohio and you know it as soon as you go over the bridge. Several Kentucky towns benefit from their nearness. I love Florence. I go up for ballgames all the time, and the mall there is a great place to kill some time. There is a Starbucks there that feels more like a small local place than a chain store. Yes, we've all seen the "Florence Ya'll" water tower a thousand times, but I still get a kick out of it.

How about Newport? The place is very happening. It always seems like a party atmosphere when I walk around down there. The aquarium can compete with any other around. Going to Newport would be a nice day trip for most in central or northern Kentucky.

For those into the weird, Bobby Mackey's is in Wilder Kentucky, it's still pretty much Cincinnati. I did drive by it once, when it was closed, and I got the creeps from the outside! Believe the hype on this one. The guys who run the Miamitown ghost tour have really established something too. I took their tour last Halloween and had trouble sleeping that night. It is the only ghost tour I have been on where I think I saw something. I turned to tell my friend Fako about what I thought I had witnessed, and she had seen the same shadow pass the same window! The guys that run this tour are a bit Lurch-like too. They have done their homework! I hope they continue doing their ghost walk.

Cincy would be a GREAT economical get-away for the family over a 3 or 4 day weekend. You can kill several hours in Jungle Jim's easily, be entertained, and not spend a dime. You could buy all sorts of unusual ethnic foods to try for $20 or so and make an affordable and unique light lunch out of it for the family.

Seeing the Reds or Bangles may be a little out of the budget for some large family's but seeing the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum next door could be just as satisfying. Adult tickets are around $10, and they have had free admission and specials at times in the past. For the sports fan on a tight budget, go see the Florence Freedom. You can get a good ticket for 5-10 bucks a person, you are MUCH closer to the action, and you will have a great time.

Last Halloween, we did a "spooky weekend" trip to the area. We stayed at the Golden Lamb, did the Miamitown Ghost Tour, and visited several locations in the spooky Ohio books. Cincinnati is a great place for those that enjoy getting spooked.

Akron
I worked in Akron for a little over a year. Go see an Aeros game. If you are there for awhile, drive over to Kent and check out the cool college vibe going on, or walk their downtown area. If you are in Akron longer than a few days leave.

Columbus
Columbus is a cool town, and I think, in some ways, many people outside of the area are not aware of how cool it is. There are really energetic music venues all around town. I saw my favorite band Equation more than once at the classy Thirsty Ear Tavern. This is a great venue that has pulled in some great acts (it was also the site of a brief onstage break up of Fairport Convention). I saw one of the best shows ever at Ludlow's: 10,000 Maniacs with Todd Snider opening.

Something really cool in Columbus is Easton. Easton is a massive in-door out-door type mall. I have seen other centers similar to it, but not nearly as nice. It is surrounded by other shopping areas and hotels. We have gotten a room at a near by hotel and hung out at Easton all weekend. Most hotels are about a 1-2 minute walk from the mall. It is big and well maintained. There is something for absolutely everyone here.

Oh, and Columbus has that fun German area! They have one super cool book store that seems to go on and on down there!

Cleveland
I must admit I have a love hate relationship with Cleveland. Check out the NASA visitor Center. It is small though. You have to be a science/space fan to really appreciate it.

Tower City Downtown is amazing. It is 3 stories of mall, under a couple buildings. Some of this area was used in the movie "Christmas Story" too. The house from the movie is near by too, for fans of the flick. Some of downtown Cleveland substituted for downtown New York in the 3rd Spider-Man movie. Fat Fish Blue is a fun Cajun lunch place/evening concert venue that I love right next to Tower City.

The Rock Hall is overrated.

Get away from downtown though, there are some cool areas on the east and west sides of Cleveland.

On the west side is probably the coolest coffee shop ever. Seriously. One thing I can say about Cleveland is there are MANY nice indy coffee shops. I can think of 3 or 4 that I really miss. The coolest one ever is Savor the Moment. It is cozy and family run. They have very nice lunches too. This is the kind of coffee shop you wish someone would open in your area. The people living near Rocky River drive are lucky, because someone did open it. The family that runs it is just a nice, sweet bunch. I'm not kidding, if you find yourself in Cleveland, go here. It is worth a little drive out of your way. Friendly places like this used to exist in the 50s, but even then they weren't this nice. Mostly only locals know about this place, which is sad. I wish it were franchised, but you can't franchise what they have going on here. Even if you order a large, caffeinated beverage here, and add a lot of sugar, you blood pressure will still go down it is so relaxing!
http://www.savor-the-moment.com/

On the corner of Lee and Van Aken is Kokopelli coffee. It's kind of between Shaker Heights and Beachwood (I think it's technically in Shaker Heights). Great coffee, GREAT veggie chili. Easily the best coffee place on the east side. This is another friendly indy place. There is a lot of foot traffic, and it might get crowded here, which is good, they deserve the business.

Visit Amish country. About half an our east of Cleveland (you can take Mayfield Rd all the way there) is Mesopotamia. The End of the Commons general store and other attractions are worth it. http://www.endofthecommons.com/

Squires Castle in the Mayfield Heights Metroparks area is a cool place. It's an abandoned stone building that was going to be the ground's keepers house to a castle that was never built. It is cool, and it is near a cool hiking area.

Visit the Coventry area if you find yourself in Cleveland. There are some cook book shops, restaurants, and one of the coolest novelty shops ever, Big Fun.

Mentor, outside of Cleveland has a fun mall, and the Lake County Captains baseball team is close (I have been to MANY Captains games, I love this team). For those who are interested in the creepy, this area is a goldmine. Go hunting for the Melon Heads. Read up on some of the religious history of the area. Visit Rider's Inn (It's a B & B) in this area too. It is spooky. Have a nice dinner or stay for the night. There is often live music and the owner is a bit of a local legend. She is always happy to set at your table and tell you some ghost stories about the place.

The rest of the state
There is still a lot more. Toledo has the Mud Hens, some other indy pro sports teams on the way, and a great art museum. They have a nice downtown area that can get hoppin'.
Dayton has the Dragons and the Air Force Museum. I will have to talk about the Air Force Museum more later, because I love it. Between Cincy and Dayton is the Touchdown Jesus statue. You will know it when you see it. If you have driven between those 2 cities you then have seen it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bardstown Rd. Louisville

My friend Heather showed me around Bardstown Rd. this weekend. I have been in the area a few times since coming back to Kentucky, but I haven't had the time to really explore it.

I spent a little bit of time there with my cousin a long time ago. In fact, it was the last time the Grateful Dead were in town. I know we had a lot of fun driving up and down the road then. It seemed just as exciting this weekend as it did back in 92 or 93, or whenever that was.

Our 1st stop was Heine Bros Coffee, which is quickly becoming a place in Louisville that I must hit when I am in town. We stopped at the Heine Bros. connected to Carmichael's book store. What a cool location, and for such a small 2 business set up, this place really packs a punch. For such a small book store, they get a lot in. They had a great magazine section, an above average local interest section, and a bunch of postcards I haven't seen anywhere before. What a cool place to spend a morning!

We stopped by Ear X-Tacy which was a lot of fun. This is the record store that most other record stores wish they could be. Lots of records, books, novelties, etc. They have bands playing there all the time too. This has to be a great hang out for locals. It looks like they are pulling in very interesting national and local acts pretty weekly. I hope the music lovers in the area realize how great a resource this place is for Louisville.
We had lunch at Ramsi's Cafe on the World. A buddy in the building where I work suggested this place. When I mentioned it to Heather, she said that was a favorite of hers. We had their Chipotle Con Queso for an appetizer. This was a melted cheese dip with spinach and peppers, with tortilla chips. I love this sort of thing. Ramsi's may have perfected it.
I had their Cubean Burrito. This burrito was good, and big. It was good for lunch. It was also good when I warmed up the half I didn't eat at Ramsi's later that night, and finished it at home. I can't wait to get to Ramsi's again. They had all sorts of other ethnic type entrees. I think just about anyone would love this place.
There's a lot going on on Bardstown Road. There are several Heine Bros coffees. There is still a lot more going on that I need to check out. With the few hours I was able to spend there the other day, I know that its a great area for live music, finding obscure CDs and novelties, book, and for eating some great unique food.