I think part of my "job" here at Letting Go of the Bay Leaf is to keep you all entertained. Hence, I shake it up. I don't write two hiking posts in a row. I cover extended vacations in multiple posts, with other subjects in between. I occasionally interject a post that links to other memes. So, as I considered potential subjects for this post, it felt like time to re-wind to my old-style paper travel journal. (I previously penned posts about Belize and Virgin Gorda from that journal.) It just so happens that the next entry in the journal (so old the binding is coming apart) is a road trip in October 2012. Let's go!
Twin Arches, Oneida, Tennessee
October 8, 2012 - that's Spousal Unit under the arch
October 6, 2012 - we left Cleveland on a blue sky fall day, with our teen-aged kids at home alone for an extended period, a first. Lexington, Kentucky was our initial destination, and after checking in at the Hyatt Regency, a walking tour worked out the kinks from the time in the car. Triangle Park features the curved fountain picture below, and in the Historic District, we admired the birthplace and childhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln.
Prior to this pandemic, we consumed prodigious amounts of live music, and this trip was no exception. On Day 1, a $5 cover admitted us to Parlay Social, featuring Jordan English. Entertaining enough, but not for dancing!
My notes suggest we also popped in to the Horse and Barrel, labeled as an English pub. In reality, the bar has the "world's largest collection of premium bourbon". Seems to me it is a Tennessee pub located in Kentucky!!! I had a Contemporary Old-Fashioned, but noted the following recipe worth sampling: vanilla vodka, pumpkin spice liqueur and Frangelico.
Kentucky is synonymous with horse racing, so Day 2 found us at Keeneland Race Track. As you can see in the journal entry at left, our $15 in bets yielded NOTHING! But it was entertaining to have a "horse in the race".
From Keeneland, we drove to Huntsville, Tennessee. For two nights, we would call the Grand Vista Hotel home away from home. Preston's Steak House in Oneida fed us that night, and we turned in early to be rested for the next day's adventures.
|Number 11 is "Star Video"; our bet to win the first race and it came in last!|
On Day 3, we woke to heavy rain - not a promising start. We headed to the Bandy Creek Ranger Station for a consult. We paused at the East Rim Overlook - the rain had stopped and mist was rising. At the station, the ranger noted that they don't recommend running the river below 200 feet, and today it was at 132 feet. Bummer. He pointed us to two hikes, and we were on our way!
East Rim Overlook - Big South Fork River and
surrounding Cumberland Plateau
At the Charit Creek Trailhead, we were greeted immediately by a drenched little dog, with no owner in sight! Spousal Unit named him Pepper, because he was salted white and black over most of his body. He happily followed as we took off down the trail.
Our destination was the Twin Arches, but Charit Creek Lodge came first. Here we found someone who knew "Pepper's" owner - we turned "Pepper" over and congratulated ourselves on a good deed done!
|Click to enlarge!|
At the time, you could stay at the lodge for $75 a night - dinner and breakfast and no electricity included. A more recent perusal would suggest that prices have increased about 30%. Not bad considering that 8 years have passed! (And now, there are other options on the same property. Check out http://www.ccl-bsf.com/ I am not being paid for this!)
We enjoyed coffee and home-made banana bread, and made our way uphill to the Twin Arches.
First you cross this bridge, and then it's 1.1 miles uphill to the Twin Arches.
These arches form the largest natural bridge complex in Tennessee and one of the largest known in the world. The two sandstone arches are situated end-to-end. The South Arch is the tallest at 103 feet, and you can climb a ladder to get on top and traverse both the South and North Arch!
We took the trail toward Jake's Place, a historic farmstead, and it followed the contour of the rock mass for a long time before descending to a creek bed that ran next to Jake's Place. We saw no signs of a homestead - only a clearing - a good place for a snack! A mile later we crossed the ford - helped by some rocks strategically placed by Spousal Unit - and took a short cut up the hill to return to the car.
That night, dinner was at the Rey Azteca, and I was thirsty, if you know what I mean! I ordered up a margarita, and the chagrined waiter informed me "This is a moist county, not a wet county. We can't serve margaritas." A Mexican restaurant without margaritas? How can it be?
Day 4 dawned foggy and crisp. Destination? The Honey Creek Loop Trail, described as some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The literature cautions hikers not to take young children or pets, and highlights a number of hazards, including "travel through boulder fields may require using your hands and knees to climb over and among boulders." You can read the full text about the trail in the picture to the right. My hand-written notes? "It is everything the blurb says." In one of those very boulder fields, we nearly decided to turn around and go back, just because it was nigh on impossible to locate the "trail".
With hundreds of rhododendrons, I am sure this trail would be
spectacular in the spring
We journeyed on to Nashville, and splurged on two nights at the posh, historic Hermitage Hotel. Our "Romance Package" included champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries and the All-American breakfast for two in the Capitol Grille.
|In the picture on the upper left, Spousal Unit is dwarfed by the cliff|
No trip to Nashville is complete without sampling the music scene, and the Hermitage is conveniently located only a few blocks from the honky tonks. In only our second bar (Big Shotz), we found a band we liked (never got the name of the band although a woman collecting tips called the lead singer Jason Duggins). And the people watching in Nashville is at least half of the entertainment. Of note that night was the man and his t-shirt, which said "This beer is making me awesome."
It was a s-l-o-w start to Day 5 (we were out late dancing the night away), but eventually we worked our way 'round to a six-mile run through downtown Nashville. The Hermitage has thought of everything and had this handy map for runners to follow.
Upon our return to the hotel, we showered in readiness for a 60-minute deep tissue massage. Pure heaven. The afternoon took us to Bailey's on Broadway for lunch, a bit of souvenir shopping and more music. We enjoyed a nap before our 7.30 p.m. dinner reservation at the Capitol Grille. As you would expect, the meal was excellent. My favorites were the Sweet Onion Bisque and port with the cheese plate. Spousal Unit savored a dish simply named "Pork", a very tender porkloin with a bacon flavor.
Then it was back out on the town - this time we focused on venues on Broadway, such as Legends Corner and the Whiskey Bent Saloon. Several of the venues were filled with Steelers fans, what with a game scheduled for the next day between the Titans and the Steelers. Some of them were a bit obnoxious for my taste. Anyway, we were over the moon impressed with the quality of the music we heard - it really does go on all day every day!
Day 6 - sadly bidding adieu to the Hermitage and Nashville, we turned our car toward Land Between the Lakes (LBL), a 170,000-acre outdoorsmen's paradise between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in western Kentucky and Tennessee. You can read the notes at left about our aborted biking adventure - I am much better on my own two feet!
At our hotel that evening, we opted for a night in, complete with Domino's pizza and wings. We had hoped to watch the Steelers v. Titans game, but couldn't get the NFL channel. (The good news is that the Titans beat the Steelers!)
Day 7 started with a leisurely morning, followed by a return to LBL. More hiking was in store, as shown on the journal page to the right. LBL features vast forests, open lands and streams. Adventurers will also discover attractions, camping, trails, wildlife and historical exhibits. Families enjoy the diverse educational facilities such as the Woodlands Nature Station and the Homeplace 1850s.
Back at our hotel, our thoughts turned to coffee and antiquing. Just down the hill we discovered a wonderfully quaint corner of Grand Rivers, Kentucky. A wedding chapel, cute little boutiques, and Anna's Garden Café, which had the tallest meringue pies we had ever seen. With our coffee, Spousal Unit managed to inhale one of the monster Coconut Meringue slices; I took the more moderate route of a chess bar.
We had dinner at Cactus Jack's Southwestern Grill, and my notes say it was pretty average. But not all was lost, as apparently I won the Scrabble game that night!
My entry for Day 8 starts with "Kayaking in Pisgah Bay", but there are no further details. Google tells me that Pisgah Bay is a sheltered cove on Kentucky Lake, and is also home to the Kentucky Lake Drag Boat Races. OK.
Our next stop was the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Another historic property, it opened in 1923 following a $4 million dollar investment by J. Graham Brown, millionaire lumberman and capitalist. Perhaps it was the comparison to the Hermitage that did it. Or maybe the experience relative to the price. Or both - in any case, my notes suggest that we would not repeat our stay.
On the other hand, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Doc Crow's, and the live music at Stevie Ray's. "V-Groove" played a wide variety of music, good for dancing. (If you haven't figured it out by now, "good for dancing" is the quality measure we employ for a musical group.) You could say that ended the trip on a positive "note"!
|The next day we returned to Cleveland!|
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