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June 2015

Dog Days at Dog Creek

by Richie
Dog Days at Dog Creek

 

Dog Creek Nolin Lake
Cub Run, Kentucky
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We are experimenting with short trips this summer – especially visiting popular camping spots during the middle of the week. It’s turning out to be a good strategy. The crowds of noisy families are absent Monday thru Thursday. And the cadre of local yahoos who usually yank their boat and ski jet throttles wide open and rocket around the lake at full-bore are at home, happily annoying somebody else. 

So we found Dog Creek at Nolin Lake nicely quiet this week, with only a sprinkling of campers who seemed just as content as us to enjoy the peace. It was hazy, hot and humid all week – the dog days of summer. Perfect for lolling around the campsite and taking dip in the lake whenever the mood struck or the sweat stuck. Camp

In this part of the country we’ve found the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) campgrounds are superior to the state parks. COE properties are found wherever a dam or man-made waterway has been created, which in Kentucky means any significant body of water since the state has no natural lakes. The COE campgrounds are spacious, well maintained, and always prettily arranged to highlight the view. That’s the difference that federal funding makes. Many of the state parks in this area are run-down from overuse and the campgrounds tend to be arranged like parking lots with no consideration for privacy or scenery. 

And there’s lots of scenery to be enjoyed here – not only at Nolin Lake but the surrounding countryside is always worth a lazy trip on the motorcycle. We made the pilgrimage to Webb Market, where Mr. Webb has run an old-fashioned general store of surprising size and stock for the past 47 years. I always enjoy a good poke around the over-stuffed shelves and a nice chat with Mr. Webb.  

RIDING

 

WEBB

Following a local suggestion, we had lunch at the newly opened Blue Holler Café. The owners are German and serve a fine authentic menu of schnitzel and brats. What they are doing way out here in the boondocks is anyone’s guess! DSCN6489

We also got adopted by the Cotton family, a friendly and happy clan set up in four trailers around us. They all wanted a tour of our motorhome, marveling at its size and amenities, and in return we were invited to their brunch (Bloody Mary’s and bologna) and also to their family’s potluck dinner (peanut butter lasagna for dessert!) What a great group of folks! Some of their clan were “noodle fishing” all week – which turned out to be a contraption devised of plastic float noodles fitted with fish hooks. Fresh caught catfish were on display in a cooler to prove how efficient this method truly is. 

All in all, swell way to spend a sweltering week!

 

 

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Pioneer Playhouse

by Richie
Pioneer Playhouse

danville

 

Danville, KY
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This is our summer for short regional trips. And we’ve found some delightful places quite close to home that are worthy of a visit.

Danville, Kentucky is steeped in old-timey history. It’s the site of an early pioneer settlement, back when Daniel Boone was traipsing about Indian Territory trying to tame the wilderness. The Shawnee Indians weren’t too pleased with this encroachment on their traditional hunting grounds, and many a bloody battle was fought with the white settlers until at last, outnumbered and outgunned, the tribes retreated. 

Early Danville residents then settled down to the important business of carving a town from the wild and wooly frontier, and here we find the First Post Office West of the Alleghenies, the log cabin courthouse where the Kentucky Constitution was written with quill and ink, and the pioneering efforts of Dr. Ephraim McDowell who performed the first successful abdominal surgery on Mrs. Jane Todd Crawford to remove a 22 lb. tumor – without the benefit of anesthesia! Legend has it that Mrs. Crawford rode a donkey some 60 miles to the doctor’s office and sang hymns throughout the procedure to steady her nerves. I suspect quite a lot of whiskey was also involved, although Dr. McDowell did not mention that particular detail in his meticulous report. park

Fast forward to the post-war boom of the 1950’s when Danville was fairly humming with promise and prosperity, and we find the industrious Mr. Eben Hensen building his eccentric dream. 

Mr. Hensen was a trained thespian, having studied drama in NYC with other notables like Tony Curtis, Bea Arthur, and Harry Belefonte. He brought his considerable talents and connections back to Central Kentucky to create a summer stock theater in the middle of nowhere. The Pioneer Playhouse was built, piece by piece, with materials scavenged from historic property demolitions during a time when the mantra of the country was out with the old, in with the new. The large campus of buildings was constructed from hand-hewn beams from the old town hall, lumber and street lamps from the train depot, and any other materials Hensen could find. He even salvaged the old firehouse bell and chairs from a local barbershop. playhouse

Today, celebrating its 66th year, the Pioneer Playhouse is still run by the Hensen family, and entertains enthusiastic crowds all summer long with a varied schedule of performances. We saw the premiere of Lewis Black’s new comedy, One Slight Hitch, under the stars in the open-air theater. A buffet dinner of BBQ and homemade pickles was served before the show in a comely courtyard where Charlotte Hensen (wife of Eben, the founder) strummed a guitar and recounted the history of her family’s long adventure with the performing arts. 

Camping is available at the Pioneer Playhouse, which gave us a good excuse to spend a couple of days touring Danville’s lively downtown area. Nearby Centre College keeps the town hopping with coffee and beer joints, and Constitution Park offers a lesson in the history of the area with multiple museums and preserved buildings. 

We sure enjoy finding local gems like the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, and we’ll be searching for our next charming adventure soon!

 

 

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