Though I was technically staying in the small town of Charlestown, IN, I was a short distance north and just across the Ohio River away from Louisville, KY. It would be Louisville that was my ultimate tourist destination, but I did find some interesting things to see and do in the Charlestown and surrounding area – not the least of which was the absolutely delightful State Park that I’m staying in. I also got to enjoy the company of one of my brothers for a couple of days which was a definite bonus. It was a short stay here in the area – only for a week. So, I had to make use of every day that I could to get out and explore. It was also my only remaining few days to ride my scooter as my temporary tags would be expiring soon. So, I got in as much riding as possible, and enjoyed the ease of which to park it while in the big city.
Time With My Brother
My brother Gerry just happened to be passing through the area as he makes his way back from Washington state on down to Florida. You may recall he stopped by when I was in Chattanooga when he was traveling in the opposite direction back in the spring. It was great to see him again. Even though this time we did not go on a Segway tour, we did however enjoy some sightseeing in Louisville, as well as enjoying some down time sitting around a campfire and staring up at the stars. We visited Central Park where we met up with our tour guide Kelli, who took us for a walking tour through the historic Old Louisville neighborhood. This National Preservation District is home to the largest collection of contiguous Victorian Mansions in the the United States. It is also the largest concentration of residential homes with stained glass windows in the U.S. And lastly, Old Louisville features the largest collection of pedestrian-only streets of any U.S. neighborhood. There are 11 such courts where houses face each other across a grass median with sidewalks on either side. One such court, St James, has a beautiful central fountain to add even more beauty to the area. Most interesting was that unlike the mansions of Savannah or Charleston, whose large dwellings are valued well into the seven figures, the Old Louisville homes range from around 250K, on up to 800K – much more affordable! Many of the homes remain as principal residences, while others have been converted to B&Bs so that us common folk can enjoy a small taste of mansion living. Had a great time with my brother, and hope that he will stop by again as he travels back and forth across the country.
There certainly was a plentiful supply of things to see and do in downtown Louisville. It is very much an “artsy” town, as demonstrated by some of the pictures I took. At first glance, I thought all the yellow pipes located below the highway overpass were some sort of construction barrier, but when I took a closer look, I discovered they were actually a play area complete with swings, talking stations, and climbing areas. I also spotted a car that was adorned by thousands of gumdrop looking things that was kinda cool. On the weekend, I visited a pop-up art fair where lots of artisans were selling their creations. One artisan who uses a giant
magnifying glass to capture the sun and burn-etch his creations into wood was creating right in front of me. Very talented indeed!
Perhaps one of Louisville’s most notable celebrities is none other than Muhammad Ali, so it certainly would be fitting to have the Muhammad Ali Center in the downtown area. Born in 1942 as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, he began boxing training at the age of 12, and at 18, won a Gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. From there he would become a professional boxer and would win three world heavyweight championships throughout his career. He converted to Islam and became a Muslim in the early 60s, and chose the name Muhammad Ali. In the mid 60’s, he would refuse to be drafted into the Army citing his religious beliefs and contentions over the Vietnam War. He would later be arrested and stripped of his boxing titles. He appealed his conviction which was eventually successfully overturned by the Supreme Court. It would be his actions that heavily influenced the conscientious objective movement. He was also very heavily involved with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It was a very beautiful and comprehensive center, covering all aspects of his life and career. It included some of his boxing memorabilia, his 1960 Olympic Gold Medal, and the torch he used to light the caldron to open Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic Games. Truly was an interesting journey through his life.
While driving from Charlestown to Louisville you pass the town of Jeffersonville. Passing through, my brother and I both happened to notice a massively large building with the Amazon name on it. We both recognized it as a distribution facility, and thought how cool it would be to get a tour. Well, a couple days later after my brother had already left, I happened to order a few items on Amazon, and had them delivered to the Amazon lockers that were located at this mega facility. When I picked up my package, I noticed a magnet on the locker making reference to a facility tour. As soon as I got back to the RV, I went online and got myself registered for the next available time slot a couple days later. As luck would have it, I was the only attendee that day, so I got a private, personal tour. My tour guide Emily and her Tour Ambassador assistant Samantha took me all through the facility, showing me the receiving section, the picking section, the single packing section, and the shipping section. I even got some special treatment from these two wonderful ladies and they took me through the multi-packing section – something that is not normally part of the tour. All I can say is WOW. This place is amazing. Over 8 miles of automated conveyors, 1.2 million sqft of space (for you sporting types, that’s equivalent to 28 football fields), and they average storing 25 million unique products in their warehouse – increasing to over 100 million products in peak season. As usual, I could not take any pictures while inside, but suffice to say, this is the most impressive heavily automated warehouse operation I’ve ever seen. Emily and Sam even hooked me up with some Amazon swag – thanks girls! It was an awesome tour. Now I’ve got the list of the other locations, so this will hopefully be a regular event as I cross the country. I really want to see one of the facilities that has the picking robots – that would be cool!
(Note: To tour an Amazon Fulfillment Center in your area, go to Amazon.Com/FCTours to sign up).
Short stay here in the area, but lots of Roadside attractions to check out. Let’s start with the seemingly most obvious – the largest baseball bat in the world. That would be featured in front of the Louisville Slugger manufacturing facility. That was another factory tour I was able to work in, and it was very interesting. Really cool to see how these bats are made from billets of maple, ash or birch wood,. I also learned many of the pro players actually have custom made bats and even chose the actual wood billets used to make them. Interesting to note that the baseball team pays for all the players bats. A pro player will get between 80 to 100 bats a year, and at roughly $120 each, that’s a nice benefit. Not to be outdone, the largest of the other bat – the flying kind – is also featured in Louisville, hanging out on the side of a building. Next, I visited the commemorative plaque recognizing sisters Mildred and Patty Hill. In 1893 they published a book titled “Song Stories for the Kindergarten”, and the first song therein was titled “Good Morning to All”. While attending a birthday party, Patty suggested the words to that song be changed to “Happy Birthday to You”. As they say, the rest is history. This song would become one of the top three most popular songs in the english language. With a bit more research, I learned that the song was actually copyrighted, and required permission and payment anytime it would be used commercially or publicly. It would earn many many millions over the years, and is believed to be the highest earning single song in history. Alas, the song become public domain in 2016, so now you can sing it for free! I also visited the statue of Lewis and Clark shaking hands to mark their departure point of their cross-country expedition. It would be the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville, IN, and not St. Louis, that was the actual departure point, and where this sculpture resides. Lastly, a 20 foot woman built from metal scraps is located in Jeffersonville, IN. The owner of a metal working company wanted to make a statue that honored woman and their virtue and strength, and commissioned an 18-year old girl to design it. She and a few other girls who worked in the metal company spent time after work building it over the course of a year. Really cool!
The last several Roadside items to see took me to what would be one of the largest and most interesting cemetery I’ve ever been to. Just in Roadside, there were no less than a dozen gravesites that were featured in Cave Hill Cemetery. But as I walked through the area, I saw dozens more really cool and elaborate gravesites. Featured here are just a few of the ones I snapped photos of. Fist up would be Col Harland Sanders – of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, buried here with his wife Claudia. Another famed local would be Harry Collins. After serving in the Marines during WWII, he returned to Louisville and got a job with Frito-Lay as a salesman – a job he would hold over 40 years. In the evening, he would follow his other passion as a magician. Eventually, in 1970, Frito-Lay would give him the full-time job as corporate magician – thus making him the Frito-Lay Magician. Other cool stones include young teen statues bearing wings and swords, the upward hands of the son (not deceased) of the Porter family patriarch reaching upward towards his father, a life-size likeness of the six-foot-six-inch Derek Ervin Smith, a Louisville local high school basketball champion, who later had a great NBA career, who died young of a heart attack. Lastly, the Flower Woman, Sandy Curry Twist, who was a Kentucky beauty queen and successful business woman, killed in a car crash at the age of 40. These and so many others among the 160,000 gravesites are truly inspirational, beautiful, and amazing.
My next two stopover points will have me in Nashville and Memphis Tennessee, spending one week in each location. So, I might combine those two visits into a single blog post – unless there is just too much to write about for each. As it was, I was only in this area for a week and I’m certainly able to fill a page with my travel adventures. So, we’ll see. Till then, safe travels!