Last Updated: 01-JAN-2018

June 2014 - Trip to Kentucky, Virginia & West Virginia Drive out - Kentucky Bourbon Trail - Mammoth Cave

All photos were taken with a Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera or a Motorola Moto-X
Any Video was shot with both cameras and converted with AWS Video Converter 6

Thursday - JUN 05 2014

Coopers Rock State Park

Coopers Rock State Forest gets its name from a legend about a fugitive who hid from the law near what is now the overlook. A cooper by trade, he resumed making barrels at his new mountain hideout, selling them to people in nearby communities. He lived and worked in the forest for many years. Bands of rock cliffs line the Cheat River Gorge and provide numerous overlooks. The centerpiece among these is the main overlook, which furnishes a panorama of the gorge and distant horizons.

Ken came here with his family a number of times when he was growing up. It looks the same.

Earth Day 2013 introduced the state animal of West Virginia in the form of an eco-bear and is in position at Coopers Rock State Forest.

The (American) five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) is one of the most common lizards in the eastern U.S. The first one may be a juvenile and second one an adult male.

We were surprised at the ease of driving here. I-70 to I-68 then down I-79 to I-64. Left mid-morning and we were at the hotel before dinner.

The first night we ate at Cattleman's Road House in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. It was ok but would probably not go again. They did have a good selection of Bourbon

We drove around exploring Mt. Stearling and spent some time in Machpelah Cemetery. This cemetery is owned and maintained by the Oddfellows, who keep it in excellent condition. It has two sections, situated across the road from each other, which are linked by a "foot bridge." They are often referred to as the old and the new sections. More sections are now being created for new burials as the cemetery grows.

In the mid-west we like to explore cemeteries as some of the grave markers are from the members of the Woodmen of the World, a fraternal organization along the lines of the Elks and so forth. Founded in 1890, they did indeed put up distinctive tree themed gravestones for their members up until the 1920s when the costs became prohibitive.

Machpelah Cemetery had some good examples of these markers

Nice Sunset from our hotel

Friday - JUN 06 2014

Our first stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was a tour at Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve officially reopened its visitor center at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, on April 9th, 2014 after completing a renovation project. Visitors may enjoy a panoramic view of the scenic Distillery grounds from the new tasting room which is lined with copper stools. A fireplace with copper detail separates the lounge area from the tasting room. The tabletops in the visitor center and tables in the tasting room are crafted using reclaimed wood from a barn on the Distillery property. Coffee tables in the main area of the visitor center are built from a cypress vat once used at the Distillery.

Woodford Reserve isn't manufactured, it's hand crafted in small batches. This artisanal process allows them to craft it at all five sources of bourbon flavor, giving it its distinct taste and crisp, clean finish.

This was our first distillery and possibly our favorite although we enjoyed Maker's Mark and Buffalo Trace very much as well.

Interesting table & various views.

  • MOVIE - 36 meg output of the still - Amazing volume

    Various Woodford Reserve views of the stills, barrels and interesting rail system to transport the barrels

    Not a real good efficiency in the bottling area.

    Ken's dream job

    Views around the historic facility.

    Tasting time. And Bourbon balls candy.

    Some of the horse facilities between Woodford Reserve and Four Roses Distillery

    Our second tour was at Four Roses Distillery. We arrived about an hour before the next available tour. We asked where we could eat and they recommended Hill of Beans HOBB Bar-B-Que. It was located in a gas station along US-127 and it was VERY GOOD ! Fast too. Will go back when we are in this area the next time.

    The Four Roses Distillery was built in 1910 and features a unique Spanish Mission-Style architecture rarely seen in Kentucky. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and operates continuously, except for the summer months. Nestled in the quiet Kentucky countryside near Lawrenceburg, and on the banks of the scenic Salt River, the Four Roses Distillery makes the trip to this very mellow place all that more rewarding. This was disappointing compared to Woodford, however they gave us each a free souvenir glass and it cost only $5.

    Empty mash vats

  • MOVIE - 30 meg Filling up the mash tank

    Mash cooking

    Leaving Four Roses Distillery, we crossed a Norfolk Southern rail line on Bonds Mill Road near US-127

    Wild Turkey Distillery

    So our third tour of the day was the Wild Turkey Distillery located east of Lawrenceburg, KY. I have never been too impressed with Wild Turkey but what the heck.

    They were shut down for the summer but still conduct tours of the facility

    Wild Turkey is the genuine, benchmark Bourbon for uncompromising drinkers of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It is one of the bestselling premium Bourbons in the U.S. and in the world. Produced at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky by Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey Bourbon is known by its signature 101 proof and by its unique unmatched flavor. We lucked out because we showed up and they immediately gave us a tour and no cost for military (CAC ID).

    Mary standing under what they make here.

    The tasting room and I got a kick out of seeing competitor brands on the back wall.

    The view from the Wild Turkey tour facility

    US-62 and YOUNG'S (Railroad) High Bridge Young's High Bridge was constructed in 1889 by the Louisville Southern Railroad. It was named in honor of Col. Bennett Henderson Young, a Nicholasville, KY native and Civil War veteran who became president of the Louisville Southern. The first train crossed the bridge on August 30, 1889 and it continued to carry railroad traffic until November, 1985. The 1,659 foot long bridge stands 283 feet above the low water mark of the Kentucky River near the Tyrone community. Because of its location, it is sometimes known as the Tyrone Bridge. The bridge is of a cantilever design; it has not been modified or altered since its construction and it has been described as one of the best remaining examples of cantilever bridge construction in the US. The bridge is currently owned by the Norfolk-Southern Railroad.

    Frankfort, Kentucky

    We headed off to Frankfort, Kentucky which is one of the smallest (population wise) capitols in the USA at 27,000.

    The third capitol building was completed in 1830. Gideon Shryock, a 25-year-old Kentucky man, designed the building. The General Assembly met in this building from 1830 to 1910. It is still standing in Frankfort and is now called the Old Capitol.

    The town of Frankfort likely received its name from an event that took place in 1780s. American Indians attacked a group of early British-American pioneers from Bryan Station, who were making salt at a ford in the Kentucky River. After the pioneer Stephen Frank was killed, the settlers called the crossing "Frank's Ford." This name was later mistaken for Frankfort.

    They were having some sort of art show. We walked around looking at the vendors.

    We ate outside at Serafini, on the historic St. Clair Mall, across from the old State Capitol, and enjoyed the meal.

    We also enjoyed the RJ Corman train which runs through the middle of the street (in the median). Monika enjoying the train at dinner

  • MOVIE - 81 meg Street Running in Frankfort
  • MOVIE - 27 meg Street Running in Frankfort
  • MOVIE - 50 meg Singing Bridge - Kentucky River

    Tunnel at one end of town

    Various downtown views

    We drove across the river and checked out the current capitol building

    The fourth and current capitol building was completed in 1910. Made from marble and granite from all over the world and topped with a 190-foot dome, Kentucky's capitol is one of the most beautiful in the nation.

    The face of this colorful flowering clock is 34 ft. across and is planted with thousands of plants.

    On the east lawn of the state Capitol, you will find the Governor's Mansion. Since 1914, the mansion has been the home of Kentucky's governors and their families. The Capitol, mansion, and floral clock are open for tours year-round. This is the 100 year anniversary.

    So we then went to check in at Marriot Frankfort Inn and Suites. Nice room, no view except for the sunset, shopping and a stray cat in the lot.

    Saturday - JUN 07 2014

    Maker's Mark

    Maker's Mark is a small-batch bourbon whisky that is distilled in Loretto, Kentucky, by Beam Suntory. It is sold in distinctively squarish bottles, which are sealed with red wax, and bottled at 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume). This was a very nice tour and lovely rural setting. Also free with CAC card!

    Various still views. Very classy

    Walking around the mash-bills. Here they allowed you to give it a taste and it really was not that exciting. Wet corn is the taste..

    Monika asking advice on how to start this at home.

    How they print the bottle labels

    Maker's Mark warehouses

    How they increase surface area for Maker's Mark 46 bourbon. I have a bottle but have yet to try it.

    The bottling area. (it had a bad leak... Very sad)

    The tasting at Maker's Mark. It was interesting as they had you taste a "Over Matured" (the 2nd one from the right) I think they are trying to show that this current aging of everything is not always productive when it comes to taste. In any case the argument is interesting.

    Jim Beam

    Next was Jim Beam and we passed by some of their numerous warehouses on the way. The reason Jim Beam Bourbon is the world's #1 Kentucky bourbon is because they have been at it for over 200 years. Seven generations of Beams have kept their secret bourbon-making process alive, while battling the wilds of Kentucky, the Great Depression, two wars, and a pesky little thing called Prohibition.

    Booker, described as a big man with an even bigger heart, took great care in upholding and maintaining the Beam family's commitment to quality. As the Master Distiller Emeritus at the Jim Beam Distillery for more than 40 years, Booker knew every barrel of bourbon inside and out. In 1988, Booker introduced his own namesake bourbon: Booker's, the world's first uncut, straight-from-the-barrel bourbon, and the first of the legendary Small Batch Collection. Like his unfiltered bourbon, Booker had a tell-it-like-it-is style, and when he spoke of bourbon and his family's heritage, he did it straight from the heart. He died in 2004.

    Ken & Mary sitting with Booker

    We ate at Freds BBQ Smokehouse. It was good but not cheap ! Hill of Beans BBQ was better and much cheaper.

    Couple of brands I had not seen back in PA & MD. We did not buy much as we were worried about the heat in the car.

    Looking down into the original spring. Did not think it looked too safe

    Various distillery views; a very large operation

    Barreling Porch Milestones

    Cool old truck

  • MOVIE - 42 meg Jim Bean still output

    Mary standing next to the low & high wine distilling output

    A small batch which demonstrated how they make Jim Beam. Hi-Tech

    They let us smell some of the Knob Creek. I was amazed at how much charcoal comes out of the Barrel.

    Checked out a Beam Bourbon Aging Warehouse

    Ken & Mary

    Mary tasting the sugar on the barrels

    Prohibition begins in 1920. It is the ONLY time that Jim Beam doesn't distill bourbon. Instead, he takes a shot at coal mining and citrus farming. Fortunately for us, he's no good at either. As they say, that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

    This is the signed 13,000,000 barrel.

    The tasting part. You get two choices but very little in each shot! Very hi-tech and controlled.

    Buffalo Trace

    "Ancient buffalo carved paths through the wilderness that led America's first pioneers and explorers westward. One such trail led to the banks of the Kentucky River where we've been making bourbon whiskey the same way for over 200 years. Uncompromised and unchanged, we're proud of the whiskey we make. Dedicated to the independent spirit of America, Buffalo Trace is the world's most decorated distillery. Made from the finest corn, rye and barley malt, this whiskey ages in new oak barrels for years in century old warehouses until the peak of maturity. The taste is rich and complex, with hints of vanilla, toffee and candied fruit. The smooth finish lingers on the palate. This will never change."

    We went for a ghost tour which we had to sign up for ahead. Good tour but we saw no ghosts. All their tours are free and we hope to do the hardhat tour someday. Great tasting which included bourbon balls and ample sample sizes. Very impressed with this place!

    The Buffalo

    Part of the ghost tour took us into the Stony Point House (nice door)

    The tour guide said they see ghosts on the steps. Nope..

    Nice Buffalo Art

    Another look at the steps.. Nope...

    Cool patio area

    The visitor center

    Warehouse C

    Walking around warehouse C

    In 1870 the distillery was purchased by Edmund H. Taylor and given its first name, the Old Fire Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery.

    Not bad as its over 14 years

    National Historic Landmark

    Since it was late the only area we went in was the small batch distillery and bottling area.

    Was amazed at all the good stuff (Pappy Van Winkle's) that was just sitting around. Heck some of this is over $1000 a bottle. No cameras, no security and they just left it open. I am sure it was a trap.

    What they were currently bottling... Lots of VW (Van Winkle)

    Mary looking to score some hooch

    The Barrel rail system

    The 6 millionth barrel

    The Kentucky River next to the distillery

    Looking back towards the visitor center. Barrel elevator on the right building

    Good use of old rail

    Carnegie 1895 - Probably from Pittsburgh

    Sunday - JUN 08 2014

    Knob Creek Farm - boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln

    Route 31E Hodgenville, Kentucky

    You'll find this boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln in a beautiful setting several miles from his birthplace. When the Lincoln family lived here the road by the cabin was the main route from Louisville to Nashville.

    The Lincolns moved to the property in 1811, attracted by the fertile land. The 230-acre farm featured a creek running through rich bottomland bordered by steep hills that resembled knobs. In an 1860 letter Lincoln said, "The place on Knob Creek ... I remember very well; but I was not born there .... My earliest recollection, however, is of the Knob Creek place."

    Lincoln was two years old when his family arrived at Knob Creek. His sister Sarah was four, and his brother Thomas was born the following year (he died a few days later and was buried on the property). In 1860, Lincoln recalled that during their stay, "he and his sister were sent, for short periods, to ABC schools, the first kept by Zachariah Riney, and the second by Caleb Hazel." These were "blab" schools, where students learned by repeating their lessons aloud, over and over. Years later, Lincoln annoyed his law partner by reading the newspaper aloud in their office, but explained that he learned better by using two senses.

    The creek that Lincoln played in

    ? Plant with interesting leaves

    Bird Box with no hole. Found out it is sparrow resistant bluebird box!

    The First Lincoln Memorial

    For over a century people from around the world have come to rural Central Kentucky to honor the humble beginnings of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. His early life on Kentucky's frontier shaped his character and prepared him to lead the nation through Civil War. The country's first memorial to Lincoln, built with donations from young and old, enshrines the symbolic birthplace cabin.

    After visiting the Lincoln boyhood home we went to the birthplace. Interesting park ranger who gave us a tour. 56 steps on the monument corresponding to his 56 years of life.

    I never knew that this monument even existed

    Mary had to hold the sign


    Up the 56 steps

    The cabin inside the monument

    The boundary Oak

    Sinking Spring

    Too bad they are gone - American Chestnut

    Along the CSX tracks in downtown Cave City Kentucky

    Mammoth Cave National Park -- A Grand, Gloomy and Peculiar Place

    Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world's longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored. Early guide Stephen Bishop called the cave a "grand, gloomy and peculiar place," but its vast chambers and complex labyrinths have earned its name - Mammoth.

    Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941 to protect the unparalleled underground labyrinth of caves, the rolling hilly country above, and the Green River valley. Since then, ongoing study and exploration have shown the park to be far more complex than ever imagined, hosting a broad diversity of species living in specialized and interconnected ecosystems.

    We saw several flocks of turkeys when we entered the park. Wild Turkeys live in mature forests, particularly nut trees such as oak, hickory, or beech, interspersed with edges and fields. You may also see them along roads and in woodsy backyards. After being hunted out of large parts of their range, turkeys were reintroduced and are numerous once again.

    Map of the cave system

    Will have to check out the Big Spring someday.

    Not a good place to be in a earthquake

    Interesting that they have no bears here

    The tours - that you could do.

    Cave airflow

    Violet City Lantern Tour

    "Travel exclusively by lantern light as guides recreate a nostalgic experience of days gone by. The flickering flame and rugged trails make it seem as if time stands still in the cave. Experience the cave the way early visitors did as you navigate steep hills and uneven terrain through some of the largest and oldest toured passageways. Relive the stories, behold the illusions and experience the cave's primitive nature that only this rustic walking tour can afford!"

    We enjoyed this tour but it was a dark, 3 miles and 3 hours long, 160 steps so not for everyone.

    Entering the cave and I took no photos in the cave as no flashes were allowed

    We saw a bat hanging on the cave ceiling shortly after we entered the cave. Not sure which species.

    The only mammals that truly fly, bats have inhabited the lightless halls of Mammoth Cave for millions of years. Only 150 years ago, Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) and to a lesser extent gray bats (Myotis grisescens) were prominent species in Mammoth Cave, but are today listed as endangered. Little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) were also abundant with the big brown bat (Eptisecus fuscus), and eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus) being less common. All together, these and more rare bat species such as eastern small-footed bat had estimated populations of 9-12 million just in the Historic Section. While these species still exist in Mammoth Cave, their numbers are now no more than a few thousand at best.

    Exiting the cave. Interesting how they have this all locked up as I assume they have some issues with people going places where the Park Service does not want them to go.

    At both Carter Caves and Mammoth Cave, the main tactic to control the spread of white-nose syndrome of bats is decontamination, specifically the shoe soles of those who enter the caves. The park has installed footwear disinfecting stations outside caves still open to the public.

    Sand Cave where Floyd Collins was trapped in 1925. We only saw the cave opening. Not that exciting.

    The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe that we rented from Enterprise. I always looked at Hyundai cars as junk and throw aways, but I was impressed. I got good mileage, plenty of power and enough room for four people. Not that I would now buy one, but it was a good test.

  • On to part 2 -- Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Gap, Breaks Interstate Park, Southern West Virginia, Spruce Knob, Rocks & Dolly Sods

  • Trip to Kentucky, Virginia & West Virginia - JUNE 2014