Day 4: September 16, 2010
A Little More Dixie
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One of the world's top ranked breakfast spots, Loveless Cafe, sits at Nashville's eastern edge and the more centrally located Pancake Pantry is also well known for top notch breakfast fare. Then there's the Hermitage Cafe. It's a Nashville institution known more for the variety of its patrons than the quality of its food. The food here is good. It is honest American grub like the bacon & eggs I had this morning but it doesn't inspire accolades like that of the Loveless or the Pantry. This is only my second visit to the Hermitage and both have been in the daytime. I'm thinking I really should see the place in the middle of the night sometime.

After a bit of thrashing, I picked up US-31W and followed the former Dixie Highway northward. In Bowling Green, KY, I stopped at the National Corvette Museum about a half mile off the route. As a member, there is no cost to visit and I sometimes pop in to see what's new. I recall reading about the 1965 Corvette that was recovered almost forty years after it was stolen but don't recall the car being here on my last visit. The temporary exhibit area currently contains something called "Serene to Extreme" consisting of modified Corvettes. My first thought on seeing Bobby Bruhn's car was, so this is what can happen to rare cars when people have too much money. My opinion isn't quite as harsh after reading how Bobby did all the work on the 1954 himself but I still think I'd rather have the stock machine. The sign says Brenda Marksberry's Barbie Pink 1994 is a daily driver. With lace? In Kentucky? Really?

ADDENDUM: Jul 28, 2011 - I could say that the line about US 31W once being the Dixie Highway heading north from Nashville was misleading but that would be misleading. The truth is it's just plain wrong. US 31W and the Dixie Highway are pretty much one and the same north of Bowling Green but between there and Nashville it is US routes 431 and 68 that follow the path of the DH.

I was saddened to see the collapsed roof at Horseshoe Camp Modern Cabins a few miles north of Bowling Green. Hopes for restoration were always pretty farfetched but they're pretty much gone now. The cabins themselves don't look so bad but it is impossible to know their true condition.

I've been thinking of -- and putting off -- a visit to the Swope's Cars of Yesteryear Museum for a long time and I finally got 'er done. Wow! Bill Swope has been selling new cars and collecting old ones for years. The museum in Elizabethtown displays what is said to be about half of his old ones. The 40-50 pristine classics are fairly close together but there are no barricades so visitor can walk between them and look inside.

The first car I've pictured is a 1928 Packard 443 7 Passenger Sedan. Or maybe it's a model 44 37 passenger sedan. The space inside could probably justify either designation. I picked the 1935 Ford because it is so similar to the oldest car I've ever driven. That was a blue 1936 Ford Coupe that a friend inherited while we were both in high school. I guess the car wasn't so old then. It remains the only car I've driven with mechanical brakes and one that gives me a sincere appreciation for the wonders of hydraulics. The last picture shows what Harley Earl was up to in the 1930s. It's a 1931 LaSalle Convertible Coupe that sold new for $2345 or less than 50¢ a pound.

I left the Dixie in Elizabethtown and followed the very enjoyable US-62 to Bardstown. That's where the 2010 Kentucky Bourbon Festival officially opened on Tuesday and I thought I should take a look. It doesn't get real festivaly until about 4:00 Friday afternoon but lots of people were in town for tours, parties, and preliminary merry making. I stopped at the Old Talbott Tavern for eats and a beer. The shot glasses weren't mine. They were emptied by the couple next to me. People come here from all over including Japan and Australia. My neighbors were from San Francisco, CA. He had long dreamed of attending the festival with "the boys" then, a year and a half into their marriage, they decided to do it as a couple. They were visiting distilleries, sampling bourbons, and just generally having a great time.

I considered sticking around for a day but decided against it in the end. Bardstown motels were full (The Talbott has already booked their five rooms for next year.) but I imagine I could have found something no farther away than Elizabethtown. What deterred me was the fact that I'd be needing to leave about the time things got rolling. It's time for Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and I'm signed up for a Saturday brewery tour. Is this a great country or what?

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