Trip Report – Red River Gorge (Part-1)

Trip Intro
This is going to be a multi-part post over the next few weeks. I took a ton of photos and want to share some of them here as well as detail the trip as best as I can. I hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear your comments and feedback.

I decided to take advantage of the July 4th holiday being on a Wednesday this year and plan a Hiking/Camping/Fishing getaway. Initially I was looking at the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to do some camping and cycling. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do up there but then I stumbled upon a YouTube video that featured the Red River Gorge (RRG) in Kentucky. It looked to have a lot of the things I was looking for and was a lot closer to Indy than the U.P.

I watched several more videos and was convinced this is were I needed to go on this trip. I was a little concerned about the holiday crowds and found the camping situation a little confusing. I opted to rent an inexpensive cabin so I’d have a place to stay and explore the area. I really wanted to camp too so I booked one the last available spots at a Kentucky State Park called Big Bone Lick that’s on the way to RRG.

Packing & Prep
Since I was going to travel solo and base out of a cabin I pretty much packed everything I though I’d need from camping supplies, to fishing gear, as well as an assortment of food and entertainment options. Of course I packed entirely too much but I had the room and figured this would be a good test to see what I’d actually use vs what I think I needed.

I store the gear for each of my hobbies in large, stackable, plastic bins that are easy to just grab and go. I ended up with the following assortment (some bins had more than one category):

  • Food and Cooking (cook pot, stove, fuel, dehydrated food, snacks)
  • Sleep System (tent, footprint, hammock, tarp, sleeping bag)
  • Fishing Gear (waders, boots, tackle)
  • Hiking Gear (packs, boots, trekking poles, maps, compass)
  • Clothing (hiking, fishing, sleeping)
  • Misc (electronics, lights, batteries)
  • Cooler (food, drinks, snacks)
  • Water (7-gallon plastic Jerry can)

This gave me the option to go with the flow and hike a little, fish a little, and relax. I’ll admit this is a lot of gear to bring but like I said, this is a shakedown to see what I would really use.

Car Problems
I was about 500 miles away from scheduled maintenance on the car so I thought I might as well stop at the dealer and get it knocked out. Boy was that a mistake… Long story short, the oil filter (that sits on top of the engine in this car) didn’t get seated correctly and proceeded to leak oil all over the engine as I drove to work. By the time I got there the car was smoking like it was on fire. After a tow back to the dealer I got home with a freshly cleaned engine at 8pm. It was still smoking a little as what was left burned off. By the time I got to my first stop the next day all was well again.

Day 1 – Leaving Home
I got things organized starting a few days before departure and loaded it all up the morning of the trip. Since everything was already grouped and in a bin it was easy to just slide things in and hit the road.

I use a medium sized snowboard roof rack (I think it’s designed to old 2-3 boards) to transport the fishing poles. It’s a lot easier than trying to have them in the car and the racks lock so things stay pretty secure and out of the way. I can carry about 10 rods and reels with this setup but I usually only have 3-4 up there.

REI Cincinatti
My first stop of the day was REI in Cincinnati. I was hoping they would have some maps and info on RRG. I was able to find a book dedicated the the trail system in the area & it’s been a great purchase. I found some areas I didn’t know about and more detail on the areas I was focusing on this trip.

Findlay Market
If you haven’t been to Findlay Market you should stop and check it out next time you’re in the area. I usually go on the weekend and it’s a lot different during the week (not nearly as many vendors). The market has a lot of specialty vendors and you can find some great food and produce.

Newport on the Levee
I haven’t visited this place for a while and WOW, it’s changed a lot. I almost got lost because of all the new construction. I mainly just stopped buy to do a quick walk through and get some pictures of the Cincy skyline (annnddd I left my phone in the car, oops!).

USA Soccer & Thunder Storms
The day was ticking along and I was killing a little time before heading to the campground. I happened to find a Drakes sports bar in the city of Florence and it was just in time to watch the Team USA beat England in the Women’s World Cup. A pop up thunderstorm happened to hit while I was watching the game. It also blew through the campsite I was driving to too, so taking a break to watch the game turned out to be a good idea.

Big Bone Lick State Park
This park has a lot of fosses in the area because it had an abundance of salt licks in the prehistoric days that attracted animals to the site. Today they have a herd of buffalo roaming the grasslands.

I arrived at camp a little after the front office closed so I cruised back to the spot I had reserved. Interestingly the 3 spots next to me were marked off and not being used. The other side of me had an RV from New York and their porch was on the other side, so I had a pretty private site at the back of the camp with very little traffic.

The neighbors turned in about the time it got dark and I sat out under the stars and enjoyed some wine and cheese before climbing in the tent and listened to the crickets and frogs until I fell asleep.

Day 2 – Waking up to Nature
The birds in the trees had me awake at sunrise and the Daddy Long Legs spider that ran across my face was better than any alarm clock I’ve ever used. As I exited the tent I could not believe how many of these spiders were on my tent. Took a while to brush them all off and pack up the tent.

I’m not a big breakfast eater and since I had a lot of things to do that day I packed camp up and hit the road about 8am. About 9am I got a craving for a Sausage McMuffin and had to stop. I also wanted a sweet tea which, I think, gets better the further south you travel in the US.

Buffalo Trace Distillery
The first stop of the day was the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort Kentucky. Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States. The tour was pretty basic compared to other producers like Woodford Reserve and Makers Mark but it was very interesting to learn more about the history of the facility.

After the tour and tasking (it was 11 am so not too early for a nip) the gift shop had a nice selection for purchase. Sadly there was no Blanton’s or Pappy Van Winkle for sale.

Lunch
I had a few ideas for places to eat lunch in the Frankfort area but one was closed and the other one looked a little sketchy. I fired up Yelp and found a place about 20-minutes away called The Stave.

The Stave is in the middle of nowhere and is inside an old farm house. Once I got cellular coverage again I realized I was just down the road from the Woodford Reserve Distillery. The lunch menu had a nice variety of dishes. I settled on the Pig & Pickles sandwich with fries (as well as another sweet tea). The sandwich was amazing, and the fries were double cooked and perfectly crunchy.

My server asked me if I was one of the “Lookie-loos” and I had to ask her for some clarification. Evidently there was a big warehouse fire at a Jack Daniels warehouse the night before and the place was crawling with Media and people trying to see the damage.

Up next, driving to Red River Gorge. Lots more to come over the next few weeks. I have some more gear reviews in the works as well. Stay Tuned!

92 County Geocaching Adventure

Just got back from a 2-day adventure with my son in Southern Indiana collecting Geocaches in 2o new counties. The goal is to visit all 92 Indiana Counties and log a Geocache in each one. After this trip we only have 16 counties left to complete the challenge. We were hoping to complete the challenge this year but we’re not going to make it.

Only 16 more counties to go after this trip!

It took quite a lot of planning for this 2-day trip. With so much ground to cover we needed to be as efficient as we could be but still have some fun. After a lot of research I identified 20 Geocaches that had multiple “Favorite Points” as voted on by other Cachers. This usually means a Geocache is something special and not just a 35mm film container (or pill bottle) in a bush. I was hoping that by choosing favorited caches we would have more fun and my 15-year old son would stay interested in our goal.

The Plan…

Of course when the day came we had rainy (but WARM) weather. We ended up with Rain on day-1 and a cold front in the afternoon of day-2. Considering this was between Christmas and New Years I was really happy with the overall 50-degree conditions.

Below is a gallery of the photos taken during the trip. We had a great time and are already planning to get the remaining counties in the next few weeks (if the weather cooperates!).

Evansville Sunset
Fire Tower!
West Baden Christmas Tree

Indy – Northside Kitchenette

I’ve wanted to try this place out for a while now and had the opportunity to go 2-days in a row over a recent weekend.   Northside Kitchenette is owned by the same people who run the next door Northside Social (one of my favorite north-side restaurants for a date night).

The first day we went around lunch time I had the “kitchen’ette’ sink” ($12) which features a 1/2 order of Biscuits and Gravy topped with breakfast potatoes, bacon crumbles, two eggs over easy and cheddar cheese.   This was a really good play on the type of skillet dishes you can get at other places but this was in a bowl with enough gravy and sauce for 2 orders.   I really liked this dish. It was rich and filling enough to leave me full for most for the rest of the day.  I totally spaced taking pictures but it’s worth checking out if you’re hungry.  My son ordered the same as me and the girlfriend ordered the Eggs Benedict ($11) (sauce on the side).   Everyone was happy with their dishes and each said they would order the same again.

The next day we had the opportunity to return, and we did!  This time I went for the Eggs Benedict (also sauce on the side because a bad sauce can ruin an otherwise delicious dish) and my date ordered a half-order of their brioche french toast ($6).  A couple of libations were in order and we tried the Raspberry Bellini ($9) and Hibiscus Mimosa ($10) the latter of which  included a delicious candied hibiscus flower in the bottom of the glass.  Both were well balanced and very refreshing.

Eggs Benedict, with perfectly poached eggs, Pork Belly, and Avocado
Raspberry Bellini


Hibiscus Mimosa

Just about all of the dishes come with roasted, and quartered, potatoes.  While delicious in the “kitchen’ette’ sink” (because of all of the sauces) they were strongly seasoned on their own.  We definitely tasted cumin and, I think, rosemary.  I appreciate the aggressive seasoning, which is unusual in most potato sides, but it was a little much on their own so I opted for fruit on the second visit.  The fruit cup was delicious and contained a great mix of pineapple, grapes, and berries.

I’m really happy with the quality of the food at Northside Kitchenette.  Everything tasted fresh and the portions were just right for my appetite.  Being able to get seated right away on a weekend is a BIG plus in my book.  They had a steady rotation of customers and the service on both occasions was attentive and just right.  I’m happy to drive down from Fishers every once in a while to enjoy a nice breakfast/Brunch/Lunch at this place.

What’s your experience with Northside Kitchenette?  Any other places I should be checking out on a Sunday morning?

Northside Kitchenette
6515 N College Ave
Indianapolis IN 46220
http://www.northsidekitchenette.com

Weekend of Activities

If you know me you know I have a lot of hobbies.  Some would say I have too many…

This past weekend I took the boy to Ohio and introduced him to Briarwood Sporting Club in Bellefontaine and a really amazing  Loose Meat sandwich at the original Maid Rite sandwich shop in Greenville.

Briarwood is located on almost 500 acres of immaculately cared for property and offers 16 lakes with 11 different fish species as well as hunting opportunities in the fall.  I was the lucky winner of a discounted 1-year membership at a Ducks Unlimited auction last fall.  It’s not a cheap membership but after spending some time there I think it’s going to be a place we escape to many times a year.

Greenville Ohio is the home of Kitchen Aid and it has an amazing store that carries just about every make, model, and color the company currently makes in its factory down the road.  It also has a little museum in the basement that helps tell the history of the infamous mixer the company is known for.  I always have to stop in and usually end up bringing a new product or accessory home.  This time around I picked up some replacement parts for my stand mixer as well as a cold-brew coffee maker (future review in the works).

The Maid-Rite restaurant is about as old school as it gets.  Loose Meat sandwiches, chips, and drinks are the only things on the menu.  Somewhere in its history people started sticking gum on the building and after all these years it’s practically covered in it.  A little gross but it’s a tradition evidently.

Although the weather wasn’t the most cooperative we really enjoyed our day-trip to Ohio and are looking forward to the next one!