Monday, October 16, 2017

We Interrupt This Blog for One Spoiled Husky!

Fall is here!

Although we would much rather be south, there is one enormous benefit to being in Indiana. Crockett is enjoying his first true fall!
The weather is cool and brisk, which means a certain ten year old husky has come down with-
 a bad case of puppy zooms!
 The RV park doesn't have a fenced in dog yard, so we've been sneaking down to the nearby tennis court.
Nobody seems to be using it, and a tennis court is just the right size for a husky with the fall crazies!
Oh, yeah, that was a much needed run, followed by-
stretching out for some prime time squirrel watching! The RV park has a lot of black walnut and oak trees, which means we currently have 24/7 squirrel TV. Pretty sure life doesn't get much better than this!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Carnegie Center for Art and History (Free!)

Fall is Pretty Awesome 

We miss some things about Texas, like breakfast tacos and Tex-mex. We don't miss the crazy September heat - fall in Indiana is perfect riding weather! The Biker finally had a free Thursday, so we zipped over to New Albany to check out their local history center. Admission is - yep, free!
New Albany is, yes, another Indiana city that lies on the other side of the Ohio River, across from Louisville. It's easiest to just imagine the Ohio River as a wiggling snake, running east and west. Louisville sits the south (Kentucky) side of the river. New Albany and Jeffersonville sit on the north (Indiana) side of the river, with smaller Clarksville squished between them. 

New Albany, like the other two towns, was founded on land  given to George Roger Clark, a Revolutionary War hero, and father of William Clark. (William is, of course, the same Clark who went tramping off with Meriwether Lewis on a grand surveying expedition)
The land was sold to the Scribner family, who established New Albany in 1813. Indiana became a state a couple of years later, and New Albany was chosen as the seat of Floyd County.  Floyd County, incidentally, was named after Davis Floyd, a politician, and a friend of Aaron Burr. 
New Albany was the biggest city in Indiana until just before the Civil War, when Indianapolis overtook it. New Albany's wealth came mostly from steamboat and the Ohio River in the nineteenth century, and from plywood and veneer in the twentieth century. Since we seem to be covering obscure Indiana history in this blog, let's take a moment to talk about the craziness of the streets on this side of the river. 

While citizens of New Albany were laying out their town, another fellow decided to plan out his own town, called Providence. If you pull up a map of New Albany, and look at the area just east of Fairview Cemetery, you will notice the numbered streets start doing some strange things and 10th becomes 11th. That's where these two different city plans clashed. Literally. 

Jeffersonville, in the meantime, decided to lay things out in a diagonal street grid. This created such a mess that the city later added a more traditional grid. The result is there are still a lot of weird random diagonal bits that don't quite mesh with the newer grid system.
Ahem, moving on. Got to love the architecture of Carnegie Libraries! The Carnegie Center is housed in the old Albany Public Library. Originally slated for demolition after the library moved into a bigger building, citizens saved it by creating a Floyd County Museum. Today, that museum has become the Carnegie Center and is run as part of the city's library system.
It turns out  the center was installing a couple of new exhibits in both gallery spaces, so we couldn't check out any local art. 
That's OK, there were still two interesting permanent exhibits to see. The first is on the life of Lucy Higgs Nichols.
Lucy was born a slave. When the Civil War broke out, she grabbed her baby and fled to a camp of Union Soldiers. The United States had just passed a law, allowing the troops to keep Confederate property (slaves), so she was given work in the camp as a nurse.
Sadly, Lucy's baby girl died soon after, and was buried at Vicksburg.  Lucy went on to serve with the Twenty-third Regiment from Indiana for the rest of the war. After the war, the men continued to consider her a fellow comrade. 

She was a member of her local veteran's group in New Albany, and men from the Twenty-Third helped her apply for a Civil War army pension. Like many nurses, her application was denied, so the men just kept on insisting - until Lucy's pension was passed by a special act! 
The other exhibit was called 'Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad'.
A slave who get across the Ohio River would be free. New Albany was the biggest city in Indiana before the Civil War, and a bustling port city of steamboats and trains. The result was New Albany was the final destination for many who traveled the Underground Railroad.
This also meant the abolitionists in New Albany were often active in the Underground Railroad.  Local owners of the railroads in the area would even give out free tickets that could be used by escaping slaves.
Unfortunately, the large number of freed slaves living in and around New Albany also created a lot of racial tension, and at least 3 blacks were killed during a riot in 1862. The exhibit does a very good job of showing people's views and opinions of both the Underground Railroad, and the racial issues surrounding slavery, without glossing over the ugly reality of what was happening in Indiana in the years leading up to the Civil War.
'The Search' by Barney Blight, outside the current New Albany Public Library.

Know before you go: The center has free admission, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 5:30pm. There is parking available behind the center. The center hosts several art and culture events throughout the year, and the public is welcome to attend these.



Monday, October 2, 2017

River Road and Patriot Memorial (Free!)



River Road Ride 

 The Biker is now working 45 to 50 hour weeks at Amazon, so we've fallen back into work mode. Get up, grab chow, do chores, feed the critters, and get The Biker out the door.  In the middle of all of this, two anniversaries crept up on us.

Last week was our first year anniversary of owning the Otterbee. It feels like it was just yesterday when we zoomed up to Dallas on a hot September day to inspect her and bring her home. After recovering from threading a 30 foot RV down the I-35 corridor of hell, we  began months of remodeling, and finally, our first camping experience in November. We headed to Livingston and the Escapees RV Boot Camp . Which was a pretty awesome birthday gift from The Biker, and worth every penny.

Our other anniversary? We've now been officially full timing for three months! People keep asking us what is the one thing we didn't expect one we started out.  I think the biggest surprise is how quickly our animals adjusted to living in a much smaller space. Our oldest cat, Ormolu, has even figured out how to nap without being disturbed by the other animals. She has claimed one of the upper cabinets as her favorite nap spot - and then trained us humans to open the cabinet door whenever she wants in or out!
Last week, we decided to squeeze in a quick ride on one of The Biker's days off. We took the bridge across the river, cut over to Zorn, and the turned east onto River Road. The white building is the Louisville Water Tower, which began operating in 1860. Today it's a museum and an event center - and hard to miss!
River Road is a wonderful ride, with lots of greenery and views of the Ohio River. Shortly after we turned off of Zorn Road, we begin to pass several city parks.  Maybe there is a road with  more city parks on them, but I really can't think of one at the moment!
Here's fascinating reason behind the many parks along this road. This area is Indian Hills, a small city that has been swallowed up by Louisville.
The spaces of the original subdivison were planned by the Olmsted Brothers - yup, those OlmstedsPart of the original municipal plan was to leave a third of the area undeveloped. 
If I was a better blogger (or not trying to take photos from the back of a moving motorcycle!), I would've taken photos of each park, as well as some of the cool houses and places of Indian Hills. Instead, y'all are getting random photos of the ride down River Road.  We probably need to beg, borrow, or steal a Gopro at some point, huh?
Anyhoo, heading east, we pass Eva Bandman Park, named after a local citizen who donated land for park space to the city of Louisville. 
There is also the Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park, named for for a local business man who also built the Malvern House. There is a great article about the house here, which is still lived in by Cox's descendants.
And finally, there is Caperton Swamp Park, or really, a 29 acre wildlife preserve. This is supposed to be a hidden treasure and a great place to take a nature hike.
River Road was originally a road that connected the small towns and villages along the Ohio River. Much of this area belonged to the Veech family and their farm's name, Indian Hills, would later become the name of the current city.
One of the great things about this ride is the many views of the Ohio river. With all of this year's natural disasters, though, it was hard not to look at the river and think about the Flood of 1937
Here's an obscure piece of history. The Ohio Flood was actually the second big disaster that Louisville weathered. The first was the Madrid Earthquake back in 1811. This was actually a set of earthquakes which are still on record for being among the top 5 earthquakes for North America.
A small red sign marks the Patriot Peace Memorial. 
There is no parking at the Patriot Peace Memorial itself, so we parked in the Different Strokes Golf Center, next door. A short walking trail leads from the golf parking lot to the memorial.
The memorial is set on a hill, and honors military personnel who gave their lives, but not in active combat. 
The memorial is simple and stark during the day (at night, the names are lit up). There are the currently over 400 names on the walls of the memorial.
On Memorial Day this year, Navy Lt Commander Drew Hilliard's name was the latest to be added. 
The memorial is a beautiful, moving tribute to the men and women who have died while serving our country. There is also an ongoing restoration project, which you can donate to here.
After leaving the memorial, we headed to the Captain's Quarters for lunch.
This marina is actually part of Harrod's Creek, a small town that was eventually annexed by Louisville. Here is another fascinating and totally useless historical footnote. This town was almost called Transylvania!

The government seized the assets of some Tories that had chosen the wrong side in the Revolutionary War and gave that land to the Transylvania Land Company.  When the company went defunct, Kentucky decided to use the land to create a college, called Transylvania University. 

The university divided some of the property up and sold it. It seems the intent was to create a town called Transylvania, but the town became known as Harrod's Creek instead.  I wonder how many residents know how close they came to being the brunt of Dracula jokes?
The Captain's Quarters is a well known local restaurant, that sits on the site of an earlier tavern. Harrod's Creek was a stopover for people traveling down the Ohio.
The view was awesome - the food was not.
We had checked online reviews of the Captain's Quarters, and the place was crowded, so we were looking forward to trying some local cuisine. The breaded catfish was tasty, but the french fries were meh.  The Biker asked if he could substitute another side for coleslaw, but was told he couldn't, because 'the coleslaw was a garnish'. The coleslaw then came out as a side anyway, and was literally swimming in too much dressing.
I had the blackened fish, which was also well cooked, but was the only thing edible. The 'steamed' broccoli was cold and half-raw. Even worse was the turnip greens. 

In the south, turnip greens are slowly cooked in a tasty concoction of butter and bacon that pulls the bitterness out. Instead, I was served an enormous pile of barely steamed turnip greens with no seasoning. With my fish sort of perched precariously on top. The 'etouffee'  garnish was a smear of sauce under a veritable mountain of inedible turnip greens. But wait - it gets worse!
I give you this restaurant's won-ton appetizers. Yup, we ordered won-tons, and got very bland jalapeno poppers instead. Nope, these didn't even have won-ton wrappers, just the usual crumb breading. Oh, and did we mention the waitress? She was in a band, and made it clear she was doing this job solely to make ends meet. We had to remind her to bring The Biker's drink (she served him water instead) and then she couldn't be bothered to check back on us, or bring refills. 

In case you are still wondering, we do not recommend this place! On the up side, Crockett loves broccoli, raw or not, and was very, very happy that I took my side home to him instead of eating it!