About Elaine-iaK's Travels

As a graduate of Recreation Administration, from San Diego State University, I have made recreation and travels my career and life’s passion. After graduation, I traveled solo for one year throughout the South Pacific, doing travel photography in a wide variety of settings. Upon my return, many of my photographs became the subjects of my newly created line of handcrafted photographic greeting cards, "Exquisite! By, Elaine", a business I have had since 1986. Check them out at: http://ExquisiteCards.fototime.com . In 1983, I began teaming up with my mom, Goldie, teaching arts & crafts to cruise ship passengers, aboard Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean. In addition, I lectured on travel photography, as well as Australia and New Zealand history, aboard Princess Cruises. In 2004, I formed a new teaching team with my recently retired husband, Bruce, who serves as my "humble assistant" until 2010 when the cruise lines shifted the arts and crafts program to mostly being taught by their own staff. Currently, our favorite mode of travel is by river boat. Along the way, we enjoy poking around small European towns, meeting the people, seeking out interesting photo subjects, and always stopping at every chocolatier to make a purchase. Adding to my chocolate label and wrapper collection is a bonus! And, as a U.S. Masters swimmer, if I can find a pool to get in a swim with the locals, all the better! Cheers! Elaine-iaK ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations~ -Karla Peterson

AMERICAN DUCHESS CRUISE: PITTSBURGH (POST CRUISE) #2

If you visit Pittsburgh, I think the best way to see the city is to put on your walking shoes and hit the pavement.  It is a great walking city!  One of the enjoyable walks we did was between the Duquesne Incline and the Monongahela Incline.  The view of the Pittsburgh skyline, rivers, and bridges was spectacular!

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The Duquesne Incline, located across the river from downtown, has a wonderful story to it with a happy ending.  After years of financial loss, the incline was closed in 1962.  Local civil engineer, David Miller, and his wife, Ruth, formed a neighborhood organization to save the incline by raising money through the sale of souvenir tickets, bake sales, and card parties.  Within six months, the community had made minor repairs themselves and raised $15,000.  The incline reopened and is now one of Pittsburgh’s most popular visitor attractions.

After we rode the Dusquesne Incline up to the top of Mount Washington, we walked through an attractive residential area to get to the Monongahela Incline, so we could ride it back down to the city.  Along the hilly walk, there were viewing platforms to take in the breathtaking views.  Riding up the Dusquesne Incline and down the Monongahela was the ideal way to get the most out of the excursion across the river.  It was a short walk from the bottom of the incline to the Smithfield Bridge for a walk over the Monongahela River to the heart of downtown.

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Pointe State Park wasn’t far from the bridge, so we continued our walk to the park where could see across to Mount Washington and the inclines we had just enjoyed.

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Located at the tip of the downtown area where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River, there is a lot to see without taking a forward step.  Slowly spin yourself clockwise 360 degrees, and you will see Mount Washington, the three rivers, Three Rivers Stadium (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers), PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates’s home), several yellow-painted bridges, and the downtown skyscrapers.  When you come to a stop, feel the spray of the huge fountain.  On a hot day, it feels so refreshing!  It was the perfect place to stop, cool off, and watch the boats pass by.

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There are 30 bridges and river crossings on the three rivers within the city of Pittsburgh!

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The riverside walking trail will lead you all the way to the Strip District at the edge of dowtown; however, we opted to head up to Penn Avenue and stroll through the Cultural District, instead.

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We were impressed with how nice and pedestrian-friendly the downtown area was along Penn Avenue.  It was an enjoyable walk!

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Laura, this is for you!

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The Strip District features the John Heinz Regional History Center and Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction Building as well as shopping and dining.  Although there are some tacky and touristy stores and street vendors selling Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins sports team stuff; there are also some very cool ethnic food stores.  Even if you have no need for groceries, they are well worth a walk through!  Besides, the Italian groceries smell incredible!

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The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company was our favorite, and we couldn’t resist picking these up for lunch:

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Established in 1902 by three Sicilian brothers, the business started as a pasta manufacturing operation and eventually branched out to include over 5,000 Italian specialty foods and cheeses.  The third generation of the family is now running the business, and the place is a gold mine!

Another fun place to poke around is Wholey’s Market, established by Robert Wholey in 1912. The market features seafood and poultry, and there is a cute train that runs along a track high up above the seafood display cases.

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In my final Pittsburgh post, we’ll cross the river to PNC Park.  Take me out to the ballgame!

 

 

 

 

AMERICAN DUCHESS CRUISE: PITTSBURGH (POST-CRUISE)

I’m finally back, after visits to Chattanooga to celebrate Bruce’s 70th birthday, and a 10-day trip to Calabria, Italy.  Those posts will follow Pittsburgh.

The ‘Duchess completed her voyage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and we stayed on for a few days to see the city before returning home.

Pittsburgh is no longer that steely steel town of the past.  Today, it is home to 1,600 technology firms and was listed in 2015 as one of the “eleven most livable cities in the world” by The Economist.

 I’m not sure the snowy winters would make Pittsburgh livable for me, but it sure was a nice city to visit!  For us, the 24 miles of riverfront trails were one of the highlights of the city that was built where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers meet to form the Ohio River.  Not that we conquered all 24 miles; but we did get in some nice walks along the downtown riverfront, where we took in views of the skyscrapers, Three Rivers Stadium, PNC Park, and the beautiful bridges that cross the river.

It rained during our first day, so after settling in at our hotel, we took the shuttle to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where we were able to stay dry while enjoying the indoor exhibits.

Ranked #1 for “Things to Do” in Pittsburgh by Trip Advisor, we immediately learned why over 3,100 reviewers gave Phipps the top ranking.  The moment we stepped into the lobby, we were blown away by the introduction of their current exhibit, “Van Gogh in Bloom.”

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These are my favorites of the many photos I shot during our visit:

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For each “Van Gogh in Bloom” exhibit, a Van Gogh painting was displayed to set the scene.

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Phipps Conservatory also has several Dale Chihualy blown glass pieces on display.

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That was one BIG flower!

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Chocolate is made from this!  Cacao is near and dear to my heart (and stomach)!

Stay tuned for more posts on Pittsburgh!

AMERICAN DUCHESS CRUISE: SMALL TOWN SCENES

One of the enjoyable things about river cruising is having the opportunity to visit small towns we would normally not get to see otherwise.  They aren’t destinations we would choose to dedicate an entire vacation to visit, but spending a few hours in some of these towns gave us a good feel of what life is like in other parts of our country.

The following are some scenes of Point Pleasant:

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Wall murals are a common site along the Mississippi an Ohio rivers.

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This is Marietta, Ohio:

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The corn was completely drenched in butter before being served.

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“Corn Hole” is a bean bag toss game.

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Cheeeeeese!

Our final destination for the cruise was Pittsburgh where we spent a few days before flying home.  I haven’t even looked at those pictures yet (and will be otherwise engaged for awhile), so check back at a later (undetermined) date for posts!

AMERICAN DUCHESS RIVER CRUISE: MAYSVILLE, KENTUCKY

After visiting Augusta, Kentucky, our next stop was Maysville, also in Kentucky.  It was here that the American Duchess cruise staff continued with the “Racing on the River” theme of our cruise by organizing a “3K” walk/ run through the quaint town.  There was no charge to enter the race, and our free entry included a t-shirt and a bourbon slush at the finish line— pre-breakfast, in our case.

What’s not to love?  Surprisingly, only about half of the passengers signed up.

Being a very active Masters competitive swimmer, my body is a lot happier in the water than on land, so I opted to walk the course and save my joints from the pounding of running.  I walk faster than Bruce, so we agreed to meet up at the end for a bourbon slush toast.

At 7:45 AM, we gathered in front of the tied-up ‘Duchess and waited for the horn to blast.  Annnnd, they’rrrre off!  Six passengers ran ahead, so I knew I could never catch them.

As I followed the course by myself, I was surprised to see that it was the real deal!  The local police had blocked off the streets and had cars posted at the intersection with officers holding back what little traffic there was that early in the morning.

I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I know how fast I walk.  To my surprise, when I turned one of the corners of the course, the finish line was just up ahead.  What?  Already??  That sure was a short “3K” race!  I asked the winner, a young gal from Belgium, what she thought, and she replied that it was more like a 2K course.  That, dear readers, is why I typed quotation marks around “3K.”

As it turned out, I was the first walker in, and I placed 7th overall.  To my surprise, the cruise director, Dustin, and his wife, Courtney (Assistant Cruise Director), along with Jeff, the other A.C.D., greeted every participant with a very nice-looking medal. (All three were actually the singers/dancers who doubled as cruise staff.)  The front of the spiffy medal has a running scene, and the back was inscribed with “American Duchess /Racing on the River /3K /Maysville, KY /July 17th, 2019.  Along with the cute shirt (I love the graphic!), the medal made a nice souvenir of the cruise.  It now hangs from the closet door in my home office, along with a bunch of swimming medals.  Even if it was just a participatory medal, that was the first—and will probably the last—medal I have ever received for a walk or run.  What a hoot!

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Jeff, Me, Courtney, and Dustin, our cruise director

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And, Bruce, with his medal

As for the bourbon slush, I’m not a bourbon (or any hard liquor) fan, but that drink was good!  It was fun hanging out with everybody at the finish line and watching the stragglers come in to a round of applause and cheers.

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At the conclusion, we walked the short distance back to the boat for breakfast and to drop off our medals, before heading back into town to see everything we had quickly walked past during the race.

The featured attraction of Maysville is the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, home of the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collection, which is the largest miniature collection in the world—in this little town of 7,500 residents.  Even the exhibit my friend and I saw in Chicago was smaller than this one.

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Walking into the gallery, I felt like a giant!  Remember that 1989 movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?  Not only were the kids in miniature here, everything was!  How did the artists make everything so darn small?  Bruce plays a great blues harmonica, and we even saw a tiny miniature of one!

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The harmonica Bruce was admiring (above) is in the lower front on the floor.

Each 1/12-scale miniature was personally collected by Maysville native, Kaye Browning.  Only a portion of her collection is displayed at any one time in the 3,300 square-foot gallery, so the exhibits rotate with the seasons.  At Christmastime, out come the tiny lit trees and Santas!

The highlight of the museum was the amazing miniature of Princess Diana’s childhood home, the Spencer House.  Kaye Browning commissioned artists to replicate in 1/12-scale the 18th century ancestral home.

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This is the back of the Spencer House pictured above.

We watched a film about the making of this miniature masterpiece, and we were captivated by the patience these artists had in re-creating the oil paintings as tiny replicas.  Along with the mini Oriental carpets, bronze sculptures, upholstered furniture, sterling silver serving pieces, and gold gilt carvings; the entire reproduction was incredible to see up close.

Throughout the entire gallery, all we could say was, “Wow!  How did they make this so small?!”  Check out the hand-knit sweater, for example.  It looks large in the picture, but it was itty-bitty!  We were all just blown away.

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To give you an idea of just how small this sweater was, imagine a miniature person wearing it and sitting in one of those chairs in the Spencer House above!

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This is a full-size violin; however the instrument workshop depicted inside the violin is 1/12-scale.  Check out those teeny violins hanging above the workbench!

 

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I love this mini needlepoint!  Wow!

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And, how about this restaurant dining room scene, complete with cakes displayed at the center of the room?

After browsing through the other exhibits at the museum, we visited the Old Pogue Distillery where we had enjoyed our bourbon slush.  It is now a museum, and it was interesting to see the old equipment, barrels, bottles, and labels that were on display.

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This very rare “Old Time” bottle dates back to 1900.  It was found in an antique store in California this year.

Have you ever wondered what makes a whiskey a “bourbon” whiskey?  First of all, it must be produced in the United States.  It is made from at least 51% corn and is distilled at 160 degrees or below.  Then, it is put in a new, charred oak barrel, and then put into a container at 125 degrees or below.  It contains no added substances other than water (which happens during the distillation process.)

To be called a “Kentucky Bourbon,” it must be produced, and then aged at least one year in the state of Kentucky.  To be a called a “Straight Bourbon,” it must be aged for a minimum of two years – if aged less than four years, it must have an age statement on the label.

So, there you have it.  And, it is all lost on me, I’m afraid…  Now, if it was chocolate, you would be speaking MY language!

Next stop was the Washington Opera House, the 5th oldest theater in the country still in use.  Built in 1898, it was completely restored in 2006.

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I briefly paused during my race walk to snap this shot.

The town was small, but there were still a lot of interesting things to see.  A couple blocks over was the Russell Theatre, built in 1930 in the Spanish Colonial style.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the theatre is owned by a group of community leaders and is a registered non-profit.  Movies, concerts, and tours are conducted to raise funds to complete the restoration.  It is also available for rent, as is the Cox Building across the street where banquets and weddings are held in the interesting venue.

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The Cox Building Banquet Hall

Here are more scenes captured while wandering downtown and dodging a downpour at one point:

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It rained in the morning and afternoon, but by the time we left later in the afternoon, it was beautiful!

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AMERICAN DUCHESS RIVER CRUISE: CINCINNATI & THE GREAT RIVERBOAT RACE

The theme of our cruise was “The Great Riverboat Race,” but the race theme was carried out in a few of the other stops as well.  In Louisville, we toured Churchill Downs (horse racing), and that evening, a group went to the NASCAR races (car racing).  In Maysville (detailed in a future blog post), the American Duchess staff had arranged a 3K run/walk race for the passengers.

Cincinnati was the location for the Great Riverboat Race originally scheduled to be between the American Duchess and Belle of Cincinnati.  As it turned out, however, a third boat entered the race:  American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Queen, the boat Bruce and I cruised on in 2017 for the three-week “Mighty Mississippi” trip.  That wasn’t in the original plan, because the American Queen wasn’t supposed to be in Cincinnati.  Due to the very high water levels on the Mississippi River, however, the ‘Queen had to drastically alter their cruise route.  Not only would they be changing stops, but they also had to divert to an entirely new end destination.  What a mess!  I can only imagine the chaos of having over 400 passengers disappointed and/or angry.  But, what could the ‘Queen do?  Even with the smoke stacks down and the pilot house lowered, the boat couldn’t clear some of the bridges.  Besides, the passenger contract clearly states that the cruise line isn’t responsible for diversions due to situations like this.  Still, the company wanted to keep their passengers happy, so it did all they could to cheer them up.

For one thing, they tied the ‘Queen up alongside the American Duchess for the earlier part of their Cincinnati stay, and then they entered the race, among other perks.

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The company’s owner, John Waggoner, and his wife, Claudette, were on the ‘Duchess for the afternoon, so we got some of the scoop while watching the race together on the top deck.  When one of the passengers asked why the ‘Queen’s passengers all had matching t-shirts, Mr. Waggoner explained to her that he thought it would be a nice thing to do since their cruise itinerary was completely rerouted.  (Keep this in mind as I tell you about the race…)

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John Waggoner, CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company is interviewed by a local TV station about the upcoming race.

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We were supposed to have a pre-race champagne party up on that top deck; however, just as the corks popped and the band was about to play, a rain squall chased us back downstairs.  Fortunately, the canopies were quickly broken down and the band equipment was hauled back downstairs to spare any damage.

It was also fortunate that the skies cleared just in time for the race.  Along with the ‘Queen and Belle of Cincinnati, the crews untied the lines, and we all lined up at the bridge.  To the sound of (very loud!) horns, RACE ON!

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Now, keep in mind that after cruising on the ‘Duchess once before and having been traveling on her for several days already on this cruise, Bruce and I were familiar with just how fast the boat could travel—and, how fast the paddlewheel could turn.

These facts, together with the plight of the ‘Queen’s staff (dealing with disappointed and/or angry passengers), all come into play when I speculate on the reasons behind the outcome of the race.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the Great Riverboat Race has a history of shenanigans?  Just read that linked article, and you will see what I mean!

According to the ‘Duchess crew, she is the fastest of the three boats and theoretically should win any race between those other two boats.  Having said that, you would think that to be especially true if the ‘Duchess cheated.  Which she did.  First, she got off to an uncharacteristically pokey start (on purpose; see previous photo), and then, before the designated turning point, she turned early, slowed, and then blocked the Belle’ from passing her.  At least, that’s how it looked to all of us on deck!

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We had already turned (early!) and were headed back to the bridge.

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This allowed the ‘Queen to pass both of us.  Then, when we lagged behind, Bruce and I headed aft to take a look at the paddlewheel.  It’s rate of revolutions had mysteriously slowed.  Considerably.  At least, that’s how it appeared to us…

The Belle’ is a smaller boat, and she didn’t stand a chance against the larger and more powerful ‘Queen.  Besides, she was loaded down with a bunch of tourists who had paid to experience the race from ground-zero.

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The Belle’ passes us.

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The Belle’ had been blocked by the ‘Duchess, so she was unable to catch up to the ‘Queen.

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American Queen wins!  (Gee, what a surprise…)

So, dear readers, these are my questions that will never get answered (unless the Waggoners decide to fess-up):

  1. Did all three captains get together and hatch this plan, pre-race?
  2. Did the ‘Duchess and ‘Queen captains devise the plan to cheat the Belle’?
  3. Did John Waggoner order the plan between the ‘Duchess and ‘Queen, because it strategically made more sense to please 400+ passengers over the 132 on the ‘Duchess? (After all, they needed some cheering up!)
  4. Was our captain just up to no good and cheated without telling anybody ahead of time?  (Check out this link.)
  5. Does any of this really matter anyway?

By the reaction of some of the passengers (including one who rudely insulted Mr. Waggoner behind his back by complaining to the Shore Excursions Manager while I was talking with her), you would think this was the Kentucky Derby with money at stake!  Come on, folks, this was all in GOOD FUN!

And, fun it was!  Bruce and I had a blast watching the spectacle, especially at the race start when we were alongside the ‘Queen, and their cruise director was talking smack about us over his very loud microphone.  It was a hoot!

We also enjoyed meeting the Waggoners, the nicest couple you could ever meet!  I had previously written to John, letting him know how much we enjoyed our experience on the ‘Queen.  He wrote a wonderful personal message back, rather than a form letter.  Now, THAT’S how you do business!

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Claudette was very personable, and I enjoyed our conversations throughout the day.  I gave her my card, so she could read my blog posts, and she sent me the sweetest e-mail!  If you are reading this, Claudette, thanks!

The entire day was a blast, and definitely the highlight of the trip!

The following are scenes from earlier in the day in Cincinnati.  As you can see, the weather was all over the board!

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We couldn’t wait to go over to the American Queen and look for our favorite crew, Tyrone James (“TJ”).  We got to know him during our Mighty Mississippi cruise, and we became buddies!

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We walked into town and enjoyed what we discovered! What a clever way to disguise a parking garage!  The same with the one below.

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After walking around downtown, we hopped on American Duchess’s hop-on, hop-off bus for a tour around the city.  We hopped back off at Newport on the Levee, across the river from downtown.  It was a nice walk across this bridge back to the boat.

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Ha!  I loved the sense of humor of this artist!  This was playground eqt. that kids could climb on and make the pig fly!  This was located at the beautiful park along the river, in front of Cincinnati Reds’s stadium.

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This is the world’s largest foot organ, and Bruce played it.  It was built by Cincinnati’s Verdin Company, the maker of bronze bells, street clocks, tower clocks, and carillons.

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We got a kick out of this dog biting at the water, while his buddy looked on.  Meanwhile, The Reds’s mascot hangs out on the park bench.

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AMERICAN DUCHESS RIVER CRUISE: MADISON, INDIANA

Journalist Charles Kuralt once called Madison, Indiana, “the most beautiful rivertown in America.  Although we haven’t seen them all, Bruce and I have seen a lot of these little towns during out cruises along a few of the American rivers.

Mr. Kuralt was onto something.  Madison was so charming, it put a smile on my face as we roamed the quaint town on the Ohio River.

Back in the early 1800’s, Madison was a significant cultural and industrial town for the region.  Today, it’s just a cute little town that welcomes river tourists and road trip enthusiasts alike.

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This is a utility box for the street signal on the main street.  Quite a catch!

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Shrewsbury-Windle Home, built 1846-1849

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Lanier Mansion, built in 1844

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The mansion had quite a backyard and view of the Ohio River!  The community pool (below) is located next door to the backyard.

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It was a hot day in Madison, and this pool was very tempting!

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On Broadway, cars are permitted to park down the center of the street along the solid yellow line!

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There were so many wonderful houses, both big and small, in the historic district.   Laura, we thought of you the entire time!

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I love the Little Free Library system!  The first one I ever saw was on our road trip, and I fell in love with the concept of  “Take a book, return a book.”  I am proud to say that in our community of Spalding County (pop. 60,000) has 28 Little Free Library’s!  Check out the non-profit here.

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AMERICAN DUCHESS RIVER CRUISE: LOUISVILLE, HOME OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY

In 2015, during our seven-week road trip, we spent a wonderful day in downtown Louisville, touring the Louisville Slugger Museum and seeing other highlights of the city.  (See my blog post here.)

This time, we arrived in Louisville aboard the American Duchess, so we saw the city skyline from a different perspective.

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Instead of revisiting downtown, we did something we missed during our first visit:  took a behind the scenes tour of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.  Having seen Churchill Downs on TV over all these years, it was fun to be able to actually be there.  On this day, however, it was very quiet; not a horse to be found on the track.  It was a very hot day, and the horses that were there had been exercised hours before our tour.  (We had been fortunate to get to see the horses close-up during our tour of Keeneland Race Course during that road trip, but the timing just wasn’t right for this tour.)

One of the highlights of touring Churchill Downs was getting to meet 1970 Kentucky Derby winning jockey, Mike Manganello, who rode Dust Commander to victory.  We heard some interesting stories during our Q&A session with him and learned what life is like to be a professional jockey.

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The other highlight was watching a film about the history of Churchill Downs that we viewed in a theater with a 360-degree screen.  We sat on stools in the center with the screen surrounding us.  As they showed footage from previous Kentucky Derby races, we spun around to watch as the horses raced a full 360 degrees around the screen.  Since the sound traveled with the scene, and the camera angles were very close-up, the experience was thrilling and quite unique!

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Here are scenes from the day at the track:

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Bill Shoemaker was one short guy! We toured the Churchill Downs Museum and learned about the great jockey.

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Standing next to Wilt Chamberlin proves just how short Shoemaker was– and, how tall Chamberlin was in comparison!

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AMERICAN DUCHESS RIVER CRUISE: NATIONAL QUILT MUSEUM IN PADUCAH

Without a doubt, the highlight of Paducah is the National Quilt Museum.  The massive wall murals along the river depicting Paducah’s history are quite a sight as well; however, the quilts are, in one word, amazing.  More on that in just a moment…

Back to the murals, I didn’t photograph them this time, because I had done so during a previous visit.  If you are curious to see them, check out my 2017 blog post about Paducah that includes photos of the beautiful wall murals.

In that post on Paducah, you will notice something missing:  Photos of the quilts at the National Quilt Museum.  At the time, no photography of any kind was permitted, even without flash.  I was so disappointed, because the artistry in the exhibited quilts was unbelievable.

I was happy to learn that photography (without flash) would be permitted this time.  I went crazy with my camera!  Although most of the photos can be viewed in the “American Duchess River Cruise, July 2019” album on my photo sharing site, I tried to limit my selection for this post.

As you can see below, these aren’t your grandmother’s old-fashioned Colonial-era quilts that keep you warm at night.  These are works of art.  They are so incredible, that even the men from the riverboat who were dragged to the museum by their wives were saying, “Wow!” over and over again, as they viewed one phenomenal quilt after another.  Seriously.  Bruce loves this museum as much as I do!

A warning as you view these pictures:  They don’t do these quilts justice.  At all.  There is so much detail that couldn’t possibly be picked up by any camera to match what we saw in person.  These are just small pictures on a computer screen.  You really have to see the real thing.  If you ever have an opportunity to visit Kentucky, you must go to Paducah and see all of the exhibits at this wonderful museum.  Send me a message after your visit, too.

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This “quilt” is actually carved from basswood! It is on display in the conference room at the National Quilt Museum. It was created by Fraser Smith, and measures 65″ x 42″ x 4″.

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One of my favorite exhibits at the museum was of miniature quilts, measuring no more than 24″ on one side. The quilts in this glass case were the smallest on exhibit, measuring just a few inches long.

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Look closely at the work that went into sewing each of the flowers. What patience!

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The artist’s statement of this piece: “I decided making a small quilt (14-3/4″ x 21-1/4″) would be a fun, relaxing respite from my current large quilt. How long could it possibly take? I figured a few hours work for a couple of weeks. Little did I know that this fun project would take two months of working seven days week for fourteen hours a day. It was a great accomplishment to complete this quilt, but believe me it was pure joy to get back to my usual large quilts.” ~ Shirley P. Kelly, 2006

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I first saw this quilt at the museum in 2017 during our “Mighty Mississippi” cruise. It was so disappointing at the time that photography was not permitted. This time, photos were allowed without flash, so I was thrilled to be able to photograph this amazing quilt.

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This is a close-up of the previous picture.  So much detail!

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This quilt was HUGE!

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“Corona II: Solar Eclipse,” by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, measures 76″ x 94″ and is made from hand-dyed fabrics. It is machine pieced and machine quilted. It was named one of the 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century.

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“Breeze is the third quilt in my ‘Simply Sensational’ series using architectural settings to highlight each of the five senses. Touch is the only sense that involves the whole body. For this reason, I chose a rush of wind through and open window to completely surround the dog with the awareness of this sense.” ~ Rachel Wetzler

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This was one of my favorites! “Port of Cassis,” by Lenore Crawford, measures 52″ x 48″. It was created from a photo that she took in the south of France at dusk.

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This quilt as well as the following quilts (some are close-ups of the same quilt) were created by Danny Amazonas who started out as a professional floral designer in New York City in the 1970’s. I was mesmerized by how these quilts looked like photographs when viewed from a distance.

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This was a huge mural that was several feet long and stretched across a wall.

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A close-up of a fish from the previous photo.

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Another close-up shows the pretty fabrics Danny Amazonas used to create his fish.

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MEMPHIS: HOME OF THE BLUES & THE BIRTHPLACE OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

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When I took my mom on a Mississippi River paddlewheel cruise aboard the American Queen, in 2013, I thought it would be a one-and-done experience; a novelty that you do once in a lifetime and check off the bucket list.  I enjoyed the experience so much, however, that I convinced Bruce that he should give it a try.  Four years later, he went all in, choosing a “Mighty Mississippi” cruise (Red Wing, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana) on the same boat.  And, as they say, the rest is history.  He was hooked, and the hook was set.

The following January, in 2018, he took me on the American Duchess (another American Queen Steamboat Company paddlewheeler) for my birthday, and even though it snowed in Memphis (!) and during the first two days on the boat, we had a blast.

Four months later, we cruised aboard the third boat of the fleet, the American Empress, on the Snake and Columbia rivers.

We thoroughly enjoyed them all, but there was one more itinerary with American Queen Steamboat Company that Bruce really wanted to do, and I was game:  Memphis to Pittsburgh aboard the American Duchess for the “Great River Race” cruise.

If you search “Memphis” on this blog, you will see that Bruce and I had been to Memphis together twice before; this would be our third.  (The cruise in 2013 also started out in Memphis, so this was my 4th time to the city.)

I have enjoyed Memphis during each visit, and even though I photographed the neon signs on Beale St. each time, I found myself drawn to them once again.  Here are the ones you won’t see in my previous blog posts:

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One of my new U.S. Master Swimming friends lives in Memphis, so she joined us for dinner at Blues City Café.  She told us about “Mighty Lights,” the light show that was installed on the bridge that we could view from the top of the Peabody Hotel where we were staying.  The summer nights show lasts about ten minutes and is repeated twice an hour until 10 PM.  It was quite a sight!  I had fun with my camera, playing with the light and capturing some of the images while purposely moving my camera.  Other times, the lights flashed “U.S.A.” and phrases across the bridge, so it was a beautiful display to watch (but impossible to photograph clearly with still shots).  Check out the videos on the Might Lights website; it’s amazing!

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This time while visiting Memphis, we toured Sun Studio, “The Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and where Elvis Presley recorded his first album.  B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many other Blues, Gospel, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Country musicians got their start at this iconic recording studio.  Our entertaining tour guide shared interesting stories, and the studio was full of wonderful photos and memorabilia.

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Staying at the historic Peabody Hotel this time was a treat, because our past cruises out of Memphis had us at the Sheraton for our pre-cruise night that was included in the package.

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Can I buy a “T”?

During our departure from Memphis, we were treated to nice views of the city skyline, the “Dolly Parton Bridge,” and a rainbow off the paddlewheel.  We were on our way to Paducah…

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NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES IN LOCAL NEWSPAPER

As a follow up to my last blog post about the National Senior Games, I was in today’s sports section in our local newspaper, Griffin Daily News, along with local cyclist, Bruce Reid.  We were the only two athletes from Spalding County, Georgia to compete in the 2019 National Senior Games, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In case you are wondering, the “Submitted” was me.  Several people from my community suggested I write an article and send it in to the newspaper, so what the heck?

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