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April 2016

Mountain Mushroom Festival

by Richie
Mountain Mushroom Festival


Irvine, Kentucky
Estill County
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Tucked away in the Appalachian foothills, the lively little town of Irvine is “Where the Bluegrass Kisses the Mountains.” Here, above the rolling Kentucky River, an annual spring ritual is celebrated – the arrival of Morel Mushroom season.  

We joined the Mountain Mushroom Festival this weekend, along with thousands of other visitors, and spent a perfect blue-sky day wandering around Irvine. The downtown district with its turn-of-the-century iron façade buildings was bustling with tourists. We arrived just as the traffic backed up for the Big Parade, and managed to find a parking spot right at the start of town.

Morel mushrooms grow wild in these mountains, and local hunters (“shroomers”) stood around under a large tent to sell bags of fresh picked morels. A one-pound bag will set you back $70. Despite the hefty price I had to buy some and will be cooking them up tomorrow. Know any good recipes?

Morel Mushroom Festival

Several side streets were blocked off for a giant street fair with vendor booths, entertainment stages, and greasy fair food. You could pet a llama, buy mushroom souvenirs, watch a cooking contest, listen to bluegrass music, clap along to cloggers, and thread a puppy on a leash through a throng of tourists. Coco got petted by dozens of curious passersby. FAIR FUN

Irvine is the seat of Estill County, which is the only place in the world to find red and black agates.This oddity was celebrated with a huge Rock & Gem Show located in the gym of the elementary school (circa 1902). Took me all day to realize the wall mural at the edge of town was a picture of an agate rock. ROCK SHOW

We had planned to bring the RV here and do some camping at a nearby state park. I’m glad we decided to drive the car instead because there wasn’t a spot big enough in the whole county to park the motorhome! CAR SHOW



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Otter Creek

by Richie
Otter Creek


Otter Creek Outdoor Recreational Area
Muldraugh, Kentucky
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Located on the Ohio River, Otter Creek is a large wooded park that offers horse, bike, and hiking trails plus hunting and fishing. We came here to hunt. 

Nah – just kidding!


We spent a long day hiking around the creek, admiring spring flowers and the green-blue water rolling beneath limestone cliffs. On one trail we had to scrabble up those cliffs, climbing between boulders and squeezing around rocks. It was worth the effort – there was a great view of the Ohio River at the top. Good place to stop for a lunch of backpack sandwiches.OTTER 1

Our young dog, Coco, did just fine on this marathon hike. We didn’t need to carry her home this time!

Evenings were spent lolling at camp, enjoying beverages.




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Fort Knox

by Richie
Fort Knox



We were looking for an easy getaway this weekend and didn’t have to look too far. Fort Knox is a quick trot from our farm. In fact, we are on the helicopter flight path to the base and squads of Blackhawks regularly fly over the house. You can hear them coming for miles – nothing stealth about those big bruisers.

In addition to the famous Gold Vault, Fort Knox was also the base for Artillery Divisions for decades. Think tanks. And tank target practice. KABOOM! Their shots would rattle our windows from miles away. The base also hosts a large museum commemorating General George Patton. (Why here? Think tanks!)

It’s been a long time since either of us visited Fort Knox. Things sure have changed in 30 years. Back then you could drive up to the vault, take some pictures and wander around. No more. They’ve got this place locked up tighter than Fort Knox!

knox 2

At the main entrance on Bullion Boulevard, armed personnel stand guard at a security checkpoint. We threaded our 8-1/2′ wide motorhome through a 9′ wide barricade only to be told that we needed to register at the Visitors Center first. We were escorted to a turn-around and reported to the proper authorities to present identification. Then we maneuvered back to squeeze through the checkpoint again.

Fort Knox is a vast and sprawling base with main avenues winding through clusters of training buildings and living quarters – some new, some old, some historic dating back to WWI. We followed the signs toward the museum and I noted that many of the side streets had low bridges – well below our RV’s towering height of 12′ 2″. 

The Gold Vault, while clearly visible from the highway, cannot be approached at all. In fact, there are no roads leading up to it and it doesn’t even appear on the base map. It’s encircled by a series of fences and you can only catch a glimpse of it from a distance. We were told very sternly that photographs of the Vault are forbidden. Even the gift shop postcard is a drawing rather than a photo. Kinda disappointing. Not that I expected to see our nation’s wealth stacked up in gold bullion, but I would have liked to get a little closer to the fancy marble building.


knox 3

The Patton museum was arranged as a chronicle of the General’s life. Did you know he was an Olympic champion? Bronze medal for the Pentathlon in 1912.

There were many artifacts of his military career, including tanks, his mobile field office, and the armored car in which he had his fatal accident. He died a few days later, giving orders not to prosecute the two drivers involved because “it wasn’t their fault” and he didn’t want their careers ruined. That’s a true leader.


In addition to the Patton museum the base also has other buildings open to the public. But after consulting the map it looked like most were located down those side streets with the low bridges, so we opted out of further exploration. Fort Knox may be the gold standard of army bases, but it’s not the best place to cruise around in an oversized RV.



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Dances With Fox

by Richie
Dances With Fox

fox & dog


The Farm
Central Kentucky

Quirky dogs who make us laugh earn an Indian name around here. Previous pooches had names like Kicking Bowl and Nose In The Door. We’ve been calling the puppy Steals One Shoe after an obvious habit.

But today’s events were extraordinary enough to mark the occasion with a new Indian name for Coco – Dances With Fox.

There’s a family of Red Fox who live in our barn. They’ve denned there for years, making elaborate tunnels under the floorboards, each entrance headed by a heap of soft dirt decorated with paw prints. Lately Coco has been rummaging through the barn in what is the equivalent of a fox garbage dump – odd bits of bones and feathers strewn around the stalls. And each morning she returns with an old dried-up prize – a turkey wing, a turtle shell, a squirrel tail. Leftovers from a fox dinner. 

turkey 2


But yesterday Coco came back with a fresh bunny. Not the bones or a bit of fur. The whole rabbit. “She’s stealing from the foxes,” Tim said. We stuffed it in the garbage can and worried that Coco was now actually entering the fox’s den instead of just being content with their leftovers.

Today that was pretty much confirmed as the Red Fox harassed Coco, nose to nose, right out in the open. Nearly the whole afternoon the fox defended her turf while the dog was thrilled to have someone to chase. They were the about same size, 20 lbs apiece, with the fox sporting a long bushy tail held straight out. The two ran circles around the barn – chasing, leaping, pouncing, dancing – all day long.

  “Yap, yap!” barked Coco.

  “Yorp, yorp!” cried the Fox.

The fox’s bark was similar to a baying beagle, with a slight yodel at the end that signaled alarm. The dog was having a grand time but the fox was much more serious. 

 Hear the Fox Bark:

I grabbed the camera but only managed to squeeze a long-distance shot as the fox trotted off in a momentary stalemate between rounds.

A short while later Coco came rolling back with another rabbit – this one of the domestic variety. It was certainly the fox’s hard won supper, no doubt pillaged from a neighbor’s warren, and meant to feed her family of kits. 

After much cajoling and waving of arms we finally got the thing away from the dog. Figuring the fox family had now been robbed of two meals in a row by our pilfering pooch, we left the rabbit at their den entrance and tied up the dog for the rest of the day.

Which didn’t make Coco happy, but now we know the answer to the popular question –

What Does The Fox Say?

Yorp! Yorp! Yorp!



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