USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial
On the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I love record shops, and looking for obscure tunes. I remember back in college, it was a real treat scavenging the Recordsmith in Richmond, the places on Limestone in Lexington, or the Money Tree in Owensboro. There is something about hearing a song, and hunting the album/CD down.

Every time I pass an Apple store in a mall, I think, "that's the last nail in the coffin for the record shop." Actually, the last nail may have been hammered in long before.

I love CDs. I love holding a CD, I love owning the relic. I like vinyl too, but it is bulky, and it can distort. Setting and listening to an old album is a treat, but my favorite way to listen to music is loudly, in a car, as I drive down the road.

I have a ton of mix CDs. Seriously, I probably have a hundred. Before I take a trip, I like to put a CD together of songs about a place. Or, maybe not even songs specifically about the place, but songs that make me think of the location.

No doubt, John Prine was thinking about Kentucky when he wrote one of the greatest songs ever. There are a lot of other songs that were not written about Kentucky that I personally associate with the state though, mostly for personal reasons.

I will always associate Bob Seger's song, "Night Moves" with Berea, because I woke up there one night during a thunderstorm, with my radio on, almost during the "sound of thunder" part of the song.

Texas songwriter Darden Smith makes me think of Owensboro. My buddy Brent introduced me to Darden's music, and we would drive around listening to him.

Jackson Browne's, "That Girl Could Sing" seemed to always come on late at night on the classic rock station when I was working in fast food in Owensboro. That association will always be there in my mind too.

Most students that went to Berea in the 90s remember Curnutte and Maher playing there a few times. We loved them. The first time I ever went out with my future wife we saw that great duo.

I have a lot of CDs I have bought from indy folk performers at coffee shops. When I listen to those CDs I think about the song, the artist, and the venue.

I could go on and on.

This Christmas, I started getting interested in the whole Ipod thing. Reluctantly, I bought one. I must say now that I am converted.

A recent road trip around the state proved a great time to give mine a good "on the road" work out.

There were some songs I had been hunting down for years. Sometimes I find myself driving through a small town, listening to the local college station. I catch a catchy unfamiliar song on one of these stations. I quickly try to jot down a few lyrics, so I can google them later.

Before, I may have gone to the record store to find the CD containing that song, plus others. I might have to pay $5 or more for a used CD, or $15 plus for a new one.

Now, I can download a song, pretty much any song, for a dollar and some change. A buck.

I spent about $30 downloading songs the other night. I had a list of about 35 songs I had jotted down here or there. About 3 of them just didn't sound as good when I went back to listen to them again. Only a very obscure 2 were unavailable.

I will have to research some of the artists more thoroughly later, since I am judging them on 1 song so far, but I am judging them favorably.

I think about how exciting it was finding the Sundays CD in the CD shop. I bought it for their hit, "Here's Where the Story Ends". By golly, every song on that CD is a winner! I experienced similar excitement with the Innocence Mission, John Hiatt, and others.

Recently, I have experienced that same excitement with Amy Macdonald. I bought her CD while driving through Jackson TN. I listened to the album as I drove around the second greatest state, and now I will associate them together.

It would have been wrong if I had just downloaded the hit songs from the artists I just mentioned.

I think about the more common flip side of this too though. I have bought many more coasters with barely 1 good song on them.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Natural Bridge

When I was going to school at Berea, several of us would drive up to Natural Bridge. I love the park, the area, and the gift shops. It has actually been some time since I was there last. We have tried to get up there and finally made the trip recently.

The drive from Lexington is less than an hour, and as with most of Kentucky, its an enjoyable drive.

We parked at Hemlock Lodge early in the morning, and made our way up. I think the signs said that the actual Natural Bridge was a half mile hike. The hike is almost straight up. It is exhausting! There are several benches on the way up so you can rest.

I had some friends go up recently who did not take my warning. You almost get fooled in to think its not that far, so its no big deal.

The walk is very tiring, especially if you haven't done a lot of walking lately. We easily took out the 2 bottled waters we took up with us too.

The actual "Bridge" is a real treat. I remember the 1st time I ever went, making the hike, and then suddenly realizing that I was next to it! There are so many trees and just so much park area. The bridge is huge, but you don't see it until you get to it.

You do have to go up some steps to get on top of the bridge, and you have to squeeze through a section that makes you think of "Fat Man's Misery" at Mammoth cave. I had to walk sideways to get through.

Once on top, you do get a view that is remarkable. No tall buildings. No hotels. Its just sky blue and green forest. That is all you can see. It is great that this sort of situation has been preserved so perfectly.

Hiking back away from the Bridge to your car is no problem. Its all down hill. Your legs might be a bit shaky from the trip up though.

There is a skylift that takes you up to the bridge too. I have only taken the lift a couple of times. The skylift is a great alternative for someone not used to hiking. It also offers a great view on the way up and down. Its $9 per adult round trip.

The gift shop at the bottom of the lift is small, but it has all of the great touristy items. Cool mugs, t-shirts, etc. My co-worker insisted that I get some fudge there this time. It was incredible. Buy some fudge and undo all of the calorie burning you did on the hike up to the bridge! Seriously, the skylift gift shop may have found a way to make the perfect fudge.

A stop at Rosie's restaurant for burgers is a must in my opinion too. In fact, I don't think I have ever been to Natural Bridge without stopping there. The cool decorations alone are worth checking out. This is a not so typical burger and ice cream place that is ran in typical Kentucky fashion. The people running the place have authentic Kentucky charm. This is one of those great stops for perfect burgers that you can't find in a bigger city.

There is another shop to the right of Rosie's that sells Christmas and holiday stuff that we like a lot too. Check it out. They also have fudge, but I was fudged out after my visit to the skylift gift shop.

I did learn a few things during this visit to the area:

There are falls and other accidents at the Bridge. One local said he thought there was an accident about weekly.

The Hemlock Lodge seems secluded and dated, but in a good way. If you keep all cell phones and lap tops hidden, you might almost feel like you were back in the 70s! Think about that for a little bit. I love going places that make me truly feel I have gone back in time. They have a cool gift shop there, and their restaurant looked very nice. All reports are this is a great place to eat. We would have given it a try if we didn't have our hearts set on Rosie's.

I heard SEVERAL different languages spoken on this trip. The area gets visitors from different parts. Still, I think it could get more attention. It always seemed more like a word of mouth kind of place than a place you heard about through advertising. I don't know if I would rather tell the rest of the world about it, or keep it a great Kentucky secret!