Sunday, September 23, 2012

LBL Continued....

Our second day at Land between the Lakes, we got up to a pouring rain. So we went off to Mass at St. Anthony's nearby and asked the locals for a recommendation for breakfast. We ended up at a sweet little cafe run by a couple who sold their house in San Diego twenty years ago and drove west until they hit water. They bought a home on the river and relaxed for four years then opened up the cafe/bakery to help the cash flow. Now they are dropping days and are down to Thursday-Sunday. What a great way to retire. In the summer they hire extra help for all the tourists. We had a delicious crab benedict for breakfast - on a croissant. Yum!

Hiking seemed to be out and we were still trying to decide what to do in the rain, so we asked the two couples at the table next to us if they were from the area. Bingo! They suggested a trip to Paducah to the quilt museum and a few other places in town including the river front to see the murals on the flood wall. So off we went. By the the time we got to Paducah the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to peek through. It was perfect for a walk along the river. The murals tell the history of the town and some of them were so realistic I felt like I could walk straight into them. What scope for the imagination! Imagine walking from 2012 right back into the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

Each of the murals had a description. Some were underwritten by different groups. Lourdes Hospital, the first health provider in town run by sisters (I don't remember the order.) had a mural. So did the Boy Scouts. There were some that described the history: the local Indian tribes, settlement by the explorers and pioneers, the buildup of shipping on the river. There was even one[panel that showed harvesting of mussel shells to be used for making pearl buttons. It is worth going to Paducah just for the murals!

But the quilting museum was also a terrific stop. I wish I could have taken pictures, but they didn't permit it. They had one gallery of art quilts, one of award winners, and one of historical quilts. There also was an exhibit of quilts by Paul Pilgrim, an art teacher who later made quilts incorporating bits and pieces of historical quilts. He said he wanted to preserve what was being lost because they were never finished. So he would buy a stack of squares from one place and put them together in interesting patterns. The results were a mix of old and new.

My favorite quilt was a white Victorian all hand quilted. A flower was missing because the woman who made it was working the day of the Challenger explosion and forgot it. She decided to leave it that way as a memento of the loss. The quilt had a lace border that she made with a shuttle in the old fashioned way. That is, indeed, a lost art. The quilt was magnificent! There was another quilt honoring Tolkein. In the center was the wedding of Strider and his fairy queen with Gandalf doing the honors.

In the lobby there was a display of children's squares and I did take pictures of some of those. Here are a few to shame those of us who doubt we could do as well as the young 'uns.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Land Between the Lakes

Kentucky is one beautiful state and it has a national recreation area (shared with Tennessee) that is a funland for those who love the outdoors. We had two days there and check out some of what we did.

Took a hike around Hematite Lake
Stopped to watch a great white egret searching for lunch.

This handsome fella was checking us out.

After the lake hike we went to the nature center where they have many animals whocan't be released into the wild for one reason or another. The eagle is an interesting case. She was rescued as a baby but became used to humans to the degree she "imprinted" on them. She never learned to hunt and expects to be fed by her human caretakers. Just call her the welfare eagle. On the other hand, she contributes by posing for photos - so I guess she works for her living as a super model.  

I enjoyed seeing the red wolf. I didn't know there was such a creature. There were two in the enclosure. I climbed over the wooden fence to take a picture through the chain link fence and this fella's partner got nervous and trotted off.

There were also a variety of owls. I've only seen them in the wild once or twice since they are nocturnal, so it was fun to get a view of them up close and personal. The first is a barn owl. Doesn't he look like a monkey? The second is a barred owl who looks more like the wise old owl of children's picture books.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bardstown, KY, Most Beautiful Small Town in America

That's what they say in their brochure -- voted by USA Today. Since I haven't been to every small town in America I can't really say whether it's the most beautiful, but it sure is lovely. This was a pilgrimage stop. We visited St. Thomas Church which had a tiny 6-room wooden house adjacent to the church which was the first seminary west of the Alleghenies. They had six seminarians in the early days and in the little museum they had some original correspondence and a schedule of the daily life. We also visited St. Joseph Cathedral and the Abbey of Gethsemane where Thomas Merton lived. We arrived in time to pray Liturgy of the Hours (Sext - noon) with the monks. It was lovely to hear all those male voices singing Gregorian Chant.

 I took lots of photos, but unfortunately the card got corrupted and I can't download them. Hopefully, a photo shop can help because I would hate to lose them all. Bardstown was a great stop and we stayed at a beautiful campground called My Old Kentucky Home State Park. We have found the state and national campgrounds not only a great bargain, but absolutely beautiful. Travelling this time of year it's also pretty easy to get a campsite. I'll post pictures later if I'm able to retrieve them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Down in the Coal Mine

Despite the fact my husband hails from coal country and had plenty of relatives who worked in the mines, I had never been in one myself until two days ago. The entire experience was an act of serendipity. We decided not to go to the New River Gorge because of the bad weather and headed to Huntington for indoor activities. But after a delay for a burning truck and then a huge backup on I 64 due to a tractor trailer jackknifing, we decided to get off the highway and look for a campground.

The lady at the gas station recommended the Exhibition Coal Mine Campground a few miles away which is attached to a wonderful little exhibition coal mining town. It had a train ride into the mine (which was an actual working mine back in the 20s and had several buildings typical of coal towns which were built by the owners because the mines were usually in remote areas. There was a three-room miner's cottage, a one-room bachelor's unit, a church, a school, and the superintendent's house which was a mansion compared to the miners' places. Inside the superintendent's house was a doctor's office, barber shop, and post office which would have been separate in the real town.

So that's how we spent several rainy hours on Tuesday. The mine was active before modern equipment and the workers would have used picks and shovels. They hand-drilled holes to put in the explosives and would shout out, "Fire in the hole!" three times before they lit the fuse. Those men certainly earned their pay.

In the little museum, one display showed coins from different mining companies that were used to buy items from the "company store." It's easy to see how the miner's came to "owe their souls to company store." They had to buy their own equipment, paid rent for their houses and purchased what they needed by way of groceries and other commodities at the store. Often their expenses were subtracted from their pay. One ledger showed all the expenses owed to the mine and at the end of two weeks, the miner received about $1.68 in pay.

The gentleman who gave our tour worked in the mines for 28 years and his dad before him when the electronic machines first came in. They kicked up so much coal dust that's why so many miners got black lung. Once they introduced machines that wet down the dust, the incidence went down, but our tour guide's dad died of black lung disease. All the docents we talked to were from the area and had a connection to the mining industry. Once friendly woman was raised in a coal mining town. What a fascinating stop. Even in the rain it was a delightful visit.

The experience made Tennessee Ernie Ford's song a lot more meaningful. They really did load several tons of coal a day. And if there was too much slag rock mixed in, money was deducted. So if the base for a ton was 20 cents, they might end up with 18 or even 15 per tone. Young miners learned pretty quick to distinguish between coal and rock. How do you think you would like being a miner?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Life's a Journey...

And today it's a slow one. We saw a truck on fire about ten miles outside Covington, VA on I 64 west - black smoke billowing into the sky until the fire department came and the black smoke changed to white steam. Fortunately no one was hurt and the emergency only delayed us about twenty minutes.

Not to let Virginia outdo her in road emergencies, however, West Virginia had a rainy accident five miles west of Beckley. Traffic was so bad we pulled off the highway and made an instant change of plans. We checked out the local campgrounds and are now snugly ensconced at the Exhibition Coal Mine Campground listening to the rain. Tomorrow before we leave we'll tour the mine and the replica of the coal town including the church, school, superintendent's house, etc. Some changes in plan turn out to be better than the original.

All this highway commotion, however, reminded us why we pray lots of rosaries when we're on the road. No one was hurt in the truck fire thank God -- just buckets of billowing black smoke that turned to white steam once the fire department got there and put the hoses on the fire. The entire front of the truck was demolished. We were thankful there was no gas tank explosion.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Did You See For Greater Glory?

The movie about the Cristeros who fought for religious freedom in 1920s Mexico against the brutal tyrant Plutarco Calles was terrific! I thought the secular reviews panning the film were typical of an anti-Catholic media that salivates over all things "gay" and doesn't have a clue about the things of God.

At any rate, having posted the video of the beautiful friesian horses, I took special note during the film when the general of the Cristeros told the young boy, Jose (a real life martyr), that his horse was the only friesian in Mexico. Just a little bit of trivia for your Friday. And if you haven't seen the film, don't miss it. It is the fastes 2 1/2 hours I've spent in a long time!

Read more about the persecution of Catholics during the Cristero War. Persecution makes martyrs. Viva Cristo Rey!