My Almost Make-out Session at Big Bone Lick and Randomly Running into Rabbit Hash

So this is the first blog post I’ve written on location thus far. I somehow wandered into the little town of Rabbit Hash Kentucky today.  It is the most awesome thing that has happened randomly in quite a while.  Earlier today I met one of my bridal clients to iron out the details for their upcoming wedding.  Since the coffee shop we met at was right around the corner from the venue I figured, once we wrapped up, that I could drive over and take a look to check out the lighting, setup, etc.  After my trip to the Florentine, which is in Union KY, I went driving around the area looking for a good outdoor location for bridal party photos.

The Florentine

The Florentine

About 5 minutes down the street I ran across a place called Farm Haven.  I decided to be nosy and pulled onto the property and took a look around. I couldn’t find anyone to talk to, besides an alpaca, so I walked back to my car with plans to look them up online and give them a call later. Note in phone: check! Its the first absolutely gorgeous day we’ve had in a while, so I figured why stop my adventure here. The big brown sign for Big Bone Lick State Park was staring me in the face and the gorgeous beaming sunshine and blue skies were beckoning. With my foot to the pedal, old school 80’s rock blaring out the windows and the wind in my hair, I headed 10 miles down the road to Big Bone Lick.

Old closed down shop on the road to Big Bone

Old closed down shop on the road to Big Bone

I haven’t been there in probably 10 years or so. Its always weird when you revisit a place after so long. Its never quite the same as you remember it, especially if the time span is from childhood to adulthood. The lake seemed smaller that I remembered, but still shimmering and beautiful. After snapping a few pics with my phone, since I failed to bring Mark (my Camera) with me, I walked up to a nearby park bench to sit for a moment and soak in some sun.

The Lake

The Lake

I noticed off in the distance, a man laying on a blanket enjoying the sun as well.  I hopped up, ready to do a little exploring, and found my way to a little dirt path. Well, I better investigate. Let me see where this leads. Turns out, the path winds completely around the whole lake. So, despite my lack of good hiking shoes, I followed the path, enjoying my time in nature.

The backside of the lake

The backside of the lake

When the path finally came back to the place where I had started, the man who was once laying, was at the bench, rolling up his blanket.  “Beautiful day!” he called out. I agreed, and mentioned that I thought it was sad not enough people understand the importance of spending time in and having a relationship with nature.  Peter, as he introduced himself, was an older man, I’d say in his late 40’s, maybe early 50’s.  He donned a leather jacket, jeans and and had a few camping utensils hanging from his belt.  He had a kind voice and spoke passionately about life.  After about 15 minutes of chatting about philosophical stuff, I asked him if I could take a picture of him by the lake, for my blog, so that I could accurately document my trip. He obliged and even offered to snap one of me by the lake for posterity.

Peter

Peter

I took down Peters email address to send him a copy of his photo, and as I looked up from my phone, he pulled me close, by my waist, stared deep into my eyes and said… “Kiss me.”  Well, I hope you all know how this turned out. Lol. In the nick of time I barely got my hand up in front of my face to stop his lips from coming into contact with mine.  Awkwardly, I cleared my throat. “I can’t”, I explained. “I’m sorry.” With a nervous laugh, he said,”You can’t blame a guy for trying. You’re smart, funny, and beautiful.”  I was honestly flattered (although also weirdly creeped out).  As I bid Peter adieu, I walked back to my car literally laughing out loud at life and how the weirdest things some times happen to me.  I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a very long time. So thank you Peter, for thinking I’m beautiful and also for making me belly laugh that a stranger in a park would try to make out with my face.

Before leaving I stepped into the Big Bone Lick Visitor Center and read through some historical info about the park and the area.

Visitor Center

Visitor Center

I pulled out of the park and upon reaching the exit, I realized I forgot the way I turned when I came in. So I decided to gamble. I took a left.  As I descended down a hill it was like I had driven into another time.  I turned left into the small town of Rabbit Hash, totally fascinated with the originality and authenticity of each unique building.  I parked in front of a little store. Since there weren’t many cars I wasn’t even sure that anything was open. I approached the porch of the General Store and opened the front door.

The General Store

The General Store

I felt like I walked into an eclectic, vintage version of gypsy heaven. It smelled wonderful, like old time soaps and candles. It was warm, with a wood burning stove crackling in the back of the store.  The owner, a lovely middle-aged woman with dark brown hair a warm smile and interesting jewelry, exuded this free spirited and loving energy which compelled me to introduce myself.  Terrie Markesbery is the Proprietor at the Rabbit Hash General Store and a kind soul who has passion for travel, dance, and people.  Terrie and I chatted for a long while about life, love and travel.

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Terrie

I browsed around looking at all the General Store’s treasures, while Terrie tended to customers. I pet Travis the cat who was taking a snooze in the chair. He reminded me of my Smokey (RIP). I met a few other new friends while I was there, Annie and Barry, both Farmers in NKY and Biscuit and Face Racer, the Bikers on the front porch.  Everyone there was friendly and welcoming.

Travis

Travis

Terrie was gracious enough to let me tour the Old Hashienda, which is a beautiful rustic apartment that guests can rent out for special events, festivals, or just to have a relaxing weekend.

Old Hashienda

Old Hashienda

And now here I sit, writing this blog by the wood burning stove while my cell phone charges, since it is COMPLETELY dead after taking so many pictures.  Next time for sure, I’ll have to bring along Mark for some better quality photos of one of my new favorite places!  If you ever are around Union Kentucky, and aren’t afraid of backwoods, homegrown, friendly folks, this is definitely a place I’d recommend visiting. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to meet Mayor (a Border Collie) Lucy Lou. You can find more information on Rabbit Hash at www.rabbithash.comAlso if you’re interested in visiting Big Bone Lick its not far outside of Union and also well worth a visit. You can find more info on Big Bone at Big Bone Lick State Park.

Business Turns Into Play on a Dreary Day in Lexington KY

A couple months ago, a lady contacted me through an ad I had on Craigslist about a camera I was selling. She told me that she lived in Hazard, KY which is about a six hour drive, but that she’d be in Lexington sometime in the upcoming months for work. With all the crazy responses I get on craigslist I was unsure the lady would ever call me back, but sure enough about a week ago she texted me and asked if I still had my Canon 60d. We agreed to meet on Wednesday, March 12th in the morning at a little camera shop in Lexington called Murphy’s. So Wednesday morning I woke up, hopped in the shower, packed my camera gear up and headed for Lexington. Lexington is about an hour and a half from where I live so I spent my drive listening to tunes and enjoying the scenery (even though it was cold and raining. I stopped for gas and as I was pumping my unleaded into the civic I realized, I’ve never been to Lexington before! Here’s a place I’ve never been to that’s only a little over an hour away! It just reminded me that there are so many ways to adventure, even close by your own hometown. Of course, upon that realization, my business trip to sell my camera was quickly evolving into a personal play time. I reached Murphy’s a few minutes early and went in to meet with Rebecca.

Murphy’s

After chatting with her and some of Murphy’s employees we finalized the sale and I was off to adventure. Of course the blast of bitter cold air in my face on the way out the door deterred me slightly, but who am I kidding, nothing ever stopped me from an adventure besides, we’ll errrr, nope, nothing ever stopped me. So where to? First stop, the side of the road to take a picture of the Lexington sign and google some info on what to do in Lexington. Unfortunately a lot of Lexington’s best attractions are best enjoyed in warmer weather. After a bit of research I decided to head to Ashland, the Henry Clay estate, to have a look. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Henry Clay, “The Great Compromiser”, he was a lawyer, a politician and a skilled orator who represented Kentucky in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives in the 1800’s. He was, according ton Charlie (my awesome docent) a mason and a ladies man. He ran for presidency three times and lost all three times, the last time due to his supporting stance on slavery. To learn more about Henry Clay and the Ashland Estate visit henryclay.org. I arrived at Ashland, via my helpful GPS and was heavily impressed with its oldness. Lol. Even though it was cold out, the grounds were meticulously kept, and as I walked through the varied buildings on the property I imagined a time long ago. The estate itself is a very large brick home which is a duplicate of the home that once stood during Henry Clay’s life. The house was torn down by his son after Henry’s death and rebuilt as a replica of the original house, as well as updated to the Italianate style of architecture with touches of Greek revival.

Ashland

Ashland

It’s massive 8000sqft spread holds over 18 plus rooms with grand high ceilings and beautiful wood frame work. The house is filled with furniture, and personal belongings of Henry and the Clay family. My favorite thing in the estate is a painting that is, if I had to guess, which I’m not any good at, about 6ftx8ft that adorns the walls of Ashland’s Parlor. It depicts the Washington family, George, Martha, and their adopted children (who were actually Martha’s grandchildren) George and Eleanor as well as enslaved servant who is assumed to be William Lee. This painting has been with the estate for over 100 years except for in the 1950s when it was sold at auction and then donated back to the house museum of Ashland, where it now resides. The best thing about this painting is that it was commissioned of an artist named Henry Inman, by James Johnston (who’s that?) and given to Henry Clay as a gift for his wife Lucretia in 1844. It is a hand painted copy of an original painting, Edward Savage’s iconic Washington’s Family, that hangs in the gallery of art in Washington, D.C.. Apparently copying well known paintings was not considered a second rate thing at that time. Photographs inside the estate are not allowed, which of course nearly made my head burst, but I decided I’d become ok with it and it would just force me to pay attention and live in the moment instead of capturing it and reliving the moment later. After my tour of the house, which I enjoyed very much, I chatted with the nice woman who worked in the gift shop, Libby, and purchased a few small things to take back home. I also introduced myself to the ladies I took the tour with, who were from Utah and told them they should look up my blog! So if they do, hey ladies! Hope you had a safe trip back home. I hopped in my car and headed for downtown Lexington to see what interesting places I could find. As I passed into downtown, on my right on Midland Ave is Thoroughbred Park.

Thoroughbred Park

Thoroughbred Park

It just takes up a small 2.3 acre triangular section where two roads split off from the main road. It was founded by the Triangle Foundation which has created several other parks in downtown Lexington. Along the entry way to the park are 7 bronze statues of thoroughbreds and their jockeys racing, cleaving the wind, portrayed expending every last ounce of energy to reach the finish line first. It’s really a breathtaking sight, and the sound of nearby traffic fades in the distance as you’re taken to another place.

Racing to the finish

Racing to the finish

There are 6 other bronze horse statues throughout the landscape of the park, including two foals frolicking in the grass. As you walk through there are 44 plaques along the walkway that loops through the entire park, that honor the men and women who spent their lives breeding, training, racing and owning these magnificent thoroughbreds. Lexington is famous for its devotion and dominance in the equine world and this park does an does an excellent job of displaying this.

After walking around in the cold with misty rain and wind whipping me in the face, I thought to myself, I could really go for a cup of coffee right now (decaf of course, it’s been 10 months since I kicked my caffeine habit). I reached the civic and Lo and behold I parked myself right across the street from A Cup of Commonwealth, which turned out to be one of the coolest little coffee shops I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. I was warmly welcomed by the owners who currently run the shop themselves. Chris Ortiz and Salvador Sanchez, A Cup of Commonwealth’s founders are two coffee-and-fun-loving guys who are centered around improving their community through a system they use called pay it forward. How do you pay it forward? With the pay it forward board of course, and if you’re still lost there’s instructions written in giant colorful letters behind the counter. Basically you purchase a cup of coffee, of any particular kind for a friend who isn’t with you. You leave them a note on the pay it forward board and when they visit the shop the next time they can check the board and receive their paid forward coffee. The best thing is you don’t just have to pay it forward to someone you know, you could write something like, “for a teacher” or “for someone who loves dogs”. You can even make your own stipulations for receiving the coffee like the person has to sing or dance to receive their yummy beverage.

Pay-It-Forward

Pay-It-Forward

I had a White Chocolate Mocha and it was smooth and delicious to the last drop. I utilized the pay it forward system and left a coffee for my friends at Frameshop Lexington. Chris and Sal graciously allowed me to take their picture.

Chris & Salvador

Chris & Salvador

I said my good byes and I was off. Driving through downtown, I looked on the outskirts for eclectic shops, artisans and whatnot. You know, the kind of stuff Gypsies look for. I drove past a really interesting looking spiritual healing store, which after I parked a block away and walked there, I realized was closed. So I went next door to Liz Douglas designs and met Liz and Doug who specialize in faux finishing anything using chalk paint. Their shop is exemplary of their fine craftsmanship, and we’ll worth stopping in if you’re ever in Lexington.

Liz told me if I like eclectic that I simply must visit Third Street Stuff & Coffee. So I did. Third Street was like being in Portland all over again, which is awesome! The outside of the building is wildly painted with bright colors, designs and sayings. The inside is adorned with neon colors, artwork, design and a really cool collection of stuff for sale. Since I’d just had coffee, I decided to purchase some oddities including but not limited to, buttons for my backpack and a mustache tin full of mints.IMG_0084 copy

I had worked up an appetite, so I pulled out the little paper list of awesome restaurants that Sal and Chris from Commonwealth had created for me. I chose Stella’s because Stella is my cats name. When in doubt I use my excellent reasoning skills. Stella’s is at the corner of Jefferson and Ballard streets. I really enjoyed sitting by the large old windows and watching the snow fall outside. I had a side salad with their amazing house vinaigrette. When I say delicious I mean really yummy! This homemade dressing tastes killer on a salad. I enjoyed a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and mowwed down on some truffle Mac and cheese, followed by a piece of Melt-in-your-mouth Mary Porter Pie.IMG_0153 copy

By this point it was nearly 6 pm as I sat, food coma’d in Stella’s dining room. I let my food settle a bit and then headed for my last stop of the day before heading home. My Lexington friend, Corey, said I must visit the Ward Hall Greek Revival Mansion for its creepy appeal. As I pulled up the long winding driveway of Ward Hall, I thought out loud, this place is most likely haunted, but eh, who cares. This large creepy mansion stands on 40 acres of rolling hills. It’s three stories tall and the three floors are connected by an elliptical staircase.IMG_0160 copy

Although there is a rope blocking off the front porch, since obviously no one lives there, I crossed the rope and creeped up to the front porch hoping I wasn’t about to become another episode of Unsolved Mysteries. I peeked through the windows at the furnishings and was thoroughly in awe of the interior architecture as well as pretty creeped out by the emptiness and just overall energy of the house. I walked all the way around the house and suddenly nature was calling and I needed to find a restroom. Rather than drop trough right there, I decided to GPS the closest bathroom. After a stop at subway, I got on the road home. Reflecting on my day as I watched a beautiful sunset over the rolling Kentucky hills,IMG_0191 copy

I came to the conclusion that I needed to seek out the Lexingtons (nearby places I can travel to in a day) surrounding my little part of the world, to encourage you, my readers, to begin your adventures and to show you that it doesn’t require a lot of money and sometimes doesn’t require any money to do so. I challenge you to pick a place, within an hour or so of your home that you’ve not been, and write me about your adventure! I look forward to hearing all your stories!