Friday, August 28, 2009

Back at Home (August 28,2009)

I've been at home for a week now. After ten days on the road photographing Lincoln Historic sites in Indiana and Kentucky and attending my 39th Elderhostel program in Cincinnati, it is good to be home. As always I learned a great deal and took almost 1000 photos on my journey. Now that I'm home it's back to doing the more mundane, but necessary things that make up a shopping, lawn care, housecleaning, visiting, etc.

What else have I been doing since I returned home? In the past week, I've added a new Elderhostel: Cincinnati photo album to my webpage. Using ProShow Gold, I have prepared CDs with about 125 photos from my Cincinnati program. I will send one to any Cincinnati participant who would like one. On the CD I selected a few photos from each day's activity schedule. I hope that the CD with be a nice reminder of our experiences together in Cincinnati. On our last day, we had a banjo player who strummed "period songs" while relating tales from Cincinnati / Ohio River history. Following his performance, I bought one of his CDs and asked permission to use some of his songs as a background to my CD. He allowed me to do so.

A neighboring camera club asked me to serve as judge for a Nature Photography contest that they were having. They sent me about 80 images (70 digital and 10 photo slides). So in the next few days, I'll be dealing with those. I am also doing last minute adjustments for three slide (PowerPoint) shows that I will be doing in September for groups in the region. There will be one on Lincoln, one on the Everglades, and a new one on photographing wildlife in Cajun Country (Lafayette, Louisiana). I enjoy doing the shows. Being a former teacher, it allows me to "keep my connection" with the classroom (plus I often received some payment which I put in my granddaughter's college fund).

Which reminds me, I was able to spend a day with my granddaughter after returning. She lives about 120 miles from me, but that's close enough to get down there every couple of weeks.
The most beautiful granddaughter in the world!

Well, back to the "regular" life. Next different adventure? In late September, I'll be attending a Sante Fe Trail symposium in Arrow Rock, Missouri. I've traveled and photographed parts of that trail from Franklin, MO to just west of Council Grove, KS and have read a great deal about travelers on the trail. I want to learn even more about it. One of my goals is to eventually complete the trail.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday and Friday in Cincinnati

Following breakfast on Thursday morning, Dan Hurley a local writer and television personality discussed the historic Ohio River flood of 1937. He used film clips and eyewitness accounts to help us understand the problems which occurred as the river rose to a level 80 feet higher than usual.

We then boarded our bus and drove the Rising Sun, Indiana, home to the Grand Victoria Casino and Resort on the Ohio. We enjoyed a wonderful buffet lunch and spent time shopping or having a brief gaming session in the casino. The food selection was diverse and delicious.
We then drove on to the riverside town of Rising Sun, Indiana (so named according to one version, when early settlers witnessed a beautful sunrise over the Kentucky Hills across the Ohio River). We went to the local Ohio County Historical Society Museum. When we arrived three members of the society allowed us to play "Liar's Club". Historic relics were displayed for all to see. Then each member described a "use" for the relic. Two descriptions were lies; one was factual...and we had to decide which. We then toured the museum including a room of record setting race boats built and raced by local resident J.W. Whitlock.

At the local riverside park, Dan, the museum director, related more stories on the history of Rising Sun and the Ohio River.

In downtown Rising Sun area, we visited "Harps on Main". This is a working shop where harps are manufactured. While there we heard samples of harp music from instruments made on sight and wandered through the facility. We then returned to our motel.

Following dinner at the motel we were taken to the Majestic Showboat on the Cincinnati waterfront. The "Majestic" is the last floating showboat in the nation.

Once seated inside the floating theater, we were treated to a performance of the black comedy, "Crimes of the Heart".

Friday morning was our last program. Our presenter was Banjo Bob Poe. Banjo Bob is a licensed riverboat captain and banjo player par excellence. He related stories of river history and his own personal stories about his experiences on riverboats as a musician. He was great.

We then had our traditional Elderhostel "closing ceremony" with closing comments, graduation certificates, and bittersweet good-byes. It was a great Elderhostel with a great group of participants from all over the nation. Thanks to Pauline, Barbara, Lorenzo and other volunteers for a great Elderhostel experience.

Wednesday in Cincinnati

This morning we drove to the Bicentennial Commons at Sawyer Park, another riverside park in Cincinnati. While at the park we view such things as a statue of Cincinnatus (for whom Cincinnati was named), a model of the Ohio River that we could walk along, and Yeatman's Cove (which was the site of the actual founding of the city).

From the park, we drove downtown to Fountain Square site of the Tyler-Davidson fountain a symbol of the city. We had a thirty minute stay to visit area businesses including Graeter's Ice Cream Parlor. I had a hot fudge sundae at 10:30 in the morning...fattening and delicious!!

We did some sightseeing on the bus downtown as we drove to the Cincinnati Art Museum in Eden Park. We stopped at an overlook in Eden Park for wonderful overviews of the Ohio River.

At the Cincinnati Art Museum we had a short visit to the Cincinnati Wing of the art museum which featured paintings, artifacts, and furniture from Cincinnati history (mostly be Cincinnati artists).
Around noon we boarded the bus and took a fifteen minute ride across the Ohio River to Dayton Kentuck and the Queen City Riverboat dock and boarded the Spirit of Cincinnati steamboat.
On the Spirit of Cincinnati riverboat,we enjoyed a two-hour lunch/cruise ride on the Ohio River. Along with an excellent lunch of fried chicken or beef sirloin tips, we heard more on the history of Cincinnati and theOhio River from our Captain, Dennis New. It was an excellent experience.

After lunch we had three options: return to the Cincinnati Art Museum, visit "Newport on the Levee" which featured an aquarium, a bookstore, and many shopping opporunties.
Later in the evening after dinner we had a surprise celebration for one of our Elderhostel couples celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary with cake and champaign. Five or six other couples had already celebrated their 60th anniversaries. Congratulation to all!!
We closed the day with another excellent presentation on Steamboat history. Barbara Jennings another docent at the Cincinnati Museum Complex used wonderful historic photos to present the history of steamboats.

Tuesday in Cincinnati

Following breakfast, we bussed to the Cincinnati riverfront and boarded the P.A. Docking Riverboat. Originally a towboat on the Ohio, it is now part of the Foundation for Ohio River Education (FORE). We spent two hours touring the river on the boat; as we did so we had a number of optional activities in which to participate.

The activities included sightseeing, a water chemistry project, lecture on Ohio River history, birding on the river, and a study of the microecology of the river (looking at microscopic forms removed from the river). I tried a little of each of these activities. This was a wonderful activity.

Following lunch, we drove southwest into Kentucky to the Markland Locks and Dam. In the early years of travel on the Ohio River, journeys could be delayed for days during low water stages and sometimes the river was closed to travel. Today because of series of locks and dam built along the 978 mile length of the river, river travel is much more predictable and the river is open most of the year. At the lock we learned about how the lock and dam system works. As good luck would have it, while we were at the lock when the largest tow possible (15 barges of coal) arrived at the lock and we were able to witness part of the process of its movement though the lock. By the way, "Why is called a Tow boat when it pushes, not tows?". The group of barges is called a "tow" and this boat moves the tow. Now you know.

We left Markland and drove farther southwest to the town of Carrollton, Kentucky. This town is located at the convergence of the Ohio River and the Kentucky River. While there, we viewed the convergence at a local park and heard some local rivertown history. We then drove to the other side of town and visited Lock #1 along the Kentucky River (much older and smaller than the Markland Lock). We also visited the General Butler State Park where we toured the historic home of General Butler, Adjutant General of the Kentucky Militia. Our leader for our Carrollton tour was Evelyn Welch, Historic Site Museum Manager for the Butler-Turpin House.

This evening, following a dinner which included Cincinnati-style chili, we were entertained by the Hills of Kentucky Dulcimer Society. Nineteen memeber of the club played familiar tunes which featured a number of instruments in addition to many dulcimers. The talent and enthusiasm of this group for their art made this a wonderful way to end our second day.

Monday in Cincinnati

This morning began with a lecture by David Savage, a docent at the Cincinnati Museum Complex on the history of Cincinnati. Following the morning lectures we ate lunch at a restaurant called the Greyhound Tavern.

Following lunch we drove to the Union Terminal which houses a number of museums including the Cincinnati History Museum. As the name suggests, the facility began as a railroad terminal. In 1926 five individual railroads at different locations in city decided to pool their resources and build this terminal. In its heyday, the station handled 216 trains daily. As automobile travel increased and rail demand began to diminish, the station closed. In 1975 the building was sold to the city of Cincinnati. It was first converted to to a shopping mall; in 1986 work began to convert the building into a museum complex. Today the facility is the Amtrak Railroad Station, but also houses the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cincinnati Natural History Museum, a Children's Museum, offices for the Cincinnati Historical Society, in addition to shops and food services.

With the leadership of a docent we toured the History Museum for two hours. The highlight for me was a life sized model of riverboat; you could walk onto the boat and get the feeling of being on a real riverboat. I also enjoyed a huge display with trains running throughout a model of Cincinnati city.

Following our museum visit, we crossed the Ohio River into Covington, Kentucky and spent some time in their Riverfront Park where they had six statues of historical figures and with a series of murals depicting the history of the area.

We returned to the motel. Following dinner, we were treated to a great presentation Tall Stacks and Tall Tales by speaker, Joyce Baer. She presented many tales from steamboat history including many written by Mark Twain.

All in all,the day was a great way to introduce us to Cincinnati History.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leaving Louisville

Today I drive to Cincinnati to begin my Steamboat / Ohio River Elderhostel.
Before I leave I will make two stops.

Across the Ohio River from Louisville is Clarksville, Indiana. In Clarksville is the Falls of the Ohio State Park. It was here that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met to begin their Voyage of Discovery to the Western Sea. A statue of them shaking hands as they met again (Lewis had served under Clark in earlier military service) is found overlooking the Ohio river.

Also in the park is a replica cabin of the George Rogers Clark, the older brother of William.
George Rogers Clark was a American Revolutionary War hero who kept the Western U.S. (Illinois and Indiana later) from falling under the control of the English Red Coats. Both Clark brothers were living in the cabin when Lewis arrived.

Across the river in Louisville, in Waterfront Park is a newly installed statue of Abraham Lincoln Sitting on a Rock sculpted by a Louisville resident. Part of the Lincoln display is a series of engraved panels depicting events which occurred while Lincoln was in Kentucky. While visiting his best friend, Joshua Speed in 1841, Lincoln stayed for three weeks at the Speed home which as a slave plantation. When he and Speed returned to Springfield, Illinois on a steamboat, Lincoln witnessed slaves chained together on their way to New Orleans. He remarked with disgust at what he witnessed on that day. One of the panels depicts that formative moment.

While I was there the sun's position made determining correct exposure very difficult. As a result, the quality of the photos is less than I hoped for, but the experience of seeing this wonderful display made up for it.

I drove the 100 miles to the Cincinnati area and met my new Elderhostel friends.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Looking for Lincoln in Louisville, KY

My motel stay in Elizabethtown was a cheap traveler's (like me) dream. I found a Super 8.

Next door was a Waffle House, two doors a convenience store with a popcorn machine, and three doors a Church's Chicken store (my absolute favorite chicken).

This morning I left for Louisville (after breakfast at the Waffle House); forty-five minutes later I was in the parking lot of the Farmington Plantation House in Louisville. In 1841, after having broken up with wife-to-be Mary Todd, Lincoln was despondent. His best friend, Joshua Speed invited Abe to accompany him for a three-week at his family's hemp plantation in Louisville. Lincoln agreed. Farmington specialized in raising hemp and this work intensive product meant that the Speeds had 60 slaves. On the steamboat ride back toward Springfield, Lincoln witnesses more slaves chained together as they were being taken to New Orleans. Despite his abhorrence of the slave trade, Lincoln grew very fond of the Speed family. When elected President, Lincoln offered the Secretary of Treasure position to Joshus (he refused) and named older brother James to be his Attorney General for his second term.

Today only the Plantation House remains and no photography was allowed inside the house, I still learned a great deal from their audio introduction program and from the docent tour.
From Farmington, I drove to the Speed Art Museum on the campus of the University of Louisville. The museum had a featured traveling program called "Beyond the Log Cabin: Kentucky's Abraham Lincoln" and using paintings, photography, relics and the written word they expressed their pride in their "Native Son" Lincoln.

Also in the museum, was a display of the steps of a local sculptor who produced a large statue of Lincoln sitting on a rock which was recently installed at Riverside Park on the River in downtown Louisville. This display outlines the steps taking when producing that statue.
From here I drove across the river to Jeffersonville, Indiana to visit the Howard Riverboat Museum. During the steamboat era, virtually all western steamboats were made in either Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, or Louisville. The Howard Riverboat Company built the most.
The museum is housed in the home of the Howard family. In addition to wonderfully opulent furnishings, the rooms are now filled with steamboat models, pictures of steamboats, and collected relics from historic steamboats. For those interested in steamboats, this is a DO NOT MISS attraction. They also had a wonderful collections of books for sale in their gift shop.
One other item of interest today. When looking for the Steamboat Museum, I stopped at a riverside seafood restaurant along the Ohio River. I asked my waiter if he knew the location of the Museum. He said he did not, but he would ask others. A few minutes later as I was eating lunch, he brought me a Google Map and Google directions from the restaurant to the museum.
This was "duty beyond the call".

Tomorrow I move to Cincinnati to begin my 39th Elderhostel.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Looking for Lincoln in Kentucky

While working in Troy, Indiana, Lincoln was involved in his first legal case. He ferried two men from the Indiana shore to a steamship in the middle of the Ohio River. After he received $1.00 for doing so, he was arrested for illegally ferrying people across the Ohio River. The Dill brothers who had the license to ferry across the Ohio River in the area took Abraham to Judge Samuel Pate in Kentucky. Lincoln argued that he broke no law, because he did not ferry anyone ACROSS the river. The judge agreed. This morning I found the home of Judge Pate and the small cemetery behind it where the judge is buried.

I then drove to Hodgenville, KY near the place of Lincoln's birth. While there I visited the Lincoln Museum on the square; the museum features twelve life-sized dioramas on events which occurred in Lincoln's life. The village square has two statues of Lincoln: one has adult Lincoln sitting in a "throne-like" chair and one a statue of Lincoln as a boy.

I then drove three miles south to the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Park. At the Visitor Center I viewed a video on "Lincoln in Kentucky", viewed a replica of the inside of the Lincoln birth cabin, and viewed the actual "Lincoln Family Bible". From there I walked to the actual site of the Sinking Springs Farm where Abe was born. I first visited the Sinking Spring which still flows today. The Birth Cabin is housed within a large impressive stone building. It is a cabin similar to cabins of that time and it does contain some logs from the original cabin, but it is not the true cabin. The Lincolns lived at this site from 1809-1811.

In 1811 the Lincolns moved a few miles away to the Knob Creek Farm. I also visited that site.
The cabin there is NOT the Lincoln cabin, but it is the cabin lived in by the family of Austin Gollaher, Lincoln's best friend at the time. Austin is given credit for having saved Abe from drowning in the nearby Knob Creek. I also located the burial site of Gollaher in a nearby community. The Lincolns lived at Knob Creek Farm until 1816 when they moved to Indiana.
I then returned to Elizabethtown, KY to spend the night. A year following the death of Nancy Lincoln, Thomas Lincoln returned to E-town to ask an old acquaintance, Sarah Bush Johnston to marry him. She accepted and she and her three children moved to Indiana with him. At a park in E-town is a replica of the cabin where Sarah was living when Thomas returned. I visited that park and photographed that site as well.

Tomorrow I move on to Louisville, KY to visit Lincoln sites there (and also to visit a steamboat museum).

Looking for Lincoln in Indiana

Drove to Vincennes, Indiana where the Lincoln family crossed the Wabash River when they moved to Illinois in 1830. Today on the Illinois side of the river is a memorial consisting of a statue of Lincoln as a young man walking in front of his family which are engraved in stone behind him. Also while in Vincennes, Lincoln met with Elihu Stout the publisher and printer of the Western Star newspaper; he toured the printing office. I toured a replica of that printing office as well.

I then drove to the Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana. At their Visitor Center I toured their museum and watched a video of "Lincoln in Indiana". I then began a one-mile walk which included a visit to the Pioneer Cemetery where Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln was buried following her death, a replica cabin and farm of the home where Lincoln lived from 1816-1830.

In nearby Gentryville, Indiana, I toured the home of Colonel William Jones. Colonel Jones was the first man to hire Lincoln as a storekeeper and bookkeeper and is given credit for stimulating his interest in politics in general and the Whig Party in particular. Lincoln stayed with Jones in 1844 when he returned to Indiana to campaign for Henry Clay for President.

I then drove to the Ohio River area. There I visited Rockport Landing where Lincoln and his friend Allen Gentry built and launched a flatboat full of good for his first trip to New Orleans.

I visited Troy, IN where it is believed that the Lincoln family entered Indiana from Kentucky in 1816. In addition Abe worked in Troy cutting and loading wood on steamboats, butchering hogs, and ferrying travelers across the Anderson River. I spent the night in Tell City, Indiana.

Tomorrow I go "Looking for Lincoln in Kentucky".

Monday, August 10, 2009

Welcome to the Mindmeld Musings Blog

Thanks for joining me for my first blog. I am a retired high school biology teacher who, following retirement, has pursued two new life and travel.

In 1995, I attended an Audubon Society camp at Bubois, Wyoming. While there I witnessed a photographic slide show of the wildlife and landscapes of the Wind River Country of Wyoming. I also learned of a non-profit organization called Elderhostel which organizes travel and educational trips around the world for those over age 55. When I returned to my home following the camp, I immediately began studying and learning about photography and contacted Elderhostel.

Fourteen years later I have a photography business called Mindmeld Photography. I write articles (with photos) for magazines and websites and present PowerPoint Slide shows on various topics to organizations.
Thus far I have had ten articles published in magazines or on websites, have 50 of my images published, and had made more than 140 presentations.

Much of my travel and photographic opportunities come from making auto trips to and from my Elderhostel destinations. On Thursday, I will leave for my 39th program which will be presented in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and will discuss the "History of the Ohio River and Steamboat Travel". In the 1800's, Cincinnati (along with Pittsburgh, PA and Louisville, KY) was a major site for building the steamboats which would be used on
rivers west of the Appalachian Mountains (including the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers). While the program begins on Sunday, Aug. 16, I will leave on Thursday morning and will travel and photograph sites where Abraham Lincoln lived in Indiana and Kentucky before moving to Illinois.

Hopefully you will follow me as I go about "Looking for Lincoln" in Indiana and Kentucky.