May 22, 2013
Patsy Cline was a hardworking, gutsy woman. That rich voice stilled makes me ache sometimes when I hear her voice and think what we missed by her untimely death. This painting of her is at the Visitors Center in Winchester. The town just commemorated the 50th year of her death.
Virginia Patterson Hensley was her name by birth. She married Cline and then Charles Dick.
At the cemetery, this huge bell tower memorial is dedicated to her. Bells seem so appropriate to me.
Jim and I then stopped by her house. Jim had been once before, but her popularity has increased to the point where you cannot park right in front of the house. Her mother’s home is just across the street.
The house is now open to tours, but, better than a tour is the docents we met, two cousins of Jenny’s. Jenny is what the family still calls her, short for Virginia.
We had such fun visiting with Pat, on the left and her daughter, Pam, on the right. They told us about the house, that it at one time had kerosene lighting. The Hensley’s lived on the “wrong” side of the tracks. And much like Janis Joplin, her hometown didn’t exactly accept her when she first became a famous singer. It boggles my mind how mean-spirited people could be to their fellow-man/woman and still call themselves Christians.
Patsy quit high school to take on three jobs to help support mom and her brother and sister. She worked at a Gaunts Drugstore, she worked the counter at a Newburys, and she swept out buses at the Greyhound station. Newburys was right next door to the theater, and they had amateur nights there. Jenny would take off her apron, run to the theater, sing in the program, and then run back to her job.
Pam pointed out a walnut tree that Jenny planted. She loved her garden and always had herbs and a vegetable garden. She had two children, Julie and Randy Dick.
She loved flowers and this is the side yard of the house.
Cousin Pat lived on a farm and cherished the visits she shared with her cousin Jenny as a child. Her mother was a sister to Jenny’s mother, Hilda, who would babysit them when Pat’s parents came to town to have their wheat ground, or other errands. Pam was only a year old when her famous cousin died. She tells how the relatives excitedly watched the Arthur Godfrey hour when Jenny received the star award and got her big boost. They have a tape of that event and she enjoys seeing the film and hearing stories about her famous cousin. It was so much fun talking with them; warm and caring people. We bought a copy of a new book about Patsy.
I grew up without television and not much radio, either. I’ve never been star struck, but I love it when the famous person can be real to you and that is what Pat and Pam did for us yesterday, and we thank you.
We then spent the afternoon at the Shenandoah Valley Museum. A large complex that also includes a Civil War Battlefield site and the Glen Burnie House and Gardens. The house is closed for renovation. It was beastly hot. We skipped everything but the air-conditioned exhibits, and they were excellent. I’m having family visit us today, so I’ll have to finish the museum part of my blog tomorrow.
May 21, 2013
Couldn’t get them in the same photo without missing the head or half the body of one bird.
West Virginia might not spend much on their road maintenance in the mountains, but they are working to protect their wilderness.
Not only the emerald borer that attacks ash trees, but the Asian Long Horned Beetle attacks all hardwood trees. It is very sad. The area we are driving through on Highway 50 is said to be the most remote area left in the East.
Perhaps the bad roads are deliberate, to keep traffic down. You may laugh but I actually encountered that philosophy in a nature area of Costa Rica where the last bastion of certain hummingbirds and butterflies survive. They don’t want the roads to be welcoming.
Here is an identifier for the Emerald Ash Borer. A metallic green sheen to its wings.
We drove back through Grafton with its hilly, narrow roads. This is how you build a garage or car port when you live on the down-hill side of the road. We tried to find the memorial that states that Grafton West Virginia was the first place that celebrated Mother’s Day. But we must have whizzed right by it.
There was good signage here to help you identify pull outs. From West Virginia, we drove through eight miles of Maryland, then back into West Virginia. Then on to Winchester, Virginia. The road knows the way to carry our sleigh…
I like adventurous roads like this one, but in my car, not with a motor home. The scenery is beautiful. The driver doesn’t get much of a chance to enjoy it.
At one point the speed limit was down to 15 miles per hour. For a comparison, this was like driving the California Grapevine out of Bakersfield before it got “fixed”, only longer and with less traffic.
The road only rises to 3,095 feet, but it gets down to 1600 and then takes you back up again. If you decide to travel Highway 50, you need to know what you are in for.
We planned to spend the night in Romney where there was two choices, a Moose and an American Legion. The parking lot at the Legion was miniscule, on a narrow one-way street. They sent us to the Moose with a bigger lot. It was small, steep and uneven. They directed us to a truck stop on a hilltop on the edge of town. We ate lunch there and debated the suitability of the lot. About two hours later, feeling rested, Jim said, ” let’s go to Winchester.”
By four o’clock, we were sitting in the shade of a lovely copse of trees at a huge Moose Club in Winchester, Virginia.
May 20, 2013
Instead of giving Clarksburg a second look, we decided to head for Grafton, W.Virginia which is the turnoff point to Tygart Lake State Park. At only 20 miles, it saves the longer drive into the Appalachian Mountains where stops are few and shoulders narrow. I enjoyed seeing old barns and shooting them from the window,
They are kind of an endangered species.
Road signs warned that the road was rough. And they were worse than this in many places.
No mention of an extremely narrow one-way to get to the park entrance. One car wasn’t quite close enough to the curb and it was almost a choice between, should we hit the car or ruin our mirror on the telephone pole? A three-inch clearance is scary, but we scooted by.
The road into Tygart Lake was rough as well.
And the distance was supposedly 3 miles off the highway. Well, if you count the first sign of human activity it might have been 3 miles. Navigating hilly, hair-pin turns, with a few peek-a-boo peeps of the lake and marina through the trees; at least two miles of cabins, then, finally, we find the camp ground. Three miles? Nope!
The “good” spots, and few of them, were taken. Not exactly level as you can see this guy has four boards under one wheel and he tried for five under the other.
This is hill country, nothing is level here.
This sign is sort of mystifying since all the garbage cans are open without covers? Raccoons can easily pull over a plastic can and check out our garbage. So far, we’ve seen a wild turkey, deer, ducks and a chipmunk.
It took an hour to get set-up for the night because the terrain is uneven, narrow, and difficult to maneuver with recent rains adding deep muddy ruts. But, it is, in the end, wilderness, and beautiful and peaceful.
These older campgrounds were never built for such as we. We have no right to complain. Adversity is what makes you remember, and we won’t ever forget our trip to Tygart Lake. Kind of makes me remember how critical we, of Murphys, are of flatlanders moving to the mountains for the clean air, and rural atmosphere, who then complain about lack of shopping and narrow, unmaintained roads. Same thing. We do have to keep things in perspective and remember you give up certain creature comforts when you are on the road. For me? Gladly. It is a great lifestyle.
May 19, 2013
We arrived in Clarksburg, W. Virginia, a busy city with lots of hilly areas and one way streets- no streets made for a wide bodied motor home. We had two other options, The Elks and the Eagles. We never did find them but the VFW appeared to have a huge parking area. When Jim pulled between the narrow yellow stanchions to enter their lot, I held my breath. The Commander happened to be sitting on the porch. He told me later he was sure he wouldn’t be able to get that rig in. The VFW parking lot is miniscule. But, it was Saturday and you can see us parked in a bank’s lot that runs right next to the VFW building. The commander assured us we would be okay for the weekend.
This old cannon has an interesting history, as does the post. Here they accept “Guest Members”, the first time we’d heard the term. We had lunch at the VFW, a gulllinos sandwich for me. I always like to try a local specialty and it was stir fried hot peppers and onion with melted cheese, and a beef patty onTexas toast, which turned out to be the first sour dough bread I’ve had since I left California. I asked her to substitute a chicken breast for the beef patty and she did. I don’t know where they got the name, but the sandwich was excellent.
The forecast was rain. While it was still overcast, we took a walk around a four block area and just took some pictures. This lovely church with the bells, we heard play music at 5:00 while we were reading.
Other lovely churches with stained glass windows. No longer open like the refuges of the 1950′s where you could walk into any church. They were always open 24 hours a day.
Would have liked to have a look inside.
Built in 1863. The plaque says, The Lord Is In His Temple.
You can get a sense of the beautiful glass.
And old town; there was a cemetery that looked interesting as we came into town. Stopping with the rig is not always an option.
An old empty theater, a broken window, looking sadly uncared for.
A beauty of a building that looks worth saving. A woman I spoke to on the street, when I asked her what there is to do in Clarksburg replied, “Walmart went in a few miles down the road and sucked the life out of this city. So many local shops closed, it is not a place you want to live anymore.” I was stunned to hear that condemnation for a city of this size. The population is 16,798 from the 2010 census.
There are some signs of degradation, closed up buildings, for rent signs on storefronts.
This is not the kind of beauty shop I would choose.
You don’t hear or see much about the International Order of Odd Fellows. The historic sign has been retained. The building now houses a couple of shops on the ground level.
We made it back to the motor home just before the rain started. It cooled off and we spent the rest of the day reading and relaxing.
The City has beautiful buildings, and cities have been known to reinvent themselves. I’m sure Clarksburg will survive to see another economic upturn. I wish we could have spent another day here to look it over, but it was nice to have a day of relaxation, too.
May 18, 2013
From Point Pleasant, we drove across the river to a lovely city Park Kordel which surrounds Fort Randolph and has a motor home park and dump station. There we hunkered in and waited out torrential rain.
Signs on the road advertised an “event” taking place at Fort Randolph over the weekend. In the morning, we saw a War Enactment group that had set-up the night before and spent a wet night in their rudimentary tents. Or, they may have slept in their cars.
Geese waddled through the sopping wet grass and made for the lake as we were leaving.
We crossed into Ohio and took this beauty of a bridge across the Ohio river at Pomeroy.
We stopped at a rest stop for lunch and nearby was a tiny church. We are traveling back roads and this little gem is on State Highway 7.
I couldn’t resist tromping over to have a look-see.
A central altar, stained glass windows, six pews that hold two people each.
To the right of the altar is a basket for prayer requests.
Who wouldn’t be charmed by this sweet little church by the side of the road?
Then as I turned to go back out the door, was this sampler. Some group put a lot of loving attention to this tiny roadside respite and I was charmed.
We moved on and crossed over another bridge back into West Virginia. Our trajectory is fairly straight, staying away for the inter-states with their high speeds and heavy truck traffic. We will be meeting my step-daughter, Karen Littlefield and her family in Winchester, Virginia in a week. Sometimes I get confused where I am as we cross borders in and out of a state so easily.
We landed at Parkersburg, West Virginia VFW Post 1212. Lisa, the Quartermaster, hugs every veteran who comes in, male or female. She is a bright spirit in the lives of many. I heard one gentleman tell her after the hug, “I needed that.” Lisa will celebrate her birthday at the Post today and she is a woman who requires fireworks for her birthday. She reminds you of a sparkler and the fireworks are quite fitting.
We enjoyed a huge fish and chips dinner at the bar and kept company with Sheryl and Bruce who told us what to see in Parkersburg. And though we won’t be staying long enough to enjoy it, if you travel this way, you might want to visit Blennerhasset Island. It holds a mansion, rebuilt after a fire. It was a beacon of aristocratic wealth for anyone traveling the river. Blennerhasset got into financial trouble and teamed up with Aaron Burr, and along with Burr was tried for treason. He lost his fortune defending himself and fled back to England. You can see pictures of the mansion from early post cards at this site:
May 17, 2013
Yesterday, we crossed the bridge from Gallipolis,Ohio to Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Practically under the bridge is a complex of State Land devoted to a fort, a War of 1812 memorial and this River Museum.
We don’t see much about the War of 1812. On the grounds is also a mansion, the site of government and all community meetings. You can see it to the left of the monument.
It kind of makes you smile, especially this crooked wall and rustic construction. Originally a tavern, it was the biggest building in the community and to them, it was a mansion. It’s all in the perspective.
The museum is about life on the river in this particular river community of Point Pleasant. The Museum is so full, you need a full day to really see it. And there is a wonderful river walk full of murals, and a fort nearby. Much to see here if you go.
A lot of different types and sizes of river boat models.
The usual artifacts of all things river boat you would expect to see.
You can play this calliope, they even give you the number guide to play country roads.
Ten whistles, but the music was loud and harsh to my ear. I think it needed the river atmosphere to sound right.
The river is life. Boats like this are called shanty boats where people lived. They couldn’t afford to buy land and build a house.
Who snapped the picture? You learn nothing about the family but what you can discern from a random photo.
The boats were owned by the captains of industry, but this captain, Tom Reynolds was a stern wheeler driver. He loved his job and he was known to sit in a chair and steer with his feet in an area where the river was stable.
The Sprague was called Big Momma. She could pull 56 loaded barges in a line.
Men who worked the boats gathered for a picture. They probably never would have had their picture taken in their whole life except for an arranged gathering like this.
All river towns face flooding at some point or another and Point Pleasant had a big one in 1903.
Amid hardship, the theatre owner employed a bit of humor. The town has since built a huge river wall, but the river wall couldn’t protect them from their very worst disaster that still affects the townspeople today, one of whom we met.
A new bridge in 1928, built in a style never tried before was called the Silver Bridge by the locals. It crossed from Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio. One horror filled night in 1967, the bridge gave way and toppled into the river, killing 47 people. Five men were rescued from the cold waters and lived to tell the tale.
A video shows the type of attachment that held up the uprights on the bridge.
A hairline crack, after 41 years, snapped and sent the bridge to the bottom in seconds.
All the tons of steel and concrete were nothing in the end. Visible is the rusting old railroad bridge in the back ground that our local fellow told us everyone worried would fall into the river some day.
But it was their bridge that fell. He told us he lived four minutes from the bridge. His wife and her visiting mother had gone shopping and were planning to cross over to a favorite restaurant, but they were tired, the traffic was heavy so they chose a local cafe instead. The lights blinked in the cafe. It was reported all over town the lights everywhere blinked as the bridge toppled. And, of course, the drama is, they would have been on that bridge. He told us of dozens of stories of people who would have gone, were supposed to be on it, and those who felt the shaking and were close enough to back up, or get out of their cars and run to land. Feelings were so raw, their loss so great, no one talked about it for years. They finally put up a memorial in the 1990s, if my memory is correct.
I particularly enjoyed a story about vaudeville and entertainment that made riding the boats up and down the river one of those glorious experiences.
One family, the Bryants worked vaudeville/melodrama aboard the paddle wheel steamers. Josephine, on top of the piano, married into the family and was a born entertainer. You had to have a villain to boo, a heroine to save and a hero. The audiences didn’t tolerate intermissions. And if the show was short of two hours, they felt cheated and let you know it.
Billy Bryant was known for his wicked antics, he’d dance and hop all over and became an acrobatic thespian, much loved by audiences.
The Bryant family, as it grew, spent most of their lives aboard the boats. Sam and Violet, back center in the photo, came here from England. He had a traveling medicine show where he sold kerosene and red peppers made into a liniment. They got jobs working the Water Queen and decided they needed a boat of their own, which they did accomplish by 1907.
They sold cigarettes, candy and snacks, much like the nightclubs of Hollywood and New York while they sang and danced up and down the rivers. Such a life.
Jim and I walked the River Walk, and enjoyed the murals, some pastoral scenes of Virginia.
Others of a political nature.
And all within view of the gorgeous, cooling Ohio River. (And that rusting old railroad bridge still standing.)
May 16, 2013
I loved this museum. It took you from mammoth teeth to the current crop of famous musicians that hail from Kentucky, and it was beautifully organized and easy to understand. The first surprise was a hand-operated elevator.
I always look for something I’ve never seen before, and this was it.
They did a wonderful job on Victorian clothing and habits. Above, some men’s hats. But the women’s clothing were spectacular. This museum had a tea where locals dressed in the old clothing and showed them off.
They could do this because the clothing is in such good shape.
A painted feather fan.
And, the language of fans. How repressed women were is astonishing.
Another example. Men organized against women’s suffrage, but turned their back when it came time to take their pictures. It kind of reminds me when I was a journalist, I published that the local Rotary had refused to accept women as members. This was in the 1980′s. Rotary members castigated me at a public Merchants Association Meeting for making it public. Now, they love having hardworking women on their team.
There are beautiful quilts in this museum, many of them.
As always, a section on wars. The posters were not all the usual ones, and good copy. A small section on the Civil War and Korea, Vietnam and WWII.
They had the full story of Jean Thomas, this talented and courageous Kentucky woman who gained the trust of Kentucky hill people, hauled a piano into the deep woods and recorded and saved for posterity their wonderful music, unwritten and handed down from generation to generation. I saw a television special about her some years back.
They had a big section on Kentucky’s musicians that made it big, the most obvious, Billy Ray Cyrus who was born nearby and still maintains a house in Ashland. His daughter, by the way, is Hannah Montana.
And the Judds. Polly, second from left, is Naomi’ s mother, Wynona’s grandmother. She still lives here. The locals call her Polly.
For my interest, I chose to concentrate on women’s suffrage which really started in 1840 with Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth.
Forgotten are the many women who followed the original heroines of the battle. From every state they marched.
Some of these women were beaten, jailed, and force-fed. In 1917 suffragette Jeannette Rank was the first women in congress.
The press vilified them as humorless old maids.
State by state they fought and made progress.
By the 1920′s, they were ripping off their corsets and demanding freedom to be something other than baby machines and servile wives.
To “seductive” clothing like this. OMIGOD! Later, women cut their hair and wore slacks. I still have a small rug my mom made that included the worn material from her first pair of slacks. This was such a hoot to look back on, without taking away the seriousness of the movement and how much we women owe to those early women who suffered and paved the way to freedom for us. It still astonishes me when I see it.
Later in the afternoon, I met Dr. Amy Litteral of Moxie Massage here in Ashland. She is also a chiropractor and I learned so much about body mechanics from her and had the most intense and therapeutic massage from her that I’ve ever had. I can’t praise this woman enough.
May 15, 2013
We moved yesterday and drove through Winchester; planned to stop there for the night. We got a look at the town and stopped at the Blue Grass Heritage Museum but it didn’t open until noon and we would have had to wait an hour. Got a picture of this unusual dry wall. I’ve never seen one topped with rocks on edge. You can double-click it to enlarge it.
We parked at the Eagles Club Aerie 2329 and found a nice, friendly crowd. I got in a bit of “girl friend” time with two friendly gals, Jenny and Paula. We had a few laughs and they informed us that Ashland is the home of Naomi and Wynona Judd, and Billy Ray Cyrus.
This club gets serious about dart competitions.
They were serving barbecue sandwiches that evening; it was the women’s auxiliary election night. Paula is the treasurer of the club and encouraged us to have a bite, but we avoid red meat and decided to stick with the salmon I had thawed and eat in the motor home instead.
Our trajectory is to be at Jim’s granddaughter’s graduation in June. But today, I get a massage.
May 14, 2013
Yesterday, we concentrated on the barns at Keeneland Race Track, the workers washing, walking and prepping their animals. We met owner/trainer Greg Burchell and the type of affection and dedication you see among horses and their humans. Above a beautiful, graceful animal with two hundred years of breeding and pedigree enters the track. Follow along with us and watch through our lens.
Notice two different types of saddles. The trainer has a conventional saddle, the exerciser behind him, has a light weight, practically bareback saddle. Trainers often ride a different breed of horse while training. They amble onto the track and discuss what expensive, precious horse needs to focus on.
The exercisers cantor and post around the track until the horse is warmed up.
The position of the feet is high on the saddle. The rider is positioned as though sitting in a chair.
Then they get moving.
Then they get moving a bit faster.
There is a good bit of camaraderie among the exercisers, but for the most part, it is a solitary task between horse and human.
Grace on the move. This rider carries a short whip and may be training her charge to the whip, though we watched and didn’t see her use it.
At times the exercisers work together, imitating a race.
Of course, what we like to see is those special moments when the horses are hell-bent for leather, but our cameras and our skills at photographing fast moving objects are somewhat limited but I got a few credible moments.
The trouble is, if you catch the horse just gathering for the next lengthening of those legs, it looks like he is going to land on his bent ankles or toss his rider in some other pictures I took.
We walked and took pictures the length of the track. This is right in front of the grandstand. It was hard to leave, so fun and so beautiful.
We did though. We ran into Jim Cornes, an animal physical therapist. A much-needed guy on a race track. I asked him how he got interested in healing horses and he said his mother took him to Saratoga Race Track to watch the races. He was young and small and thought he’d like to be a jockey. His mother read all the horror stories about jockey injuries and kept discouraging any thought of it until she began to realize how much money they make. But, then he grew about two feet and the point was moot. He is addicted to the race track atmosphere, the horses the excitement. Can’t beat that if you love your job.
There is always an equine ambulance near the track, even during everyday exercises and training. It lowers at the back like a moving van.
Jim and I wandered into the grandstand and looked around. No racing now, so everything is empty.
A one minute lesson on how it is done.
People come here to bet the races from all over the country when and watch from these television screens. This is called simulcasting. It is very popular and it would have been nice to mingle with the crowds. Maybe another track someday.
A beautiful building.
Like an ivy covered college.
Two-hundred pound cement jockies carry the colors for the racers for that day so a bettor can identify his horse from the color of his “silks” from the worst, and highest seat in the grandstand.
We had a wonderful time at the track. Very cool!
May 13, 2013
We typically rise before the sun, but not all sunrises are as beautiful as this one where we are parked at Keeneland Race Track. The grounds are lovely here, with a lot of room to park the motor home.
We walked up to the Track Kitchen at 7:00 for a hearty breakfast. Along the roads at Keeneland, you don’t find fallen leaves. It’s horse manure. Aren’t I gross? Bloggers will take a picture of anything. Truthfully, the birds call it breakfast, only I didn’t catch the birds.
The barns stretch out on both sides of the main road to the track. The horses get exercised several mornings a week. A groom bathes this beauty while the hot walker holds the reins. (Left click to make pictures larger.)
I looked back, and the hot walker was kissing his charge. The horse is now wet and soapy up on his thighs, and the groom is working his tail. These horses are treated like princesses.
An exercise girl is just returning her horse to the barn.
She turns the horse over to the grooms. After a bath, a hot walker, walks the horse in a circle for about 30 minutes to settle down after the run.
And if the horse is lucky, he or she will get a nibble of grass before being returned to a stall.
Dozing in a bit of sunlight shining into his stall, waiting for an attendant to feed him or give him a treat.
Each groom has to get rid of the old straw each day and replace it with new straw. It was steaming in the crisp cold of morning.
The horses so beautiful, the workers so practiced and fast, I just didn’t tire of watching them.
The horses and riders came streaming in groups back from the track. We thought we’d missed the exercise, but one girl told us that they were coming in for a break and would start again in 10 minutes.
Always, the wrapped cannon, and ankles, the most vulnerable part of a race horse.
The exercise saddle is almost like riding bareback.
Then another horse comes in from the track with leather blinders to keep the horse focused and free of distractions. Only his back ankles were wrapped. I guess each trainer and horse gets individual attention, but whatever is needed.
I watched him turn into the barn and couldn’t believe how fast the groom removed the wrappings.
A good view of the soapy hooves.
In the adjacent barn, a groom was allowing his charge to nibble fresh grass. The horses love that. I asked who the owner was. He told me Greg Burchell and pointed to a stall.
Greg is an owner trainer and he was feeding his horses grapes for a treat. The horse is blurry in this photo but the pure joy on Greg’s face is clear. He invited us to pet the horses.
Horses are such intelligent animals. They return your affection.
If you’ve never been tempted to nuzzle the soft nose of a horse, you can’t imagine what a pleasure that is. He loves his horses and it shows.
She wanted more grapes, but all I could offer was a salty hand to lick. She brought her owners a million dollars. But the cost to care for them is horrific.
Then he introduced us to Sticks, a young horse of unusual height at 17.2 hands. He had the groom turn her around.
He checked her feet.
And we got a good look at her. A real beauty. He says she has injured herself on the stall because she is too tall for the stall. And, tall for a thoroughbred. She is named for one of the owners and Greg’s good friend who carries Stick for a nick-name.
We finally got to the track where we met Ashley, a medical technician. A lovely job for a young girl. She worked as an Emergency Medical Tech for the fire department. Now, she works the races, much more exciting. She sometimes rides the race with the horses in a van. She is there to see to an injured rider.
We didn’t get a correct website for Greg and hope to have it tomorrow when we’ll share our race track photos.