Lexington and Richmond Kentucky
Well I had to leave my serene place on the Ohio river and travel though the rural countryside of Kentucky. By the way Walt, I never did get those canned peaches your aunt made….
Driving along those back roads this time of year the trees have just barely begun to change color and leaves from some of the trees are already falling. Driving behind someone, all I see are dancing leaves. The vehicle in front stirs them up from the road bed and the leaves look like they are dancing a few feet off the ground. It’s quite a cheery site. Then a gust of wind will come by and more leaves will come tumbling down from all the trees lining the roads.
I’m visiting with Jerry and Nancy Ensor, former co-workers. They moved hear a couple of years ago into one of the new neighborhoods (The Reserve) of brick homes on the tops of rolling hills with expansive lawns. Seems many people from around the world have discovered this part of the country as many of the home owners are from as far away as South Africa and South America. Jerry gave me an extensive tour of the area and we passed by the vast horse farms of the Emerit of Dubai, who usually flies in with his two 747’s barely fitting on the Lexington runway.
The Toyota factory is near here, as well as Kentucky Bourbon. Most of the horse farms and ranches are gentry farms as they no longer produce enough to make a living off of. But the horse farms that raise horses for racing are some of the most productive and wealthy ranches to be found anywhere.
A little tidbit. Most of the fences are now painted a black creosote as the white paint doesn’t hold up as well now that lead is no longer in the paint.
When we got to Nancy and Jerry’s home, we took a walk around the area. Off in the woods, down a gravel road is a foundation for a big home on the edge of the palisades. A large cliff along the Kentucky river way below. We happened upon one of the owners (Terri) and her two dogs and she told us the story. It was begun about a year or more ago and the contractor went over the budget of the contract for digging the foundation. The cost doubled. Then he doubled the cost of building the foundation. The owners had to stop at that point and go to court to settle the issues and currently construction has stopped. They’ve put the property up for sale, but may continue construction in the spring when her brother, also a contractor, will have time to finish the project.
Dreams. I recently heard a saying that walls are put in our way to see how strong those dreams really are. Because dreams don’t become reality for the weak. Sorry not a direct quote, but I think you can get the idea.
Below my campsite are the primitive campsites in Sycamore Hollow. It’s where Daniel Boone and his troop started to build some rough cabins. A couple weeks later it was decided that the hollow could flood and they moved up the hill where the Boonesborough Fort now stands. Kind of neat to know that Daniel Boone once walked on and explored this area that I’m now camping in. Walking in the footstep of explorers.
One of the many mini tours I’ve taken was to Bybee Pottery with Nancy. It’s a pottery business that’s been operating in the same place sine 1809. The shelves are usually stocked about twice a week and are empty within minutes. If you get there before 3:00 you can tour the old log building where they make the pottery and talk to the sixth generation family members and their employees making each piece by hand. The building is as old as the business and looks every day of it from all the wear and tear. It’s simple country clay pottery that has an honest charm to it.
Mixed in with all the new brick homes gradually filling in all the smaller farms are the old barns and farm houses that make this area sing out with country charm. Kentucky has started an artistic endeavor to paint colorful square patches of classic quilts on the fronts of some of the barns. What a neat way to spend an afternoon, traveling the back roads in search of these quilts.
Oh and right here in the Boonesborough State Park is the Riverfront Waterway Museum. The museum is housed in two of the lock masters houses built by the Army Corp of Engineers, on a hill above one of the locks. Kentucky has 14 locks on the Kentucky river which drops about 200 feet from beginning to end making the waterway navigable. Of course like so many of the canals and waterways built in the U.S., it became obsolete before they finished it, with the advent of the steam boat and railroads. The locks were operated until 1988. Now they stand closed and silent. Water flowing over the spillways in a mad rush to meet up with the Ohio River and the Mississippi. No commercial or pleasure boats can use the full length of the waterway even though the locks are still functional and in place. Occasionally the river still floods hiding the locks under many feet of rushing water until the waters finally recede.
On the local news today, it was mentioned that a number of black families in the area that have been supporters of Equal Rights, received a business card on their mailbox that said, “While you were sleeping, we were watching you”, from the KKK.
Last night I went to Jerry and Nancy’s Dulcimer class in Richmond. The Dulcimer has only 3-4 strings and only one string is used for the cords, the other two are for rhythm. A lot of dulcimer players take off the 4th string. It’s very easy to learn I’m told and the sound is very nice. The sheet music has all the notes, but also the numbers that tell you where to place your fingers. I think I could even learn this instrument.
Along with this new music hobby, Jerry and Nancy have their own hobbies they’ve been working on for years. Jerry’s a fine wood craftsman, he’s completely finishing out the basement in their new home and Nancy has a sewing room my sister Ann would be envious of.
Nancy was able to get us a private tour to Woodford Reserve Distillery. It’s a part of the company that also owns Jack Daniels, but produces a much more exclusive Bourbon in limited quantities. Her (faux) daughter works there and gave us a cool tour of the open cedar lined fermenting tubs, past the copper distillers made in Scotland (it’s the only company that distills it’s bourbon 3 times, filling the oak barrels and finally the storage warehouses where the liquid gold is aged for 6 to 8 years. A little tasting in the visitors center and a couple bourbon balls made for a very tasty afternoon. Bourbon is the only liquor invented in the U.S.
A bit more touring and then I head out, either east to Loretta Lynn’s home or south west to Nashville TN. You’ll find out next week which direction I go.