Luray Caverns in Virginia

Luray Caverns in Virginia
Luray Caverns in Virginia

Sunday, February 28, 2010

NASA Glenn Visitor Center









Near the Cleveland Airport is the NASA Glenn Research Center. I know that last year there was talk of moving the displays at the visitor center to the Great Lakes Science Center. I thought I should put a few pictures up of the visitor center before its move.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

1 year anniversary

I just realized that I have had this blog going for a little over 1 year! I would like to that all of the people that read this blog. So, that being said, thank you all 5 of my followers and mom.

When I started writing this blog, I wanted to talk about all of the cool things in and around the state of Kentucky. Obviously, I have deviated from that some. I do want to keep the focus on Kentucky and places that someone from Kentucky could get to during a weekend or maybe a week long trip.

Anyway, I thought now might be a good time to indulge myself in some of my favorite's loosely relating to Kentucky.

Favorite City in Kentucky:

Man, I love so many of them. I love stopping in random cities just for the heck of it sometimes. Berea has a very special place in my heart. Berea is the kind of town that is a bit of a Kentucky secret. I am really big on Lexington, Owensboro, Louisville, and E-Town too. Oh, and I love taking trips to the Mammoth Cave/Bowling Green area. OK, I don't have one favorite town in Kentucky.

Favorite weekend trip not in Kentucky:

I am not sure if I can answer this one clearly either. I have really developed a love for Indianapolis. They have a great clean downtown area that is easy to navigate. You can walk to the main pro sports facilities from downtown. They also still have several nice malls that haven't closed down. Their Children's Museum is the best children's museum I have seen so far.

Gatlinburg is a fun place too. I really enjoy the lay out, the scenery, etc.

Favorite book relating to Kentucky:

I love any touristy/weird book relating to Kentucky, or any of its bordering states. I love roadside oddities and any book about them. This year, however, I think my favorite book with a Kentucky connection is the massive volume "Manhunt: the 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer" by James Swanson (see my previously posted review). This is a just a darn interesting, well researched and well written book. It is big, but you will read it in no time. You will not be able to put it down. This is one I will read again.

Favorite coffee shop in Kentucky:

This is another hard one. I might have to make this a east vs. west. The Creme Coffee House in Owensboro is the best in that area. Man, is that place cozy. They have a great selection, and they have really decorated it nicely. I hope the town keeps supporting this place.

I love the Heine Brothers chain in Louisville. Everyone one of them. They carry the local free mags and they sell some other great treats. Its a chain, but is is a Louisville chain.

Common Grounds Coffee in Lexington is a favorite too. They have pulled in some fun music acts, and I feel like I am hanging out at a buddy's house when I am there. I have found myself at their sister shop, Main and Maple in Nicholasville lately too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Christmas Story House Cleveland Ohio

A few years back, Brian Jones, a fan of the movie "A Christmas Story" noticed that the Cleveland Ohio home used for exterior shots of the family house during the film was on Ebay. He bought it. If I understand correctly, he called and made an offer before the auction ended, ensuring that he would get the house.



Fast forward to now, and Brian has turned the home into a a recreation of the home seen in the film. A museum dedicated to the movie was put up in a house across the street.



I really admire an individual who preserves a piece of history like this. Hopefully, it will be maintained forever.



Shortly after Brian bought the house but before he opened up the museum, he let people check the place out. Right before Christmas Cleveland had a bit of a Christmas Story festival. It was pretty much held in Tower City (downtown Cleveland, also used in the film). The old Higbee's is here too. The store front window at Tower City, shown in the film, was again decorated. Cleveland's Lolly the Trolley shuttled people back and forth between Tower City and the house. Check out their website, since the last time I was there the house was just starting to be restored. It is in much nicer shape now, but here are some photos.





http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Warther Museum Ohio

It is a bit difficult to describe the Warthers Museum in Dover Ohio. On the surface, its not that hard. I mean, it is a museum with a lot of trains in it.



The museum and its collection of one of a kind hand sculpted trains dates back to 1912! The family still contributes and manages the place.





The Warther family also makes knives for the kitchen.



I was very fascinated with the button collection too. There is a building full of buttons. I know, my description sounds basic, but buttons are cool, especially the way they wave them displayed.



Check out the little dog buttons. I think must of us appreciate miniatures, and many of the buttons are miniature replicas.



The trains are unbelievable. Seriously. According the the Warthers web site, the Smithsonian has valued the train collection at priceless. That sounds about right. Check out the Warthers web site for more info on how the trains were made. They have a great site that's pretty descriptive.

http://warthers.com/











Christmas trees were displayed when I was there. All of the trees are for sale, and the sale benefits a local charity. November is a great time to visit this museum, because trains and Christmas trees go together nicely.



I am a big fan of the City of Dover too. The town has a Mayberry feel, and should be proud of that. The town and the museum are very family friendly.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ear x-tacy

I thought I should take a moment to plug one of the few remaining indy music shops around. Any music lover who has been around Louisville knows about this legendary music shop. I know they are well stocked with obscure CDs, vinyl, books, and novelties. Last time I was there I bought some goofy toys and postcards.

The owner of the 25 year old store recently talked openly about his struggles to keep the money flowing. He said that he may have to close up shop soon.

My buddy Jeremy wrote a nice article about ear x-tacy on his blog, Moon in the Gutter. I have linked it.

Jeremy did say that he made a stop there this weekend, and the place was crowded. In fact, he couldn't find a parking space at first. Jeremy was pleased to see that people were coming out to support the store.

It's not over though. I have mentioned that I love my Ipod, but dropping a few bucks at ear x-tacy is fun, and the owner and his employees appreciate it too.


http://mooninthegutter.blogspot.com/2010/02/help-save-ear-x-tacy.html

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tony Packo's Toledo Ohio

Toledo Ohio is an interesting town. I wouldn't lie and say that it is a must stop. Its not, but it is still a nice town.

They do have a really cool art museum. I've had fun at many of their malls.

I LOVE the Toledo Mud Hens. In fact, if you are a baseball fan, a stop in Toledo to see probably the most legendary mnior league baseball team ever is a must. They have also set up hockey and arena football teams in the area.

AND, there is Tony Packo's. Big hot dogs and chili have been the standards there when I have gone. Oh, and chocolate chip cookies. It is a tasty place.

The first time I went myself, however, it was to check out their collection of autographed hot dog buns. Seriously, they have hundreds, if not thousands, of signed hot dog buns on their walls! I have heard that they actually use plastic replica buns for their signatures. Anyway, they are all displayed nicely all over their walls. They actually display very nicely!

I once took my dad through Toledo. He is a Vietnam vet, and has always been a fan of the show MASH. He was familiar with the restaurant (and Toledo) from the mentions of it on his favorite show, thanks to Jamie Farr's thoughtful hometown endorsements during the series. My dad enjoyed the many MASH props on display.

There are several Packo's locations throughout Toledo. I went to the original a lot, but enjoyed the one next to the ballpark too. In fact, a Mud Hens game and a stop at Tony Packo's justify a stop in Toledo.






http://www.tonypackos.com/index.php

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Natural Bridge part 2

As I have said before, I love Natural Bridge. I think it is strange how many people seem to have not heard of it. I can't get out there enough myself. I see something different each time I am there.
Here are some older pictures I found. I forgot about seeing those orange mushrooms!

I love the fact that you can actually walk up to, and then on to the bridge. You can walk away from it up top, and get a good view of it from a distance. You can also take the ski lift to the top.

Several places around sell fudge. I have seen all sorts of critters in the area. I know there were photos taken of a bear in the area, I think around 2002.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ox Roast and End of the Commons Mesopotamia OH.


I have been on a bit of an Ohio kick lately, going through some of my photos taken from around the state. Here are some more.

One of my favorite places to visit not quit an hour outside of Cleveland is the Mesopotamia Ohio area. This is a very small community that is mostly Amish.

I know of many people who enjoy driving out to this area to appreciate the Amish culture (there are some nice restaurants in the area). I bought a couple of hand made belts from an Amish guy that have really held up.

When I think of this area, I think of the small "commons" area in Mespo. They have the general store, "The End of the Commons" there. Do you remember being a little kid, and going out in the country somewhere with your dad? You would stop at that cool country store that had all of the fun candy, root beer, etc. Remember how cool that store was? Well, the End of the Commons is similar to that store but better.

They have all of the basic general store stuff. They have all of the old candy. Pus, being a bit of a tourist stop, they have postcards, novelties, books by local authors, and root beer with their own label.

Over 4th of July weekend the local fire department host the "Ox Roast." Lots of food, and the huge commons area fill up with vendors, creating a nice flea market type atmosphere. This is a very family friendly area with a lot to do. Check out the web site for the End of the Commons.

http://www.endofthecommons.com/




Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lizzie Borden B&B Fall River, Mass

I was hoping to mention the Lizzie Borden B&B around Halloween and I will probably bring it up again in October, but I found a few pictures I took when I was there, and thought now would be a good time to put them up.

I love creepy, weird, strange tourist attractions. I love them. This one is a bit of an ultimate destination when it comes to the weird.

There are absolutely no connections to Kentucky with this house in Fall River Massachusetts. You can't do this one in a weekend trip. It is a nice stop on your trip through New England though.

I think we all know the story. If you are not familiar with the story, let me give you the basics. On August 4th, 1892, Lizzie's father and her step mother were found dead, both murdered by hatchet. Lizzie found her father first in a downstairs living room area. The family doctor later found the dead stepmother.

Lizzie was one of two people around the the house (and she give different statements about where she was at different times). Bridget Sullivan, the family servant,was also in on the Borden property. Lizzie's sister Emma was away, and came to the house days later after learning about the murders through the media.

There was a trial which sold a lot of newspapers at the time. Lizzie was eventually acquitted and no other person was ever tried for the murders.








The Borden sisters moved out of the murder house shortly after the trial. About 12 years later, in 1905, the two sisters had a fight, and Emma moved out. It seems Emma and Lizzie never talked again. They both died in 1927, 9 days apart.

The maid, Bridget Sullivan, remains a very fascinating character in the story, and she lived until 1948. There are rumors that she may have known what happened, and may have ALMOST mentioned something to a friend, but changed her mind at the last moment.

It seems I remember hearing that there is even something on her tombstone about taking a secret to the grave, but I can't confirm that.

So, there has been a ton of speculation about what exactly went down at the Borden house. We are not sure if Lizzie did it, or even if she was involved. The speculation goes on to this day. I have my own theory, but it is a different one from the one I had last week. It will probably change in the next couple of weeks too.

This house itself is big, old, elaborate, and maze like. Someone could hide here and commit a major crime while others in the house would be unaware of what was happening.

I know the house has gotten a LOT of coverage lately thanks to shows on the Travel Channel, Ghost Hunters, and other documentaries. Of course, the question comes up about the legitimacy of the rumors that the place is haunted. We can debate the existence of ghosts some other day, but the place does have a creepiness to it.

I will reluctantly give you my first hand story of the places strangeness. If you are squeamish, skip this paragraph. Someone in our party, right after the tour ended, and we stepped out of the house hurled for about 5 minutes. They had been out of the house for maybe a minute and they became violently sick. It reminded me of the priest in the original Amityville Horror film.

The guys running the house have really done something nice with it. They went to a lot of trouble to restore the house to the way it was in 1892, and they have really made a cool tourist stop out of it. You can rent one of several rooms (including one of the murder rooms). A truly strange historic site has been preserved and is accessible thanks to them.

We had a great tour guide (I can't remember his name, but he looks just like Andrew Borden, and often sits on the couch recreating Andrews pose in the murder photo). I have seen him on all of the documentaries on the house. He very kindly drew maps for us to the cemetery where the Bordens are buried, and to Lizzie's house that she moved to later (it is now a private residence).

If you are interested in reading up on Lizzie, there are several great books out there. Let me HIGHLY recommend Rick Geary's "The Borden Tragedy". The book is a black and white comic style graphic novel. It is written with accuracy and beauty. Rick gives a great visual of how the house was laid out at the time and he really gives all of the information available.

http://www.lizzie-borden.com/

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Newport Aquarium, Newport, KY


I really love the northern Kentucky southern Ohio area. There is a lot going on here. In fact, there is almost an unawareness of all that this area has to offer.

Cincinnati is a big, overwhelming city. In general, I think of it as more a part of the Ohio big cities (Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincy) than a part of northern Kentucky. But, it really is part of northern Kentucky. I think the location of the Cincinnati airport justifies that argument.

When you view Cincinnati, Florence, and Newport together, you have a hoppin' area. In fact, I think the area can compete with just about any major city.

I've visited the aquarium in Newport a couple of times. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends, I would suggest going on an off day.

As is the case with any respectable aquarium, you can make an exhausting day trip out of a visit- and you should take your time while there. I personally enjoyed looking at some of the smaller salt water tanks (big seahorse fan here) and if you spend only a few seconds looking at the creatures, you are going to miss out. Take a moment to appreciate the featherdusters, crabs, and smaller critters.

The facility is very ornate too. They have a cool fish and whale display up font.

My only issues with the aquarium, other than the potential of dealing with large crowds, was that some of the staff seemed uninformed at times. This is excusable, I may have been there on a training day. Some of the staff in their areas seemed to know very little about the aquarium or what was going on in their locations.


Still, this is a classy aquarium worth at least one visit a year. Newport is popping with stuff to do, and the aquarium is the center of it all. I love the view across the river of Ohio too. There is a great photo op right outside of the aquarium for fans of the Reds and Bengals to get a great shot of their teams stadium.


http://www.newportaquarium.com/