Lee's headquarters Gettysburg

Lee's headquarters Gettysburg
The recently restored area around Lee's Headquarters in Gettysburg PA!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Random Thoughts On Friday

I made it up to the Cleveland area recently. I find myself there a lot these days. I used to live there though, so I do look forward to getting back up there, seeing old friends, and hanging out at my old hang outs.

The landscape changes so quickly. Some of my favorite old coffee shops are gone. Stores are leaving (see my previous entry on Joseph-Beth). In the South Euclid area, there is a strip mall that has been taken out. Literally, it is just not there. They took it down.

There are some nice new things in the area too. We tried some new restaurants on this trip. We loved the Tomato Grill in Hudson, TJs Italian food in Mentor, and in Tremont, we stopped at Michael Symon's restaurant Lolita which was very different. I took pictures, and I was going to do a separate entry on that, but my photos are dark and they don't do the food justice.

It was good seeing old friends and all. Some of the sweetest people in the world that I know are (ironically) in Akron Ohio. I really enjoy getting to that area.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Only Cleveland Store Cleveland Ohio




Inside Tower City is the shop, "The Only Cleveland Store." I really liked this place, and thought it was more than just your usual location related souvenir shop.

They did have the standard postcards and that sort of thing, but they also had some very nice prints and collectible items. You could purchase pieces of the old ballpark matted with a nice signed print of the stadium, signed by the artist for a very reasonable $40! They also had authentic tickets from the old amusement park.

I really like the fact that this store had a lot more going on than the usual cheap t-shirts, and computer printed low quality posters. This is a nice shop for the tourist or the local.

http://theonlyclevelandstore.com/

KWC Basketball







Kentucky Wesleyan College has a fun basketball team that plays at the Sports Center. In fact, you can catch the girls team and the boys team with one ticket!

I think that is cool, and it is a good dollar value!

Owensboro is a nice sports town, and you can tell the fans love being at the game.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lo-Watt Radio at Prosperity Social Club, Cleveland Ohio






Lo-Watt Radio is easily one of my favorite bands out there right now. I have tried to make sure any trips to the northern part of Ohio are timed out to see one of their shows.

The band usually plays two one hour sets when I have seen them. There is not a slow moment to their show.

I have tried to explain Lo-Watt Radio before. They are a four piece band with bass, drums, vocals, and some variation after that.

Mike Harvin leads the band on vocals, playing guitar or accordion, and harmonica.

Doc Blankenhorn plays everything else. Seriously. Doc switched guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo, and some other stuff. AND he can totally rock out on any of them. Watching the smoke come off of his fingers is a treat! The fact that Doc brings his full arsenal of instruments out to each show is to be admired.

Ron Cerosky on bass, and his partner in rhythm, Joel Geiser on drums are flawless. I have watched numerous bands with good musicians suffer from issues in this department. Bass players playing one note and drummers sounding like they need caffeine is, in my book, the number one problem with any band. Joel and Ron are experienced musicians who take pride in what they do. I challenge you to find an imperfection with the two. A lively but not too aggressive drummer is rare. Lo-Watt has the rare perfectly consistent drummer.

The band does a good number of original songs, and you will like all of them. They are honest and real, written with sincerity. Live, the songs do have an emotional feel. Speaking of hearing them live, this is the kind of band that could build a legend on it's performances.

I was able to see Lo-Watt Radio play a Christmas show at the very cool Tremont venue, the Prosperity Social Club. They did great versions of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", "Blue Christmas", and others. Each song was played with honesty. The guys were not laughing or goofing their way through sloppy holiday covers, the way some other bands might. Lo-Watt Radio played each traditional song with their original style. Lo-Watt could put together a great live Christmas album from this show if they wanted. Your grandma or your child would enjoy the folk rock treatment given to the songs by the band.

I talked to the guys for a bit after the show. The humble crew let me know that they are working on a new studio album and they are planning some future shows. Their music is already begging for a live album though.

Let me give a mention to Prosperity Social Club! This is a very cool place! Several in my group had dinner here, and they loved the food! They said it was tasty and affordable. My wife and I had a dessert and several cups of coffee for under $10. We enjoyed what we had. I would easily go back to Prosperity again. It was crowded, but we were constantly being asked if we needed anything.

Oh, one last thing. Lo-Watt Radio sells a 5 song EP at their shows called the Crushing Plant. At the shows I have been to, the asking price for the EP is"whatever you feel like paying." If you go to their show, be generous. This is a hard working band that deserves your support! The only problem with the 5 song EP is it leaves you wanting a full length CD! I have linked to their site on the right.

Owensboro

Owensboro is still a nice city that gets dust kicked at it sometimes. I grew up in Owensboro and I still love the place.

Sure, you won't find a frequent big name concert like you might find in a bigger city. I don't think there is a popular bar/restaurant area like you might have in Lexington. There is nothing comparable to the Bardstown road area of Louisville.

Still, there are good people and cool places there.

I know Owensboro was briefly in contention to get a Frontier League baseball team at one time, but that never happened.

So, they did get a pro basketball team for a couple of years. Any pro sports team is cool in my books, and I have a personal appreciation for independent level pro teams. It takes a lot to put one together, to sustain one, and to eventually make a profit off of one.

The Florence Freedom (baseball), in northern Kentucky, have pulled it off. They had a rough time in their first few years. They switched parks a few times, and I am sure their owner experience many other stressors, but they seem to be solid now. They did have the benefit of existing before they came to Florence (the organization actually moved from Pennsylvania). Plus, they are close to Cincinnati, AND their park is located right on an interstate. Tens of thousands of travelers pass their park daily.

Check out the history of the Kentucky Rifles, and the Tri-State Tomahawks, two other pro sports teams that did not make it in Kentucky. The Tomahawks literally folded after a couple of weeks.

The Arena Football team in Louisville folded after 8 years, and they were drawing very good crowds in their last year. The Lexington Arena team had similar success too, but folded in 2009.

I did have a chance to catch the Owensboro basketball team at the Sports Center. They put on a good show and I do wish they had more response, and more support.

However, this is independent sports. The chances of success are small. A two year run is nothing to be ashamed of. Even with fan attendance in the thousands (which the Arena Football teams easily had) it is hard to keep going.

The Owensboro team had a lot more success than the Lexington pro basketball team, attendance wise, and that team has retooled, and is planning on coming back this year (moving a few miles to Georgetown). Good luck to the Stallions and the crew running their shows. I plan on being at every game I can get to. They know it takes some time and sacrifice to get the ball rolling.

I saw both teams at home last year. Owensboro's team, in my opinion, had very good fan support for a young, indy team in a small market.

Anyway Owensboro, you still have Kentucky Wesleyan to support, and I am sure the college and the team appreciate every ticket they sell. There is still good basketball being played at the Sports Center.

Hey, if you are in the Georgetown area, catch the Stallions. If you are in Owenboro, catch the KWC Panthers.

http://www.bluegrassstallions.com/

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Joseph Beth in Cleveland closing



Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cleveland is closing, as I mentioned before. What can you say? I spent a lot of time in this store (and in the Shaker Square one before it closed). Legacy Village will not be the same.

I did make it up before the closing. I bought some postcards and a couple of books.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Midway


Midway is a cool little area that I seem to keep passing through.

I stopped there the other day and had a good time. It is small, the main street area can be covered in a few minutes if you don't go in the shops. You should go in the shops though.

I visited a cool local artists shop, a store with a nice selection of local books, and a fun Celtic store. I had a nice sandwich at Darlin' Jeans restaurant.

The Weisenberger Mill has been in the Weisenberger family for six generations according to wikipedia! It is a short drive from the main street shops.

I really need to spend more time in this area. It is very cozy. Some of the shops were closed when I was there too. I liked the little I saw of Midway, and I need to see more!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Random Thoughts On Friday

I started my first blog, Kentucky Travels (kentuckytravels.blogspot.com) a couple of years ago. My original plan was to write about traveling around my home state of Kentucky. Well, I thought writing about some areas outside of the state would be OK too. I covered southern Ohio, West Virginia, and other areas. later, I realized that I had become very generous with my boundaries. Arizona, California, Maine, and Washington state all had several entries.

So, I have now split my blog.

My original blog address- kentuckytravels.blogspot.com- is the same, though I have changed the title to "Maybe We'll Leave Come Springtime". This blog will continue to cover travels around America, with an emphasis on the odd and maybe somewhat forgotten. I love roadside attractions, and odd stories about areas, and the people in specific areas. Basically, I will continue writing about road trips, specific areas, and the history and people of those areas.

My second (and new) blog address- kentuckytravels2.blogspot.com- will cover topics specific to my favorite state, Kentucky. I have named this blog, "Halfway to Heaven with Paradise Waitin'". I will cover the history, events, and people around Kentucky. It will be Kentucky exclusive.

I may re post or move some of my entries about Kentucky to the new blog. I do like the idea of having them all in one location.

Oh, and I still have my blog about professional baseball in Kentucky- kentuckybaseball.blogspot.com.So, I would like to thank everyone who has stopped by one of my blogs, and I would like to thank BOTH people who emailed me about the name change. Oh, and I would like to thank my mom for her continued support relating to the blogs.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book: Fatal Voyage


I am still fascinated as heck with the USS Indianapolis. I just can't fully wrap my brain around the events.

It is still a relatively recent event too. We still have survivors around to tell the story. They were there, and they witnessed the events.

I picked this book up a couple months ago and I am glad I did. It gives a good description of the events before, during, and after. It also goes in to some detail about the crew of the Japanese sub that sunk the USS Indianapolis.

I do appreciate that perspective. I did not realize that the Japanese were so eager to sacrifice themselves. I did not know that some of those guys would literally beg to ride a torpedo into a ship, assuring death and, in their opinion, immortality. It was prestigious to die in that particular way.

The focus point of the book is Captain McVay, who was loved by some of his crew, but also hated by the families of some of the men who did not survive. After reading this book, it does seem that Captain McVay was treated unfairly, and was made a scapegoat. It seems that he did everything right to avoid detection with the information he was provided.

One of the more odd events in American history occurs during McVay's court martial. The US asks that Mochitisura Hashimoto, the commander of the Japanese sub that sunk the USS Indianapolis, to testify against McVay.

This is a great, easy to read book. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out why Hollywood hasn't capitalized on this great story more. Movies have been made and the story was referenced in Jaws, but it is still an unknown in general event.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eldridge F. Williams- Tuskegee Airmen

I recently sent some notes out to the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. Eldridge Williams sent a nice note, with some interesting info on the airmen, and on his career.

Next year their annual convention will be held in Washington DC.

I asked Mr. Williams his thoughts on race relations, and on what he did in the 1940's.

"Race relations- opportunities exceed barriers based on race. All we asked was for an opportunity- turned adversity into opportunity."

Eldridge also notes that his book, "Without Wings, I Soared" will be released in 2011!

If you are not familiar with the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, check out their entry on Wikipedia, or just google them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eugene Derricotte- Tuskegee Airmen

I received ANOTHER great note from a member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. Eugene Derricotte contributed to serving our country with the group, AND he played football for the University of Michigan from 1944-1948!

Eugene completed high school in 1944 and entered college right after that. He completed one semester, then he was drafted December of 44.

After several weeks of training at Fort Bragg, he was offered a chance to train as a pilot at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, AL. He earned his wings in May of 1946!

"By the time World War II was over and I was discharged in July 1946 allowing me to return to the University of Michigan to complete my education."

Eugene graduated from dental school, then entered the US Air Force as a Dental Officer. He was able to get a full retirement in 1985.

I asked Mr. Derricotte about movies showing the Tuskegee Airmen.

He tells me, "I have only seen the first film, but look for the most recent movie to be released soon, produced by George Lucas early next year. Hopefully, it will be the most accurate one produced."

I also asked him about race relations.

"Race relations I think have improved. To believe an African American could become President of the United States should support that."

Thanks for the letter Eugene, and thanks for all you have done for America!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Indianapolis at Christmas



















Indianapolis is a very cool city, I have said it before. Plus, I think the town is attractive, especially downtown.

I was in the area around Thanksgiving again this year. Indy loves Christmas, and it is so festive there during the holidays.

I am posting some pictures (interior and exterior) of their "Artsgarden" which is right in the middle of the Circle City Mall, and downtown area. You can't miss it. There is usually some nice art hanging in there.

http://www.indyarts.org/artsgarden.aspx

I love how many of the downtown hotels connect up to the mall and all. This is very nice on a cold weekend.

The photo of Lucas Oil Stadium at night was taken from the Eagles Nest, the rotating restaurant on top of the Hyatt downtown. The food was unreal there. The view was great too, as you can see. Plus, since the places rotates a full circle about every hour, you get to see the entire city.

The town has it's annual tree lighting ceremony. Actually, they light their Soldiers and Sailors Monument up like a tree. The actual event is televised, and it attracts about 100,000 people to downtown.

I have included a photo of the Chocolate Cafe right next to the monument downtown. This place is the real deal. A cup of hot chocolate here around Christmas is a must.

http://www.southbendchocolate.com/

The town puts their Christmas Cherub up on the clock each year. Another very cool Indianapolis tradition


I have included a photo of Indianapolis' "The Box." I know many cities (Columbus comes to mind) have done campaigns asking that people donate to programs to help the homeless, and not directly to people asking for money on the streets. I think it is very good that Indianapolis has started this program.

Oh, and Indianapolis has a ton of museums. I have been to most of them, and I have never felt let down. I went to the State Museum for the second time this year recently.

A tip of the hat goes to Chik-Fil-A over the Thanksgiving weekend in Indy. Before the tree lighting ceremony, friendly staff and dancing cows were out, passing out new spicy chicken sandwiches to everybody! They were on just about every corner, and gave sandwiches to people in cars who pulled up beside them!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Ryman- Nashville TN









Recently, we took the backstage tour of the Ryman in Nashville.

Growing up on the west side of Kentucky, a day or weekend trip to Nashville was not uncommon. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I have yet to see a show here. I have literally been to hundreds of concerts (including many in Nashville) but I simply haven't timed things out to see a show at this theater.

I did step inside for the 1st time recently. We took the backstage tour where they do not allow photos. If you have been around or toured other entertainment venues, the Ryman looked the same. Nice small dressing rooms with large, well lit mirrors.

We were able to take photos pretty much anywhere but backstage. The place looks like a church. It can hold a little less than 2,500 people.

For $5 you can have a souvenir photo taken on the front of the stage which I thought was pretty cool. If you go to touristy places a lot, $5 is not bad at all. plus, they didn't try to harass you in to getting a photo when you first went in, and then try to sell it to you later. You could go up and do the photo if you wanted, but you didn't have to.

Our tour guide was great, and he talked about seeing many shows there himself growing up. He even said that he once got Hank Williams (the first one!) to sign a program for him!





Sunday, December 12, 2010

SeaWorld Ohio- Cleveland


I am not sure if anyone cares, but here are a few old pictures of SeaWorld near Cleveland.

I took these pics over a decade ago, and I am pretty sure this area no longer exists. I know that the park was sold, re-tooled, and opened at different times under various companies.

This was a cool park. Check out the Whale photos at the bottom and the ski show pic at top. There is a skyline of the amusement park in the background of the ski show one.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hard Rock Cafe- Nashville TN






I think reviewing a chain place is a bit uncool, in general.

The Hard Rocks are unique and all, but they are still, well, part of a chain.

I had such a great time at the Nashville Hard Rock Cafe that I wanted to mention it.

Let me be honest too. I have had some hit or miss experiences at HRC. Looking at Rock memorabilia is a blast anytime. Even if the food is mediocre, its worth it just to check out the decorations.

And... I have had some average at best food at HRC in my travels.

Not in Nashville. I love my barbecue, and being from Owensboro (not to mention visiting Kansas City) I have had some of the best.

The manager actually asked us how we liked the food and he explained how they take pride in their preparation of their barbecue. I can see why he takes that pride.

I am serious when I say that this particular HRC knows what they are doing with barbecue. It was perfect.

Our party also had a chicken sandwich that was among the best.

If you love rock memorabilia, you are going to Hard Rock Cafes anyway. If you aren't big on rock, and you generally avoid the HRC, reconsider in Nashville. The staff here cares about making good food.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hatch Show Print- Nashville TN





Hatch is such a cool place. I love any artsy store with cats. Most of their standard posters are $12-18 each I think. Here are a couple of pictures of posters I took at the Ryman, and then I have 2 photos of the store. One is of the cat!

I have purchased several posters here over the years. Very cool and colorful- not printed on a computer!

I have actually picked up some cool concert posters here, and I found two very retro looking promo posters for Negro League baseball games that I love.

The shop itself is notoriously small, but who cares? You can look back inside the place and see where they make their prints. The posters, and the shop, are very cool, and very unique.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Random Thoughts On Friday

Other than my family, there is nothing in this world that I love more than getting in the car and going somewhere.

I love this great state of Kentucky, and I love the entire country. I can't get enough of it.

There are some places (Nashville, Indianapolis, Sedona) that blow me away every time I visit. I can't wait until my next trip there.

Then there are those places I have never been to that I really want to see.

I have noticed that this humble blog, about Kentucky has really deviated from my original plan. Sure, I still post stuff about my favorite state, but I cover a lot of other ground too. I am thinking about maybe splitting this blog into a Kentucky blog, and an American travels/history blog. Any thoughts?

I think giving this blog a name change and starting a whole new Kentucky blog might work best.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. I would like to thank all seven of my followers, and encourage them to let me know their opinions. Same to you, mom, as my only real reader, what do you think?

Country Music Hall of Fame Nashville










Still on a Nashville kick (and taking my time emptying photos off of my camera!).

I have not had a moment to go through the Country Music Hall of Fame, but I did have a second to stop by the gift shop, and to get a few photos outside. I love the piano design. Classic!

The gift shop was very cool too, I got my customary patch, postcards, and guitar picks!