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A Trip to Berea, Kentucky

The 2004 Breyfogle Convergence, a gathering of the Breyfogle family from around the world, was held the first week in August, 2004 in Berea, Kentucky. Since we had never been to Kentucky this was to be a big adventure for us. Our trip began at 6:06 AM on Thursday August 5th as we headed south and east via the new Avenue of the Saints. For those that are not familiar with the term, the Avenue, as everyone calls it now, is a 4-lane interstate designed to connect St. Louis, Missouri with St. Paul, Minnesota. This route starts on I-35 in St. Paul and joins a new path just south of Mason City. It runs diagonally from Mason City, through Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and will eventually continue on to St. Louis.

We like this path because it cuts a lot of time off our trips to Cedar Rapids on business. We picked up I-80 at Cedar Rapids and followed this east to Davenport where we picked up I-74, which took us across southern Illinois and Indiana. We crossed the Mississippi at noon and crossed the bridge you see below.

It was a beautiful day for travel with plenty of sunshine and a light cool breeze. We took this picture from a welcome center on the Illinois side and could have stayed right there the rest of the day enjoying the wonderful weather. But our drive for this first day was planned for about 10 hours of driving so we pressed ahead. We stopped the first night at Hebron, Kentucky that is about 10 miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio. The picture below shows our motel, we realize it is a chain motel, but were very impressed with the all brick exterior. Unfortunately we noticed very quickly it is in the flight path of the airliners taking off from the Cincinnati International Airport.

Early on Friday morning we packed up after a good nights rest and headed on the last leg of the trip that took us south through Lexington, Kentucky and down to Berea, KY. This is a small college town, population of about 10,000. But it seemed much larger than that as it spreads out in all directions. We bummed around town all day, scouting out every hand craft shop in the place. Now b efore you read hand craft as "CRAP" let me explain that this town is built on the "made by hand" philosophy. We visited two chair makers that produced some of the most beautiful wood chairs we have ever seen. The hardwoods are the best they can lay hands on and their attention to detail make them something to behold. We also visited a dulcimer shop and Dan fell in love with the idea of making what the shop keeper, and well known dulcimer maker, proclaimed as the easiest stringed instrument to play. We bought a kit that he instructed us on how to modify to make it a real work of art as well as a quality instrument. We even bought a penny whistle that Dan thought would make a great addition to help tune the dulcimer. Now all we need is time to work on it. Following a long day of poking about town we checked into our hotel, shown below. It is known as the Boone Tavern Hotel, and is on the historic register as well being part of the historic hotel listing.

We next found the Breyfogle Convergence meeting place, and after some chat and planning for Saturday left to have dinner and short drive in the country to see some of the rural area around Berea.

Our entire day on Saturday was spent at the Convergence and by the time we left we felt like taking another short drive so we drove south on highway 25 to find a small lake, Beulah Lake, that we saw listed on the tour guide. After some difficulty we did find this quiet little man made lake that serves as a water supply for the surrounding small towns. It was not marked with a sign so we had to ask directions and were pleased with the quiet lake that was at the top of a gravel road. Sunday morning bright and early we checked out of the hotel and drove south to Corbin, KY. This is the site of the Cumberland Falls. On the way we stopped for a quick trip through the Colonel Sanders original cafe. Well not really the original, but a reproduction near the site of the original cafe and motel where his KFC franchise got its strat. Now before you groan and moan about a dull trip we found this very interesting and we took more pictures but won't bore you with them on-line. But it was a very informative side trip, and we have been known to enjoy a bucket of his chicken from time to time.

At Corbin we bought tickets for a lunch cruise on the river, which we discovered was not a hugely senic cruise as we expected. In fact it became apparent that our ride up the river was to help pay for the fuel for a trip the boat needed to take to retrieve their patrons that were white water rafting down the river. The trip up the river made us feel a little like Humphrey Bogart and Catherine Hepburn in African Queen as we sat dead in the water waiting for some action. But it was a nice quiet ride with a cool breeze and plenty of sunshine so it wasn't a disaster. The river is wide and not very swift and is lined on both sides by huge hills covered with hardwood trees. The light lunch was very good and the trip back down the river was a bit noiser as we picked up about 35 rafters and their equipment.

Our final stop of the day was at Cumberland Falls. This is billed as the largest falls south of Niagra and east of the Mississippi. It is over a hundred feet wide and when the river is at normal level drops 60 feet. This visit involved some tramping about on the trails and again we enjoyed a nice cool day for the walk. The view of the falls is hampered somewhat by the dense growth of trees, but we did manage to peek through them and get a couple nice pictures. We finished Sunday by retracing our trip back to Berea, and then due west to Louisville where we spent the night.

We left Louisville early Monday morning for what was to be our long travel day back to Iowa. We picked up an hour due to the time zone change and planned about 500 miles to get us to Keokuk. The trip went well as we took I-64 west to St. Louis then picked up Highway 61 and Highway 40 north to Keokuk. We wanted to try this route since it is supposed to eventually be the Avenue of the Saints route in Missouri. I was 4-lane divided highway all except about 30 miles south of Keokuk. We had not planned anything for Keokuk but did drive around a bit to see this old river town and to get a picture of the Mississippi. We are both starting to get a little frazzled from the driving so decided to call it an early evening so we could get started on the last leg home on Tuesday.

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