It has been a while since I’ve written in the blog. The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity beginning in July with a family reunion and continuing on with the new job at comicbook.com.
In the midst of all of that I have spent the last couple of months using most of my “writing time“ to complete my first book which was referred to in my previous post a couple of days ago. Now that that book is published and on Amazon.com. I’m going to try to knock out a few of the blog posts that have been piling up on me.
Over the next couple of weeks you’ll see blog posts about the new murals in Lexington, KY; Mammoth Cave National Park and the Wigwam Motel in Cave City, KY; Watkins Glen State Park in New York; Letchworth State Park also in New York; Fayetteville and New River Gorge in West Virginia; places in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio, as well as Cairo, IL and Paducah KY. Indeed, I have been to numerous places over the last few months. I neglected to mention the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania, a lovely bike trail. And also the Virginia Creeper Trail that we took again this year (near Damascus, VA) but with a different twist. So there will be plenty of travel opportunities to read about in the upcoming days.
For those of you that visit my blog frequently, you may recall that many of my blog posts were lengthy and covered a lot of territory and are more like a travel log. I have decided that going forward each area or each place will get it’s own separate blog post and will be shorter and more concise. I think that is a learning experience from doing my recent book. Hopefully you will find the blog posts to be more enjoyable and easier and quicker to read. Enjoy the ride!
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.
A few years ago I was traveling in Kentucky and made my way into Cave City, a sort of retro resort town close to Mammoth Cave National Park with lots of old 1960s style neon signs, mom-and-pop restaurants, unique tourist attractions, etc. Apparently the actual Wigwam Villages were built in the 1930s and 1940s.
On my first trip into Cave City I saw the Wigwam Village and was astounded that there was one on this side of the country. As a bus driver/tour guide in Flagstaff, AZ in the 1980s, I would see the Wigwam Village located near Interstate 40 and old US Highway 66 near Holbrook, AZ quite often. Even back then, I knew there was another near San Bernadino, CA, (See Wigwam Village #7 built in 1949) but I never knew about the one in Kentucky, which, as I have shown above, was one of the first.
There were actually seven of them originally, and now only the three remain. See history here. (Another nice history HERE) The first two were built in Horse Cave, KY and Cave City, KY. They were the creation of Frank A. Redford. WWV #1 was completed at Horse Cave in 1935 and Frank patented the design in 1936.
WWV #2 was built in 1937 on U.S. Route 31Wjust a few miles south of the original WWV #1.
Wigwam Village #2 consists of 15 wigwams used as guest rooms that are arranged in a semicircle. In the center is a much bigger concrete and steel central structure that originally served as a restaurant, plus a common area with playground, recreation space, and pavilion. Each wigwam has a paved pad to accommodate one car. The restaurant is no longer in operation, but the motel is still open.
The diameter at the base of each tipi is 14 feet, and they are 32 feet in height. Behind the main room of each unit is a small bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower. Even on our visit in 2009 the rooms appeared to contain the original restored hickory furniture and a window-mounted air conditioner. There are no telephones to maintain the original atmosphere of the motel, but the rooms do have cable TV and internet access.
Wigwam Village #2 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.It achieved this status on March 16, 1988
So, when my sister and her family visited from Texas a couple of years ago we went to Bowling Green to the Corvette Museum for my brother-in-law who is a Corvette fanatic. On the way back we stopped in Cave City and visited the Wigwam Village.
They have a nice big gift shop similar to those that you would see on the old US Highway 66 routes with lots of trinkets and all sorts of kitschy things. Plastering the walls are photos of newspaper articles about the wigwam village and information about the history of the relic motels.
Now owned by people from India (ironic that those Indians now own it), I asked if they would let me go into one of the rooms and take some photos as I was doing a travel blog. I got the photos, but I never did get around to writing a nice blog post about it. So, here is my blog post about the Wigwam Village, so if it’s history and the history of the three of them from the country.
Ironically, there is a similar looking one that I came across in Texas last year, but the wigwams were called teepees where differently shaped. But the concept was the same.
These throwbacks to the old US Highways and road trips are a lot of fun and I am sure staying in one of these would also be a nostalgic piece of fun. Maybe one day I will take a trip to Cave City with my wife just to be able to stay in the Wigwam for one night!