A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

We Give Up!

Pinewood Lake
Elsinore, Missouri

This was a Forest Service campground that at one time collected fees but for some reason it is now free.  I'm fine with that.  When we first arrived it felt wonderful.  Although the temperatures were in the 80's the humidity was 25% less; it was a noticeable difference from what we had been putting up with weeks prior.  Shade and only one other camper plus a cyclist, yeah, this will do fine.
Then the late afternoon arrived.

It got hot. The humidity level skyrocketed.  Ever been in a sauna?  Any breeze to be had was nonexistent.  The air was stagnant.  We were sweltering.  Beans was panting.  We had three fans going.  The forecast was more of the same but at increased levels.  There is no fun in this.
It finally broke us.  We waved the white flag and surrendered to Middle America.  It won. 

A week earlier it dawned on me what was going wrong.  In the past every trip back east that Sinbad and I had done was in the spring and the fall.  We'd always return home for the summer when the vacationing families were turned loose.  The Midwest, Mideast, the South, is no place to be in the summer.  Every local I have talked with all confirmed with me that "you don't ever get used to it". They don't like it one bit.  That was nice to learn.  I thought I was a wimp.  I've learned a BIG lesson where NOT to go in the summers from now on.

We're heading for the Rocky Mountains.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Butler County Park

Woodbury, Kentucky

I wasn't expecting much driving to this location and was prepared to do some more driving to a spot to camp for a few days.  I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw.  Best part?  The shade beneath these towering sycamore trees.  They helped a lot against the heat and humidity.

The worse part was the litter strewn about.  This was a new park dedicated in June of 2017.  There were two trash cans ($21.78 - the price tags were still on them).  Both were overflowing and the animals would get in digging around and thus the litter.  It appears the County never comes by to empty the cans.  I picked up all the litter at my spot, stuffed in into the can and was able to get the lid on.  The other trash can after cleaning that mess, I had to leave a large black plastic bag on top.
The next morning the animals had ripped into it.

There were lots of butterflies about and very few mosquitoes.  And too, fireflies.
I love those fireflies.  I'd come back to the Mideast for the fireflies alone.

Then there were these guys.  Cicadas.  They were huge and loud.  
They gave the whole scene a tropical jungle like atmosphere.

It was here that Beans caught her first frog but it got away.

Where did it go?
Frog catching requires a whole different skill set.

Nearby was this disused lock.

I talked with a local and he told me the dam washed out 15 or so years ago and they never rebuilt it.

 Boat traffic ceased and everything was abandoned. 
 The "jungle is slowly reclaiming it all.

 A tree growing around one of the geared arms that open and close the lock gates.

This was all along the Green River which was pretty green.
I thought best not to swim in it
Who knows what lurks in those murky waters?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Dumpster Divers

Richmond, Kentucky

It is two o'clock in the morning and I have to get up and do what most of us do at that hour of the night.  As normal, I can't get back to sleep so I get back up and sit at the table eating some grapes.  A car zooms into the parking lot, does a complete circle around then parks by the dumpsters.  Earlier in the day when Beans and I were walking around this dumpster had all of the appearances of one of the stores being cleaned out for some new tenants.  Full of big black trash bags and two rolls of carpeting and carpet padding.  A man and woman get out of the car, the guy climbs in the dumpster and starts rooting around with a flashlight in his mouth.  He tosses out a couple of the trash bags and the woman picks them up and tosses them into the other dumpster which is empty.  What is he looking for?  A marked bag full of drugs?  This was the drop-off point? Finally a roll of carpeting is ejected from the dumpster.  The woman picks it up, goes around to the back of the car, pops the trunk lid, folds the roll in half and stuffs it inside of the trunk!  Oh, they are after the carpeting.  Their trailer must need new carpet.  Hey hon, it's 2 am, lets go get that carpet. The guy is struggling to get the other roll of carpet and padding out but finally succeeds.  The woman hefts it around to the back, folds it in half and starts stuffing.  Ever try to fold in half a roll of carpet?  No easy task.  Then the rear door of the car pops open and out steps Mom.  I'm sure it was the woman's mother.  With a cigarette dangling from her mouth she helps with getting the second carpet inside the trunk.  It ain't going.  So the old lady climbs in on top of everything and starts jumping up and down on it then pushing her shoulder into it like a lineman on a football team!  Boy, don't mess with women from Kentucky!  The two women finally get it in far enough that they can close the trunk lid after a dozen slam attempts.  Just in time too because a cop rolls up.  Busted!  While he is taking notes and checking ID's back-up arrives.  Meanwhile Mom is in the back seat and none of the cops ever knew.  In fact they never even had them open the trunk!  After some talking the cops leave and the dumpsters divers start up the car with no left rear tail light or brake light working and drive off for home.  
Tomorrow the trailer gets new (to it) carpeting. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Abraham Lincoln's Boyhood Home

10 miles north of his birthplace in
Hodgenville, Kentucky

There was a land title dispute with the homestead to the south and the Lincoln's lost the land that Thomas Lincoln (Abe's father) had paid $200 for.  They moved north and this land proved to be more fertile.  So maybe it was a good thing after all.
Now this is the kind of site I enjoy.  Sure, this is another replica cabin and it may not even be on the exact spot, but I'll take it anyway.

And here the farmland is left alone.  You can easily imagine the Lincolns working this land growing corn, pumpkins and vegetables to basically survive off of.

I did not know of this tale.  
It can be said Austin Gollaher was the most important figure in our history today.  
If it wasn't for him being there that day can you imagine 
how different the course of our history would have went?

I walked down into Knob Creek which was pretty dry.

I didn't go any further as a sign pointed out that Copperhead snakes live here.  Okay, I got that!

This large building is an inn/tavern that was built in 1928-33 for travelers who came here to see Abe Lincoln's boyhood home.  You can read more about it below.

More informational signs for those of you like me who read these things.

I thought this funny.  These nice fancy drinking fountains and the water is bad.
So at one time they were being used and then someone got sick?
Okay, that isn't funny.  I've been there after having bad water long ago.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace

Hodgenville, Kentucky

Well, I wasn't expecting this!  This (I'll try to be nice here) 'monument' was built after the turn of the century.  I'm sure they meant well at the time.  I'll say no more.  There are 56 steps (I counted them) which signifies his age at the time Lincoln was assassinated. 

Inside is a "replica" log cabin.  At the time they thought it was original.  It had been dismantled and shipped around the country for exhibition, along with another cabin of historical importance, that of Confederate President, Jefferson Davis.  Oh the irony!  In the process the logs got mixed up so by the time the cabin came home it wasn't even positive all the logs were correct.  Later in 2004 it was proven the wood was 39 years too young so the cabin remains as a symbolic representation.

The Park Service lady told me they believe the original cabin was a bit larger too.
I've included these signs for those of you who are interested in reading them.
Click on the image to make it bigger and easier to read.

On the grounds are four "replica" log cabins which you can rent and stay the night in.
I couldn't go in them or even get near as they were shut down for some reason.
I was curious as to how original (rustic) they were inside.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Fourth Of July I Won't Forget

But would like to.

All week was that dreadful heatwave, a high pressure dome sitting over the eastern half of the US like being in a pressure cooker.  It was just plain survival mode for us.  We found this little roadside park, shade and slight breeze.  It was our best option so we spent the day there, the 3rd of July.
Beans liked this place.

Look at me Dad.  
I didn't think she could jump up to that second level of blocks.
Not a problem.

So you know you are old when you go to swing on a swing set and get nauseated.
Ooo boy, that was not a good idea.

Come the 4th of July and I am feeling poorly.  The heat and humidity has finally broke me.  I was nauseous and had this annoying little headache that would not go away.  Three time I had to stop driving, lay down and fell asleep for an hour each time.  Finally we arrived in Tridelphia, West Virginia.  The scorching sun was blocked by towering storm clouds.  Relief!  

Then it began to rain.  I stood out in the rain feeling better than I had all day long.  
The storm passed, the skies cleared and I began to not feel too good once again.
We stayed in that Cabela's parking lot two days as Tridelphia was the coolest spot around (still in the 90's) and had a good breeze blowing most of the time which helped. The second day I only felt half as bad.  By the weekend the temperatures and humidity dropped and I felt I was going to live.
Maybe I should give that swing set another try.

One day the self check-out registers went down in this Walmart.  People got mad and just walked out leaving their full shopping carts behind.  There were a bunch more filled carts in the ladies clothing across the aisle.  I thought it funny.  Patience people!
This other guy and I waited for a few minutes and they got things going again.

How would you like to step on this fellow?  He was about two inches long.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rosie The Riveter Park

St. Albans 
West Virginia

What a find.  I almost passed on this opportunity.  There were four big campers in the four slots this park provides.  I hung out for a while in the main park then walked on down and discovered this spot in the shade.  No hook-ups but then I don't need hook-ups.  I snagged the spot right away.  
We could stay for 2 days here for free.  What a view!

I could sit and watch the river barges go by all day.  

I learned that these are called tow boats.  Talking with some locals they said the river, Kanawha River, isn't all that deep.  Maybe 20 feet of so.  The tow boats churn up the bottom leaving a silty wake.

There are lots of pleasure craft too going back and forth.  Pontoon boats are popular.

This house across the waters in Nitro is for sale.  Four bedrooms, 4.5 baths on .75 acre.  I asked what a house like that would be priced at.  She told me around $400,000.  I about fell out of my chair!  Back home $400,000 would only get you a two bedroom clapboard shack.

It may be a hard sell though with a scrap metal yard as a neighbor.  Then there are the train tracks outside your back door with freight trains laying on the horn the entire way as they pass through.

Down stream are these.  I asked about them too. Are they like house boats and people live on them?  That would be so cool as the Kanawha empties into the Ohio River which connects with the Mississippi River.  Just think of the possibilities!  Well she said no, you cannot live on a boat on the river.  A few years back a house boat got wiped out by a barge in heavy fog and so a law was made.  She didn't know if that applied to everywhere but it does on West Virginia waters.
So this means these boats are pleasure craft to the homeowners up the bank.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

River Barges

West Virginia

We had been following along the Ohio River on the West Virginia side and every once in awhile I could see a boat pushing barges along the river.  I wanted to watch this but there was nowhere to stop.

Finally I found the Ohio River National Wildlife Refuge and stopped in there.  I was tired, laid down, fell asleep and missed two barges going by.  I waited for another but it began to get late and we needed to get to our spot for the night.  Then on the way out I saw it.

This collection was five barges long and three wide.  It is amazing they can maneuver these around the twists and turns of the river.  That is coal they are transporting.  He is going upstream too.  Incrediable  that boat can churn out that much power to overcome the current pushing that load.

On the way was this memorial marker.  Asinty.  I like that name.

Back in there somewhere are the graves.  This island is 235 acres large, had been cleared and used for farming for over 100 years.  In 1995 it became a preserve and restoration began to replace all the hardwoods that had been removed.

Claire was having fits thinking we were driving in the middle of the Ohio River.

I have read about small towns sharing their Main street with the railroad.  
Here in St. Marys, West Virginia I found one.
Can you imagine a freight train coming down this street?

I bet it shakes the walls, rattles the windows and rearranges nick nacks on shelves.