Friday, November 03, 2006


First of all, let me say Kentucky was really pretty. The drive from Dale Hollow State Park, near Albany and Burkesville, over to Glasgow KY took us along a hilly two-lane road through many small towns and settlements. A lot of the houses along that road (route 90, which runs along just north of the Tennesse border) are neat little brick bungalows. There are many red-brick churches. The fall colors were beautiful on November 2.

I saw this sign half a dozen times along route 90.

There are also many picturesque ruins. Old falling-down houses with porches stacked high with junk are a common sight. Old general stores, closed up and in various states of decay, give you a flavor of what local life in this area must have been like before everybody had a car to drive. In a lot of ways, it made me think of the Loire Valley, where still today fewer people drive cars and where small villages are spaced out along narrow roads at regular intervals.

The "village" closest to the Dale Hollow resort is called Frogue.
I don't know how to pronounce it.

The lodge (or motel) at Dale Hollow is completely modern. You couldn't find a nicer place (considering the $55-a-night rate we paid) anywhere in Florida or California. But you know you are in Kentucky as soon as you get three miles up the road.

Back in the early 1980s, I knew a Frenchman who lived near Versailles and who thought Kentucky was one of the best American words he had ever heard. He would joke about one day going there on a vacation. I think he was half serious about such a trip, but I'm not sure he really believed such a place really existed. I wish he could have been with us yesterday.

You still see houses like this one, but many of the houses along the road
were neat and clean little brick bungalows.

Kentucky reminds me very much of North Carolina as well. Back in olden days, Daniel Boone forged the trail over the Appalachians at the Cumberland Pass, and many Carolinians and Virginians followed him west into Kentucky. The big difference right now between KY and NC is that rampant development and sprawl haven't yet hit Kentucky. That's a good thing for KY.

A "trailer home" that we passed along the way. Notice the Confederate flag
used as a curtain in the center window. (Click the picture to enlarge it.)

Farther north, up on the Ohio River at Owensboro, the barbecue restaurant called the Moonlite Inn was full of suprises. First of all, it seats 300 customers in a series of spacious dining rooms. And it was packed at 12:15 on a Thursday afternoon. I enjoyed listening to conversations all around, and especially to the wait staff. The people of Owensboro seem to have a strong Southern accent, despite being so far from the Old South.

The mutton barbecue was excellent. The meat was succulent and smoky. It had been shredded and coarsely chopped after long slow cooking. I wasn't crazy about what they called the "dipping sauce," however. It was a brown, watery liquid that didn't add much flavor. The bottles of dipping sauce on sale in the restaurant store listed the ingredients as, first, water, then Worcestershire powder (what is that?), vinegar, and sugar. The barbecued mutton would be much better with some good Eastern North Carolina hot-pepper vinegar on it. Nothing is better on barbecued meat than Wilber's vinegar sauce from Goldsboro, North Carolina.

The separate entrance for people who want to take their barbecued meat home.
These are American icons: an ice machine and newpaper vending machines.

We drove out of Kentucky into SW Indiana after lunch and drove up small roads along the Wabash River all afternoon, on our way to Champaign-Urbana. Just a few miles north of the Ohio River, in Mount Carmel, Illinois, the accents were no longer southern. Neither was the landscape.

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