In 2018 I will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada. I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.
Gronk’s Grill and Bar – Superior, Wisconsin
Gettysburg National Battlefield – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Great Falls of the Missouri – Great Falls, Montana
Graceland – Memphis, Tennessee
Geese in Flight – Enchanted Highway – Dickinson, North Dakota
Winking Smiley Water Tower – Grand Forks, North Dakota
Gates of the Mountains – near Helena, Montana
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.
My family moved to Kentucky with in 1993. We moved from the western United States and had not lived in a humid, green environment since our time in Japan in the late 1980s.
Like many others, when we heard the word Kentucky, we thought about the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Kentucky bourbon. There was not much else to really understand or know about Kentucky.
Honestly, looking back I can say that our move to Kentucky was one of the best things we ever did. Kentucky is a beautiful and diverse state. Living in Lexington, which is the Horse Capital of the World, we are surrounded by beautiful horse farms. In fact, I can leave my driveway and be driving through horse farm country within five minutes. The black plank fences, the nicely mown fields, immaculately expensive barns and the horses out grazing in the field… always uplift our souls.
There are so many things to see and do in Kentucky. The worlds largest cave, Mammoth Cave is here. Beautiful waterfalls, streams, rivers and lakes. The hills of eastern Kentucky are lovely.
The drive across the state takes about six hours if you’re driving east to west from the furthest points. The diversity that you will see on a drive like that is amazing.
Kentucky is one of those states that has true four seasons. The wintertime typically has snow and sometimes we even get some pretty impressive ice storms. Not fun in and of themselves, the ice storms leave beauty hanging around.
After winter comes springtime and the abundance of colorful flowers and flowering trees. One of Lexington’s favorite places for visiting and viewing flowering trees is the Lexington Cemetery. It is a lovely place when everything is in bloom.
April is the start of the horse racing season in Kentucky. Keeneland Race Track is one of the premier race tracks in the United States and then after the Kingman meet horses move onto Louisville and Churchill Downs and eventually the Kentucky Derby. In the past I’ve had the opportunity to attend those events and they are a lot of fun.
But there are many other horse activities in Kentucky such as show jumping and even Polocrosse — a mix between polo and lacrosse done on horses.
Throughout the year, I make my way to a local reservoir/lake on the outskirts of Lexington. It is called Jacobson Lake and is part of the huge Jacobson Park. It is a beautiful place to come early in the morning and watch a sunrise or come in the evening and catch a sunset. I also thoroughly enjoy spending time at the lake and listening to the birds and watching and photographing birds. There are a variety of them from the great blue heron in the beautiful bald eagle and Osprey, to many smaller birds such a seagulls, Killdeer, blackbirds and bluebirds and Cardinals.
Summer in Kentucky is generally mild but can be warm and sometimes very hot and humid. Those are the times to stay indoors or to go to the lake and sit out on the lake. The family has made a few visits to Cave Run Lake in eastern Kentucky to enjoy the nice environment.
Also, during the summer I often take back road drives around Kentucky. There are so many lovely little two lane back roads that one can take and see the landscape, lifestyle and many other unique things. On these trips I’ve discovered old churches, beautiful old farm houses and buildings. I’ve come across fields of sunflowers. I even came across “Kentucky Stonehenge.”
Traveling south of Louisville I took a back road during the spring in hopes of catching the migration of the beautiful Sandhill Cranes. And I was fortunate enough to be there when they were there in the small little town of Cecelia, Kentucky.
On other trips we have visited Cave City, a kind of National Park resort town that supports Mammoth Cave. Cave City offers one of only three remaining historic Wigwam Motel complexes, the other two being in Arizona and California. Further south on the same interstate or taking a back road, is the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. This is the only factory in the world that builds the Corvette. Kentucky is also home to the largest Toyota plant in the United States, a huge Ford production facility in Louisville that makes F150 pick up trucks.
Both Lexington and Louisville feature amazing murals and wall art. Lexington even has an organization called PRHBTN that invites famed street artists from all over the world to come to Lexington and paint on buildings around the city. There are some amazing pieces.
I love Kentucky. I am so glad that we had the blessing to move here to this beautiful state. If you have not visited Kentucky, you need to add it as a “must see” to your list.
And, if you live in Kentucky…go take a “staycation” and see this great state.
Two different cities and a shared river and bridge. In September 2013 one of my daughters and her friends needed some assistance getting to Louisville and had some business to take care of. So, with camera in hand, we were off and they did their stuff while I drove around Louisville and then across the river to Jeffersonville. Here are a few the things I saw in a three hour jaunt thru two towns….
This stretch of the Ohio River is the widest and deepest part (about 23 feet) of the Ohio River.
A drive down West Main Street in downtown Louisville offers a number of interesting sights. You pass by the Art and Museum District of town. Perhaps the biggest and most interesting site is the amazing Giant Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. The bat replica is actually not made of wood. It is a 120 foot tall steel bat that weighs over 68,000 pounds. The Big Bat is an exact-scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat.
Ironically, just a mere three blocks away is another “Big Bat”. This one is located at Caufield’s Novelty Shop and is a huge monstrosity of a hanging vampire bat. They obviously want to capitalize on the “novelty” factor!
Another business on Main Street, just a couple of doors down from the Louisville Slugger Museum is an advertisement for Kentucky Mirror and Paint Glass with a Giant Baseball going through a Painted Window…
Not to be outdone, there is the guy there that could actually use the giant bat and ball and probably fight off that vampire thingy… yes, a giant gold replica of Michelangelo’s “David” statue is a right there on main.
This statue was created by Turkish artist Serkan Ozkaya and was commissioned to be created in Istanbul, shipped to New York and then to Louisville. It certainly must be the largest representation of a male’s complete anatomy in Kentucky and perhaps even the U.S. (See this photo for details if you dare). The statue is at the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, which is a unique contemporary art museum coupled with a boutique hotel. The 21c Museum is North America’s only museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art of the 21st century. The Museum is open free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than twenty special exhibitions and installations have been organized by the 21c Museum since its opening in 2006.
Mural Artist Bryan Todd completed this giant “Louisville Mural” earlier in 2013. (see article about it). Around the downtown area and the Highlands district there are other art works…wall murals, street art, etc.
The mural above is a classic piece painted on a retaining wall near Mark’s Feed Store and Ear X-Tacy in Louisville. Noah has painted a number of murals, many inside cafes and shops around Louisville. You can see an interview with him here on a mural he was working on in Philadelphia. Following are some detail shots of his whimsical mural. I have tried to find the story on this one but to no avail…
I found another nice mural on the side of Old Town Liquors on Bardstown Road. This one is more classic, but nice. Painted by Louisville artists Byron Roberts and Gary Bennett in 2002, it was partially funded by the City of Louisville. Roberts says of the project “I got my inspiration by standing on a porch in the neighborhood and it presents a perspective of looking inside out.”
And a few other odds and ends of art I came across just driving around in Louisville:
Then, in a few places downtown I came across this little guy…apparently somebody’s “tag”
And, to go along with the two “Big Bats” noted earlier, on the other end of Main Street I ran into a Big Batman!
Across the street from Batman is the Louisville Slugger Field that has a statue of famed Dodgers shortstop and Louisville native “Pee Wee” Reese. I remember watching him with Dizzy Dean in the 1960s as they announced the New York Yankees games on CBS.
Another unique statue off of main was what I think was an Alice in Wonderland rendition
While in Louisville I wanted to get a couple of nice shots of the landmark building of Louisville, the Aegon Center building, which is both the tallest and the most noteworthy and recognizable building in Louisville. It was built in 1993 (I remember well as I was living in Louisville at the time) and is 549 feet tall with 35 floors.
From Louisville I ventured over the Ohio River into Indiana on the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, that was opened in 1929. The bridge spans over 5700 feet over the river and is one of five bridges from Louisville to Clarksville/Jeffersonville. I had really never visited Jeffersonville or Clarksville. My main intent was getting a broad view of Louisville from across the river, but I also was fortunate to see a number of interesting things on the Indiana side of the river….
On the other side of the river is the colorfully unique Southern Indiana Visitor Center
Also on this side of the bridge is Water Tower Square…
The Clark Memorial Bridge (also referred to as the 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville) has some cool old Art Deco (as if from Superman or Batman) cement pylons. Actually, these columns are identical to each other on each of their respective sides of the bridge. The only differences between the Indiana and Kentucky columns are the state names engraved on the column, as well as each side has their own version of the carved plaque.
Clarksville, Indiana was once a home site to George Rogers Clark (older brother to William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame), and was founded in 1783. It is the oldest American town in the Northwest Territory (the Territory Northwest of the Ohio River). The town is also home to the Colgate clock (seen above behind the water tower), one of the largest clocks in the world. The Falls of the Ohio State Park, a large fossil bed, are also just a short jaunt from the bridge.
Louisville and the associated Indiana communities—Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany—all owe their existence as communities to the falls, as the navigational obstacles the falls presented meant that late 18th Century and early to late 19th Century river traffic could benefit from local expertise in navigating the 26-foot drop made by the river over a distance of two miles.
The Fourteenth Street Bridge (also known as the Ohio Falls Bridge) was built in 1868 by the Louisville Bridge and Iron Company and was operated for many years by the Pennsylvania Railroad, giving the company its only access to Kentucky. Ownership of the railroad and the bridge passed on to Penn Central and later Conrail, which then sold the line from Louisville to Indianapolis, Indiana to the Louisville and Indiana Railroad, the current bridge owner.
Along the Falls is a statue of Lewis and Clark
Meriwether Lewis met William Clark (younger brother of General George Clark) in 1803. Together they recruited the “Nine Young Men from Kentucky” that formed the core of the Corps of Discovery. Meriwether Lewis and his party left Pittsburgh on August 31st 1803, reaching Louisville on October 14th where he was met by William Clark. At their handshake upon this meeting the Lewis and Clark Expedition was born. (see more detailed history here).
Over the years I have driven hundreds of miles across the U.S. and have traced the many paths of Lewis and Clark, even to Astoria, Oregon where their final western destination ended at Fort Clatsop. I have been to L & C sites in Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Idaho and more. But this is where it all started!! Here is a map f their entire route.
After the visit to Clarksville, I headed to Jeffersonville to see what may be there. To my delight, I discovered a series of floodwall murals, similar to what I have seen in other river communities.
Turns out that the 12 murals depicting the history of Jeffersonville were painted by Robert Dafford and his crew. This project began in 2007 and was completed in 2012. Ironically, I had seen his mural works in previous visits to Point Pleasant, WV, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH. (see Paducah work here and the Point Pleasant work here). Dafford apparently has his photorealistic mural art in over 200 locations around the world.
Just a few blocks away is an entirely different scene. The Industrial Terrorplex, a massive haunted house and “horror complex” created using state of the art Hollywood effects, offered up some surprises as I rounded the corner. A couple of huge gargoyles were waiting on the fencepost to pounce down on me.
The gargoyles were enough to scare me back across the river to pick up my daughter and her friends and make our way back to Lexington. Along the way I did see a more pleasant statue…Thomas Jefferson said a nice hello as did a few ducks.