Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.
Sunday summer sunshine and blue sky in the early morning as we loaded the SUV and prepared to say goodbye to our three day mountain playground. Not going home, just changing scenery this bright summer day.
For the first time since we arrived in Kentucky, today we have a schedule and do have a timeline to keep. Never being one much for breakfast on the fly, this morning we’re on the road watching Paintsville KY fade from the rear view mirror, all the while holding McBreakfast in hand.
Driving thru the section of Salyersville KY that was destroyed a short time back by the worst tornado in the history of Kentucky and seeing all the new rebirth in progress seems to make the sunshine even brighter. Setting at the traffic light at the entrance to the Mountain Parkway, I look to the right and ahead to see the new Catholic Church rising from the tornado aftermath.
On green light we entered the Mountain Parkway going west northwest and got up to speed of 65 mph within seconds. This is the high speed interstate road into southeastern Kentucky. Two days ago we traveled on the mountain roads of my childhood and seldom ever went much faster than 25 – 30 mph for many miles. Today we’re on the “Big Road”, so named by the locals when the Mountain Parkway was built back in the 1960’s. And what a road it is. Of all the interstate I’ve driven, this relative short strip of interstate from Winchester to Salyersville is my favorite one to drive. High speed travel thru the mountains makes for a fun Sunday Morning.
It’s down a hill, round a curve, and it seems just like that, the mountains of eastern Kentucky are behind us. Where just a short while back we watched Paintsville fade in the rear view mirror, now also fades the beautiful green mountains. Once again we’re flatlanders on the interstate. It’s nonstop thru Lexington and on to Frankfort, the capital city of Kentucky. No stopping there, got to get to river city by noon time.
It’s 12:15 in the PM as we pull into a parking garage so close to the river a thrown rock would make a splash. It’s up some stairs, over a cat walk and down the other side. That little trip puts us on the south side bank of the Ohio River looking at sweet home Indiana on the other side of the water.
Just to the right and less than a 100 yards up river sets the Belle Of Louisville. The last remaining paddle wheel boat still operating on the Ohio River. It’s a cruise ship offering both scenic cruise as well as a Sunday Luncheon Cruise. Now having left Paintsville KY several hours earlier with McBreakfast in hand, I’m sure you’ve got an idea where this one is going. Yep, we passed up a decent breakfast for a planned Luncheon Cruise on the Belle Of Louisville.
Johnny and I stood in line to get the boarding passes. The process was a combination of high tech and low tech. I told the girl “Howard party of 4”. She pulled up our names on her iPad. The other girl setting next to her, also found our names in a little metal box reminiscing of a receipt box. I think it must have been an alphabetical backup for the iPad. From the receipt box the girl drew out 4 blue ½ inch wide paper bands. She asked that I hold out my arm. I did so. The girl peeled off a strip on one end and made me a blue bracelet made of paper. She looked at Johnny and told him that everyone in our party needed to have a blue bracelet in order to go to the buffet. Johnny assured her that he would be able to get the bracelet on the rest of our party.
We sat on a bench by the water’s edge and marveled at the big boat in front of us. When me and the She very first got married, we moved to Tell City IN. We lived right across the road from a major bluff on the Indiana side. From that vantage point you could see the Ohio River for about a mile in either directions. Many times when we heard music of the steam calliope, we’d cross the road, go over and sit on the high bank above the mighty Ohio and watch the “Delta Queen” on her way from Pittsburg to New Orleans. We talked about what fun it would be to ride a paddle wheel steam boat down the Ohio River. We never did. Until today.
12:30 sharp the front of the line started to board the Belle of Louisville. In 10 minutes we were upstairs in the main ball room and the girl told us our table would be on the starboard side. Good thing she pointed us in the right direction. In the middle of the row (on the starboard side) we found our table. Finding the table was really easy. It helped that someone had place a sign in the middle of the table that read “RESERVED-HOWARD-PARTY-OF-4”
WOW ! I just sat and looked around, it was a walk back in time. The old saying they don’t build ships like this anymore sure held true for the Belle Of Louisville that first summer Sunday of July setting at the dock on the Ohio River.
It was a catered meal and so those responsible for such were scurrying like the worker bees they really were to make sure the meal was served at 1:00 PM sharp, so said the brochure. Just like they advertized, at 1 sharp those in charge of such things started lining table up to go to the buffet. We found ourselves about midway in the process. The meal was good, the desert was good, but no one asked to see my blue bracelet.
As we started to eat the Belle Of Louisville started to pull away from the dock and proceeded up river going east. After we were done eating, we went outside and climbed the stairs to the upper deck. There we sat and watch the world go by. An hour and half going east and an hour and half going west returned us to the start of our paddle wheel steamboat ride. It was fun.
Checking into the Ramada Inn of Louisville gave us just the right amount of time to get ready for the big finish of the day. This part of the trip had been planned in its own right. The trip to the mountains was added almost as an afterthought.
Johnny had bought the tickets on line quite some time ago. Both the She and Jaimie were most excited at the prospect of the live entertainment we were about to enjoy. The theater building was as spectacular as the Belle Of Louisville. Ya had to see it to believe it. Yep it was that pretty.
The show the She and Jaimie were so excited about, it was the dance troupe from DANCING WITH THE STARS. They loved the show. Personally, I preferred the show we seen the night before, TRANSFORMERS.
Early Monday Morning we crossed the Ohio River and became Hoosiers once again. About half way to Indianapolis we stopped at Edinburgh to look at an antique shop. Wondering around the antique store I saw a toy cash register. The same thing the She had asked to buy at the Webb Grocery Store in Butcher Holler. Picked up that little toy cash register, took it to the counter, paid for it and told the girl, I’ll be back.
When the She was done shopping, (without buying anything) I showed her the little cash register. The She smiled at me. I heard the EastWing calling, we were ready to go home, and so we did.
Stay safe in Afghanistan.
From The EastWing, A Paintsville Goodbye, Mountain Parkway Memories, The Belle Of Louisville, Dancing With The Stars, A Cash Register For The She
I Wish you well,