Thursday, October 12, 2017

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill: An Overnight Stay in the Past, June 20, 2016

40 kms southwest of Lexington, after travelling pretty Kentucky backroads, one reaches the National Historic Landmark of Pleasant Hill, a village that was established by the Shaker religious community in 1805 and has been the object of a successful preservation effort since the 1960s.  The village contains 34 buildings from the 19th Century and the property covers some 2,400 acres.  I had visited the community in 1981 at the suggestion of a friend in Lexington and had enjoyed an excellent family-style dinner in the Trustees' House.  Now on this trip through the Midwest we took time out for a non-automotive theme and enjoyed the opportunity of staying overnight in one of the historic buildings as there are 72 rooms available for visitors.

Trustees' Office, 1839 
After checking in at the Trustees' Office, which also houses the restaurant and a gift shop, we drove around the village and quickly found our accommodation in the Old Stone Shop.  We had a simple but comfortable room on the second floor, which included some Shaker-style furniture.

Old Stone Shop, 1811

The Shakers occupied the village from 1805 until its dissolution in the 1920s, after which is gradually became derelict.  In its heyday it boasted 500 residents and was a very prosperous and quite advanced community.  The Shakers were industrious and innovative people and they built solidly.  Unfortunately, the communal lifestyle did not appeal to many people and after the Civil War converts were few and as the Shakers practiced celibacy their numbers declined.  \\\

East Family Wash House, 1827
The village has an interesting history and is a very charming reminder of a movement that once flourished.  The Shakers were one group practicing communalism in the United States but are probably the best known.  First established near Albany, New York, Pleasant Hill was a Southern outpost which became noted for its hospitality and economic success.

Center Family Dwelling, 1824-1834, with separate entrances for men and women, who lived  apart
After an excellent dinner in nearby Harrodsburg at an old inn that had once been a girls' school, we returned in the evening to an absolutely still place, with candles (well, electric ones now) lighting the street, and you could believe it was still the 19th Century.  But tomorrow would bring the 21st as we would turn our car towards Bowling Green and the Corvette Heartland.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Overnight in Ohio and on to the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky: June 19/20, 2016

Man o'War's gravesite, Lexington, Kentucky

After departing the "Eye on Design" show in Detroit, we headed south down Interstate I-75, leaving Michigan and entering Ohio, on a four hour drive over some rather dire roads as there is a lot of construction going on in Michigan.  The road is heavily used as it passes through much of America's industrial heartland, including the cities of Lima and Dayton, the latter being an intended future stop for its museums and links to the Wright Brothers.

Downtown Cincinnati
Our goal was the magnificent Netherlands Plaza Hotel in downtown Cincinnati.  It was opened in 1931 in the mixed-use Carew Tower, which at 49 stories remained the tallest building in the city for decades, and is currently managed by the Hilton chain.  It was built in the Art Deco style and was the epitome of luxury when it opened, with its 800 rooms (all with ensuite bathrooms!) and numerous restaurants.  It was closed in the 1980s for a two year long renovation and returned to former glory.  After a friendly greeting from the staff, we were given a nice upgraded room on the 35th floor with a fine view of Cincinnati.

After an excellent meal at nearby Fountain Square and the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, we turned in after a long and rewarding day.

The next morning we departed Cincinnati on I-75 and crossed the Ohio River, taking us immediately into Kentucky, for an hour's drive to the Kentucky Horse Park, just north of Lexington.  Opened in 1978, the park is a 1,200 acre working horse farm with educational facilities.  These include the International Museum of the Horse and galleries devoted to the Arabian horse.

Entrance to the Kentucky Horse Park

Evolution of the Horse

Reproduction Egyptian war chariot

While the International Museum of the Horse covered many aspects, from evolution to how horses have been employed by humans, I was particularly taken with the section devoted to a single breed, the Arabian, as these must be considered among the most beautiful of all horses.  Their introduction to the West and importance in the development of what was to become the Thoroughbred racing horse cannot be understated.

 As interesting as these static displays are, they could not compare to the demonstration put on by the Park to showcase different breeds.  Young riders in costume participated in an impressive Parade of Breeds Show, which was most enjoyable in spite of the oppressive June Kentucky heat.

Haflinger Horse, a breed of Austrian origin with a mischievous temperament

Akhal Teke Horse (breed originated in Turkmenistan)

Andalusian Horse
Arabian Horse

American Paint Horse

After the horse show, we looked into the barn which featured a number of other rare breeds for riding.  There was another barn which had draft horses as well as wagons and carriages, and there was a building featured items from the farrier's trade.

Also on display are some very fine carriages, including a Five Window Landau, and other horse-drawn vehicles.

Visitors even have the opportunity to be photographed in a buggy, although without horses harnessed it is not much of a ride:

Walking through the extensive landscaped grounds, we soon came to the garden area where the legendary racehorse Man o'War is buried, along with several of his offspring, including War Admiral.  There is also a human grave: Isaac Burns Murphy, an African-American, is considered the greatest American jockey, winning, by his own reckoning, 44% of the races he rode in, including three victories at the Kentucky Derby.  After dying of pneumonia at the age of 36 in 1896, his body was interred in a cemetery in Lexington and the grave forgotten.  It was located again in 1967, at which point the body was exhumed and buried near Man o'War, then moved again when Man o'War's remains were moved to the park in 1978.

We had a very enjoyable visit to the Kentucky Horse Park but now it was time to turn  to our own horsepower.  Taking the Corvette on the smooth back roads of Kentucky,  we did the short drive to our overnight accommodation near Harrodsburg.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Capital Corvette Club Outing to Calabogie, September 30, 2017

The Corvette driving season in Ontario is rapidly drawing to a close and I have already made arrangements with my mechanic for an oil change and minor service before the car goes into storage on November 1.  It has been a terrific year again and looking at the odometer, which now reads over 72,000 kms compared to the 32,000 when the car was purchased by us on April 30, 2015, I feel that the car is being driven as it was intended although 18 months of actual on-the-road time has not been enough!

The Capital Corvette Club's latest outing was led by Wendy Hall.  There was an excellent turnout, with 22 cars present.  Wendy took us from our meeting point at Myers Chevrolet in Kanata westwards through Almonte and past several little villages on pretty--and deserted--roads until we reached our lunch stop, Shooters Bar & Grill in Calabogie.

After a very pleasant lunch, we drove out of the parking lot of the restaurant a short distance and parked along Lake Calabogie for some more photos.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and a bit cool.

Leaving Calabogie, we turned right onto Regional Road 511, which brought us southwards through the hamlets of Hopetown, Herrons Mill, Clydesville, Lanark and Balderson before reaching Perth.  This is an excellent road, with numerous curves and changes in elevation.  I was familiar with the first 20 kms of it as it made up the time trial course I rode a number of times on my bicycle.  But these 63 kms went a lot faster than expected as everyone enjoyed the handling capabilities of their Corvettes.

Reaching Perth, the group split for home, a simple matter of turning east on Highway 7 for Ottawa.