Guntersville, Alabama

Day 796

     The first white man to settle in this area of Alabama was John Gunter, born in 1765, a Scotsman who migrated from North Carolina after the Revolutionary War.

     Gunter came to the great bend of the Tennessee River around 1785, where he was fortunate to find a salt deposit. He decided to settle near the river. The town that emerged around his land, originally called Gunter’s Ferry, and then Gunter’s Landing, because his son, Edward, operated a ferry here, is present day Guntersville. He traded his salt with the Indians, the majority of whom were Cherokees.

     A Cherokee by the name of Chief Bushyhead, head of the Paint Clan, brought his beautiful 15 year old daughter, Ghe-go-he-li, to exchange for Gunter’s salt. (That is good use of a daughter.) Gunter accepted the bargain and changed his bride’s name to Katherine. Chief Bushyhead and Gunter signed a treaty stating “as long as the grass grows and the waters flow, the Indians can have salt.”

     On January 15, 1865, Federal Troops burned the town of Guntersville. One of the few buildings that survived was that of Montgomery Gilbreath, a Colonel in the confederate army, who fought at Shiloh. The board-and-batten house was built about 1858, and still stands today.

     As you can tell from reading my blog, I am interested in the town where we actually set up our camp. These towns, like Guntersville, are small and usually not familiar to everyone, like the big name cities, or well known historical places. To get the history of these towns, I go to the local historical society, chamber of commerce, or local museum. Guntersville’s Museum is located in their old National Guard Armory. Made of local rough limestone in the castellated style, this historic rock armory was built in 1936 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The armory was to provide storage and drill space for the local National Guard, Company E of the 167th Infantry, Second Battalion. They are famous for being part of the Rainbow Division of WWII. (Douglas MacArthur, a major then, cherry-picked the best national guard units from coast to coast and put four regiments together from 26 states like a rainbow. Alabama was selected.)

     We walked along the Tennessee River.

     And then Lake Guntersville. The lake was created when the Tennessee Valley Authority damed the Tennessee river.

     Why are we staying in this remote place? FREE CAMPING. When we bought the RV, they gave us a voucher for free camping at one of the properties of Ocean Canyon Properties, a membership only community. The only requirement was we had to listen to their spiel. In addition to 5 nights camping on Guntersville Lake, they gave us $100.00 cash. 

     We drove around the lake, and had dinner on the mountaintop which had a spectacular view of the lake. 

     Look for us down the road:

Technical Stuff:

Bowling Green, Kentucky to Guntersville, Alabama: 221.5 miles.

4 hours 52 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.95

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Day 793


     Founded by pioneers in 1798, no one seems to know where the name Bowling Green derived. Bowling Green is the County Seat of Warren County, Kentucky (my brother, Warren, pointed this out). The main attraction of Bowling Green is The National Corvette Museum which showcases the Chevrolet Corvette, that has been in production since 1953. The museum was constructed in 1994, and opened to the public in September of that

     On June 30, 1953, the first Corvette, rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan. Production moved to the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in 1981, where Corvettes have been made since. Three hundred hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year.

     Myron Scott, born September 16, 1907 in Camden, Ohio, an assistant director of Public Relations at Chevrolet, named the car after the name given to French speed ships in the 1670’s. The Corvette used a new technology called glass reinforced plastics, what we know today as fiberglass. 66

     This original emblem, combining the checkered flag and the American flag, was on the first corvette show car at the New York Motorama in 1953.emblem

     A member of General Motors’ legal team pointed out that it was illegal to use the American flag on a commercial product. Just hours before the show, a new emblem was designed using the Chevrolet “bow tie” and the French fleur-de-lis:emblem2

     Some people just don’t take care of their car:car1

     On February 12, 2014, a sinkhole opened under the floor of the Skydome area of the museum at around 5:44 AM, causing a portion of the floor to collapse. Eight corvettes fell into the hole.

Technical Stuff:

Louisville, Kentucky to Bowling Green, Kentucky: 113.0 miles

2 hours 21 minutes

10.5 MPG

Diesel: $3.06


Churchill Downs, Kentucky

Day 791

     Churchill Downs, Kentucky, is the home of the Kentucky Derby. The Churchills were one of Kentucky’s first families, having purchased 300 acres of land here in 1785.

     Born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 27, 1846, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (grandson of explorer William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame) moved to his mother’s estate, as she died shortly after giving birth. His two bachelor uncles, John Churchill and Henry Churchill, helped raise the boy,

     After traveling to Europe and witnessing horse racing there, he returned to Louisville and asked his uncles for land to build a racing track. Clark was then founder and president of the Louisville Jockey Club.

     The new track opened to the public on May 17, 1875 with the running of the first Kentucky Derby. The track is named for John and Henry Churchill. The dirt oval track built on that land is the same on that still bears his uncles’ name today.

     The term downs comes from Great Britain and Ireland where around the year 1500, horse races were held on grassy plains before formal race tracks were built. These grassy areas were known as downs.

     That first Derby race was won by the horse Aristides, who won $2,850. Compared to the winner of this year’s Derby, 144 year later, Justify, who won $1,432,000.

     Wasn’t he once black? Actually, most of the jockeys in the late 1800’s were black, including the jockey that rode Aristides to victory.

     This is the first electric starting gate used at Churchill Downs.

     I beat the horse, as he never left the gate.

     We went to the races today. The track was “sloppy”, but it looked muddy to me.

     Barbara studied the racing forms.

     She considered the number of races each horse ran this year and last and compared that to the number of wins. She considered the pedigree of the horse, it’s sire, how the horse ran on different tracks, the trainer’s experience, and the jockey’s ability. Then she bet on the horse that had the prettiest colors.

     It must have worked, as she doubled her money.

     And they are off:

Louisville, Kentucky

Day 789

     Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark, American surveyor, soldier, and militia officer, born November 19, 1752 in Virginia. The city was named after King Louis XVI of France, who was supporting the Colonies in their Revolution. Louisville was settled because it was a mandatory stopping point on the Ohio River, as the Ohio Falls prevented continuous river travel from the upper Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico.

     We walked along the Ohio River.

     Warning signs tell you the water is polluted: 

     Louisville is probably now best known as the home of the Louisville Slugger. 

     Pete Browning, born June 17, 1861, in Louisville, Kentucky and nicknamed “The Louisville Slugger”, was already a star hitter for the Louisville Eclipse. In the 1884 season, while mired in a hitting slump, he broke his bat in a game, and 17 year old Bud Hillerich said that if he came back to his father’s workshop, Bud would make him a new one to his specifications. Browning then made 3 hits in a row with his new bat, and other baseball players wanted the bat. 

     J. F. Hillerich opened his woodworking shop in Louisville in 1855, where he employed his son, Bud. They originally made butter churns, stair railing, porch columns, and similar wood products. But after Bud made the bat for Pete Browning, and other players wanted the same, the father reluctantly began production, ultimately becoming the largest bat producing company. The bats were sold under the name “Falls City Slugger” until Bud Hillerich took over his father’s company in 1894, and renamed them “Louisville Slugger”.  Frank Bradsby, a salesman who was largely responsible for expansion of the company, became a partner in 1916, and the company’s name changed to Hillerich & Bradsby.

     Babe Ruth carved a notch in this bat for every home run he hit with it in 1927. During that season he hit a record 60 home runs. This mark stood until 1961 when Roger Maris hit 61 homers. 

     Eddie Murray used this bat on September 21, 1996 to hit his 501st home run. It was the last home run Murray hit as an Oriole.

     Notice that he customized this bat by shaving down the handle and adding grip tape. 

     Baseball players have bats custom made, each unique bat is saved in the factory’s bat vault which contains over 3000 bats. 

     The “big Glove”, delivered on July 21, 1998, is carved from 450 million year old limestone (that’s older than Kenneth Ham’s 6,000 year old universe).

     A short distance from the Slugger factory, on Main Street in Louisville, is this Statute of David, put up on May 2, 2012 to advertise the 21C hotel. It is twice the size of the original Michelangelo statute in Florence, Italy, standing at 60 feet. 

Technical Stuff:

Frankfort, Kentucky to Louisville, Kentucky: 70.7 miles

1 hour 36 minutes

9.9 MPG

Diesel: $3.10

Noah’s Ark, Williamstown, Kentucky

Day 787ark

     And it came to pass, on the 787th day, we saw the Ark. It was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits tall. As Bill Cosby asked: “What’s a cubit?” It is the distance from the crook of your arm to the tip of your longest finger, about 18 inches.

     Their were 8 humans and 6,744 animals on the Ark. If Noah had only swatted those 2 mosquitoes.

     The Ark Encounter opened on July 7, 2016 and was created to tell the story of why the Bible’s story of creation and the flood is more feasible than the evolution theory. The Ark contains 132 bays, each standing about 18 feet high, arranged into three decks

     Kenneth Alfred Ham, born October 20, 1951, in Cairns, Australia, is a Christian fundamentalist. Ham advocates biblical literalism, believing that the Book of Genesis is historical fact and the universe is approximately 6,000 years old, contrary to scientific evidence which show the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. He is the founder of Answers in Genesis, and the inspiration of the Ark Encounter.

     The Ark Encounter is very well done, describing the things you really don’t think about, like how did they get rid of all that poop?

     How did they circulate air through this monstrosity?air

     The exhibit showed how the Ark was constructed, and the construction methods:carpenter


 I would like to know where Noah got the bolts?bolts

     Or, porcelain, for that matter?porclein

     Another thing I did not realize is that most of the animals brought on the Ark are not as we see them today, but would have been what we call dinosaurs. In fact there were about 85 dinosaurs on the Ark.dino

     I am glad to see that Noah saved Dumbo, the flying elephant:dumbo

     Tidbit of Information: The Wampanoag Indians were natives of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was the Wampanoag people who greeted the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. The first bible published in North America was the “Eliot Bible” which was printed in 1663 at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was not printed in English, but the Indian language of these people.laat

     He saw that it was good, and it made him happy.

Mary Todd Lincoln, Lexington, Ky

Day 786house

     The Mary Todd Lincoln house opened on June 9, 1977 and is the first house museum to honor a First Lady of the United States. Born in Lexington on December 13, 1818, Mary lived here from age 13 to age 20.

     The house was built in 1806 as an inn and tavern, which was called “The Sign of the Green Tree”, before it’s purchased by the Todd family. The family moved into the elegant 14-room three-story home, located on Main Street in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1832. Mary Todd lived in this home until 1839, when she moved to Springfield, Illinois to live with her sister, fall in love, and married some lawyer there. She was 23 years old and he was 33. 

     Although wife of the Union president, more than half of her siblings supported and served in the Confederacy.mirror table

     This house was uniquely interesting because it had some original items from when Mary lived here, as well as items from when she lived in the White House. For example Lincoln’s lounge chair:lincoln lounge

     Dish ware from the White House:dishes

     Lincoln’s writing desk. Those are mirrors to reflect the candlelight:writing table

     Mary’s teapot:teapot

     Down the street from Mary’s house was the Kentucky Horse Park, which gave tribute to all the great names in the horse racing industry. Fortunately, I was there just in time to prevent the statues from escaping: stopping horses

Lexington Horse Park, Kentucky

Day 785duck

     Lamon Vanderburgh Harkness, one of the largest stockholders in Standard Oil, was born January 6, 1850, in Bellevue, Ohio. In 1891 he bought Walnut Hall Farm, here in Kentucky, and began a successful breeding stable. The farm became one of the best-known Standardbred farms in the world. Heirs ran the farm until 1972 when they sold it to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to become the Kentucky Horse Park on September 7, 1978.

     The purpose of the Kentucky Horse Park was to educate the public on Kentucky Horses and a place for retired champion horses to live. We visited the park, where we got the red carpet

     We saw various breeds of horses in a demonstration of their characteristics.horses

     Learned about draft horses,draft

     and took a ride through the park.mirror

     The park has their own Mounted Police.cop

     Barbara has tea in a Bedouin camp with their Arabian horse.bedouin

     It appears I am 17 1/4 hands high.hands

     Barbara gets standing ovation with her horse, beauty.Bd on horse

     Their are numerous retired racing champions at the park. We saw a few, including Funny Cide who won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2003, and the Breeder’s Cup in 2004.cide

     Funny Cide has something to say to you:tounge

     See you on the shoe