West Baden Springs Indiana

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Steeles Tavern Manor Bed and Breakfast- Steeles Tavern, Virginia


I very briefly mentioned Steeles Tavern Manor earlier, but I have a whole lot more to say about this flawless B&B.

As I said previously, my wife and I have had different opinions on staying at inns and B&Bs.  She always prefers a top rated modern but cozy place.  I like OLD places with history... and I am ok with a little dust.

Well, she found Steeles Tavern Manor while
searching around, and we agreed that it looked very nice.  Plus, another couple was joining us.... and we thought they would like it here too.

After spending a long day in Lexington, we drove a short 20 minutes or so to where we would be staying for the next two nights.

We were met by the innkeepers, Ray and Melissa who ended up being fun, pleasant, and informative during our entire stay.  You could
tell that they take a lot of pride in their place by the way they talked about it... and by its appearance.

The other couple on this trip with us were about to celebrate an anniversary, so we had ordered a little surprise to be waiting for them when they got to their room.  For a reasonable price, they got a bottle of sparkling cider, 2 wine glasses with the Steeles Tavern Manor logo on them, and cheese and crackers.  Our friends seemed to really appreciate this.

Oh...  also in our room was a small pack of chocolate chip cookies.  I almost tossed the bag of sweets to the side, but I ended up opening them up and giving them a try. I must say that these cookies are very special.  I am not sure what they do to these cookies, but they were delicious!  I think they add some cinnamon to them, and it gives them a special kick.  Before we left, we realized that a cookie mix could be purchased from the inn, but 24 hours notice was needed to make it up.  I will know this for next time.  Seriously though, these were some of the best cookies I have had ever.  And I have had a lot of cookies.

A small fridge was available 24 hours, stocked with bottled waters and pop.  I have noticed this as being somewhat common in the nicer B&Bs we have stayed at recently, and I like it.  It is very nice grabbing a cold drink to take as you leave for the day.  They also had a Keurig available for the hot drinks.  This was a nice thing to have in the evenings.

Obviously, part of the fun of staying at a bed and breakfast is the breakfast.  Well, check out the photos.  I can't remember the names of what we had, but the breakfasts were flawless.

Coffee was made early each morning so you could come down and relax before your meal.  Around 8:30 Ray brought out a very colorful fruit and yogurt cups for everyone.  After a bit, the main entrĂ©e come out.

This isn't the instant "hot" breakfast available at some hotels.  I wouldn't want to guess at a dollar value on these breakfasts either, but it definitely makes you realize that Steeles Tavern Manor is upscale, and it has a lot of value too. 

In the evenings, we enjoyed sipping coffee as we relaxed on the side porch.  There is a small country road outside that was rarely used.  Another road that runs parallel, and does have some traffic, is blocked from view by a nice, thick tree line. 

There are also walking trails around the property.  A stream and creek are close by.  We saw deer as we walked.  We also saw a couple come by each evening as we spent time on the porch.

Check out my photos (notice the perfectly cut grass, and the spotless building.  This is a place that pays attention to everything.  I am sure we will be back by in the future.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lexington Virginia

So, here are just a FEW of the many pictures I took while we explored Lexington Virginia....  MANY of these I took while on our carriage ride.

We went with anther couple who had been to Lexington before, and they were looking for an excuse to get back.  After our visit...  I could see why.  There is so much to see here...  especially if you have an interest in the Civil War.

Also, we thought that we might be able to cover the town in a day, maybe a day and a half, but we ended up spending a solid two days exploring... and I feel like we saw the main things we wanted to see and then some.  We could have squeezed it all in within a day, technically seeing it all, but really not seeing anything.  This is a town to see slowly and take it in.

Plus, Lexington is a small town, and it is easy to explore.  There really were no crowds around, and there is a very casual vibe.

Lexington is a college town, with two very historic and noteworthy schools situated right next to each other.  Each college is associated very directly with a major player in the Confederacy.

Before the Civil War, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was a teacher at Lexington's Virginia Military Institute (VMI).  He would leave to become a Civil War Legend, ultimately losing his life after being shot by friendly fire.

Washington and Lee University is situated right beside VMI with buildings on each campus a few feet from each other, making these two schools exceptionally parallel.

AND, as VMI will forever be associate with Jackson, Washington and Lee will always be linked to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

After the war, Lee was offered the job of College President for what was then known as Washington College.  Lee accepted and would hold that job until his death in 1870.

Probably the two most well known Confederates, Lee and Jackson, now both rest in Lexington.  Both are strongly linked to a college in town.  Both have their name up all over town in various forms.

And, like I said, we were there to see those many  noteworthy spots.

Even if you take away the historic Civil War connections to this little town, it is still a great place.  We enjoyed several restaurants and other businesses.  We found a couple of great bookstores in the area.

Check out my photos......  I do have a lot more to say about Lexington!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trip through the Virginias

We just got back from a great short trip going to Lexington Virginia and back again!  Man, we had a blast!

There were several themes that occurred on this trip, some on purpose, and some by accident.  We were going to Lexington specifically to see things relating to the Civil War so that was a theme.  We also ended up seeing a lot of deer, some by the road, and some by the inn we stayed at!  That was cool!  Also, GREAT FOOD ended up being a theme... and that just happened accidentally.

My wife and I also had a little disagreement about where to stay on this trip.  I always want to stay somewhere with history.  Lots of old history.  If its up to me, we will be staying in an old run down barn that sheltered soldiers during the Civil War.  Well, my wife (who openly calls herself a "hotel snob") will only stay somewhere if it is a top rated place on tripadvisor.  Well, on this trip she won out, and we stayed at an amazing B&B (Steeles Tavern Manor) that I will bring up later.  It had some history (going back to 1915) and it was beautiful.

Twisty, turny roads through the two states are common too.  I drove the 5 plus hours from Lexington Kentucky to Lexington Virgina, and I did most of the driving back.  Once we got back to the area, I still felt like my body was in car motion...  going up hills, and down them.... turning left or right the whole time.

Anyway, as always we had a great time.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Touring Virginia's and West Virginia's Civil War Sites by Clint Johnson

I wanted to find a good, complete resource for Virginia's Civil War sites. 

I picked up Clint Johnson's "Touring Virginia's and West Virginia's Civil War Sites" some time ago, and I believe it is the most complete reference for someone wanting to visit places connected to the Civil War in the Virginias.

This PACKED book clocks in at over 350 pages with no filler.  I wonder how much time the author spent in his tireless research on this one....

The book is divided into 18 separate road trips that one could take around the Virginias.  So it is divided into sections by geography instead of chronology.

For most of us, that is the perfect way to organize a book like this.  You have a good idea of what sites are in an area.

And honestly- this isn't a new idea.  I have many books like this.

BUT, Johnson's book is very unique.  It reads just like you are on a road trip with him.  He gives very specific directions about how to get to a battlefield or monument.  He suggests side trips.

ALSO, he gives a great description of what happened at a site, and why it is important to the Civil War tourist.  You could skip over the travel info in this volume, and you would still have a great book about the Civil War in this area.

AND he writes like someone who cares about these sites and their history.  His writing is electric and enthusiastic.

I quickly realized after I started reading, that this was not a book to skim.  This is a book to read slowly and enjoy.  It is also a perfect book to read with a note pad handy.

There are some very interesting facts I learned from Clint Johnson's book.  For example, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and John Wilkes Booth were present for the hanging of John Brown.  The designer of the Confederate battle flag is ironically buried in Union West Virginia.  An inn in Middleburg Virginia was a favorite of John Mosby... and JFK and Jackie.

You know I have added some of those sites to my list of places to see.

I also think that any good book should answer questions.... but it should also spark more curiosity.  Johnson does that in this book.  He mentions several places with rich Civil War history, but with statuses that don't look good at the moment.  For example the former Albert Jenkins house museum currently sets vacant.  He brings up the fact that the burial site of Lee's other horse, Lucy Long, remains a mystery.  He also discusses a child named Jim Limber who, "disappeared into history."  Limber's story (and the fact that so little is known of him) is one of the more interesting tales in the Civil War.

I could go on and on.  This is an informative book that is simply good reading.  It gets my highest possible recommendation and I will be reading more books by Clint Johnson.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fort Boonesborough State Park in Kentucky

I had not been by Fort Boonesborough for some time (decades).  Well, like some of the other spots around my home state that I love, I have to put this on my list of places to start visiting frequently.

We stopped by for the first time since my college days.  It was $8 each to get in, and there is an intro video that shows every half hour I think.  The film was well done and even got some laughs from the crowd with us.

After the video, we casually strolled around the replica fort.

There was a good crowd the day we were there.  In fact, some of the cabins became so crowded, we left and came back later.

I am REALLY starting to appreciate the whole, "reinactor doing demonstrations" thing.  This is really cool, especially when the actor really gets into it, and enjoys what they are doing.

I think we encountered 7 or 8 on this visit...  each one talking about what they were up to, or what they did- each from a pioneer's view.

Several of the cabins around the fort have open doors, and you can step inside and talk to these pioneers.

One that really stood out to us was the candle maker.  Using an antique candle holder, the pioneer woman told us about dipping the candles in wax, then letting them dry briefly on the revolving holder.  Some candles dried as others were dipped over and over.  She also talked about the molding process to make candles.

There are a couple of very interesting museums at the Fort right now too.

I was really impressed with a particular cabin that was packed with pop culture items relating to Daniel Boone.

I really love seeing old pioneer and Daniel Boone type toys.  Especially the stuff from the 50s and 60s.  It was before my time, so it will always have a vintage feel to me.  You know... it's coolness will always be a little bit out of my grasp. 

Plus, when I was a kid, Star Wars and space toys were the thing.  Like every other kid, I loved that stuff then, but I really appreciate the Marx type toys now.  Personally, my few old Star Wars toys are in storage.  My Marx Civil War, Daniel Boone, and Johnny West dolls are proudly displayed on my bookshelf.

AND here, they have a great display of vintage Boone items.

Check out the cool Halloween costume!  If only that kind of coolness still existed! 

I was pleased to see the small figures, and the stage coach.  Various Daniel Boone related first day covers and postal items were represented too.

After making the rounds at the fort, we stopped by the gift shop to check things out.  I picked up a few postcards, AND a small bag of a corn snack prepared just like the pioneers may have enjoyed.

Outside, we found a marker where the original fort was.  It is not far from the pool area at this state park.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Keith United Methodist Church in Ohio

AND here is one more pleasant little country church, Keith United Methodist Church, once associated with my wife's father.

We took a moment to drive by here not too long ago.  For some reason, we saw several turtles on this day.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Smith Chapel near Hackney Ohio

Here is another great little church in rural Ohio where my late father in law once worked as a preacher.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dungannon United Methodist Church in Ohio

We drove by Dungannon United Methodist Church in the Beverly Ohio area.  My wife's father was a preacher at this little church at one time.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Coffee Grinder- Point Pleasant West Virginia

We were in Point Pleasant West Virginia again the other day.  Seems like I pass through there regularly these days, which is cool with me.

I have mentioned my appreciation for this little town, and its strange history many times.....  and I am sure that I will mention it many more.

Point Pleasant has such a rich and weird past as a river town, and as a town forever connected to the Mothman.  AND it is just a cool little town.

Anyway, we didn't have a lot of time, but I was in desperate need of some coffee as we headed home from a long weekend trip.  Luckily, this area was not out of the way, and I was able to get some coffee from the Coffee Grinder!

This is such a great little independent family ran place.  The people running it are always great when we stop by.

PLUS, they sell Mothman Coffee and Mothman cookies!  One of those cookies or a bag of beans FROM Point Pleasant is a pretty cool gift to take back home to someone!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Pomeroy Ohio

I just want to make a quick note here about Pomeroy Ohio.  We drove through here on the way home from our Marietta/Parkersburg trip.  It looked like a great town, and I got a few photos that absolutely do not really represent what I remember seeing.  Its a pretty little Ohio River town.

I just looked it up on Wikipedia, and it says that the McDonalds in town still has pizza!  I know this wasn't a popular menu item, but I thought McDonalds made GREAT pizzas!

Well, I will have to make it back here just to go to their McDonalds!