Welcome back, campers!
Here is Day 4 of our Feasting on Americana adventure through Kentucky.
(With an insty bit of Indiana and a 'lil of Illinois.)
If you missed Days 1, 2 or 3, just head over to the right side --->
and click on October to catch up.
We have quite the day ahead of us - filled with gigantic statues, chats with local law enforcement, a dedication to Duncan Hines (for much more than cake mix), and a bit of time travel in the shape of tourist courts.
Wave good by to the Wigwams.
We're off to see those cute little cottages we caught a glimpse of last night in the dark.
Oooh - scary dinosaur lurking behind a bush.
That giganto-saurus is more than just a pretty face.
He's an important piece of roadside history.
Let's talk a bit about "Giants" while we drive toward the cottages. Near as I can tell, the 60's were big on large statue advertising. Around 1963 the A&W family popped up on roadsides beckoning road-weary travelers to rest on the refreshing root beer. Soon others followed. Karen and I have quite a list of giants on our itinerary today, so this friendly fellow from Dinosaur World was a welcome site.
Off to find the cottages.
Hope they are as cute in the light as they looked last night.
The Oakes Motel, Cave City, KY
Next time I am so staying here.
Look at this place.
This cute cottage is currently called the Oakes Motel.
But I think I found a postcard from back when it was the Rock Cottage.
I think it looks pretty darn close.
They have a website.
I, um, borrowed a picture of the interior.
Shh, don't tell.
Hey, it's free advertising.
Here's the kitchenette and the queen sized bed from the Tigger cabin.
That's a little piece of history I want to enjoy the next time I'm in town. That little tourist court was adorable.
Heading out of Cave City, we took US 31W towards Bowling Green. There was an old abandoned tourist court, also known as a tourist camp or auto camp, on that road once upon a time. And, I wanted to see if it was still standing.
Horseshoe Camp (Modern Cottages) - 5 Miles outside of Bowling Green, KY
It was still there! Yes!
I have no idea what the name of this place was.
It just says, "Camp. Modern Cottages."
But, there is a large horseshoe above the sign. Perhaps it was known as the Horseshoe Camp? I really don't know. But, I can tell you that in it's heyday, it musta been a really nice place.
We pulled up onto the gravel and got out to take a look around.
OK, nice doggy.
The cabins were in the shape of, yes, a horseshoe.
From what I could tell, 14 in total, with an office on the right-hand leg of the upside-down U and a full-sized residence in the middle grassy area. The loud black beast was chained to a wire which extended from the residence to a line of hedges separating the house from the outlying cottages.
OK, he wasn't a beast.
But, that dog was loud.
And, quite frankly, he was disturbing my trespassing.
Since the adrenaline was flowing, I never did get a wide-shot of the whole place. I should have taken a picture from across the street.
(Hey, if anyone lives in the Bowling Green area and would be willing to take a picture, please contact me. I would be ever so grateful.)
Since the canine critter couldn't see over the chest high shrubbery, I went the long way around the office, avoiding the fence, and took some more photos. Wow, this was a really nice place at one point. Each cottage even had it's own car port.
It reminded me of the 1934 Frank Capra film "It Happened One Night" which highlighted a couple of tourist camps. Good movie.
I crept along the dirt drive shaped in the upside-down U running between the cottages and the shrubs protecting me from the canine. He stopped barking. That made me nervous. Every once in a while I looked behind me, glancing over the hedge, hoping I wouldn't see someone heading out of the house with a shotgun.
So far, this was a bright and sunshiny Monday morning.
I was not looking forward to a back-end of buckshot.
I kept walking. Wow, the place was soooooo nice. Well, considering it's age. I estimated it was from the 30's - like the film. And, matter of fact, like the Wigwams from the night before.
I turned around again.
I had walked past the edge of the hedge.
While the dog couldn't reach me...he could certainly see me.
Yet, he was quiet.
Since he seemed ok with things, I kept going.
Apparently I had gone too far.
Back to barking.
Having seen enough, I retreated.
OK, honestly I hadn't seen enough.
There was still a yet-to-be investigated garage of sorts in the distance. Perhaps it was an out building with showers? (The movie had one.) Quite frankly, unfettered from dear poochie-woochie, I would have checked the place out from top to bottom.
Sullen, I tucked my tail between my legs and walked back around the main office. Karen was waiting for me, snapping pics from the street.
She's a Mom.
She has limits.
Besides, if we both went in, who would bail me out of jail?
But, she's not beyond egging me on...
"So, what's that thing over there?" She pointed.
"The thing sticking up."
Um, I dunno.
I headed back the long away around the office, once again passing the huge brown spider which had taken up residency at the side door.
Cool, it was an old mailbox.
Here's a shot from the left side of the horseshoe.
Looks like cabin 14 comes with it's own truck.
I am not sure why this tourist camp got to me.
I was in awe.
Perhaps it was because I had stumbled upon a mention it on the internet when doing my pre-trip research. One mention. One photo. It was from 2004, three years earlier, and the photographer wrote that the neighbor across the road thought the camp was scheduled to be demolished.
Yet, there it was. And, there was no telling how long it would be there. Oh, the stories it could tell of travelers riding the road between Bowling Green and Cave City.
I wonder when it opened? What was the cost of a room? (In the movie it was $2.00 a night.) I wonder if it was mainly a stop for businessmen on their way to and from Bowling Green? Or, was it more of a family place for folks on their way to conquer the caves? Was there a restaurant? The office had shelves on the walls. (Yeah, I peeked through the window.) It could have had a little food counter at one time. Maybe.
If anyone from Bowling Green would be kind enough to take an wide-angle photo from across the street, I would really be appreciative. And, if you happen to know anything about this place, please comment. I would love to find a postcard of it in it's heyday. I think my next step might be to call the Bowling Green tourist bureau.
I do know one thing.
Next time, I'm bringing doggy treats.
In retrospect, I should have left a note in the mailbox. I could have asked any other history hounds to leave their name, city, and the date so that future folks would have a record. Come to think if it...wonder if anyone else before me had done that very thing. Since I didn't open the box, I'll never know.
Bowling Green, KY - Home of Duncan Hines
Back on the road again, we headed south on US31W and hit Bowling Green after only 5 miles. I didn't realize it, but I think we were technically on the Duncan Hines Scenic Byway. If we had more time, we could have stopped at the Duncan Hines Museum located at Western Kentucky University. I think I would have enjoyed that.
Forgive me if I flub any facts, and I'll give you a little background on this respected road food warrior. "Duncan Hines: The Man Behind the Cake Mix" remains on my required reading list and is available from many locations, including Amazon. (And, a big thank you to the author Louis Hatchett, for his insightful tips before my trip...and for spotting a fact typo on my little blog.)
You see, many view Mr. Hines as being as instrumental to good road food as Harlan Sanders was to chicken. I'm one of them.
Duncan was born in 1880 in Bowling Green and attended Bowling Green Business University. He took a job as a Chicago salesman and spent much time on the road. Duncan soon came to realize that there was no reliable way of knowing where the next meal would be - let alone the next GOOD meal.
Sure, you could stop at a place in town that had a large sign that read "Eats." But were they good eats, or the kind that has you counting the bathroom tiles for days. (Quip courtesy of Alton Brown.)
Was the food tasty?
Was the service any good?
Road-weary travelers and businessmen alike rolled the dice every day - hoping to find a clean reliable restaurant.
Duncan began to keep a journal of restaurant experiences. Soon, he had quite the list and he decided to share it with his family and friends. In 1935, Mr. Hines included the list in his Christmas card. It contained a whopping 167 of his favorite restaurants in 30 states.
He wrote: "I am passing this information on to you, hoping that it may yield enjoyment and delectation, should you find yourself in the vicinity of one of these 'harbors of refreshment' as you travel hither and yon."
In 1936, Duncan Hines published his first book, Adventures in Good Eating. Mr. Hines knew that the quality of a restaurant could change quickly, due to changes of ownership and the like. Accordingly, he worked hard to keep the price of his book low and encouraged his readership to buy his publication annually. And, they did.
In 1938, Mr. Hines published Lodging for a Night listing motels, hotels, travel courts and even campgrounds so travelers could anticipate their accommodations.
By 1939 a third book was added to his collection of annuals. Entitled, Adventures in Good Cooking and the Art of Carving in the Home, this book began to include recipe suggestions.
Duncan treasured his independence and chose to keep his costs in line by limiting the number of photos he included in his books - rather than succumbing to advertisements. He even published a disclaimer in his books, warning restaurants that if any person who stated that they were working for Mr. Hines asked for a meal, they should be refused. Duncan, his wife, Florence, and later a handful of others who tested restaurants would do so in anonymity - and, paying their own way.
In 1938, Frances passed away. Duncan continued to publish his books and refused many offers to endorse products. Around 1948 Mr. Hines was approached by Roy Park, a president of an advertising agency, who wanted to create an easily recognizable label that shoppers would associate with superior quality. Duncan went into business with Park, and soon hundreds of products bore the Hines-Park Food Corp. name. Many of these products were desserts, a favorite of Duncan Hines.
You know, before researching,
I never noticed that the Duncan Hines logo...
Is a BOOK!
I pulled my copy of Adventures in Good Eating of my bag and handed it to Karen. I think she enjoyed paging through it. I sure did.
You're more than a cake mix - you're one cool culinarian.
Mary's Home Cooking - Bowling Green, KY
We tried to follow US31W but got all turned around and stumbled on this place. How I love serendipity. We saw the sign, looked good. Looked at the parking lots - lots of trucks. Let's try it.
Hmm. I'm a bit baffled.
Seems I only got a picture of MY food, not Karen's.
Yep, that's all mine.
First, I was hungry.
Trespassing takes a lot out of a girl.
Second, I knew this was my last day in Kentucky and I just wasn't passing anything up. Look, I went for the biscuits and gravy, grits, a scrambled egg, and a very nice cup o' joe. Oh, and the bacon.
Karen had... Geesh, I dunno.
A bacon omlete, I think, with grits, and another side of bacon.
And, sweet tea.
We should talk a bit about bacon.
Karen and I both like it.
When I order coffee I use so much cream that I practically ask for my own cow.
When we order bacon, we pretty much have a side of pig on our table.
The food was good. Period.
We were glad we stopped there.
Well, I do remember that I tried butter in my grits.
Didn't like that. Won't be doing that again.
Ate them anyhow.
Now, the waitress was a doll and chatted us up. Seems she's originally from Michigan and she just loved talking to us. She wanted to know how we liked our Southern breakfast. Did it even compare to a Northern one? She said, it's been so long for her now. Compare? Nope. This was much better.
Karen and I had both raved about the bacon. It tasted like...pig. It was bacon-y. And, you know, so often, least up here, it's just greasy strips of fried tasteless fat. Our server said the secret was that we had ordered it extra crispy. The cook par-cooks it in the morning, then for extra-crispy orders drops it in the deep fat fryer. Well, goodness it worked. Still, besides the technique, there was something better about that bacon. It was true porky goodness.
Here's one last picture of Mary's.
I recommend it if you are in the neighborhood.
I cant' speak for Duncan, but it gets Dana's approval.
OK, off to Owensboro.
You may recall we talked the night before with the couple at the campfire about BBQ. Now, my friend Kristina swears by Moonlite. (And, honestly, I think it would be fun to go there with her sometime when we can meet up.) The couple at the campfire recommended stopping at Old South. On the internet, over at RoadFood, folks said they had enjoyed Moonlite and George's. (And, certainly other places, too, but I remembered those two.) Karen had found folks on the internet that said to skip Moonlite and head to Old Hickory.
Now, what's a northerner to do?
We had till Owensboro to figure out a plan.
We rolled into Owensboro and kept our eyes peeled for Old South. And, missed it anyway. It was lunchtime and they were busy - we had already called each place to see if they had a buffet and if they had mutton. (I like lamb and was on a mutton mission.) If I recall correctly, we never did get an answer at George's. It was Labor day and they might have been honoring the day.
So, we were on our own to find Old South. Hmm. Where to get directions? Hey, a tire place. These guys would know Q, right? I asked a guy holding a handful of lug nuts of he knew where Old South was. Hmm. He calls over another guy. Quiet guy. Old South, is that the place down there? He points. Quiet guy thinks. Lug Nut Guy says, the best place used to be ___ but they're closed now. Quiet Guy says, no I think Old South is down past the pool. But, I like Old Hickory, myself.
Lug Nut Guy points and tells me to take this road here, go past the pool, keep going, then look for it on the left in a strip mall. Then he drops his lug nuts. Quiet guy is quiet. And, nice. So, I ask where Lug Nut Guy would eat. He said, he really liked the place that was closed. OK, well, now where would he go? Moonlite? No, he didn't like them at all. (Note to self, that's two strikes on this trip.) Quiet guy says, "Old Hickory." Quiet the chatterbox, eh?
I explained that I had heard some questionable things about Moonlite (both nodded) and the person recommended Old South. Lug Nut Guy drops them again. OK, well, thanks much for the info. I really appreciate it. Lug nuts drop again. Can't make this stuff up.
So, we follow the road back and find Old South. Now, it might have been a slow day. So, don't skip them on my account. First we looked to the sky. No sign of smoke. Then we pulled into the parking lot which was full, and rolled down the window. No smell of smoke. Interesting. Channeling Alton Brown in Feasting on Asphalt 1 - Episode 4, I circled round to the back to look for two things. The wood was neatly piled and barley any was missing. Hmm. I decided to head back into town.
Pondering that perhaps I should have listened to Quiet Guy, we try to find Old Hickory. We stop in a parking lot next to an antique shop where a gentleman is leaving his truck. I asked if he knew where I could find Old Hickory. Old Hickory? Yes. Well... He thinks. Points. Says go there and take a left. Wait. Hmm. You know... He steps back about 10 feet and points through an alley. Well, that's it right there. You could just cut through here.
Where would you go for BBQ?
"Me? Well, prolly Moonlite."
So, you like Moonlite more?
"Naw, it's just closer to my house."
(Then, a phrase that I will never forget.)
"I'm not much for BBQ."
Well, thanks much for your help.
Driving through the alley, we rolled down the windows and were greeted, no, bombarded with smoke smell. Yes! As we parked I checked out the wood stack. It had at least had a significant dent in it. And, the smell was telling. We had found our lunch.
Old Hickory, Owensboro, KY
We walked past a nice selection, I'm guessing it was for carry out, and waited to be seated. The server was very nice, and very helpful. Karen and I looked at the 3 meat combos and had a difficult time choosing. Karen said she was torn between the chopped pork and the sliced. "You want the sliced", the server said and smiled. OK, then. I asked our server if I wanted the chopped mutton or the sliced. "Chopped." Alrighty.
I ordered the burgoo as one of my sides, she said she would give me just a little dish with a few spoonfuls. That would fine by me. I just wanted a taste.
I double-checked the pronunciation with our server.
Was it bur-GOO here, or bur-GO?
(And, my explanation that apparently in Evansville some folks call it bur-GO earned me a funny look.)
As for the other sides, they are proud of their potato salad so one of us ordered it. Who ordered what is kinda blurry. Let's see the photo.
OK, it's coming back to me.
Karen had the chicken breast. She enjoyed that. I think we both had the sliced pork. It was fork tender, juicy, not fatty. One of us ordered the potato salad. It was home-made, had lots of vinegar, pickles, little if any mustard, and tiny pieces of potato. The onion rings were, well, there. But, to be fair, we weren't there for the rings so we didn't give them much notice.
The server explained that the kitchen had given us a whole bowl of burgoo by accident. The burgoo had a very strong vinegar base, it was not spicy at all, had some corn, and there were hunks of potato.
Motton left to do but eat.
The chopped mutton was very, very vinegary. I mean, I like vinegar. Heck, I used to practically drink the stuff while making Easter eggs as a kid. But, perhaps my tastes have changed. The comment from the lady at the campfire, about not liking vinegar based BBQ was making sense now. Karen could taste the mutton under the vinegar. (Don't think she will order mutton again.) But, sadly, all I could taste was vinegar. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it was bad.
I think next time I'll order it "Off the pit."
And, maybe then I'll be able to taste the mutton more.
Now, these were gooooood.
Can you see the pink smoke ring?
These were tender, flavorful, smoky goodness. And, they still had some chew to them. Not the fall-off-in-your-mouth mush that can sometimes happen. Oh, I guess I have an opinion on that.
We ate until we couldn't anymore.
Afterall, we had pretty much just had breakfast.
Then we hit the road again.
I stopped at a gas station for directions to Evansville. Over there, past there, then when you see the gas station that isn't a whatever anymore, turn left. Uh, ok. Tried to repeat them back. Failed miserably. Got a dirty look. Listened again. Nodded a lot.
Got in the car and told Karen we'd have to ask again. So, we took the first part of the directions and saw a cop on a quiet side street ahead of us. Waved toward him and he pulled over. Being a cop's daughter, I got out of the car slowly and walked up to him with my hands in front of me. Good thing, too, since he wasn't expecting me. Seems his pulling over was just to get some overdue paperwork out of the way. But, he was very nice and asked how he could help. I tried soooo hard not to glaze over while he gave me directions. And, I listened, I really did. Then he asked if I had that. I started to repeat them while his dispatcher called him. He slowly packed his papers up, still listening to me, and responded something to his dispatcher. Then he said, "Here, just follow me. I'll take you to the turn."
Now, there was nothing in his demeanor to indicate he was in a rush, but I just felt like I should jog. I jumped back into the car, started to thrown on my seatbelt, and he pulled out, sirens blaring. Karen's looks at me. I shrug. He said to follow him. She looks at me. I follow.
We go 2 or 3 streets before I see the sign for the road I need and he takes a sharp turn and flies away.
We pass the gas station that isn't called whatever it was at one point and head toward Evansville.
We need gas.
And, we are gonna need a map of Indiana.
Because apparently I'm really bad at listening to directions.
Damn, Northern ears.
Remembering what the nice man from Southern Illinois said at the campfire, I score me some Ski.
Not bad. Interesting note. We had been keeping an eye out for the lowest gas prices on the trip. This place, was tied with Corbin, KY for the lowest we had seen. $2.55 wow. That was about 40 less than back home.
Glancing at the map, the clock, and the sun, we needed a plan.
We had a handful of grocery men as wanted to see, along with a giant pink elephant drinking a martini, and.. Oh, I should mention these are the giants I spoke of at the top of the blog. Those huge cement and fiberglass replicas used for advertising over the years.
Well, there were 3 grocery men in the area.
Course, while they are only 1/4 of an inch apart on the map, it would actually take hours to drive between them and hit them all. Karen was very understanding and said that while it would be cool to see each of them one day, right now seeing one representative grocery man would fit the bill.
Mapping a quick route...
We headed north on US Route 41.
Jim Hipp Nursery, Haubstadt, IN. (US 64 & US 41)
This nursery is a one stop wonder of giants. We only saw a small part of it and were amazed. Apparently, there are many more giants living there, too. Here are a handful. One item we really wanted to see was the pink elephant drinking a martini. (There are a lot of this living in the States. Some of them are apparently myopic and sport black rimmed eyeglasses from the 1950's.) This elephant family seemed to have 20/20 vision.
The Jim Hipp Nursery,known for it's lovely topiaries, was started by Wendolyn Hipp, Jim's father. And, like the plants, it has flourished. Sadly, I believe Jim passed away last June. The family is continuing the tradition. Here is a very nice article in the Leaf Chronicle - Click.
If you get the opportunity, please visit, and patronize Jim Hipp's Nursery. They are maintaining a little piece of history with every giant they house.
Heading west on US62 over to Illinois, we are off to see a man about some groceries.
Little Giant Grocery Outlet - Carmi, IL
There are a handful of grocery men populating the States. Three of them are in the Evansville, IN / Paducah, KY area. If you are interested in giants or in historical (and sometimes hysterical) kitsch, be sure to check out RoadsideAmerica.com. That site was invaluable for planning this trip. Here's a link to some of the other grocery men - Click.
There was still a bit of sunlight left...so we headed back into Indiana, to see if we could find James.
Home of the Big Peach - Vincennes, IN (West side of Route 41)
To say we were chasing the sun is an understatement.
We headed back to US 41 and took it north.
While the farm store was closed for the day, we could still drive right up to the peach.
Now, here's a little secret.
Are you listening?
Promise to not tell a soul?
When we got to the peach, we were in quite a hurry. As you can see, the sun was falling right off the edge of that horizon back there. And, there was little time for photos. Matter of fact, some of the light shining on the peach was from headlights. So, if I wanted a picture with the fleshy fruit I needed to get up there quick.
It wasn't pretty. Luckily there was a handhold of sorts on the green base and I was able to pull myself up onto the platform. Rapid peachy paparazzi ensued as Karen snapped pictures fast and furiously.
Once documented, I walked around the peach - to see if the sunlight was better.
OK, ready for the secret?
Had I not been in such a hurry to get a photo with the fuzz-ball, I would have realized there were steps leading right up to it...on the other side.
It was fun.
And, that's just between you, me and the clingstone.
First we had to stop briefly to meet the nice Sheriff and sign for our ticket. Apparently doing 70 in a 55 is frowned upon just north of Vincennes and the giant peach. Karen wondered if the officer's name was James.
A Look Back.
If you've followed these travels from Day 1, you might recall that originally the rough trip plan was to hit Dana, IN and Dana KY. If we followed a direct route, it would have looked something like this.
But, we weren't taking the big roads.
No. Matter of fact, we were trying to avoid the Federal Highway System.
So, our path ended up looking something more like this - follow the green line.
No, we didn't see Dana, KY. It was just too far east for this 4 day trip. And, no, we didn't hit Dana, IN either. We passed right by it...but it was dark...and raining. There was a vicious lightning storm heading out of the west and we were driving right into it. So, while we saw the sign for Dana - 9 mi. we just kept going.
After all, as I found out...
It's not about the destination, it's about the drive.
Jay sharing his onion ring passion.
Having your first fried green tomatoes - and your second.
Trying corn pudding and loving it.
Learning a little about the legacies of Harlan Sanders and Duncan Hines.
Finding out the fireman figure on the weather vane is named Little Jimmy.
Following hay bales...on and on.
Trying Ale8 and Ski sodas - just because we could.
Finding out that Kentucky doesn't rent pigs.
And, that sometimes it's best not to ask why you can't get grits in a dry county.
Chatting up cheery servers who are proud of their cake
Tasting the cheeseburger you will remember for a lifetime.
Learning how devastating a drought can be on a farming community,
And, how tobacco legislation influenced it even more.
About legacy, and how it can be both a blessing and a burden for a family.
Chilling with Tigertoes the tabby.
The importance of knowing where to park.
Not being afraid to taste the sour mash,
And, walking quietly with the stray dogs through a cemetery.
Sleeping in a Wigwam.
Making s'mores with strangers who weren't strangers anymore.
Enjoying a campfire.
Learning that a bottle opener on a door from 1937 can make me smile.
Trespassing on a tourist court and be so wrong and feel so right.
That I don't like a lot of vinegar in my BBQ, but I like a lot of smoke.
And, not to speed 5 miles north of Vincennes, Indiana on Route 41.
Where's the next adventure?
I'm not sure.
With an open road,
A gift for the gab,
And growl in my tummy
It's gonna be quite an adventure!
Thank you to Karen for her willingness to go anywhere, The Good Eats Fan Page Message Board for all they are and all they do, to RoadFood.com for the helpful suggestions and fact checking.
And, most of all, thank you to Alton Brown, of Feasting on Asphalt, for inspiring my own little trip of travel food and fun, Feasting on Americana.
If you have comments or questions, please leave them below.
Or, feel free to e-mail me at CookingAtCafeD@gmail.com
And, in case anyone is wondering...
The homemade cake from Crab Orchard, KY made for a wonderful breakfast the next day on the way to work!
Mary's Home Cooking
430 Center St
Bowling Green, KY
Old Hickory Pit Bar-B-Q
338 Washington Ave
Read the whole Feasting on Americana! series:
Day 1 - Drive-In Owner Shares a Secret
Day 2 - My First Fried Green Tomatoes!
Day 3 - Confusion, Confession, and Reading Between the Lines
Day 4 - What's a good Northern girl to do?