Brochures, BBQ, and billboards

We’ve been home from our nine-day, 30th anniversary trip-of-a-lifetime for 12 days now, and I have been absolutely itching to blog. However, as you know, I am never bored, there’s been quite a bit going on recently, and I’ve just not had made the time to write. But my reward for completing a certain part of today’s to-do list is to blog, so at long last here goes the next installment of our trip!

Having completed our two super tours of Mammoth Cave, having obtained our requisite “black bar” national park brochure (Katie, who lives in Virginia, a state FULL of national parks and monuments, started aggressively collecting these brochures a few years ago; I already had in our filing cabinet a handful of them I’d picked up in the Dark Ages, but I’ve just officially re-started the habit in the past couple years),

Mammoth Cave brochure.jpg

and having driven to and then walked the 0.4 mile loop boardwalk trail around Sloan’s Crossing Pond, we were hungry and more than ready for a tasty BBQ lunch at the Porky Pig Diner, which we had previously noted was open till 3:00 PM on Sundays. On the way, we once again saw those mysterious Cedar Sink Road Pig signs, one of which was in sight of the diner itself. We parked, stretched our legs, and walked to the door.

The Porky Pig Diner sits alone at a crossroads in rural Kentucky. It has a gravel parking lot, in which were several cars, and a glass door, through which we could see folks inside sitting and talking at several tables. It was 2:40 PM, and our mouths were watering. Scott reached to open the door for me, but even before he touched it, an older woman – she had to be at least 60 – pushed it open from inside and said loudly and firmly, “We’re CLOSED.” Scott said, “But it’s only 2:40, and…” and she cut him off with an even more emphatic “We’re CLOSED.” There was no arguing with the lady, so, disappointed, we turned and drove away. Clearly the Porky Pig Diner doesn’t need (or want?) any additional tourist dollars, care deeply about customer service, or feel an obligation to adhere to its stated hours of operation!

That said, I still have a soft spot in my heart for a small business owner who makes her own decisions and refuses to be controlled by others. Long live that independent, conservative spirit! That Sunday afternoon those folks in the diner were probably ready to go home and watch a football game or go fishing or play with their grandchildren or take a nap. Our luncheon loss, but more power to them.

We then took the scenic route back to the highway – VERY scenic and fun! – and at long last ended up in Glasgow, KY where, in desperation we ended up buying White Castles to go. This was a throw-back to my childhood; White Castles are called “sliders” now, and yes, I did eat and thoroughly enjoy not one, not two, not even three, but five of them. (They’re small.) From there we traveled the lovely Cumberland Parkway toward Somerset.

Scott and I do have a definite driving rhythm, developed some fifteen years ago when we were driving 45 minutes one way to church every Sunday. Scott likes to use his time in the car to accomplish something, be it reading the Bible (which is what he did back in the day), working/researching on his computer, keeping up with the Red Sox on his phone, planning ministry activities, or dealing with issues related to our vacation rental house business. I like to drive, and since I’m more comfortable in the driver’s seat than in the passenger’s, I do most of the long-distance driving while he does the in-town part. [I never have understood why he feels compelled to take over driving once we get into a town. Maybe he doesn’t trust me? He used to do this on the rare occasions when we ate lunch out after church in Springfield. He insisted on driving us from the church to the restaurant, but then wanted me to drive the 35 minutes home on the freeway.] In any case, these default settings worked really well for us on this trip, with the result that until we actually got where we were going, he was in the Bible or on a device and I was driving.

Oh, now I also remember this: Scott had gotten banged around playing basketball the week before, and he had a hip that was much happier in the passenger seat; that was another reason I was the one behind the wheel on the Cumberland Parkway.

Now, this particular highway was interesting to me. For one thing, although it looks and feels like an interstate, it didn’t seem to have a highway number. (?!?!?) I guessed at the time – and later confirmed my hunch – that although this is no longer the case, it was originally a toll road. And as is usually the case with toll roads, the Cumberland Parkway has NO billboards. I mean zero, zilcho, nada, not one. The rolling countryside is lovely, and it’s nice to not have a lot of junky signs all over (think Branson), but with some 80 miles of billboard-less pavement, I was beginning to get bored and sleepy. As I told Scott, you can’t play the alphabet game on the Cumberland Parkway!

And the Cumberland Parkway wasn’t even the most direct route from Mammoth Cave to Townsend, TN, but it was the best way to get to Somerset, KY, a city where we were determined to accomplish a special mission.

To be continued…

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