Monday, 6 June 2011
Cumberland Falls KY to Ripley WV 324 miles
We started our day with a big delicious breakfast at the Dupont Lodge. The dining room looks out over the Cumberland River, and one wall of the room is windows. Just outside the windows is a garden with lots of bird feeders. Brilliant yellow gold finches were feasting on thistle seeds and ingenious squirrels were doing their best to get a free meal, too. The window next to our table had little paw prints on it, about two or three feet up. We weren’t sure which animal had made them until we saw a raccoon out there scrounging around! We had a good laugh when we looked up to see a man in plaid shorts and a beret out there, too!
We were thrilled to see country ham on the breakfast menu – we had come home! We shared a breakfast of country ham, potatoes, cooked apples, biscuits, redeye gravy, and eggs. It was the perfect way to start the day and it made us think of Daddy, who LOVED country ham and redeye gravy. After our meal, we went up to the patio and took some pictures of the river and the valley below, and then we were off to the Falls.
Cumberland Falls is the only waterfall in the western hemisphere that has a regular and predictable moonbow. Victoria Falls in Africa is the only other waterfall that does, although Niagara sometimes has one. A moonbow occurs only during a full moon, just after the moon has risen high enough in the sky to cause enough light to shine on the falls in a way that forms a spectrum like a rainbow. Sadly, we weren’t there during a full moon, but we enjoyed the rainbow that was vibrant and big on this day! Lots of photos later, we were ready to hit the road. Never mind that it was after noon before we left – it took us a while to get back in road trip mode!
The first town that we came to was Corbin, home of the Colonel Sanders Cafe and Museum. Given our late start, along with other things that we wanted to do and see, we didn’t stop…but we did stop at a Farmer’s Market to buy some fresh peaches. Even though Kim and I grew up in Kentucky, neither of us had been much east of I-75, so we were looking forward to exploring Appalachia in our home state. It was surprising to us to see so many coal mines still operating. Our drive through the mountains was beautiful, though, especially in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Another surprise along the way – a traffic jam in Hazard – go figure! It was caused by an accident, but still! Our main route today was Highway 23, also known as the Country Music Highway because of the multitude of talent born and raised along this route. We stopped at the Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville to learn some more about these singers. It was a small museum, but pretty new and very nicely done. The most famous singers from this area are Loretta Lynn and her baby sister, Crystal Gayle, who were born in nearby Butcher Holler. Other big names that you may recognize are Tom T. Hall, Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, Naomi and Wynonna Judd, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dwight Yoakam, and Patty Loveless. There were others, but that should give you some idea! The woman in the museum was so friendly and helpful – we were glad we had stopped!
From Paintsville we continued north on US 23 until we were almost to West Virginia. We crossed the Ohio River on the Kentucky side of Huntington and hopped on US 60 into Charleston. Highway 60 goes all the way across Kentucky to Paducah, so it was fun to be on it in West Virginia. We had hoped to stop in at the Blenko Glass museum in Milton, but it was after five by the time we got there, so we just kept going. Thankfully, the capitol building in Charleston was open until 7 PM, so we knew we would get to see it! Charleston was much prettier than I expected it to be, and the capitol was big and domed. It was not the prettiest one we’ve seen, but by no means was it the ugliest, either! My favorite thing there was a cool statue of Abe Lincoln out front. It was called “Lincoln at Midnight” and he is pacing the halls in his bathrobe. Oddly enough, just a few yards away was a statue of native son Stonewall Jackson. That unpleasantness really caused big divisions, didn’t it?
A couple of high school kids were getting their (prom? graduation?) pictures taken on the capitol steps, so that was some good entertainment for us. She was in a short bright royal blue dress and had a matching blue streak in the front of her very blonde hair. She wore 4″ high heels (black) and her bra was almost completely exposed in the back as her strapless dress rode lower and lower. Her boyfriend was wearing a blue tie that matched her dress, and someone’s mom was playing photographer. A little brother was getting over it pretty quickly. We just snickered. And took a couple of pictures. So mean.
We had thought we would spend the night here, but it was early enough when we left the capitol that we thought we’d move on, provided we could find a place to stay that wasn’t too far away. Once we got that taken care of, off we went. Ripley was our destination, and we got there with no problem. Our biggest fear once there was that we wouldn’t find a place for dinner, and breakfast was a LONG time ago! The only non-chain restaurant in town (that we could find out about) was a Mexican joint in a nearby strip shopping center, so that’s where we went. Kim had enchiladas and I had a chili relleno and a burrito. Not bad! So there you have it – day two, in the bag!