Land Between The Lakes

IMG_0207Memorial Day weekend on the shore of Kentucky Lake was two-thirds Luke Bryan concert and one-third Mad Max. I’m not really a fan of either.

But the rest of our stay at Land Between the Lakes (right near the state line in West Kentucky and Tennessee) was a lot of fun with appearances from American icons like Superman, buffalo and Abraham Lincoln.

This is a little longer than usual. Here goes:

On the way from Wildside Winery (outside of Lexington) to our next stop (outside of Owensboro) we saw signs for Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace. With me being a history nerd, Braden having his National Parks passport book and Jess tired of riding, we knew immediately we had to go and exited the parkway for our first unplanned side trip. We stopped first at Honest Abe’s boyhood cabin site, then at the place where he was born. We didn’t realize just how big of a deal it was until we got there. At the visitor center (which had a nice big pull-around loop for RVs), Braden got to make a clay Christmas ornament with some volunteers. We watched the short movie then walked to the shrine-like, monumental building built around the cabin where Lincoln was born. Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the building and I think it’s always cool to find spot where the lives of two of the Rushmore gang intersected. The lifelong Southerner in me bristled a little bit at the thought of a New York president building an oversized monument to the conquering Yankee Civil War president in a Southern state, but that’s a talk for another day. It was a very cool place to go.

That night we stayed near Owensboro, Ky. at Trunnell’s Farm Store and Family Fun Acre. We bounced on our first bounce pillow, discovered awesome sweet corn salsa and bottle-fed a baby pig, calf, goat and donkey (donklet?). Braden fell in love with some fuzzy baby bunnies, the dogs met their first chickens and the goat head-butted Jess. We also discovered the best fudge of Jess’s life which had caramel and peanuts like a Snickers bar.

 

 

IIMG_3851ntroducing Braden to one great American on Saturday, we decided to bring him to see another on Sunday by taking a short trip across the Ohio River. Metropolis, Illinois was only about an hour out of the way on our trip to the Land Between the Lakes, so we pulled in for a stop at Fort Massac, a brief tour of the Super Museum and a photo with the Superman statue. We surprised Braden, who is majorly hooked on superheroes, with that stopover. I think he would still be there if we had let him stay. Jess enjoyed it more than I would have expected.

Then came the Land Between the Lakes, or LBL as bumper stickers on Jeeps like to call it. We camped at the Piney Campground right across the line in Tennessee. It takes about an hour to get from the bridge at the north end of the LBL to the campground so we got to see most of the park, which is a National Recreation Area.

Our first few hours there I was contemplating using a sentence in this blog about the campground seeming like a Luke Bryan concert when the ranger/cashier at the campstore called out for everyone to listen to the crackly radio song playing over the intercom. “Y’all, I think this is the greatest song Luke Bryan’s ever done,” he said. The seven sunburned groups of people in line ahead of Braden and I discussed this idea and then some started to sing along. As I stood there with my clothesline, Froot Loops and BBQ Golden Flake potato chips, that sealed the deal.

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Back at the campsite, Jess had already fended off two different adult-driven golf carts who whipped in and tried to steal our $5 firewood bundle. When she and the dogs shooed them away, they just laughed and drove off. That’s where Mad Max comes in. Memorial Day weekend at a campground is basically everyone-for-himself, post-apocalyptic anarchy. We saw one of the guys again several times driving around checking sites for wood and we dubbed him “The Scavenger.”

We usually come up with simple names for other campers we don’t get to meet. “Yellow shirt boy” or “Rowdy Vol Dad” usually get the job done to describe things to each other, but some people like The Scavenger get better names. Two sites over from us there was a dude who spent most of the weekend shirtless with long black hair and a beard. With him was a lady who wore sports bras and poofy pants. They became known as the Dothraki Camp (Game of Thrones reference. Sorry for that.)

While there had been a few golf carts at the Horse Park, this was really our first exposure to the golf cart culture (mania?) that I’ve heard people talk about at campgrounds. People of all ages, shapes and sizes were motoring around in the carts everywhere. Some people had driven trucks up to the sites just to bring their carts. And from the looks of the carts, some of them cost almost what we paid for the Fit.

IMG_3914We also saw quite a few folks who were seasonal residents at the park. I was glad when Jess pointed this out because I was really annoyed that people would bring porch swings, tomato plants, light-up palm trees, inflatable Tennessee Vol mascots and mini-gazebos camping. I still think that was a bit much, but it helps paint the picture for our loyal blog readers. We also have seen a 3-year-old wearing nothing but underoos pedaling his bicycle like a Knievel. What he lacked in pants or shoes, he made up for in mad bike skills.

IMG_3949While LBL is very spread out it has some very unique spots. We drove through the bison and elk prairie, where the signs, heavy gates and controlled access had me humming the Jurassic Park theme. Seriously though, the buffalo are really cool. LBL is bordered on one side by Kentucky Lake (Tennessee River) and Lake Barkley (Cumberland River) on the other. Braden enjoyed swimming and collecting shells on the Kentucky Lake shore and I think I found a fossil. Jess and Braden checked out the Nature Station, Planetarium and the historic homeplace farm. His favorite parts were petting the snake and seeing a laser show. Jess’s favorite part was the sheep video below.

IMG_0250 from Andy Johns on Vimeo.

On the trip west to Reelfoot Lake State Park, we took a slight detour to Fort Donelson National Battlefield for a great view of the Tennessee River and a little more history.

No onward to Reelfoot Lake!

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Surprising conversation: I asked the 18ish girl behind the counter at one stop if we were in Central or Eastern time and she said she’d lived there her whole life and had no idea.

Greatest Luke Bryan Song ever: None.

People so far who told us Braden’s pull behind bike was cool: 8

People so far who asked us what kind of dog Wrigley is: 12

IMG_1107 from Andy Johns on Vimeo.

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