West Baden Springs Indiana

West Baden Springs Indiana
Inside of the AMAZING West Baden Springs Resort in Indiana.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Haney's Appledale Farm in Nancy Kentucky

We discovered Haney's while visiting the Mill Springs Battlefield recently in Nancy (close to Somerset).

Somerset is a nice town to stop for a day, and so is Nancy.  Sure, it is smaller, but there is enough going on for a pleasant day trip or longer.  Seeing the Civil War battlefield, and stopping here for some snacks sounds like a great day.

Man, we loved this place!  We picked up some of their bottled items that they make and a couple of their apple pies.  Everything tasted fresh and delicious!

I love their market area, which is in a nicely organized and roomy garage!  It was fun just looking around at all they had to offer!

We are already talking about another trip to the area soon, and I can't wait to enjoy some apple pastries as we do the battlefield driving tour!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Postcard: Old Frame House Showing City Gates in the Distance, St. Augustine, Florida

"The oldest frame house in U.S.A. St. George Street, City Gates in Distance, St. Augustine, Fla.  Formerly used as a school house.  Timbers of red Cedar."

These buildings and the City Gates still stand in these great town!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Battle of Mill Springs near Somerset KY

The Somerset area is kind of growing on me!  This is a nice and different area, and I am always finding interesting stuff to do down there!

I just found out about the VERY cool Battle of Mill Springs Visitor Center that is in Nancy, just a few miles outside of Somerset.

The battle occurred on January 19th, 1962 and it was the first major Union victory in the war.  This battle has become known- in a semi-martyr kind of way- for the death of Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer.

There are variations to the story, but, during a bit of confusion, Zollicoffer is shot and died.  This occurred near a tree which went on to be known as the Zollie Tree.

A young girl named Dorotha Burton started a tradition of placing a wreath around this tree in 1902.  This tradition has continued.  The actual tree was pretty much taken out by a storm in 1995.  A new tree (a seedling from the original) has replaced it.

What was left of the original tree is now in the Battle of Mill Springs Visitor Center.  They also sell small pieces of the tree in the gift shop for a buck.

The actual visitor center is spectacular.  For $5, you can see a great film on the battle, and an amazing amount of relics.

Speaking of relics, THAT is what I want to see at a museum like this.  Actual items from that period of time, and from the actual Battle of Mill Springs.  This museum had plenty. 

After seeing the film, and visiting the museum, we started the driving tour of the battlefield area.  There are 10 stops, and each one is clearly marked, with signs explaining what happened at that stop.  We were given a very clear and easy to follow map at the visitor center too!

We made it to 8 stops on the driving tour.  The last 2 are a little further out, thanks to the Cumberland River.  We will save those for another day.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cathedral Place, Plaza and Public Market, St. Augustine, Fla.

This old postcard says on the back

"At the foot of the Bridge of Lions, on the left you see the Old Public Market, with the Plaza as its background and the famous towers of the Catholic Church, Ponce De Leon Hotel and the Exchange Bank building on the right."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Battle of Sacramento- Sacramento, KY

The Battle of Sacramento went down December 28th of 1861.  This was actually a pretty important fight in the Civil War (as all of the battles were- big and small) but this was one encounter where one of the legends of the Civil War started to make a name for himself.  Confederate Colonel Nathan Forrest impressed a lot of people in this fight, especially Brigadier-General Charles Clark.  Of note was his courage leading his men into battle and engaging in hand to hand combat with 4 Union soldiers- killing three and capturing one.  This particular battle has come to be known as "Forrest's First".

There is a very cool folk HEROINE (on the Confederate side) associated with this battle.  A young Molly Morehead warned Forrest of the Union troops nearby.  Forrest wrote about the girl (he did not know her identity at the time). 

There is a historic driving trail between Calhoun and Greenville on 181.  There is a great brochure giving the stops and info on each one.  There is also a great website about the battle, the reenactment, and history.

This is yet ANOTHER example of a place I have been to many times, and never realized the great history of the area.  I have driven this stretch of road probably 100 times and never realized its significance.

I DID make a point to go out and actually drive to the stops on the tour- and I did it during the weekend of the Battle of Sacramento Reenactment.

The reenactment event has been going on since 1995, and you can tell the guys putting this event on have become pretty efficient.  Sacramento is a nice, small town, and it was pretty easy getting around at the event and all.  PLUS, it is only $5 for an all weekend pass (its actually not a "pass" but a nice little button).

We were only able to stop by Friday for several hours, as the weather was terrible all weekend!  That didn't stop the festivities though!

I had a great time (and spent WAY more money than I planned) in the vendor area.  We bought a lot of honey that was made by a fellow from Hartford.  Great stuff!  There was a fun and friendly couple from Greenfield, Illinois called Pop Jack's.  The couple running the booth were super friendly.  They were selling homemade root beer!  This was the perfect setting for that, and I refilled my bottle with them more than once.  You could buy a bottle for $3, then it was a buck per refill for the rest of the festival!  They even said that next year you could bring your bottle back for $1 refills!  They had several flavors, but I had been craving sassafras for some time, so that was my pick.

Another couple- Knox and Mary Adler (Adlers Dry Goods) had a lot of pioneer related toys and clothes items.  These guys were super friendly too, and they seemed to really enjoy the whole retro vibe going on here.  I bought some lead soldiers from them, and they made me a very good deal!

There were several other interesting vendors there, but these were the ones I interacted with the most.

There was an AMAZING country band that played for a short period of time (their set was cut short due to the weather), but I really enjoyed these guys.  They did a great Merle Haggard cover, a couple of gospel standards and a few others before it was over.  These guys were solid musicians who weren't trying anything fancy.  They were playing old classics the way they were meant to be played, and you could tell that the crowd loved it!

Check out my photos, which are mostly from the stops on the trail, with a few from the reenactment event.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

St. Augustine Distillery- St. Augustine, Florida

There is a distillery in St. Augustine that just opened!

To be honest, we have been to MANY distilleries here in Kentucky.  We briefly thought about skipping this one, but then we thought it might be fun to visit one with which we are unfamiliar.  We were glad we did!

The St. Augustine Distillery has only been giving tours for a short time, but taking the tour is the thing to do in town now!  The distillery was one of the stops on our trolley tour, and each time we went by, LOTS of people were getting on and off.

The Distillery is located inside of an old ice plant.  Inside, there is a very nice museum that covers the history of the ice plant, and the history of St. Augustine Distillery.  The company does try to keep their product as local as possible.

This is a smaller distillery than most we have visited before.  Still, they put a lot of care and effort into what they do.  Our tour seemed to cover all of the great areas of spirits making.

Our guide talked about how St. Augustine Distillery works with local farmers, and how they store their spirits.  She almost poetically talked of how the local farmers and elements affect the product, making it unique.

After visiting the main areas of the company's production, we were allowed to do a tasting.  I have mentioned before that we don't really drink.  For the most part, bourbon balls are my main source of alcohol.  Well, as our guide discussed a drink they are fond of, the Florida Mule, I was curious.

Our guide actually made us a couple of fancy drinks at the end of the tour.  I figured a sip of a Florida Mule, which included some Florida Cane Vodka wouldn't hurt a thing.  I LOVED THIS DRINK!  In fact, I took out BOTH drinks she made for us (including the other delicious concoction made with New World Gin).  I VERY LITERALLY doubled my lifetime alcohol consumption during this tour!

We had a really fun time at St. Augustine Distillery, which is such a great addition to the MANY attractions in the area.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine, Florida

Sent in 1940, here is another colorful image from St. Augustine.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine Florida is such an intoxicating city.  There is such a great amount of REAL history that has been preserved.  The place is flooded with museums of all sorts, historic relics, food, and shops.  AND, there is a very authentic and continuous history covering about 5 centuries.

We were here about 4 years ago, (see my old mention of it here) but we budgeted out only a brief stop.  We knew we needed to get back, and to spend more time here.

As a tourist, there are somethings I really like about certain towns.  I love rich history.  I love access to that history.  Nice restaurants and shopping don't hurt.

I know this may sound odd, but I like easy travels.  There are a lot of things to do in this part of Florida, and places are generally pretty easy to get to.  AND getting around St. Augustine is easy.

There are so many places here and there that I want to see.  There are still about 15 states that I haven't made it to yet.  As we travel, there are places we visit- and we are happy to say that we have been there.... but there is no reason to go back.  St. Augustine is not one of those places.  St. Augustine is a place I hope to go back to many more times.

On this trip we made sure to allow ourselves more time than the last time we were here.  Still, there are things we weren't able to make it to.

We did buy one of the Ripley's Museum multi-attraction tickets.  In general, we were very happy with this.  It is always fun running through a Ripley's Odditorium.  This one is no exception.

We also used their Red Train while in town.  You can buy a three day ticket for the train which lets you get on and off of the trolley at 20 different stops around town.  I love these kind of deals.  You can pretty much get to anywhere you want in town, and the train drivers explain the sites and history.  We had a great driver that we kept getting who was very informative and entertaining.  I think her name was Cheryl.

We also did their "Ghost Train" one evening.  Ghost Tours can be so hit or miss.  On this tour, they handed out EMF readers and a weird green dotted flashlight thing.  We were then taken to two locations and told a little about things that had happened in the area.  It was kind of fun seeing the town at night and all, but next time I will likely stick to a straight forward historic tour. 

More on some of the places we saw later......

Friday, May 22, 2015

Random Thoughts on Friday

Just a few VERY random thoughts.  Some you may care about, some you may not.  Whatever.

Animal Sightings-

First off......  during our travels I have noticed some animal related things lately.  While in Tennessee, we thought we saw an armadillo.  Then we saw another one!  I guess I wasn't aware of this, but these guys have pretty firmly made their way into that state!

ALSO, while in Cincinnati (we were in the Kenmore area) I warned my buddy to watch out for a very fast moving dog.  As we watched him, and got a better look, we realized that we were watching a coyote!  We were very close to the mall there- this is not a secluded, rural area.


I have been reading a lot of books on the Civil War lately.  I wasn't aware that there are SO MANY GREAT battle sites in Kentucky!  More on this topic too- but I don't think people realize all of the good history they can research locally.


I have been watching the oldies TV stations some lately.  Newhart is probably one of my all time favorite shows, and I could watch that stuff over and over.  If I could live in a TV show, it would be Newhart.  It was a weird show too- many of the characters were over the top.  It was like Bob was living in a Twilight Zone... or a dream.

I have been catching the old George Burns and Gracie Allen shows here and there!  This is some FUNNY stuff!  Why didn't anyone tell me about them sooner?  I've always loved Lucie, but Gracie is a LOT funnier.  Her timing is flawless, and about every other line is hysterical.  I am so glad this show is still showing in reruns.

Oh, I have to mention David Letterman!  I have always loved the guy.  I almost feel like I grew up on his show- and it is sad thinking that he won't be a late night option anymore.  Original comedy is scarce anymore.

My wife met his mom in the mid 90s at Boone Tavern.  According to her Dave's mom was very pleasant and sweet.  My wife over heard someone mention "Dave's mom" and my wife brought up the fact that Dave's Mom mentioned the Tavern in a book.  Well, a lady turned around and said, "I'm Dave's Mom!"  How cool is that?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mermaids at Weeki Wachee, Florida

Weeki Wachee may be the most perfect retro roadside attraction out there.

Our visit started at 9am.  We wanted to be there right when they opened, to beat any crowds.  Well, we were the only ones there at that time.

Sure, it was on a weekday, but I figured the place would be packed.

People did start rolling in over the next hour.  I would say that, by 11, the place had a good crowd.

For half an hour or so we had the park to ourselves, so we got our gift shop purchases out of the way.  That was convenient!

We walked around the park some and ended up taking a boat tour.  This was a very nice, 30 minute or so trip around the area.  The boats captain told us all about the area and the park.

After our boat ride, we walked around some more, admiring the area, especially the peacocks that seemed to be everywhere.  We were so excited to see that there are TWO Mold-A-Ramas available here.  If you aren't familiar with Mold-A-Rama, it is the coolest tourist souvenir ever.  For a couple of bucks you get to watch as a very cool small toy- like a mermaid- is made!  Then, you have a great souvenir to take home!

Anyway, we made it over to the theater at Weeki Wachee to see the main attraction here- the mermaid show!

We grabbed a couple of seats in the theater and waited.  There is a real sense of excitement before the show. 

There is something so unique and exciting about seeing a mermaid after the curtain comes up.  Yes, everyone is expecting it, and everyone knows that this is a show, but it absolutely feels real.

These aren't actors on a stage pretending to be underwater. 

They interact with the animals that find their way into the performance area (one turtle was constantly swimming towards one of the mermaids- which was very funny).  We were told that manatees have made their way into the shows.  Gators have also popped up (the mermaids get out of the springs pretty quickly when this occurs).

This is a complicated production with several performers.  The star of the show had several costume changes, and even appeared inside of the theater.

This is one of those things where, the history of the performances, along with the pure coolness of the shows, kind of turn this mythical thing into something real.  If someone were to ask me where they could see an authentic mermaid, my answer would be "Weeki Wachee".