Category Archives: Destination

Our Eclipse Trip (Part 6)

(Continued from Part 5)

Addendum to Part 5:

So, one of the things that we did after touring the Museum and the reconstructed Forts was to engage in one of the pre-eclipse crafts.  We made colored moon and sun cut-outs to paste over solar viewing glasses (though we had our own glasses, so we just took the cut-outs).

(Lego) Batman!

Then, that evening, they had an outdoor movie the our son and I went to see; Lego Batman.  We biked down with a couple of camp-chairs and a small table, and were some of the first people to stake out seats on the grass.  Not only did we get to see the movie near the riverbank, on an inflatable screen, for free, but they also offered popcorn,Moon Pies, and Sun Drop for refreshments!

It was an awesome end to our day!


 

 

Now on to Part 6:

So, the next day, we ventured out to …

Metropolis! (Illinois, that is.)
Superman Square and surroundings (from Google Maps)

The city limits of Metropolis, Illinois directly abut with Fort Massac State Park, so it wasn’t hard to get into the urban setting.  In fact, this sign is right where East 5th street makes a right angle from where it runs south along the park, and then to the west, right over to Superman Square.

That’s right, Metropolis has been decreed to be the official hometown of Superman. On January 21, 1972, an official release from DC Comics made the proclamation, and that was followed by the Illinois State Legislature passing Resolution 572, which affirmed that Metropolis was the “Hometown of Superman” on June 9 of the same year.  Superman Square runs around the County Clerk’s Office, and from there, looking northeast along Market Street, is a 15 foot tall (painted) bronze statue of Superman.

Superman, ready for the upcoming eclipse with his eclipse glasses on!
Transport!

But, how to get there?  Well, we brought our bikes, and due to the floodplain nature of the area around the Ohio River, the route was overall flat (though the park area is about 20+ feet higher than much of the city along the river), and they have a designated bike route to get from the park over to the square.  So it was just about 2 miles from our site to the square, and taking our time we were still there in half an hour.

Who are these pesky knee-biters? Oh, some Kleinmartins …

So after taking pictures with Superman to prove we were there, we spent a couple of hours looking through the Super Museum, which is right across the square from the Superman Statue.

One of the lead knives used on ‘Adventures of Superman’ with George Reeves.

The Super Museum is pretty amazing (and air-conditioned!), starting off with the gift shop/store where you enter.  For only $5 per person (kids 5&under free), you can get access to see an amazing collection of memorabilia, comics, documents, video clips and documentaries, toys, video games (bring some quarters), and actual TV and movie props from the Superman world that DC has cultivated over the years.

Krypton Power Crystals!
Many, many Superman items …
And control panels …
The boy and Batman pose with Darksieid.

But even after seeing the Supergirl memorabilia room, and Batman and Darkseid, we finally came to the end. We then spent some time in the store, looking at all the stuff they had (they were out of kryptonite chunks, unfortunately).  We ended up with a commemorative magnet (to stick on the steel roof inside the bus), and the last of a commemorative poster that they had in stock.  With these we set off to see one more thing before biking back home.

Lois Lane is ready to take down notes for her story.

Metropolis doesn’t only have a (painted) bronze statue of Superman, but a few blocks northeast up Market Street, they also have a statue of Lois Lane.

To get to Lois, we had to ride through the set-up for a pre-eclipse street festival, that looked (and smelled from the cooking of the food vendors setting up) good and fun.  But, it was so hot and the sky so cloudless, that we thought we’d be better off heading back to the site, where we had shade trees and the woods.

The boy with the heater core fan’s entire output blowing on his back.

And once we got back, it was still pretty hot in and around the bus.  There was hardly a breeze, and even with all the windows and the roof vents open, it was hot.  We’d never encountered this level of heat and humidity (and Buffalo has plenty of humidity, but is pretty breezy), so I hadn’t thought to bring a fan. But I had wired the bus’ 12 volt accessories through a switch so that we could run them off the converter when we were plugged in (or batteries when we’re not) so I started up the big heater core fan and the two defrosting fans.  It worked pretty well.

The Star Wars Theme sounds pretty good on a dobro …

Later, as the sun was going down more, it cooled off as a little breeze started up.  Our son entertained us on his dobro, and I started getting a fire ready for dinner, while my wife made some potato salad and a green salad.

Beans warming up on (the edge of) the fire!

My contribution was to cook some burgers, and heat up some beans (in the can, of course) over the fire. The rotating, adjustable grating worked really well for being able to control the cooking, though

The burgers are about to come off the grill.

we started late and it quickly was pretty dark by the time the burgers were done, so it’s hard to see them well.  After a wonderful dinner, it was off to bed.  The Eclipse was the next day and we wanted to be ready.

(Continued in Part 7)

 

 

 

Our Eclipse Trip (Part 4)

(Continued from Part 3)

The Wanderlodge behind us.

Now full of pizza and wings, we set off to find our way out of Butchertown.  Along the way, we were followed (and passed) by a beautifully kept Wanderlodge.  These are the ‘official’ company made RVs built out of school bus bodies (from 1968-2009).

The Wanderlodge heads off to parts unknown while we turn left. We had way more windows, though …)

As the Wanderlodge headed off on it’s own adventure, we made our way back onto the highway and over to the Bulliet Distillery.  The distillery is the only one in a rather industrial area just outside the city (map here) limits of Louisville as it was secured before the area was developed because of the availability of good water (and also to avoid paying taxes).  As it was, there were plenty of trucks and parking lots for heavy vehicles along the way.

One of the newer storage buildings.

The distillery was originally the the Stitzel-Weller Distilling Company  which was founded in 1935 with the combination of the distributor W. L. Weller & Sons, and the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery.  Known for their ‘Old Fitzgerald’, ‘W.L. Weller’, ‘Pappy Van Winkle’, and other brands through 1972, when the distillery closed though the storage buildings continued to age barrels (at the height of it’s operations, the storage buildings could house 800,000 cases worth of bourbon).

Our tour guide walking us through the distilling process on a display of the facilities.

Bulleit was started (again) in 1987, and used some of the facilities at the Sitzel-Weller plant (though production other that R&D was moved before our tour – be on the lookout for a chocolate rye to be coming out in a few years!).

In the cooperage.

One of the cool things on the tour was seeing one of the few remaining historic cooperage buildings still with gear in it.  It had the facilities to empty a leaking barrel, remove the ends and bands, and allow the staves to be splayed, replaced, or leaks packed with rushes (rushes impart no odd flavors, it turns out).

A quick lesson on repairing a leaking barrel.
Quality control is first!

The highlight of the tour was the tasting. We tasted not only the regular Bulliet, but the 10 year-old, the single barrel uncut, the Rye Whiskey, and

some of the historic blend that’s being made with some of the orphan barrels that were left over when Bulliet took the space over.

But alas, it was over all too soon.  Though we did still have a drive ahead of us, and one of the things that I never seem to be able to do is get to a campground while it’s still light.  So, off we set for Metropolis.

And wound up in a traffic jam.  There were two accidents within a mile of each other and the multiple lanes of traffic were just crawling.

Finally we were in the clear and moved easily down I-65, until we hit the interchange with the Western Kentucky Parkway, which becomes I-69 near Morton’s gap. The interchange had a 15-20 minute stop-and-go traffic jam because of the merging with the Elizabethtown exits, but before we could get to that we had to climb the hill.

And the boy got plenty of reading done …

But once we got onto the Parkway, the engine was nice and cool, and we sailed along.  The Parkway runs nearly straight west, but with lots of hills, though none big enough to slow us down to shift into fourth.

Finally, we hit the end of I-69 where it intersects with I-24, which we took toward Paducah.  We got glimpses of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, but it was starting to get toward evening and I had high hopes of getting to Fort Massac before dark. (I seem to have a hard time ending up at our campsite before dark for some reason.)

Looking west from the I-24 bridge over the Ohio River. Metropolis is just a few miles downriver.

But there was still some light as we got through Paducah and headed back across the Ohio River again and into Illinois.

Our exit was just past the bridge, and then it was only a couple of miles to our site.  Finally, we were at our location for the eclipse, safe, sound, and kind of tired!

 

(Continued in Part 5)

Our Eclipse Trip (Part 3)

(Continued from Part 2)

Friday morning found us off to Metropolis via Louisville.  After a nice breakfast with our friends, we set out on an overcast day, finding our way to OH 562 to get us to  I-75, as I-71 was closed before the bridge to Kentucky.  Not surprisingly, the traffic was a crawl until we got over the bridge and into Kentucky.

It would have picked up more for us, had it not been for the hill. Called the ‘Cut-in-the Hill‘, it climbs about 380 feet over 4 miles, and a calculation over that distance gives it a 2% grade, though the steepest part reaches a about a 3% grade.  And as we were nowhere near up to speed when we hit it, we crawled up at 40 mph, but we weren’t alone, as there were several tractor-trailers in the same situation.

But on the other hand, there was a huge duck atop a building (Cornerstone at Norwood along I-71, for the 23rd Annual Rubber Duck Regatta)

But after that, the drive was pretty nice.  After the rain, the day was a little cooler than the first day, and the engine temperatures didn’t need as much attention, even with the hills and high speeds.  It did still take some attention, as there seemed to be more ‘discourteous’ drivers (not leaving space, weaving in/out of lanes, speeding in excess, cutting nearly sideways across several lanes of traffic to exit suddenly) here than there were in Ohio, and THAT was more than I’m used to dealing with on the road in New York.

But by the time we got to Louisville, though, I was used to it and was being a bit more careful than usual.  Before we were really deep into the city, we had to pull off because the Embroiderer’s Guild of America (EGA) is headquartered in the Butchertown neighborhood.  As my wife is a member of the EGA, and they have a small collection of high quality needlework, we needed to stop.

The Water Tower & Pumpworks around 1860.

As the name suggests, Butchertown was originally full of stockyards, and near where the Beargrass Creek was rerouted to, making it a great place to dump all the unwanted trimmings and such so they would float away to the nearby Ohio River.  So it was a great drive along River Road (right along the river) from the Louisville Water Tower Park to what seemed an overly industrial area for embroiderers.

But the EGA Headquarters is in a readapted historic leather work and cotton sash factory and warehouse (The Pointe), so that explained it.  However, the kind of residences that would have been for workers in such a mid-to-late 1800’s area were small and densely packed, and many didn’t have off-street parking to speak of.  Meaning that there wasn’t anywhere for us to park the bus! There were, however, a number of businesses around with large parking lots, so my wife went off to see if any of them would give us permission to park, while I waited in the bus to be technically ‘standing’ in a no-parking area.

The bus in the Butchertown Pizza Hall parking lot.

After making her way from business to business around the block, she came back to direct me to the parking area of the Butchertown Pizza Hall, where she spoke with one of the owners, and where, as we drove up, employees were moving cars from the back of the lot to give us space to park!  My wife had said that we would definitely buy something there, the owner had said that we didn’t need to, but we were determined to have lunch there after we’d gone to the EGA Headquarters.

A closeup of one of several wall-length hangings at the EGA Headquarters.

Being only a block and a half from the headquarters, it took little time to walk over there and make our way to the back of the building to see what there was. The re-purposed building was high-ceilinged, bright, and airy with terrific heavy wood floors.  The EGA offices were likewise bright and airy, and the displays of needlework were well-displayed over the walls of the small gallery.

The EGA dollhouse, full of miniature embroidery!

We spent a half-hour or so looking over the stitching, the needlework in the display dollhouse, and chatting with the staff members there, especially as one was about to be heading off to Tennessee to watch the eclipse!

And more modern needleart …

After that, we headed back to have some pizza for lunch.

We expected the Butchertown Pizza Hall to have pizza, but they also had wings, so we opted to not get individual lunch specials, but get a pizza with slices of home-made meatballs and mozzarella, and an order of bourbon-honey wings (we were in Kentucky so it made more sense than hot wings).

Our Butchertown Pizza Hall pizza!

The pizza was a full 18″ pizza with a fairly thin crust you could fold to eat.  The sauce and meatballs were really nicely spiced/herbed and the pizza as a whole was really filling!  Even with our growing boy, we barely got through half of it.

And some bourbon-honey wings!

The wings were just awesome.  And coming from Buffalo, I guess you could say that we’re sort of ‘wing snobs’.  While Buffalo is known as the ‘birth place of chicken wings’, even in Buffalo, people know where the best wings in the city are and what makes a good wing.  The Butchertown Pizza Hall wings had the hallmarks of great wings, being completely cooked through, still tender and juicy, with crispy skin.  The sauce was really well put together, being just a bit sweet and buttery, with a well-rounded bourbon flavor that made them way too easy to eat.

While we finished the wings, we had to get the rest of the pizza to go, and left feeling very satisfied and happy that we’d found the place. It was well worth the stop.

Then we headed off to the Bulleit Distillery, originally the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which was only 20 minutes away.

(Continued in Part 4)