Thursday, June 23, 2016


Before yesterday I was not a fan of whisky or whiskey and hadn't much cared to understand Bourbon. I learned a lot. 
My wife looked up the options as we drove north out of Tennessee and she came up with a little place still busy making room for itself in a Bourbon world dominated by big names.
Willett Distillery is a family business built we are told without loans or partners and they are building their distillery one barrel at a time by hand. It's very intimate and down to Earth. Our tour guide Evelyn looked the dumb blonde but she was smart as a button very well informed, funny and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed her tour. 
The distillery didn't make it easy for her with all the noise of machinery and additionally the construction - the sign of expansion...
We saw the mash fermenting and when it's fresh it's like sweet runny oatmeal but when it has started to ferment the mash is disgusting and vinegary. The actual color is sandy yellow but the light messed the camera a bit...
The Willett still is patented and brilliant  (of course) and looks the part, built in Kentucky. 
We worshipped it dutifully:
And they sell whiskey in a bottle made to resemble the pot still. They admire it that much! 
Let's be honest, I got the bullet points about whiskey making but this was my first ever visit to a distillery (why?) and the process is not simple. Google will help if you need the details. I enjoyed it all. 
The marks above are made by full barrels rolled into the wooden floor where they crease they manufacturers marks in the planks from the pressure of the weight of the whiskey within. The plumb line below indicates if the whiskey barrels are stored correctly in the warehouse called a "rick."  If the plumb is off the building could tip...!
Great fun. Highly highly recommended. Then we tasted and bought a bottle. My wife then urged me to drive at speed to Old Barton before they closed. A gloomy industrial place. 
We entered from the wrong end but the workers laughed and redirected us without the shadow of a frown. Great place. 
Our taster explained the bourbon helped us taste it and explained the value of water. Sounds stupid? It worked. Her patience converted me.
They gave us directions to a local eatery which was great, the Rickhouse tucked out of sight. 
I tried a Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich, an over the top local speciality of turkey ham bacon tomato and cheese. Absurd. 
 Rusty's day was one of walks and fun and naps in the air conditioned car. I think he had fun. 
I guess Kentucky was worth the drive by...

Crossing The Seven Mile Bridge - A Manual

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


We said goodbye to Pensacola but only after I cracked a crown.  
I broke a front tooth riding a mountain bike in California 30 years ago and it has been nothing but an irritation ever since. Chewing corn off the cob was bloody stupid in that condition and I paid the price. 
Jack Riepe described this as my vacation face. I joked  while I bled and they stuck me with needles and glue. All is well if temporarily and my insurance kicked in for half the 200 dollar bill. Onwards!
Rusty was the epitome of patience on his bed in the back seat, popping up from time time to look around and then curling up for a nap. I love his curiosity at every stop no matter how mundane. He loves life.
I know we overdo the mileage on these road trips but there is so much to see and so many people to meet that destination gets piled on destination. Riding the folds of land last night across Tennessee I couldn't help  but wonder how the non- freeway roads must have twisted and undulated but we had to arrive so we drove  75 with bursts to 80 inbetween blue flashing lights, of which there were too many and I achieved my goal of not talking to a cop for a day.
Schloss Sadler in the dark of a full moon forested night. Instead of being greeted by vampires and creaking doors we ate chicken and biscuits and cobbler  and beer and conversation and Rusty could hardly contain himself when he saw the woods. Good things come to them as wait. 
Gary and Barbara melted away to do the jobs that got their kids through college and raised them in these corner of a different Paradise than thet say is Key West. Gary lists after Key West and now I'm here I wonder why. 
Watching Rusty prowl the woods and sit in the lush grass to watch the world goby I know where he'd rather be. I can't fault my dog for his common sense. 

Louisa Street Pocket Park

It's located at 616 Louisa Street, roughly behind the First State Bank on Simonton and Catherine Streets. If you had a strong arm you could toss a rock (a very strong arm) into Abbondanza Restaurant, though why you want to I couldn't say. Rusty and I took refuge there from a  rain storm.
Cheyenne's last visit was to take refuge during winter heat. The pictures I took of her in January 2014 I remember like it was yesterday. Well it kind of was.
Rusty was a huge consolation for me after Cheyenne died in February but he has grown into much more than that. I enjoy his company a lot and he has a very different character from her.
 I got Cheyenne when she was eight in 2009 and she was not only stubborn but she was also much more laid back and stand-offish
Cheyenne is gone but the silhouette of a cigar maker's cottage abides:
 It was put up in the spot where those workers used to live to mark their passing...the factory was in the county building called, by no coincidence, the Gato Building. 
The Gato Building is a tad bit more monumental than the cigar worker houses... and ironically these days houses the Monroe County Public Heath department among others. 
One of the pleasures of key west is that getting wet, unless you are on your way to work of an office type, is no big deal. I sat and spluttered and waited for I don't know what.
 It was entirely comfortable for my dog and myself.
There is a geocache out here somewhere and I have hunted high and low for the damned thing but I cannot find it. Yet.
 Abbondanza is visible in the distance, across Simonton Street.
 The giant representation of a cigar is the largest of its kind we are told.
 And this is where we are told: