Monday, August 29, 2016

2016-26 Corbin Kentucky, Cumberland Falls


London/Corbin Kentucky

Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
Campground:  Grove Drive-in Campground.  Daniel Boone National Forest.  30 amp/water.  $18 senior rate.  Operated by American Land and Leisure.  Discount is no longer 50% off in parks run by a concessionaire.  Nice paved roads and campsite pad.  Many campsites on are two levels with the lower level having a large area for the picnic table and fire ring.

Distance Traveled:  48 miles

Marina at Grove campground

I was expecting to pay half price at a National Forest campground, but with a concessionaire running the place it was more like 25% off.  Still a fair deal and the campsites are very nice.  Good amount of space between campsites and lots of trees of course if being a national forest setting.

My first day of exploring brought me to Cumberland Falls and Yahoo Falls.  Cumberland is a state park resort and I would later come back and have a nice lunch in the lodge.  The falls are called the Niagara Falls of the South.  They are pretty grand with tons of water flowing over them.  During early spring and any floods the falls doubles in size.  Just a short walk on paved paths to the falls.

Cumberland Falls

walkway to lower portion of falls

walls carved out during flooding of river

during full moons, you can see a "moonbow"

Outside the park I was treated to the scene of a small black bear running along the roadway ahead of me.  With guard rails on both sides, he continued running along the road until he found a break in the guardrail and loped off into the woods.  Although a small bear, his thick fur coat looked way too heavy for his size.

overlook view to Yahoo Falls

The second falls, Yahoo Falls was much different.  For one thing, getting there was a challenge along some really narrow rural roads with lots of guard rails since much of the road hugged the edges of the mountain ridges it wound around.  Then it was a short hike to the upper viewing area which I would not recommend since trees obstructed the views of the falls completely.  Taking the lower path which involved 180 steps to the bottom of the canyon was a piece of cake going down.   The falls are the tallest in Kentucky and as you can see by the pictures is a narrow ribbon of falling water.  Pretty neat to be able to walk behind the falls where native Indians camped nearly 10,000 years ago.

top view of Yahoo Falls

that's all the water that flows over the cliff

180+ steps to river bed, views of Yahoo Falls

highest waterfalls in Kentucky

behind the falls

can you see a frog?

Then it was back tracking on the same route and as I mentioned, stopping at the Cumberland State Park Lodge for lunch was perfect.  They had a turkey dinner special for only $6.95 with coffee and taxes it came to $10.  Great price for lunch with fantastic views looking down into the valley and the Cumberland river below.  I even had a nice chat with an older couple touring the area between visits with family and grandkids.

Planning camping routes and campsites:

I’ve decided to stay in the area for two weeks after doing some research on other campgrounds that should be part of the National Senior Park Pass system.  They being TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) campsites throughout Tennessee.  Unfortunately, like many of the National forests and Army Corp campsites, they are being leased out to local communities or corporations who no longer honor the senior park pass.  I’ll stay here through the Labor Day weekend which is always a pain trying to find a campground to stay at since most campgrounds book up early for holidays.  Some are now charging $26-$45 per night for a campsite.

What I have found out is that Tennessee gives 25% off at their state parks to seniors during season and 50% off during off season (Nov-).  I’ll be taking advantage of the 25% discount after Labor Day weekend and enjoying some great state parks.

Home of Kentucky Fried Chicken

The first restaurant to serve KFC

Up the road from the my campsite is the small town of Corbin Kentucky.  It’s the home of Colonel Sander’s first restaurant to serve Kentucky Fried Chicken, KFC.  He owned a small motor lodge, restaurant and gas station.  The original restaurant has been expended a bit in size but still retains much of the original section of the Colonel’s restaurant and historical features.  Co. Sander’s sold the franchise business for about 2 million dollars outright without retaining an shares in the new company.  The new KFC company even offered him shares, which would have made him a millionaire many times over but he said no.  Today, a nephew owns and runs the original store and recently showed a reporter from Chicago a copy of the original receipt which was then published in the newspaper.

Excerpt from online report: 

The story of the how the recipe was (literally) placed into a reporter's hands started simply enough. A reporter traveled to the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum and met with Joe Ledington, the nephew of Harland David Sanders (AKA Colonel Sanders).

During the interview, Ledington showed off a family scrapbook with a handwritten recipe for fried chicken included among the family photographs 

The recipe reads:

11 spices — Mix with 2 cups white flour
1) 2/3 Ts salt
2) 1/2 Ts thyme
3) 1/2 Ts basil
4) 1/3 Ts oregano
5) 1 Ts celery salt
6) 1 Ts black pepper
7) 1 Ts dried mustard
8) 4 Ts paprika
9) 2 Ts garlic salt
10) 1 Ts ground ginger
11) 3 Ts white pepper

The Tribune's food staff was quick to test the recipe and deduced that the "Ts" measurement is shorthand for tablespoon, not teaspoon. The verdict? The recipe "is the real deal." The only addition the group felt was necessary to add to make it perfect, was MSG — confirmed as an ingredient by a KFC spokesperson.

So, the original Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe has been chillin' this whole time in an old Colonel Sanders family scrapbook?

new entrance to KFC

now a museum and KFC restaurant

part of the original cafe

the kitchen where all the ingredients came together

original diner furniture

KFC served today


Cumberland and Yahoo Falls

Col. Sanders Restaurant and Museum

Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016-25 Renfro Valley Kentucky


many excellent local musicians 

Renfro Valley Kentucky

the Old Barn, the Big Barn sits behind it

Campground:  Renfro Valley campground.  $14.50 PPA half off rate for 3 nights.  $29.00 for 3 nights full rate (Thur/Fri/Sat).  Full hookups w/cable tv and good free wi-fi signal.  Haven’t had tv reception in weeks so it’s a real treat.

a village of shops are near the Old Barn, but many are closed

Distance traveled:  130 miles

Weather:  On and off rain showers this whole week

Hal Rogers Parkway, formerly known as the Daniel Boone Parkway still goes through the Daniel Boone forest and all those Appalachian Mountains.  The parkway’s name was changed because Hal Rogers got the funding through congress, forget about the historical names that make up the area.  Well, it must have cost a fortune to build the mostly two lane parkway through the mountains.  What stunning views as the road travels up and over those ancient Appalachian chain, the oldest mountain range in the continental U.S.  With every rise and fall through deep valleys and heavily forested mountains the roadway was forged through solid rock.  Shear walls of stone cleaved through each mountain pass creating solid canyon like walls on either side of the highway.

I’ve arrived in Renfro Valley home to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and of course the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center.  They’ve been enjoying live music in the Old Barn Theater since 1939 and I’m sure to be able to catch a few great shows while here as well.

historic Lodge, currently close for sale/for lease

many of the shops are closed, with others only open
on nights with shows

After setting up for the week I discovered that my two year old Tv died.  Ekk.  Out of warranty and didn’t really cost that much to begin with, I decided to check out new Tv’s at Walmart.  Found a nice flat screen tv by HiSense and it’s a “smart Tv” just like my smart phone.  Is everything going to be smarter than me?  After setting up the Tv and checking out all the features, I discovered that with it’s built in wi-fi I can easily stream movies and tv programs from my cell phone or laptop computer.  With a good 4g signal the streaming is really smooth.  The remote control even comes with built in Netflix, Amazon, Vudu and You Tube.  I don’t currently subscribe to any of them but can easily set up an account in the future.  Another bonus while setting up the new Tv was that I found a wire connection directly to the built in stereo receiver and large speaks that sit just below the Tv.  So now I’m able to have full surround sound through the built in stereo speakers and all the wiring is hidden.  Fancy that.

In many counties in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee they have what’s known as dry counties where liquor is not sold in stores or restaurants.   Renfro valley is in one of those counties and it shows.  Although the area could become a much larger tourist attraction, without the ability to sell alcohol many businesses won’t move into the area.  This could easily become another Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge tourist area.  Right now, all that’s in the area is the Renfro Valley entertainment center.  The historic log cabin lodge/restaurant and cabins is closed and what a stunning facility it is.  The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame just misses the mark in many respects and gets very little tourist traffic except for school kids outings.  Other than that, there’s not much in the area.  Most of the businesses in the small towns have all closed, leaving empty store fronts and little traffic.

While at a local truck stop diner I notice two women with a child eating lunch between puffs of smoke billowing above their table.  A truck driver, bent over texting on his smart phone and talking through his headphone setup, smokes a cigarette and sips on his coffee as he waits for his lunch.   The air a blue haze thick with the smell smoke.  Something I haven’t encountered in years on the road as most states have outlawed smoking in public places.

I-75 just north of my exit has been closed all morning south bound, due to a major traffic accident.  The north bound lane just closed also to enable clean up crews to tow away the crashed vehicles.  Hwy 25 in front of the Renfro Valley complex that I’m staying at is a mass of slow moving vehicles as an alternative to I-75.  The on and off rains over the last couple of days and this morning was surely a contributing factor to the accidents.

Jerry and Nancy Ensor

and what great home style cooking
corn/okra/tomatoes and two grilled pork chops... yum

After taking a detour around I-75 since it was still closed down, I headed into Lexington Kentucky to meet up with former co-workers Nancy and Jerry Ensor at Ramsey’s.  It’s a great local restaurant chain that specializes in good home style meals and even has a listing of the freshest in-season vegetables available.  I had a corn, tomato, and okra dish that was very tasty along with two honey glazed grilled pork chops that were the best I’ve had in years.  So nice to catch up with former workers who have been such good friends over the years.

I attended three shows in Renfro Valley

The same evening, I attended the first of three shows I’ll be going to in Renfro Valley.  Lots of very good country music performed by their troop of professional musicians and singers.  All shows I’ll be attending are in the Old Barn as the large Big Barn is reserved for 1st rate acts that are scheduled throughout the year.

a Minnie Pearl Impersonation

He's been playing in Renfro Valley since 1957

banjo playing at it's best

arriving from Nashville singing
Hank Williams 

the Emcee and great singer

The Gospel Jamboree and the Saturday evenings main event the Renfro Valley Barn Dance were both great.  What a pleasant way to be spiritually uplifted but through the sound of music and good old country gospel singing.  The Barn Dance is not actually a dance in that they have no dance floor.  Perhaps in the past they may have had a dance floor.  It all started back in 1939.  One fiddle player has been playing Renfro since 1957.  As a child he had walked up to John Lair, the owner, and asked if he could play on stage.  John said if he learned how to play the fiddle, he’d let him play on stage.  The rest is history.

Lots of really good old time music from Loretta Lynn,  Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline and the great Hank Williams were all spotlighted.  One singer from Nashville was even featured on stage.

In between all the rain we’ve had this past week, I’ve enjoyed some great music, visits with my Kentucky friends who are planning on moving to Texas to follow their daughter and family next year, and I’ve even enjoyed watching lots of tv shows with the cable connect at the campsite.  So maybe it’s not been much of a week of exploring the surrounding area, but none the less, I’ve sure had my fill of good ole country music.

an abandoned home right next to a Hardy's restaurant parking lot 

campsite at Renfro Valley, just a short walk across a
parking lot to see the shows in the Old Barn