Luray Caverns in Virginia

Luray Caverns in Virginia
Luray Caverns in Virginia

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bluegrass Stallions in Frankfort 1/31/10

Anyone that reads my blog (hi mom) knows that I love independent pro sports teams. I admire everything that goes into one.


First, an investor takes the huge gamble of buying in to the league. That investor really has a lot to lose, and little to gain. Check out the thousands of independent pro sports teams that have not made it.


Lexington has had some good teams come and go. A couple of hockey teams come to mind. The Horsemen football team seems to be gone (though their web site suggest that they might not be done yet).


Now Lexington has the Bluegrass Stallions. I have talked about them before. I do hope they are able to keep things going. This is a great opportunity to catch a professional team in the area. I truly hope one day we can tell our grand kids we were able to see the Stallions during their first season, and I hope we aren't telling them about the one season professional basketball was here.



The Stallions have had their obstacles to face during this first season. They have been unable to continue playing at their original venue, and have scheduled home games at different places in the area.


In some ways this is a good thing. For one, I had an excuse to go to Frankfort Saturday to catch the Stallions playing the Columbus Life.


Columbus Life looked pretty good when they took the floor for practice. My friend and I speculated on what their mascot might be at their home games. I checked wikipedia and the ABA homepage to find out more about the team. Sadly, the link to their site has been disabled at this time.


The Stallions have 4 former UK players, including the 7 foot tall Lucas Obrzut and they dominated the Life. In fact, at one point, the Stallions had about a 50 point lead.


The Stallions were pulling off some pretty spectacular plays. They were hitting everything. This is a fun, talented, experienced team and they looked amazing. I would feel bad about comparing them to the Globetrotters, who I saw at Rupp a couple of weeks ago (see my previous post on that) but it was similar. The Stallions were making those kind of plays.


So, with about 3 minutes left in this obvious Stallions victory, the legend, coach Kyle Macy put in the 13th man. I know this is one of those unique things about the ABA and I don't totally understand it, but there is a rule about letting someone from the community take practice and set on the bench with the team. I am not sure of the exact qualifications one must have to be a 13th man, but I think you have to be at least a recognized person in the community, and a generally good guy.


From what I hear, Frankfort radio personality Steve Sullivan fits that description. He practiced with the team before the game and took his place on the bench during it. And, with the score a bit lopsided, Steve officially checked in to the game.


Now, Steve Sullivan can add professional basketball player to his resume in addition to his work at Star 103.7. How cool is that?


With time running out, the unselfish Stallions got the ball to Steve a couple of times. As he was in the middle of shooting, one of the Life players bumped him.


As Steve Sullivan stood at the line for his 2 free throws, the Stallions on field announcer/funnyman Steve Tressler announced that if Sullivan made the shot, he would be the 1st 13th man in Stallions history to officially score a point in a game. Sullivan made both shots!


After the game, the team, the cheerleaders, and coach Macy signed autographs and took pictures with fans. Several of the players actually thanked me for coming out to support the team. I talked briefly with the always classy Coach Macy about the team and their various venues. I over heard several players asking kids about what sports they played in school. One little girl showed the cheerleaders some of her cheering skills. They encouraged her.

I walked around the Frankfort Convention Center during halftime. I walked next to a dad and his son for a few seconds. The 5 or 6 year old son said to his dad at least three times, "this is awesome!" He was so excited and happy to be there.

I love seeing a UK game at Rupp as much as the next guy. I am so pumped about the Cats. I am excited about the Legends this coming April too. BUT there is some exciting sports action going on in the area that gets overlooked. The Stallions have games scheduled in Owensboro, Lexington AND Corbin. A dad and his son can have an "awesome" time for lot cheaper than a Rupp game. They can walk out with something signed by the whole team, including some UK legends, and they can have a great memory.

www.star1037.com

www.bluegrassstallions.com

Columbus Zoo in Ohio



OK, I really have little to say about the Columbus Zoo. It is a big zoo with a lot going on. It is considered the best zoo in the country by many people.

It is definitely a great zoo, and I remember from my trips there that it is big! Wear good walking shoes.

Obviously they have that cool association with the legendary Jack Hanna, and they have had a mutually beneficial relationship since the 1970s.

Columbus Ohio is a great area, and it probably doesn't get the credit it deserves. I have really enjoyed seeing small music acts at some of the smaller music venues. They have the Easton shopping area too. I will have to do a write up on that area by itself. They also have the legendary AAA baseball team, the Columbus Clippers. There is a lot to do in Columbus.

Actually, I can go on and on about Columbus. A weekend trip from Kentucky is always fun. The zoo is not to be missed there.

http://www.columbuszoo.org/

Monday, January 25, 2010

Diamond Caverns Mammoth Cave Kentucky area















I pretty much think of Diamond Caverns as part of Mammoth Cave. It is really right there in the Mammoth Cave park area, and it isn't far from the Mammoth Cave visitor center.


I really like the cozy entrance area and gift shop. You actually have to go inside of the gift shop to get inside of the cave! Its pretty cool. The building is built over the entrance. There is an almost sun room like area in the front of the building. You walk down a few steps by the gift shop, and there is the main entrance to the cave. A gated door is close there until a tour comes through or exits.

The cave itself seemed very layered to me. Lots of going up and down steep stairs along the paths. If you aren't a big cave fan, frankly, this might look like just another cave. They have the standard cave formations seen at every cave.

The cave was discovered, and opened as a show cave in 1859! It has been open for tours continuously since then, except during the Civil War.

In 1999, some of the cave owners actually found a new, unexplored area of the cave!

This is a fun cave, the staff seemed knowledgeable and enthusiastic. If you have been to Mammoth Cave, this is a nice alternative.

http://www.diamondcaverns.com/

Monday, January 18, 2010

Harlem Globetrotters

I did go to Rupp Arena on Sunday to check out the Harlem Globetrotters. I had a great time.

It did remind me of watching the Globetrotter games, whenever they would come on, as a kid. They did all of the old tricks, including putting the ball under the shirt of the other teams player, messing with the ref, and goofing around with the fans. Oh, and beating up on the Washington Generals.

The "game" started at 3 and we went in a little after 2. This was a good family type atmosphere. I can't stress enough about how great the staff at Rupp is. I always feel comfortable here with the great security and friendly ushers.

The "Hill on Wheels" wheelchair basketball team played a game before the Globetrotters did their thing. What an amazing display! I have never been to a wheelchair basketball game before. These guys are impressive and tough. They moved the ball well, and made the shots. I would hate to arm wrestle any members of the team. Seeing "Hill on Wheels" was an a big bonus to a fun night. Here is their website:
http://www.kylegends.com/

The rest of the evening reminded me of a mix of a basketball game, minor league baseball, and pro-wrestling.

The Globetrotters have an on field announcer/MC, a mascot, and other activities going on. During a break in the game, they were bowling using Globie, the Globetrotters mascot as the bowling ball, and huge Campbell's Soup cans as the pins. It was pretty fun.

The manager of the Generals came out and started talking trash about the Globetrotters, Lexington, etc. He also used a hypnotic umbrella to hypnotize members of the Globetrotters during the game. It was cheesy but funny. Oddly, the Globetrotters manager was motionless. Even when Special K asked him to come on the floor during a bit, the manager set like a stone.

The Globetrotters did their usual amazing dunks and shots. They made it look easy. Of course, having an opponent standing back and letting you make those shots helps. Still, it was pure nostalgic fun.

Niagara Falls

Since things have been a bit slow in my neck of the woods, mostly because of the holidays and a wicked cold, I thought now might be a good time to mention Niagara Falls. I haven't been up there in a few years. I used to go a couple of times a year when I lived in Cleveland. I am on a huge Niagara Falls kick right now (I got the complete series of the show "Wonderfalls" for Christmas, prompting my recently renewed interest in the Falls).


Niagara Falls is still pretty accessible. You could do it over a four day weekend from Kentucky. I would suggest trying to incorporate it into a week trip through the north. It does justify a whole week to itself too. You could spend 7 or more days here easily. I think I could spend 7 days simply staring at the Falls in amazement.


We used to pretty much hang out on the Canadian side, but the American side is pretty cool too. Most people suggest getting to the Canadian part if you must choose between 1 or the other.


It is amazing to see the falls, and I do remember the first time walking right up to the rail and seeing them.


The area walking distance from the falls is very exciting. I have heard friends compare it to Gatlinburg, and other very touristy areas. There are blocks of shops, restaurants, and museums.


Niagara Falls has a certain mythical and dark beauty to it. Like some of the other wonders of the world, there is plenty of strangeness at the falls. I recently read "In The Mad Water" and "Journeys to the Brink of Doom" by TW Kriner. Both books give details of the many deaths and other tragedies that have occurred near and in the falls. I will have to do a review of these fascinating books later as I let a friend borrow my copies a couple weeks ago. Both books would be appropriate reading in October.



I have had trouble finding stats on jumpers at the falls. Most of the stunt jumpers are pretty well documented on line and elsewhere.



One thing that really amazes me at each visit is the barge that is stuck just above the Canadian side. Many people are unaware of this, but if you take about a 5 minute walk away from the Horseshoe Falls you will see it. It is out a bit, but it is there. It has been there for decades! Kriner's book tells the story in detail of how it was basically jammed there to keep it from going over by it's 2 passengers. It has remained there since.


Anyway, here are some of my favorite pictures from my personal Niagara Falls collection!



I might write more about the Falls again soon, especially after I finish up the Wondefalls series, and after I get my books back.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Land Between the Lakes

When I was in the 5th grade, my class took a trip to Land Between the Lakes. All 5th grade classes at my elementary school took this trip over a couple of days. It was such a great experience. We had to make a Land Between the Lakes book. This was a huge event for all students before they advanced to middle school.

I was grateful to my school for giving us the experience. I know for many of us, this was our first real "away from home" trip. I went to a very calm school, and I really liked all of my classmates. My memory of this trip is still vivid and happy.

My dad and I have made a couple trips to the Land Between the Lakes area recently. Growing up in Western Kentucky, this was not an uncommon trip. I remember some family and friends near Owensboro probably going down monthly.



There is a lot going on there. I just found out that they have a blog too! Check it out:




LBL is one of those places that you really have to go to to appreciate. It is nice, and you hear it is nice, but you just have to go there to see exactly how nice it is. Also, it helps if you have someone going with you familiar with the area, like my dad. Ask him, he will go with you! Seriously, he has nothing else going on.




I love the Animal Center near the Center Furnace. Its 4-5 bucks to go through. I remember seeing a presentation on snakes here while on that 5th grade trip. They let me hold a snake. I was scared to death, but they calmly explained that it wouldn't bite. There was no mischievous person around to try to scare me. It was a pleasant and positive experience. They still have snakes, and many other animals. My dad and I got there right when they opened, and they were bringing out there owls. The unreal friendly rangers there gave us a presentation on each owl that came out! I assume they do this every day when they open up. The presentation alone was worth 3 times the price of admission.


There are a ton of trails and camping areas throughout. I would love to take a week and just go walk around.





There is the Elk and Bison Prairie. I think it is five bucks to enter it. You pay your entry fee at an automated area, and then you drive in. I do wish they would put a real person at the entrance, but it does seem that friendly rangers are around once inside the range.


My last time there, I saw one buffalo at a distance. A ranger told us that they were all over in another area, off the trail. The loner we saw was an older buffalo that had been there since the start of the trail. The new, younger buffalo do not socialize with him according to the ranger.




On another trip trough the Elk and Bison Prairie, we had to wait for many of the buffalo to get out of our way! They were everywhere! They obviously are comfortable around visitors, and they would walk right next to our truck.

There is another area to see Buffalo next to the Great Western Furnace. I am not sure about their status, but they are across the road in a field. They are always very visible.





Speaking of furnaces. I really don't know a lot about old iron furnaces, or even how the furnaces operated, but the area has 2 standing furnaces that have been around for some time. The Great Western Furnaces dates back to the 1850s. It still looks good. The Center Furnace looks a little rougher each time I see it.





There is the Golden Pond Planetarium too. I love planetariums, and this area is lucky to have this one, connected to the visitor center. I saw a great presentation here about a year ago on the International Space Station. There was a great Q&A session after the show, and the audience was told about a web site where you could type in your location and find out times that you could see the ISS over head! The next night, my dad and I actually looked up at the right time and saw the ISS! It is quick, you have to look up and catch it. It could easily be mistaken for a fast moving plain.


The gift shop in the visitor center has a great selection of local interest books.
















Oh, and you can't really bring up LBL without mentioning Patti's. I have a friend from the Paducah area that kept telling me that I must stop there. The word is the portions are huge. My friend was not kidding. I had a salad, and 3 people could have helped me finish it off. It was big. Oh, and they give you bread baked in a flower pot. It is just as cool as it sounds. Think Cracker Barrel but bigger and more authentic. You couldn't franchise this kind of Kentucky atmosphere. They have a nice gift shop too. Check out their web site.




I guess this is a great area just to go and drive around (keep a map around though!). I have seen turkey and deer just walking around on the roads. It is very relaxing just driving around the area.