Day 3 West Virginia to Kentucky…well on the way to Kentucky.
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, keep those wagons rollin’…head em up move em out…
Well for those of you following the story so far, we spent the night close to Parkersbug, Virginia…not a pretty town anymore. We tried to like it. Too depressing. 90% of the shops were closed; either out of business or not able to conduct any. Best to read the post at Shake Your fist
Remember the ‘Prime Objective’? Shopping? Well after rustling up some breakfast we decided to try to see what Parkersburg had to offer insofar as a Main Street Shopping District….well, here is what we found:
So we headed out from the hotel to see what Parkersburg had to offer. Unfortunately, like a great deal we saw in the USA, it was in a spiral of decline and deep in decay. Shops that once were a hub activity, were empty. Some with the remnants of the last owners’ attempt to breathe some life into the once-proud community, and live the promise that once was the ‘American Dream.’ Epic Fail.
Another typical scene, probably one that many can see in their own neighbourhoods. Department Stores that were once filled with hopeful families looking for furniture for their new house. Families that had worked hard, saved their money, and were now ready to make a purchase. Many with children, with wide eyes and hopeful faces. Children expressing their wish to have a pair of PF Flyers instead of the Chuck Taylor’s everyone else was wearing. My how times have changed. Perhaps they worked here before their jobs were ‘Off-shored’ or ‘NAFTA’d'…
Needless to say, the natives were becoming restless, and a solution needed to be found….
…Thank goodness Marietta, Ohio was just across the river.
We found an escape route thanks to the Navi. In less than an half an hour, we were in Marietta, Ohio. I remember that my brother, who went to University in Tiffen, talked about a trip to Marietta during his studies. At least I do not remember any horror stories about the place, and since the experience of Parkersburg, I was full of optimism. Apparently justified, because not only was there a Main Street, it actually had open shops.
On the way, we stopped at Walgreens for supplies. We picked up a pile of DVD’s to play in my Laptop, drinks, snacks etc to replenish the inventory used up since we left PA. Time; from the receipt – around noon or so. Apparently it did not take us long to realise nothing was happening in Parkersburg.
Way back on Day 1, I lost my knife. No small thing that. I was hoping to actually find one somewhere along the way, and then we saw Schafer’s Leather Store. Established in 1867, and still family owned.
Once upon a time, they were a tack-shop. Now, that would be horse-related stuff and cowboy-related stuff…as in there may be something of interest in there for someone with a penchant for Horses, or maybe someone looking for a pocket-knife. Hmmn. In we go, and immediately were greeted by who I believe was Karen, one of the Schafer Family.
Not only was the atmosphere magical, the service and selection were fantastic. Of course, my first question was “what do you have that is made in the USA?” Unfortunately, no Buck pocketknives, and many wares from ‘overseas’ have infiltrated the shop. Julia saw some cool boots, but none in her size. Nick picked up a nice Victorinox pocketknife as part of his birthday present. Not made in the USA, I know, but also of high-quality; produced in a country with fair-labour rates and environmental protection.
Julia found something nice, but of dubious heritage…
At the end of our visit Karen told us some history about Marietta, and her experiences growing up there. She made a point of taking us outside and showing us the signs indicating the previous flood levels on the side of the building. While she was growing up, she told us about how they would have to carry everything to the upper floors to get away from the rising waters. In the last flood, there were 50 centimetres of mud and muck to shovel out of the shop!
Next we took a walk down the street to see what other shops had to offer. Of note was Mad Hen, Twisted Sister’s Boutique, Turquoise Spirit and My Favorite Things. Turquoise Spirit has a lot of interesting stuff, but since we were headed out to Arizona and New Mexico, figured that we could find more things where they actually originated. I have to say in the end, the prices and selection in Marietta were the same, if not better than what we saw during the whole trip.
We stopped in at ‘My Favorite Things.’ A really nice collection of things. They had ‘Life-like’ baby dolls, even with Christening Gowns (these gave Uta the willies – the dolls, not the gowns), Christmas Decorations (made in Poland and the ‘other’ place), and a selection of gourmet coffee and ice-cream. Plenty of Crystal, and candies as well. I never realised that ‘Jelly-Belly’ jelly beans were so pricey! The kids had ice cream, not without incident however. The dropped treat was cheerfully replaced, and I helped clean up the mess.
Walking around, we started to get a bit hungry. A look in the shop window at Rossi’s Pasta kind of planted the idea, as well as the pictures of the menu at Austyn’s. Unfortunately, Rossi’s sells fresh but uncooked Pasta, and Austyn’s was way out of our budget.
In the meantime, the coffee, Snapple, and Ice cream created an ‘urge’. The only place in the area was the Lafayette Hotel. I did not have to ‘go’, but those that participated in the trek said that the inside of the hotel was incredible…a real Historical Landmark from the riverboat era.
Having taken care of one of the urgent calls of Nature, we continued to look for a restaurant. We finally ‘settled’ on Over the Moon Pizza . One thing from the American Cuisine that I miss is Chicken wings. Over the Moon had Chicken wings, and Pizza, and Salad for those ‘counting calories’…I hate to say it, but the experience and anything I could write about it would be disappointing at best. In spite of the information on the website, the management did not appear to be really ‘on board’ as to how to run a restaurant. While it definitely seemed a family operation, even ‘mom’ could not salvage a semblance of organisation. It was not a relaxing dinner, and things did not go so well…
Time to head out of Marietta…One thing I bought was a postcard. The proprietress of Favorite Things told me that every year there is a steamboat festival. On the Ohio River, there were many docked, but none were in operation. What a shame. If I remember correctly, the festival is in September, but I could be wrong.
On our way to the next venue: Louisville, Kentucky. Time: around 15.30 (3:30 pm). Distance to target: Approximately 330 miles / 4 Hours…should not be too bad…
Saw a few things on the way…
Finally, we see a sign.
Things are looking up, and I have not heard ‘the question’ yet…
That sign means there has to be a Visitor’s Centre somewhere…Oh here it is!
Something for the boys...
Hmmn...I hope they have A/C
Gotta cool those horses after a hard ride
Horse? no a pony car.
Hmm, I do not think that is the kind of horse we are looking for...
Well we are on our way west. Last stop before Louisville / Lexington… horse country that is.
So, we have seen the sign, WHERE ARE THE HORSES??? Suddenly, I
hear the’ question…’ “How far to the
Hotel?” “A little while yet…stalling for time, I say look out the window..Horse fences!”
Where there is a fence, there has to be something inside, right?
Still no horses. “Does the hotel have a pool?” ‘Yes’-
Oh look, what is that over there? Oh, more fences…and then?
More trees, more fences. No horses. How far to the hotel?
I cannot believe it. Look…Is that a horse???
More sky, and no horses. But wait, there is more. As we are driving along, there are other things to see. However, it does not have anything to do with horses. I seemed to forget that Kentucky is the home of Leavenworth, a military base and a bunch of other stuff…sobering stuff.
Wow. If you can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink, then paint them on the water supply. What came next was the high point of the journey…A huge farm, or racetrack. Are those horses I see?
Nope…statues. Travelling at 130 kph /70 mph, high points of the trip pass relatively quickly. As we proceeded along, seeing more trees, more fences, and the occasional horse, it occurred to the passenger who had the most interest in horses that we were travelling away from what seemed to be the centre of activity in regards to horses…remember the map? She had the map. About the time we passed the castle, things went downhill. “How far to the hotel?” “About 58 miles,” someone helpfully offered, then even more helpfully, “about 45 minutes”. Then all hell broke loose. “That means we are almost an hour from the horse farms!” “I want to go home” was heard from the back seat
I had quit smoking. However this was one of those moments like in the movie Airplane …a bad time to quit anything.
Wow, the Weather Service is really on the ball...
I remember passing a hotel a mile or so back. Slamming on the brakes, and with a move that Rockford would applaud, we were heading to the Hotel. The Roadway Inn. I did not care if I had already paid for the hotel in Elizabethtown, I just wanted a bit of peace and quiet. I saw that there was a pool. As I pull in, I think I remember the place from when I was doing the original planning. I wonder why I did not consider it?
I spring out of the car, and enter the lobby. A small, dilapidated affair with cheap glued- down linoleum tiles (loose). When I say ‘small’ four people would create a shortage of Oxygen. There was a small, ‘ahem,’ counter on the side barely strong enough to support the open, cracked, plastic canisters containing corn flakes and plain cheerios…’Continental Breakfast’ fare in America. I was almost knocked down by the overpowering aroma of Curry. Not the tasty Curry we use here in Germany on Pommes or Curry-wurst, but the toxic Asian sort that sends my GI tract into spasms and improves my fitness from the wind-sprints to the commode that result.
My sphincter tightening in remembrance of my last poisoning by this horrid spice, I am further underwhelmed as I make the acquaintance of the ‘proprietor.’ Through a press-board door, the handle held on with packing tape, appears a short man with the definitive “comb over” of what is left of his fine black hair…
“…A hello and most fine greetings my friend. How may I be helping you this fine day?”
“I would like three rooms; a single and two doubles. Could you tell me the rate please?”
“…Ah yes, most fine. That would be costing $75 per night. How many nights would you be liking for staying sir?”
“$75 is out of the question. I am a AAA member, and I can see that the hotel is empty. Could you please check the rate?”
“…Oh no my friend, we are being very busy. We are shortly expecting very many customers. The rooms are mostly completely being taken. You are most fortunately being here when you are now. But I can be giving you a very special price for just today…$70.”
“Do not be ridiculous, either you offer a better price or the rooms will stay empty.”
“…please be waiting one moment please. I must be asking my supervisor if I can be doing something.”
At this point he makes a call, speaks to someone in Hindi. He looks at me, out the window, and at the book on the counter. I can feel the effects of the curry in the atmosphere, and my bowels are starting to spasm as he hangs up the phone.
“…Ah, most fine. My supervisor is been telling me that we can only today give such a fine price of $65 per night, because you are being such a fine, nice family. If you be wanting to use the pool, it is being $5 for the service of the towels and the using.”
Out of patience, worrying about the onset of a sudden gastric attack, and also feeling completely mis-handled, I take one last look at the condition of the place and say: “Not a chance.”
The crowning moment was when I turned to go, and he called after me “Please be waiting. We can be giving the rooms for $60. Do not be going.” I did not respond, I just got into the auto and drove to the other hotel.
Relating the experience seemed to help the attitude of the passengers a bit. The last two hotels were nothing special. Perhaps they were hoping for something better, and the Rodeway Inn we had just left was definitely even less.
We finally arrived at the Elizabethtown Super 8. The place was swarming with activity. It turns out that is was graduation weekend at the Military Base. Good thing I had made the reservations in advance. $60 / night inclusive. The lobby was the antithesis of the Rodeway Inn. Large, clean and well-maintained. A large counter with juice machines, Fresh coffee (at 21.00 / 9:00 pm !) and even fresh fruit. OK, the area around the hotel was not so ‘nice.’ But the place was clean, and the staff was very friendly. They even knew the difference between adjectives, adverbs, and how and when to use the continuous form.
We checked in, and the luggage was brought up to the rooms. “Dad, there is only one bed in our room.” Back to the counter. It turns out that the reservation through Expedia was mixed up. Fully booked, and no chance for a change of rooms. The staff however, quickly produced a folding bed, and set it up for Nick. The kids went down to the pool before we went to get something to eat…
Where did we go? The Waffle House was right next door. An institution of the American Highway. Why not? Well – it was a real experience. We met quite a few characters. Everyone was very friendly and jovial. Their laughing countenences’ confirmed that we had the only full mouths of teeth in the place.
The food however was again cooked / fried / baked or toasted using the same ‘healthy’ fat we experienced at Denny’s. I was definitely expecting better. Perhaps it was a residual effect of the Curry experience, but dinner did not sit too well.
The kids made one last trip to the pool. Of note is that the Super 8 is in a ‘dry county.’ No beer, wine, coolers, nada. I found out at the filling station that there is a place ‘over the line’ where you can go to buy beer. “Out past Weaver’s Corner…” Off I went. After nearly hitting a herd of deer, 25 miles later I ended up at “Tom’s.” A wood-frame affair about the size of a four-car garage with grey-weathered tobacco-barn siding. Scary clientele. A guy staggered out of a beat-up white and rust Toyota Corolla, leaving his wife / date / sister behind. As I was waiting at the counter, he had two plastic cups of ice ready and a fifth of Gorbachev (vodka). When I remarked to the man behind the counter that it is surprising that there are still dry counties, he told me I was lucky. The other liquor store was 170 miles away. As I got into the auto, the previous patron already had a cigarette lit, cups filled.They tore away laughing leaving only a cloud of dust and the scent of cigarettes.
Me? I went back to the hotel, took a shower, and looked at the plan for day four…finally somewhere with something to do. Perhaps now the Holiday can start in earnest.
However, I do not think there is going to be time for the Bourbon Trail…shame, I think I am going to need ít, but where are not there yet.
Talley for the day: 359 miles…(including beer run).