Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Into the great wide open..Friday.. Mammoth Cave!

January 30th, 2006 Comments off

Friday we wake up refreshed and feeling human again.. Today was it.. The cave day.. First things first
we go back to the Mammoth Cave Restaurant.. The finest pancakes were obtained here.. Sheila gave them a 4.63 out of 5 on the scale.. It was at this point
I asked her a bit more about how her scale worked.. I asked if the syrup was included in the scoring or if it was separate.. She told me it was all about
the experience and one contributing factor to the score of these pancakes was the use of real warm maple syrup.. I am not here to steal her thunder, so I
will eagerly await her review for more details of why these pancakes have been given the top award..

Once done with our meal we go and get our tickets for a tour of the cave.. We have no idea what we are in for or which tour to take.. Finally we opt for
the historic tour over the star chamber tour.. I would recomend reading the wikipedia article about
Mammoth Cave National Park and even more importantly Stephen Bishop a slave who explored and named a vast amount of the cave by
candle light.. At one point our tour guide turned off the lights and got out a lantern (See photo below).. Then he started talking about how quiet and
dark it is in the cave system.. He then blew out the lantern, and then told us to be quiet.. Within a few seconds you could hear your own heart beat.. Now
having said all of that can you imagine exploring a cave by yourself by just candle light? Talk about some balls.. Sheila and I figured that if you face
being bought and sold that you really have nothing to loose, but still I can’t even fathom it..

Our tour guide with the lantern. Look how dark this photo is! For you camera geeks I had the ISO speed at 1600, 1/2 second exposure using an fstop of
1.4 and thats all i got..

This is one of the best photos I took.. 1 second exposure f/1.4..

There were marking all over the cave from initial tourists.. Here are a few on the Giants Coffin from the 1800s

Me blinded by the sun after returning from the cave. It was completely overcast when we returned to the surface, but I was still a bit blinded by the sun
after a few minutes when this photo was taken..

Sheila pointing at the caves.. Down in the hole!!

After a quick stop in the gift shop we headed back to North Carolina.. We stopped one night in Asheville and get some beers, crash in a sorta freaky Days
Inn, and then finally get back to the City of Oaks on Saturday.. It was nice to be home..

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Into the great wide open.. Thursday..

January 30th, 2006 Comments off

Thursday was pretty low key.. We took a cab back to Heine Brothers where we left my car for the
night.. I normally don’t get hung over, but I felt it that day.. I have no idea how many I had, but I am betting on top of the bottle of wine at Ramsi’s
it was close to 10 or 12 beers.. Sheila had 4 Bourbons on the rocks.. Man oh man.. So we hop in the car and head off to cave city.. Part way there we stop
at KFC hoping to get some sort relief from the hangovers, but it doesn’t help much at all.. After a short and painful ride we get to Cave City, and decide
we don’t need to descend 300+ feet into the ground that day.. We get a room at the Mammoth Inn Hotel take a much needed many hour nap wake up around the
last call for the restaurant at the Mammoth Inn Hotel.. The pancake tour will continue tomorrow, but for now Sheila gets a 1/2 chicken fried hard.. Of
course there is no hope of her finishing it, and I barely finish my fish (why did I get fish in Kentucky?).. Then we just take it easy and sleep off the
rest of the pain..

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Into the great wide open.. Wednesday..

January 28th, 2006 Comments off

The plan for Wednesday didn’t consist of much other than we were going to go to the Homemade Ice Cream
and Pie Kitchen and the zoo.. We roll into the Ice Cream and Pie for lunch, and find out they don’t sell any food other than ice cream and pies.. The lady
at the counter suggests we go to the store around the corner and get a sandwich and come back to see her.. We walk around the corner to a liquor store /
deli called Morris’ Deli..

We grab what has to be one of the best roast beef sandwiches I have ever had.. You just roll in tell the guy what we wanted on our sandwich, grab a bag of
chips and a soda and take a seat.. We try and pay before we get our food, but the guy tells us “You can pay us after you decide if you like it or not”..
Amazing stuff.. Grab a bottle of Bourbon, and head back to the Pie place..

Sheila gets some ice cream and I get some cherry cheesecake, both of which were absolutely wonderful.. Then it was time to check out the zoo.. It was
pretty damn cold that day, and I am pretty sure there were less than 20 people at the small zoo the entire day.. The Louisville Zoo wasn’t very big
compared to the NC Zoo, but it still had some cool exhibits.. Many of the animals weren’t out though since it was right above freezing.. It took no more
than 3 hours to get through the whole place..

Linus.. He was about to get fed when he came leaping out of the water..

After the zoo we grab some coffee at a different Henie Brothers, and check out the zoo photos.. While there we ask the dude at the counter if he has any
suggestions for dinner.. He suggests the place around the corner Ramsi’ Cafe on the World.. This turned out to be the best meal that we had while on the
entire trip.. I would strongly recommend this place to anyone heading to Louisville.. I had the “Pork, Port and Pears”.. Incredible meal.. It was super
packed, and it was only a Wednesday.. That always is a good sign..

While there Garrets sister calls and we head down to Cahoots for a “few” drinks.. We roll in and immediately sit down and yack with this guy John who
works there and we end up talking for forever.. Finally we meet up with the rest of the locals and proceed to get wasted.. About 3am we finally decide
it’s time to head back to the hotel.. John was right on the money we walk up to the front and he says “Hey you guys are STILL here?” .. He calls a cab for
us which took no more than 30 seconds to show up.. Our final farewell to Cahoots was of John saying “I’ll see you kids down at the Jackpot in Raleigh

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Into the great wide open.. Tuesday..

January 28th, 2006 Comments off

Tuesday we pretty much planed on just going to the Speed Museum. First we went out in search of some kinda local food.. We found this awesome place called TC’s Sandwich Shoppe on Market Street downtown..
Great little place..

We then went to the museum.. It had a rather interesting collection of all kinds of art.. There was nothing the museum seemed to specialize in.. We then
took a stroll through the old neighborhood in downtown..

We went to this place near there which I forgot the name of and had some Jamacian Hummus and pita chips.. Yummy stuff.. We went to The Back Door which
reminded me a bit of Snookers.. Nothing to interesting happened Tuesday..

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Into the great wide open.. Monday

January 28th, 2006 Comments off

That morning we got up and drove down Bardstown.. First stop Krispy Kreme.. By the photos we took you
would think that we didn’t have them in North Carolina.. Fun times..

We stopped at the big cemetery on Bardstown where some of my family members from 5 generations back are buried.. We aimlessly wander around the cemetery
for probably 2 hours.. The grave markers are amazing for most of the deaths in the early 1800s since that was when Louisville had tons of money.. Huge
obelisks, ornate trees with logs for the children.. Busts of folks on top of shrines.. Moseleums with wonderful stained glass..

Colonel Sanders is also burried in this cemetery.. We saw many names on the more elaborate gravestones / memorials.. These names would be seen all over
Louisville the rest of the trip.. Street names, plaques, building names, etc..

We go to Indiana to a “park” to look at the Louisville Skyline but it turns out to be little more than a few benches and we quickly head back to
Kentucky.. We roll up to the Louis (Not who Louisville was named for) and Clark memorial, see some bums drinking some sorta clear liqor in the cold ass
windy weather look at the Ohio River and get back in the car in search of warm food..

We stop at this Irish Pub on Bardstown called Maggie Malones for a super late lunch, and proceed to gorge ourselves on beer and pub food.. We are stuffed
by this point and take a short nap.. After some more aimless driving around we head back to the only Thai place we have seen in town, but it turns out to
be more like Thai/Chineese/Vietnamese place.. They have pho, sweet and sour chicken, phad thai and shrimp toast.. Nothing too fancy..

We head down the street to Cahoots.. This place turns out to be the Louisville twin of the JP.. There are a ton of similarities.. The baby pictures on the
bar.. The green and burgundy color scheme.. The rope lights on the bar.. Hanging smoke.. Same crowd.. We play a few games of pool and after getting
smoked out we decide to leave..

We head back to Cumberland Brews and have a few more before heading back to the hotel.. At Cumberland Brews they have coasters that everyone writes on, so
we decide to fill out a few with Raleigh related stuff..

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Into the great wide open.. Sunday..

January 28th, 2006 Comments off

Sunday we wake up and Sheila had the name of a breakfast / diner we were told to check out called the
Twig and Leaf on Bardstown road.. At first we are concerned that eating lunch at noon on a Sunday will be a problem with the church crowd.. Once we
arrive we realize its not a problem and wait only a few minutes to get a seat.. Sheila had the pancakes, and I got some cheese eggs, rye toast, and twig
taters.. Sheila ranks the pancakes at a 3.5..

We then ventured across the street to the Heine Brothers Coffee shop and have a cup a joe.. It starts to rain.. and rain.. and rain.. and rain.. Its
pretty cold so we decide to just go and look for a hotel somewhere around the Bardstown road area.. It seems pretty cool and like where we mostly will
want to spend time..

Pretty much hotel options in that area were either downtown, or out by the airport.. We had a coupon for this place called the Airport Inn.. 39.99 a
night.. We also were pretty pooped from driving around and just wanted to get a hotel to relax.. The pouring rain wasn’t helping.. When we pulled up there
were pretty much no cars in this place, but against my better judgment I went on in.. I walked in and saw a guy watching TV barefoot.. He looked at me and
said “Can I help you?”, to which I said, “Yeah I want to get a room”.. So I get a room from this lovely barefoot man and Sheila and I head up to the
“room”.. The longer I walk around this hotel the scarier it looks.. There was a sign on the door when we walked up “Please pardon the mess while we
re-model”, but that really didn’t cover what we were about to see..

First we walked by the pool which was completely drained, and had a bunch of holes in the bottom of it.. It sort of reminded me of what would be left over
from somone throwing a grenade in the pool.. The concrete walkways around the hotel had most of the paint chipped off, and also were pitted as though
someone had been attacking them with a sledge hammer.. I kept telling myself “The room will be OK even if the rest of the hotel looks like shit”.. Wrong..
We walk in and there are muddy footprints on the carpet.. The lights don’t work.. The sink is dripping and also clogged.. It is however draining very
slowly (onto the carpet below).. How lovely.. There is no state of Kentucky sign on the back of the door like you see in any LEGAL hotel stating the
average rates, your legal rights etc.. After about 30 seconds I go back and talk to my lovely barefoot friend at the counter, and after a few attempts
from him to persuade me to “Try another room” I get my money put back on my credit card and we get a real hotel with running water and electricity..
Lovely place this Airport Inn.. I would strongly recomend against it..

Check out the footprints on the floor!

After a very long nap the rain is still coming down.. We finally decide to leave the comforts of the new hotel room and see what there is to grab for
dinner that night.. We drive up and down Bardstown a bit looking for something promising.. We go to a place called Cumberland Brewery.. I get a
Bison/Buffalo Burger and Sheila gets this awesome salad with Bleu Cheese, slivered almonds, apple slices, mixed greens, blackened chicken and some other
stuff.. We also tried their local brews.. I had a Red and a Porter.. Sheila some Pilsners that night.. The rain was still coming down when we headed back
to the hotel room and got some much needed sleep.. We also got a phone call from Garrets sister Valarie and we decided we would try and meet up later in
the week sometime..

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Into the great wide open.. Saturday..

January 25th, 2006 Comments off

So Sheila and I headed off last Saturday for Louisville, KY.. I had been there a few years back with
my folks and it seemed like a pretty happenin’ place that wasn’t a huge expensive city.. I also was blown away by the architecture.. The french influence
here is very obvious.. If the Fleur-De-Le (I am sure I misspelled that) on the Louisville Metro Govt logo wasn’t obvious enough.. There was a neighborhood
that still has gas lights everywhere for example.. Of course since I was with the rents I didn’t get to really explore it like I wanted, so it required a
return trip..

Before we headed off I asked Garret to get me some information on what there is to do in Louisville.. Thanks to Garrets sister Sheila and I located the
Jackpots Twin.. Cahoots which I will talk about in another blog in a day or two..

So at any rate back to the trip.. I had driven through Charleston, WV many times, and always had wanted to stop and look at the capital building, but I
never had.. The capital building you can normally see from I77 when you blaze through town as just this standard capital looking buiding complete with a
dome.. This one seemed extra large for a state government and also is complete with a GOLD dome.. Craziness.. I finally stopped, got over my fears of
inbred hicks, and decided to check it out.. It was MUCH larger than it seemed from the interstate.. It also was wide open for anyone to just wander
around.. it seemed quite over the top much more so than most government buildings.. We were trying to get up into the upper balcony of the dome, but we
never were able to figure out how to get up there.. We did find out that the doors allowing access to the roof were unlocked and we wandered on the roof
for a little bit.. Check out some of the ornate details of the capitol building..

Capitol Building with the sun setting

The inside of the dome

We also walked by the river that runs through the capital city and saw a number of pairs of stairs that run down into the water.. Neither Sheila or I
could figure out what exactly they were for, or where they went..

Most likey they were used when the river was at a different level.. I seem to have remembered West Virgina flooding from time to time, so it makes sense
why the river had what looked to be some level of flood controls around it too..

Andrews girlfriend Alison gave us the suggestion of a 24 hour diner in Charleston called the Southern Kitchen.. It wasn’t bad, and I suggest you check
Sheilas blog for more details, but this was the first place on the “Pancake tour of America”..

Finally after a much needed meal and trek around a very secure West Virgina capitol complex we got back on the road.. 1030 or so we get to the river city
or derby city.. I have seen this place referenced as both names so I am not sure which to call it.. Either way we stopped at some shitty sports bar to get
our bearings.. We then got a hotel and headed to Frankfort Street Beer Depot.. This place was suggested by a co-worker of Sheilas.. It was a parallel of
Sadlacks in Raleigh.. The beer was inexpensive and good.. We tried to play pool but the local drunk pretty much quelled that.. We watched him fall over at
least twice.. He kept trying to get in on our pool game, and wanted to bet his leather jacket.. Each time the value changed.. First it was 250 bukcs, then
150.. Who cares.. The final straw was this lovely exchange:

Drunk Dude: Whats your name?
Me: Bob..
Drunk Dude: Hey Bob.. {hick} What would you do if someone had a gun and blew their brains out..
Me: Uhh.. I think I would be a bit bothered by it..

Then he tried to go to the womens bathroom and fell over a stool into the door.. Classy.. He was shortly kicked out of the place and probbably passed out
in the parking lot.. I wasn’t worried about him driving I don’t think he could have been able to start a car..

Anyway that was day one, and it only took 9 hours to get here not including hte hour or so stop over in Charleston.. Average cruising speed of 80 sure
does help.. The West Virginians also jacked up the tolls to 2 bucks a stop since last time I was here.. I guess times are getting tougher for em..

More to come…

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