Friday, September 6, 2013

Ketchup Post

I've fallen behind a bit again, so this is just a quick post to catch up on where we've been since we left Sault Ste. Marie. We drove down to St. Ignace (which I am told is locally pronounced "Sinigniss") which sits at the northern end of the bridge that connects Michigan's upper Peninsula to the rest of the state. We were planning to take the ferry across to Mackinac Island (which I'm told is properly pronounced "Mackinaw") however the temperature was into the low 90s and the humidity was hovering around 80% (which I believe is pronounced "flippin' miserable") and, since once you are over there you pretty much have to see the island on foot, we decided we weren't really all that interested. Perhaps some other time when you don't work up a sweat just breathing.

After a couple of days of hunkering down in the motorhome with the air conditioner running, we packed up and drove down to Midland where my sister's family lives in the bosom of the Dow Chemical Company. We had a nice visit with them for a couple of days. We discovered that they have a brewpub less than a mile from their house and THEY HAD NEVER BEEN THERE! This was something that needed to be rectified, so I took Tom and David to the pub to try out the libations. The beer turned out to be quite good actually. Tom and I each had a pint while David drank the house root beer (he's old enough to drink but hasn't developed the taste). Then we bought a growler of their Copper Harbor ale to take home and enjoy with dinner. We left the bottle with Tom so he can go back and get refills.

On 1 September, we bid farewell to Michigan and drove down Highway 23 through Ohio. We did not do any sightseeing because Vicki's (admittedly rather minimal) research had indicated that there were essentially no sights to see in Ohio. This brought us to the bluegrass state of Kentucky, where we will be spending a little time. And here we noticed an odd phenomenon. In Ohio people spoke with the standard US Midwestern accent, the language of Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw. The minute you cross the Ohio River into Kentucky, it's like someone flipped a switch. Instantly, everybody says "y'all" and valleys have become "hollers" and before supper you need to "warsh" your hands.  It's like we've suddenly been transported to the middle of an episode of Justified. Oh, and if you order a glass of iced tea you need to specify that you do NOT want 6 tablespoons of sugar mixed into it before it arrives at the table.

Old Olive Hill train depot
So now we're staying at Carter Caves State Park in northeastern Kentucky near a tiny little town named Olive Hill. When we were trying to figure out what to do after Michigan three or four weeks ago I went to the Kentucky State tourist information website and they had a whole list of events around the state. And there I stumbled across a mention of a mountain music festival held every year in the park here. It was originally started by JP Fraley who I and probably most of you have never heard of but he was an old time fiddle player who was something of a legend in this part of the country. His family started having annual gatherings in 1972 and though he passed away in February 2011, the annual meet up continues on with the help of his family and friends.

Bennett's Mill covered bridge
The festival started with a fairly informal jam session on the fourth where I played along in the background just for the sake of playing. I've never known much traditional "old time" music but it was mostly three chord songs that were easy to follow along with. On the fifth nothing was planned
until the evening, so we drove around the local area a little bit in the afternoon just to see what northern Appalachia looks like in 2013. We saw what is billed as the longest still functioning covered bridge in the world built by a local miller so people could bring their grain across the krick to his mill down in the holler back in 1857 and it is still standing on its original foundation though much of the upper bridge was rebuilt in 2003.

Open mic night
That evening, they had an "open mic night" where attendees could get up and perform two or three songs. And for the most part, these people are really good. We particularly enjoyed the music of a dulcimer club.  It's based across the river in Ohio (damn yankees) but also draws membership from Kentucky and West Virginia, so that's OK. The Appalachian dulcimer is an instrument you don't hear much elsewhere and the sound is very sweet. It is a uniquely American instrument like the banjo.  The group had about 12 Appalachian dulcimers and two hammer dulcimers (which is really an completely unrelated instrument except for the name) along with a couple of guitars for accompaniment and a borrowed bass player. It is not a sound I would like to listen to indefinitely but for 15 min. it was heaven.
The dulcimer club
Friday and Saturday nights will have concerts with local bands and players but in the afternoons they have "gatherin's" for specific instruments and will also have a storytelling session referred to as "creative lying". The weather is gorgeous and is supposed to stay that way and we are having a ball. Will update you in a couple of days.

1 comment:

  1. The festival sounds spectacular. I'm very jealous. I look forward to hearing about the workshops and the "Creative Lying" which sounds more or less like my main event on the speech team in HS.

    -The Kid