Drifting in and out of Kentucky.
For the past week we’ve been drifting in and out of Kentucky. Not wanting to stray far from the Ohio River, we skipped back and forth across it from Kentucky into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Kentucky is now in the rear view mirror as we follow the Ohio River north through West Virginia.
We first crossed the river at Cairo IL. At Metropolis we crossed back into KY. That stretch of Illinois from Cairo to Metropolis along the river is NOT booming. Most “downtown” areas are abandoned and in decay. I did run into a fellow in Cairo who is buying some of the old downtown buildings for next to nothing. He is speculating that a port is being built in there and Cairo will flourish once again. In their heyday, many of the buildings were quite grand.
Metropolis isn’t in much better shape economically. In 1972 they latched onto the Superman relationship and have incorporated him into the downtown with statues and museums and street names. The only going concern I could see was Harrah’s Casino. Oh, they have a uranium processing plant. Over 40 employees have died from cancer caused by radiation and the U.S. Government has paid out more than $15 million to workers who were exposed from 1959 to 1976. In 2012 the plant operator pled guilty to releasing radioactive mud throughout the town. Yikes!
After seeing the decay in riverfront Illinois, we hopped back across to Kentucky where we camped at Axtel campground on Rough River Lake for a couple days. It was an excellent campground with nice sites, beautiful view of the lake and a beach. The dog and I swam right from our campsite.
Two days later we enjoyed the highlight of our time in Kentucky. After many years I was able to enjoy time with a dear friend and his lovely wife. Laura and Vic Miller. I met Vic at his museum …. er …. I mean bicycle shop, Vic’s Classic Bikes in Louisville at around 1600. It was a treat to watch him in action. A fellow had brought in an old bicycle. One he had owned since new and rode daily. It was somewhat of a classic and he and Vic were practically finishing each other’s sentences since both of them knew quite a bit about that particular model.
I’ll simply say this: if you are within driving distance (or, he will ship) and you want value in a quality, serviceable classic bicycle, go see Vic!! He is a wealth of knowledge, his workmanship is meticulous and his prices are fair!
Closing time came and I followed him to his home in the suburbs (I guess. Remember, I live in the mountains far from hustle and bustle). They made a space for me to park MOBI in the driveway. Heck, I even plugged in. We enjoyed beverages of choice and dinner out on the patio which overlooks a most deliberate and natural setting. They have labored tremendously to build fish ponds and gardens and habitat in their back yard and it is delightful. We sat out there way past bedtime talking. It was great fun. The following morning after a hardy breakfast we parted ways. It was a great visit.
The next stop was across the river again. This time in Indiana. Rising Sun Indiana to be precise. This is yet another small river town that has seen the economy peak and ebb. However, the downtown has enjoyed a revival complete with new business and restoration of classic buildings. I asphalt camped at a near by Casino. I unloaded the motorbike and explored a bit and enjoyed talking with several natives. I didn’t find any really catching photo opportunities though.
With no pressing reason to stay, I once again headed up river the next morning. I think I hopped back and forth across the river several times this day. To be honest, I’ve lost count of just how many times I’ve crossed the Ohio River on this trip.
We landed on Lake Vesuvius at Iron Ridge Campground in Ohio. I set up camp, unloaded the motorbike and did a little scouting. I found a spot high above the lake that would give me a good photograph in the morning. Back at camp I enjoyed cocktails, a cigar (unfortunately I left my good Ybor City cigars at home) and then cooked dinner. Just so you know, we still eat fairly well on the road. I enjoyed Cuban mojo pork with 5 cheese pasta. Ummm that was the last of my Cuban roast pork. The next to come out of the freezer will be chicken and yellow rice that I cooked and froze just a couple days before embarking on this RoadTour. When that’s finished I’ll have to figure out my meals as I travel. Hey, Maine has lobster, right???
The morning photo shoot at Lake Vesuvius never happened. It rained all day. Oh, I grabbed the gear and took off and was immediately met with rain. Oh well. Back to camp and catch up on some reading.
In the morning I again hopped across the river to Kentucky and skirted its shores well into West Virginia.