We wake to an overcast sky in Charleston, West Virginia, and even if it wasn't about to pour buckets, we are itchy to leave. It's hard to get a grip on the city, although of course it's probably hard to get a grip on anything if you've been there for only 12 hours. What surprises me is how quiet and abandoned it feels, even downtown. It's a weekday morning, but still. I'd expected more foot traffic, more summer visitors like us. I do a quick search of my Roadside Attraction app, which locates a "mini outdoor museum" dedicated to Shoney's founder Alex Schoenbaum, who rose from poverty in Huntington, WV to create a billion-dollar chain of restaurants (known, at first as Parkettes." The mini-museum is, in actuality, three recessed windows containing Shoney's memorabilia - newspaper clippings, old menus advertising the "Big Boy" (for 50 cents in 1955), commemorative watches, plaques, and tributes to Schoenbaum, the "tough guy" with the "linebacker body" who was responsible for a franchise that grew to nearly 2,000 locations.
We are delighted at this find, complete with a giant statue of Big Boy holding court of the museum, but the boys will have none of it, groggy still perhaps, but mostly - after yesterday's circuitous detour to see the King Kong statue in Covington - suspicious of our excitement to see this offbeat attraction. Nearby, at the Drug Emporium, I look for postcards to no avail, but the clerk at the register points me to the Shoney's about a mile away, and when I walk in, it's 1955 all over again. It turns out, this is where most of the people of Charleston are - the parking lot is absolutely jammed. Inside, the little souvenir area at the front of the restaurant comes up with a paltry selection of postcards - images of Milton, WV's covered bridge, the Matewan, WV flood wall, and a theatre re-enactmenet of the Hatfields & McCoy's feud. I guess they must have sold out of the ones of Big Boy, but oh well. Beggars can't be choosers. I take one of each.
We head back on Interstate 64 toward Lexington, Kentucky on our way to Louisville, where a friend of ours has recommended a visit. The ride into Kentucky is gorgeous, and as we get close to Lexington, the rain stops long enough for us to visit a Bible-themed mini-golf course. Yep, you heard me right.
How these two activities - putt-putt and reading Bible verses - are connected is beyond me, but somehow someone came up with a way to marry them, and as we make our way through the "New Testament" course (there's also "Old Testament" and "Miracles") we are greeted with passages from John and Corinthians when we reach each new hole number ("Damascus Road" is hole number 2, "Love Lifed Me" is #4). We play all 18 holes, turn in our putters just before another rain dumps, and head to City Barbecue for lunch. Delicious beef brisket, hand-cut fries, and an excellent craft ginger ale.
Before Louisville, we stopped at Frankfort, where Amy & I dipped out for 20 minutes to visit the Buffalo Trace Distillery while the boys stayed back to longboard in the parking lot. We sampled Eagle Rare, Bourbon Cream, and learn a new way of drinking bourbon that involves water and "chewing."
Louisville brought good coffee and an "official" Roadside Attraction stop, "Why Louisville," along with more head shops in a quarter-square-mile than the Haight in San Francisco. We commemorated our visit in the store photo booth, more postcards, and t-shirts for the boys.
By 8 p.m., we arrived at our final destination of the day, Crawfordsville, Indiana, where we are visiting our mucho-talented artist friend Kelly. Her house is filled with creative inspiration - I felt like a lurker, wanting to take photos of every little thing. Crawfordsville feels like one of those towns you think of when you hear the phrase "Main Street, USA." Right now, from where I am writing this post, I hear a train humming through and birdsong just outside the window. It is gloriously clear and sunny out, and I smell coffee brewing downstairs. Time to get up.
We've got a short-ish drive today, just a little over 3 hours before we land in Johnsburg, IL, where a good friend and a lake awaits us...
Photos from the day are here: