Jim & June's Odyssey 090421
Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
57Trip End Ongoing
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While driving from Nashville to Frankfort, we passed through a higher set of hills where the highway was cut through shale rock and shear escarpments of red/grey stone. In true Kentucky lingo, they have named their highways "Ridgetop Speedway," "Highland Rim Route," "Kentucky Bourbon Trail" and "Bluegrass Parkway."
In February, western Kentucky endured an ice storm that flattened trees over a wide area. Even today, large spruce trees are bent to the ground and large oaks have huge branches dangling on them. There are piles of broken branches along the highway as contractors race to clean up the state before the May 1st Kentucky Derby race in Louisville. Cedars are the only tree/shrub that appears to have escaped unscathed.
As we approached Frankfort, there were more farms with beautiful landscaping, large trees, white fences, curvy laneways, fancy looking houses, horse paddocks, nice out-buildings, etc.
It is also a productive grain and tobacco growing region.
FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY: Located in the beautiful Kentucky River valley it is the State Capitol AND where Abraham Lincoln got his start as a politician. We stayed at the Elkhorn Campground beside the Elkhorn Creek (as wide as the Beaver River with twice the water flow) runs on two sides of us. It is scenic and very quite with lots of song birds - reminds us of home at Moose Lake.
· Downtown Frankfort - With 70 historical buildings, it is a real step-back in time. The newer Frankfort is across the river and 3miles away.
· Rebecca-Ruth Candy Factory - Known as the inventor of the "Bourbon Ball," this 100yr old business was started by two school teachers. They really got a boost to their business during the Prohibition era of the 1930's. The bar had to close down so the women ran their business from there - everyone suspected that the barkeep made his money by selling them the home-grown bourbon that they injected into their chocolate product - everybody was a winner. During the WWII when sugar was rationed, people brought their meager amount to these ladies in exchange for the booze laden chocolate. Now, their grandkids run it and make various liquor injected chocolates - after 3 you start getting a buzz, we bought a box.
· Daniel Boone's Gravesite - Located on a hillside overlooking the city, Capitol Buildings and the Kentucky River, his grave is surrounded by 17 Kentucky governors and one Vice President - Richard M. Johnson.
· State Capitol - Built from limestone, it is considered to be the finest capitol building in the nation. Outside, there's a large "floral clock" measuring 34 feet across that sits on a stone pedestal inside a planter weighing 100 tons. It takes more than 10,000 plants to fill.
· Vietnam Veterans Memorial - A unique and original memorial where a Sundial's gnomon shadow points to the soldier on the date of his death.
· Switzer Covered Bridge - The only example of a Howe trussed bridge in the state.
· Three Chimneys Farm - With 1700 acres of gently rolling hills, southern mansion style buildings, miles of white wood corrals and 650 racehorses, this is one of the biggest and most reputable breeders in Kentucky. With the help of an on-staff pedigree analyst and a full time veterinarian, they provide boarding and stud services and were the first to provide internet reporting and videos to clients on a daily basis. In 2003 they sold the all-time leading money winning mare in North America for $5.3 million and set a new North American record for a colt at $2.4 million. They board 12 reputable stallions (two are syndicated) - their most famous horses were Man-O-War, Seattle Slew and 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Stud fees range from $7,500 to $150,000 and you have to book six months in advance. Unfortunately, we couldn't take a tour because they're booked up until the end of May.
· At our resort, we met a very nice couple (Chris & Elba Fitzwater) from New Hampshire. They were here to finalize the purchase of their retirement home in Richmond, KY. Chris just retired from his job as an Air Traffic Controller in Boston and was on duty when one of his airplanes flew into the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11. At his Enroute Controller position, he lost his on-screen transponder data and communication capability (because the terrorists shut it off in the aircraft) and quickly asked another aircraft to confirm that it was still below him. This pilot stated that the other aircraft just changed course and was headed for New York. Chris remembers alerting his supervisor and expressed a concern that it may be headed for the towers. Apparently, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) previously issued an alert for all controllers to immediately report all unguided aircraft flying erratic flight paths to the USAF. It wasn't shot down and twenty minutes later, the second tower was hit. At the time, he was too busy diverting all USA bound aircraft to Canadian airports and landing all other aircraft currently in US airspace ..... anywhere and NOW!!!
· The houses in new subdivisions are built with the same dark-red colored brick so it looks like a military base. Not very appealing.
· The dirt is only 6" deep, the rest is solid limestone.
· Most of the barns are painted black!!!
Things we Learned:
· In the 1800's kemp (used to make rope) was a major cash crop in this area but ended when imported jute arrived.
· They use the term "Pike" as a designation for a roadway, freeway, a highway or a narrow country road i.e. Frankfort Pike, Lexington Pike, Newton Pike, etc. It means that there's a mountain, hill or peaked summit along its route.
We had a very nice drive from Nashville to Frankfort. On the way, Jim was searching for a radio station and he found one called "Love - FM". I laughed when he said, "You've got to be kidding! I'm looking for one called "Kickin' Ass - FM" but settled for the Bear, the Wolf and the Beaver FM. I think he's been in Texas, Tennessee and Kentucky for too long....
Kentucky is a beautiful state, very green, very clean and well kept. The ranches we saw between Lexington and Frankfort were estates with wrought iron gates, miles of paddocks and mansion like residences. I can't imagine cutting the lawns on these farms. They must employ somebody full time just to maintain the grounds and the fences. Also, I can see why Kentucky is known not only for their race horses but also for their Kentucky Bourbon. It seems like there is a bourbon distillery every five miles and the Jim Beam Distillery is just down the street from us. Another thing we noticed was the number of Sonic fast food joints. They are like the old A & W's - you drive in and they come to your car to serve you.