Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Grease Spot on the L&N

Days 5-6 of the RV jouney of 2021.  Ah, Kentucky, the land of bourbon, blue grass, hills, horses, and fried chicken, and despite the brevity of two days we tried to see them all,

We awoke just a mile from Kentucky as the crow flies, but it took an hour to get there and some tense nerves to do it.  After Clifty Falls we planned on driving straight out, take a right, go a mile and get on a bridge to the Blue Grass state.  It seemed so simple, but alas ....NO!  Main street in Madison IN was closed for two blocks, the entire town was about as RV friendly as a village in Malta or downtown Paris, so we drove in our car to scout a better route leaving the RV behind.  I talked to the ranger woman back at the campground, stating I was afraid to drive back out the way we came in because if we met someone as big as us, there was no way we'd both fit.  She did NOT seem concerned, mostly I think because it would not be her problem to get us unblocked from the road.  So, I just said, screw it, and off we went, on a detour through the park on 15 foot wide roads with over hanging trees, sharp curves, steep grades and well, drop-offs.  Somehow, we did not meet anyone.  Then we drove four miles east, then four miles south to get exactly 2 blocks from where we had just been, just as they were removing the detour signs. Sigh, isn't that the way things go.  It was noon.

We crossed the big river but the road Google wanted to go on was NOT a truck route so we took a road along the river with all the other trucks, but there was no shoulder, the bluffs and trees were straight up on my side and so I drove 30 mph for 10 miles backing up everyone, but alas, their lateness was not my problem.  It was Kentucky's. I laughed that I was a Kentucky Chicken.  Well, somehow, I got us to the freeway, and then twenty miles later just as the road was slowing down to a crawl, Silja announced "oops!"  The road we wanted was 35 not 127, so I got off on 127 and although it looked like I could go to 35, I looked closer at the map, and saw 127 buried in the fold of the map and decided caution was warranted and we drive back for 7 miles to 35 ands then headed south.  10 more miles later, I came upon 127 (my road became 127, and where it met, it looked like it was just a driveway when it met up and there was a big yellow sign saying no trucks allowed, steep grades and sharp curves, somehow, they needed to put that on the other end.

We bumped and grinded into Frankfort, got turned around, got on the freeway and ended up taking the long way around Lexington before heading off to Paris. Nit that Paris, but Paris in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  This was our destination for the night, we'd gone 45 miles as the crow flew and it took us four hours.

We had joined "Harvest Host" as a new idea to stay at odd little places, in Paris, we were to stay at a farm.  I talked to owner (male)  a couple weeks problem he said, figured we'd stay for a day and buy some store was not to be, as when we turned into the place the bridge was blocked with a cement truck.  Fresh cement blocked our path.

There was little camping around, and seemingly no way to get here, so I pulled to the side and was beginning to unhitch the car planning to drop the trailer and make the laborious effort to turn my one-way rig around to get out of the situation, while Silja made a desperate attempt to find a place to camp.

Halfway into taking off the car straps, the owner showed up.  I was accused of having an "attitude" and I had not called ahead again saying when we would show up, apparently, twice was not enough.  We will discuss Harvest Host more on another post.  Anyways, she led me on a serpentine route through her field, along her cornfield, past the donkey enclosure to another bridge and then to the other side of the bridge and then we dry camped in the yard below the farm store.  Their store was still closed for COVID, so that was our only interaction.  They were building a 75 lot campground to the left of the picture and the place was being filled with trucks of debris from the road construction in town for $75.00 per load, trucks came all day and all night.  But it WAS a place to camp.  I drank some wine and chilled out.  I needed wine, as I was whining and the two do mix.

Eventually I went looking for butterflies

Mating sachems

Tawny edged skipper

Variegated fritillary 

Morning came and we went of to nearby Claiborne Farms to look at ....racehorses.  This was why we had came here.  Our visit included the last resting place of the greatest of all time,,,,Secretariat.

The great stallion after his monumental 31 length Belmont win in 1973 setting the record for a mile and a half that has never even been close to being broken.

We saw his stable and some of the living greats of the farm.

I am petting War Front, one of the richest sires in the world, $250,000 per insemination, and worth around $80 million.  Just a big horse up close.  He started getting a little nippy and the stableman smacked him with the bridle strap.  80 million dollars and corporal punishment is still the best method to discipline him.

Silja giving a peppermint to War of Will, the 2019 Preakness winner.  He was a sweet horse

Here he is with his Black-eyed Susans as the champion horse to the big race

Then there was Blame

This horse is Blame. Blame cost quite a few people a lot of money.  Blame is now 15, when he won the Breeder's Cup in 2010 beating an undefeated horse, Zenyatta, he got death threats, here is what the horse thought of his detractors when I asked him.  He made 4 million racing and has the life of leisure siring foals at 30K a pop, three times a day.  You can't "Blame" him for sticking his tongue out at you.

This below is Julio, Claiborne's "teaser."  No one knows what breed he is, but he acts like the Giglio he is, he gets to mount all the girls, gets kicked, bit, but never gets to do the deed.  But he has that look about him, all testosterone, and he gets to live the life of luxury.  

Year bird, mute swan pair flew in for a photograph between stallion pictures

We left the horse area, got the RV out of the farm and headed south without any issue.

They say Corbin Kentucky is a railroad town, located in Southeastern part of the state on the line of the old L&N, 
During the infamous race riots of 1919, the entire black population of town was loaded on the same train and sent out of town.

Despite this, what people think most of about Corbin, Kentucky is chicken, and the man that changed restaurant chicken in America, Harland Sanders.  He opened his first restaurant and developed his recipe at his cafe in North Corbin, before franchising the idea in the late 1950s, he closed his cafe in 1959 and sold out Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964 for $2,000,000.  It would later become the second largest restaurant chain in the world. Sanders retained the Canadian rights and moved to Canada. He died in 1980 quite wealthy and not always a fan of what by then PepsiCo had done with his gravy.

So we drive into Corbin to have Kentucky Fried Chicken..... with Colonel Sanders
It was finger lick'n good.

The "cafe" was being remodeled as was the museum, so we had to go eat outside.

Filled with greasy chicken, I stopped at the "\CORBIN KISSING STONE"
The stone was placed in July of this year as a place to get engaged and celebrate anniversaries.  The story goes that it is already 100% successful, no one has turned down an engagement here, has only been three month.

happily married, and not needing the effects of the stone, we came back and looked for more butterflies

Eastern Comma

Question Mark (not the different mark on the closed wing view)

Eastern Tailed-blue

Carolina Satyr

We then drank some wine, and enjoyed a great evening in southern Kentucky listening to frogs and the freeway traffic.  The fried chicken even digested well, and so we did not become our own grease spot on the L&N.

Morning would come and we had to squeeze out of our KOA campsite and head south to hopefully knock off a bucket list item.  It had been two years since a bucket list item thanks to COVID, so it would be good to get this one......more on that next time



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

RV LIFE 2021, Destination Chicago (Days 1-4)

\We started our six month RV journey on September 23rd.  We've had COVID, two shots, and we are ready to see the world.  Initially we were going west, then fly down to bird the Amazon, then fly back to Arizona before catching a flight to Thailand, Bhutan, and then New Zealand, but alas, COVID cancelled the best of plans and as such, it seemed the best course of action was to head southeast, and head towards South Carolina and then zig zag around and see what we could see.

What craziness and problems we would run into we could only be guessed about and as such we prepared as best we could for the worst and hoped for the best as we pulled out of the campground on Sims Rd and headed south towards our future.

Our first destination after an overnight in East Bethel, Minnesota to pick up our rig, was Zion Illinois, about as close as we could come to park our RV and see our son Seth (Tyko) in Chicago.  He is a third year medical student at Rush University in Chicago and we do not see him as much as we should. 

Life immediately interrupted us as our daughter's living situation at Hamline disintegrated to the point we were calling in favors to get her an apartment.  We wondered if we should turn around and what.  We looked at apartments on the internet and Silja talked her sister into going apartment shopping with her.  It was a stressful 400 windy miles to Madison, over to Milwaukee, and then to Zion, Illinois, where Google immediately sent us to the wrong unit of the park.  Luckily, there was a turn around and we got out unscathed.  We found our campsite and despite having to unhook, back in, and a night filled with frog noise, mosquitoes, and automatic weapon's fire we were able to find our son and enjoy Chicago.

We walked the streets, saw Christina Quarles and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  
Her stuff is interesting, but their comics exhibit, was painful to the point, Silja went to the bathroom and got lost in the giftshop, as she had enough.  We had been to a similar museum in London and almost the same thing happened, and that art was better.  There was too much art trying to make statements we had already heard ten years before the art, and some of it was just plain poor. My opinion, but well, if in Chicago....go somewhere else.

We walked seven miles around town.  Next, we went to the pier and saw the Ferris wheel and while my wife and son rode it (I passed), I watched a cameo appearance of The Galaxie Girls of Chicago, mostly dressed.

We ate Indian food, Mozambique food, it all stayed down, and then we drove up north and back to Zion and luckily slept to the insects and only were awakened by a nearby coyote, no gun shots.  It was a great visit with our son.  We miss him so much.

We drive through Chicago unscathed and into Indiana, our goal was to see Silja's first cousin, whom she could not not remember.   Chicago was easy driving and getting gas in Indiana was also pretty uneventful, our first fuel stop.  They were on our route and served us a great steak dinner while we talked football and what happened to what relative.  They lived in a gorgeous house above the Ohio River near Hanover Indiana.  We planned on staying at the Clifty Falls State Park, the road to the campground was windy and narrow, but when we arrived at three. our site was filled.  The checkout time on Saturday was strangely at 5 pm, but luckily we had a second site we could use before they left, and we ended up staying there

late departure campers from our campsite leaving us to scrounge for a new spot.

View at Silja's cousins house.

we did not see many birds but we saw deer

We walked around the park for a while before we braved the narrow roads out, but that would be another day's adventure

Clifty Falls

The tunnel near Tunnel Falls

The first four days of our 2021-2022 adventure

So far, our trip, we had fought wind and people in our campsite but successfully navigated around Chicago.  More importantly, we had found a formula that kept our cat, Tiger from getting car sick, and it was like a miracle.  We had survived just a single fuel stop but so far, all was well.

The adventure continues, next Kentucky!


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Olaf's COVID induced writing binge

So why am I showing you a photo of 16 month old me?  I  do not remember much from 1967, although it was a big year for me.  I learned to walk and well, I got inspired for a project that it took 48 years to complete.  Now it is 2021....and whoa!  What a rush.  I have been a writing machine. I am just finishing up a contract volunteer writing and research project creating a 214 page book on the history of a storied campground and community in the Upper Midwest, that will be the sixth book I've finished since the start of COVID, but one in which is not available to an outside audience but the other five.....  I've also even finished a magazine article on rare butterflies, and way too many blogs, although truth be told, I have not put too many blogs up this summer as I have just been too busy writing. 18 months of lock down, isolation and I somehow got in the biggest creativity and researching mode of my life.  All thanks to COVID.

I decided to not list any of these books on Amazon, as I'd have to sell 10-20 books to put through the costs of one, and on the historical books, writing them was more about sharing things I liked or were meaningful to me, than making money, but I would like to lose less money on any project.  So all of these are available from me, directly, email me at

Book events, I did just two.  I am have a presentation of my Rolite book in Grantsburg on the 14th for the Rotary Club, and other that will be me only event for this book.  A little advertising on Facebook, a couple of emails and well, I sold a few, good enough.

So here is what I put together:

ROLITE: Eggs to Nails to Tin Cans
The history of Grantsburg's niche camper manufacturer that existed from 1960-1973.  Selling a book describing a niche manufacturer that only made 6065 campers and the last one was built 48 years ago.  Lots of good memories there with the original motorized pop-up hard-sided camper.  It was not a perfect book, the information on the company is quite scattered and unfortunately a couple of people have information and we just could not connect, for reasons unclear.  Oh well, in not too many years all of what I did not put in here will be gone.    

So back to 1967.....the year my great uncle showed me a competing brand and I was not very impressed, so he bought a Rolite.  Well sort of....

From photos of the trailers to even photos from inside the plant.  I even got to do a book event at the Grantsburg Rotary Club.

CLUB ORIENT: A Photographic History
This is a photographic history of St Martin's iconic clothing optional resort destroyed four years ago from Irma, and first opening in 1981.  Of course it is NSFW, and as I did marketing for the resort in 2008, and with all I had, who else could put this together?  I managed to get photographic work from four world renowned photographers to include, stumbled upon some other tidbits and put together a colorful 230 page 8.5 x 11 book with 200 photographs to catch the flavor of a place like no other in the world. It also includes shots from the 1992 movie "Treasured Island" shot there, not an Academy Award winner but a rather funny little movie produced by an European travel agency as a marketing project and released to get people to think about the place.

If you want to see the uncensored views of this one-of a kind place destroyed on September 6, 2017, this is it, but if photos such as these offend you, this IS NOT the book for you.  This is an accurate depiction of life on the Caribbean's largest and most famous naturist beach, so I just depicted life of what was photographed and the way it was.   It is a place you can still dream about, paradise on earth.

Brown Boobies, Hairy Peckers, and Great Tits.
Although this book documents my (our) experiences from 2017 through Covid 2020, it mostly looks at our 2019 adventures around the world to see places less travel and less attired to a circumnavigation of America by RV, to South America, a voyage across the south Atlantic, safaris in Africa, and life in France, I visit places some do not even know exist.  Definitely, the road less traveled. 

We followed in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, famous author Robert Heinlein, and Thor Heyerdahl along with many other notable people and events at many of our stops.   

From the grave of Ernest Shackleton of South Georgia Island 

To the beach where Charles Darwin first came ashore on South America aboard the HMS Beagle and maybe where he conceived his theories on evolution of species while bathing in Uruguay

To Olaf cruising around with 2000 naked people all over the Caribbean 

GRANTSBURG: The Golden Years
The history of Grantsburg Wisconsin, my hometown from about 1920 to 1985.  I wrote this as a bucket list item with my mother (that was the bucket list item).  Grantsburg has had some quirky past and many interesting businesses and as such, this 420 page book, was a very nice and so far, well received historical document of the community.

We discuss mail order brides, a decade of lying about the weather, an opera diva, bank failures, a toll bridge empire, and well, many of the characters along the way
Dr Anne Carlsen, a woman who made severe handcapped seem normal (being given a award from Richard Nixon)

To Dr. John Toepfer, the man who literally wrote the book about the greater prairie chicken, a person I met randomly looking for the birds back in college
The Search for Paradise
This is a compilation of many of my photographs from all over the world.  I look at 50 of my favorite places

The photos include butterflies, landscapes, animals, and birds from six continents, and the arch in Malta no longer even exists

Magazine Articles:
My research on photography of two South Dakota threatened and endangered butterflies which will be feature in the South Dakota Magazine next spring:  Dakota skippers and regal fritillaries need to be saved. 
Dakota Skipper

Regal Fritillary 

So that is what I did last winter and summer IDK, maybe I actually send Christmas cars. 

Golden dreams and memories

  Today brings me to the north suburbs of Chicago.  Although not for a bird even though a lifer bird had been flying tantalizingly close to ...