Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013-30 Prestonsburg Kentucky


Country Music Highway U.S. 23

Prestonsburg Kentucky

Campground:  Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Campground.  Fall discounts and senior discount brought my nightly rate down to $14.27 a night (Sunday-Thursday buy one night camping, get the next night free).  As a resort they have boat docks/boat rentals, lodge and cabins, golf course and live theatre on sight.  Some cabins are over the lake and one can fish from the cabin porch.  No TV reception.  Minimal Verizon coverage though the park does have free wi-fi near the check in building and the lodge.

Interesting note, there full hookup sites have two sewer connections on each site.  One midway and the other at the back end of each campsite.

That little screw in my trailer tire has caused more work than expected.  After the tire was patched and plugged, it still leaked air.  I brought in back after the holiday weekend and had them put an inner tube in the tire.  Didn’t even know they could do that any more.  $16.20 later and it appears to have solved the problem.  Two hours later, I was on the road, heading along hwy 2 on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River.  Not a particularly good road for RV-ers as the fist 20 miles or so the road is very narrow and no shoulders.  It eventually widened out making for a more pleasant journey.

I’ve traveled this eastern Kentucky highway before as it winds it’s way along the Kentucky/West Virginia boarder.  It’s called the Country Music Highway U.S. 23.  Besides being home to many country and folk singers the highway itself is particularly nice for the RV traveler as it’s a four lane highway with a paved median turning lane in-between and also has wide paved shoulders.  Surrounded by the heavily forested foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with it’s deep hollows one of which is where the coal miners daughter, Loretta Lynn grew up.  Country music museums and concert halls are dotted all along the 144 miles of highway.  Even the local Taco Bell has guitars and displays of country music singers clothes, hats, and shoes.  Video monitors showing the latest in country tunes.

Coal is still a major employer here, with many Labor Day celebrations in the small towns supporting the Unions and coal producers.  Some being bigger celebrations than the 4th of July.

Who are some of the country stars that grew up along U.S. 23?

Dwight Yoakum's guitar
Loretta Lynn
Wynonna and Naomi Judd
Billy Ray Cyrus
Tom T Hall
Ricky Skaggs
Keith Whitley
Dwight Yoakum
Patty Loveless
Crystal Gale

Kentucky hasn’t had elk in the state for over 150 years.  Back in 1989 they reintroduced elk back into the state with about 1,000 being transplanted here over a couple of years.  The population has quickly expanded and has grown to over 11,000.  Today they have a limited hunting season by lottery to hunt elk.

At the lodge I’ve had their lunch buffet a few days in a row and thought I’d share one of their most unusual salads.  It’s called the Cornbread Salad and here are the ingredients:

Corn Bread Salad

Crumbled cornbread
Diced bell pepper
Diced onions
Diced tomatoes
Shredded cheese
Kidney beans (washed)

Add mayonnaise
Seasoned salt
Mrs. Dash

Mix to consistency desired
(it almost looks like grits with vegetables thrown in)

Along the Country Music Highway is the town of Pikeville called the Town that moves mountains.  I had to visit it to see the massive mountain that they moved called the Pikeville Cut-Through Project.  The town itself is horseshoe shaped as it winds itself around a mountain.  The reason they decided to cut through Peach Orchard Mountain was so that they could divert three main highways, a railroad and a river that ran right through the heart of the town.  Imagine having the imagination and desire to move a river, three highways and a railroad to make your town more livable.  The river constantly flooded the downtown area.  The railroad spewed coal dust everywhere and the highways caused major traffic jams in town.  The project started in 1973 and after the last two phases which began in 1983 the project was finally finished at a cost of $80 million dollars.  They have a park with an observation deck high up on one side of the cut for viewing this enormous undertaking.  They filled in the old river bed and by removing the train tracks added some 150+ acres of land to the downtown area.

Well that’s what’s happened recently to this thriving eastern Kentucky town but look a little further back in time, say around 1864, and you’ll find the legend of the Hatfield and McCoy Feud.  It’s the story of two families caught up in a feud over the death of Harmon McCoy by a Hatfield during the Civil War.  A little while later a scuffle and trial over a missing hog led to more fighting and revenge.  During all this fighting, there were marriages between the two families causing even more shame to each family as they called out the newly married couples as traitors and turncoats.  A dozen or more killings ensued and as many were jailed and one hanging occurred near the end of the dispute.  Pikeville has driving tours that one can do on their own to visit the many sites in and around the area to learn more about the Hatfield & McCoy’s and they also have a bus tour on Saturdays for around $15.  Well worth the fair to learn about this event that was followed nationally and internationally that occurred here in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.  Over the Labor Day weekend they had the first Festival with the Hatfield-McCoy Feud being a central theme for the festivities.  No shootings or feuds occurred, though someone did steal lots of stuff from the visitors cars.  It was all recovered within two days and the thief not only confessed but also cried over his misdeeds.  The local paper printed pictures and full confessions of the dastardly deed.

The air is thick as molasses with the sounds of southern accents.  Giving, I must admit the feeling that one is truly in the deep south and as they say, hillbilly country.  The men chewing their tobacco and spitting huge wads of dark brown liquid onto the street and the children being scolded by their Mom’s as one mother said, “putting the fear of God and Mother into them”.  The deep hollows that abound in this part of Kentucky seem to breed that thick accent and quite a few thick waistlines as well.

But it doesn’t matter where I go these days, I notice families, couples, friends dining out together, all on their cell phones.  It really brought it to light yesterday when I looked out my window towards my neighbors camper and all three girls, a son and the father were all sitting around on picnic tables and lounge chairs looking at those little screens on their cell phones.  I didn’t think it could get any worse, when later in the evening they started up line dancing in the park.  A big square concrete floor outdoors under the stars, two large speakers and bleachers on three sides.  As the line dancing began, one pretty young girl of around 15 years old was doing the line dance with all the others while she was texting and looking at that little lit up screen on her cell phone.  Not once did she look away from the screen as her lower body went through the motions of the line dance.  Last week when I was at the tire shop getting my tire repaired, the owner told me he doesn’t let his kids use cell phones or computers unless it’s necessary.  His son got so hooked on using his cell phone that it was turned off for two weeks.  The tire shop owner/Dad told me that his son continued to carry the phone around with him for two weeks, holding it, looking at it’s blank screen even though he couldn’t use it.  He just couldn’t leave it back home.

I thought a day of culture was in store so I drove down from my hilltop campsite into Prestonsburg to go to the East Kentucky Science Center & Planetarium. It’s one of the newest attractions in the area and is part of the university here.  Sorry to say the science exhibits were all designed for the middle grade school kids and revolved around only around energy.  Though they did provide a bit of education on the creation of fossil fuels, our use of them and the effects on our planet, there just weren’t any  other science displays to interest me.  They do have a 40ft domed planetarium and I enjoyed the show they put on.  The one I saw was all about the discovery and evolution of the telescope and the leaps we’ve made in just the past 100 years learning more each day about the universe we live in.  Did you know it’s only been 100 years since we became aware that our planet and solar system is a part of the Milky Way?  100 years may seem like a lot of time, but in the scheme of things it’s not even a speck of time in the history of our planet and mankind much less the ever expanding universe itself.

I should mention that if you travel in this area after Labor day, you will probably not be able to attend any of the great country and folk concerts that abound here during the summer months since there’s quite a break between the summer and fall/winter show schedules.

But the area abounds with local history and exploring the area to see places like the home that Loretta Lynn’s grew up in in Butcher Holler and many other country/folk locations will surely fill any void during the off season.  Besides, the weather is simply awesome this time of year.  Sunny days, no humidity with highs reaching only 80-82 degrees and evenings between 59 and the low 60’s.  What a great way to begin the fall season.

Till the next rambling report, have a super great day.

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