Murphys, California

The early part of October I was out in California and while there, Cindy (my hostess) and I took a day to drive up into Gold Mine country. I’ve been to a lot of places in California, but not Gold Mine Country, so this was extra enjoyable because I hadn’t seen it before. Expectedly (just made that word up), there were a lot of hills and “crannies” in the landscape and a lot of towns with the word “camp” tacked on the end.  In some spots, you could even imagine a couple prospectors appearing on top of a hill, their equipment hanging off of them at odd angles. Alas, we didn’t really see any prospectors – but we did have a fun lunch in the courtyard of Murphy’s Hotel in the town of Murphys.

A long, long time ago (1844), John and Daniel Murphy came to California as part of the first group that brought wagons across the Sierra Nevada. they started their California career as shopkeepers, but then got caught up in the Gold Rush like everyone else.

This area was so rich in gold that miners weren’t allowed to have claims any bigger than 8 square feet – but even so, many became rich. The Murphy brothers, however, soon discovered they could make more money with their store than mining. And so that’s what they did.

The Murphy’s Hotel opened in 1856 and was a popular stop on the stage route to Big Trees. When most of the town burned down in 1860, the hotel escaped a lot of damage because of the stonework in it’s walls.  What a charming place for a charming lunch.

Louisville Slugger Museum

WHERE: The Louisville Slugger Museum is in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Because most of our time in Louisville was made up of studying, speaking and talking to people at the booth, we did not have a lot of time to be out and about. However, the museum was just a couple blocks away from the hotel so we were able to go down and back without being away too long. Actually the walk from hotel to the museum is rather interesting with well-known replicas of famous sculptures.  This is also where bats are made – the baseball kind, not the fly-around-in-the-night kind.

WHAT: Yes, this is a museum, but it is also a close-up and personal look at the bat makers making bats. If you are at all interested in baseball or in woodwork, this place is great. Not many factories let you get this close to the action anymore. You literally watch as a block of wood is turned into a bat. If you are interested in both – which I am – it is doubly interesting.

WHEN:  Mondays-Saturday 9:00 to 5:00. Sundays 11:00 to 5:00. (Everyone in our group managed to get down to the museum in the morning – but I did read that the union makes the workers stop at 3:30 or something. Having the workers working certainly was a big part of the appeal – so you might want to call before you visit to make sure you are there during working hours.)

INTERESTING FACTS: 

*Louisville Slugger started as a family woodworking shop (the Hillerich Family from Germany) that made everything from balusters to bedposts. Bud Hillerich, an amateur baseball player (1880) began making his own bats and then the bats for his teammates.

Then one balmy, spring afternoon seventeen-year-old Bud went to an Eclipse baseball game. (The Eclipse was Louisville’s professional American Association team.) Pete Browning, a star of the team broke his bat and Bud offered to make him a new one from white ash. Browning got three hits the first time he used the bat and became known as the Louisville slugger and thus the name.

*Most bats are made from white ash or maple. (Louisville Slugger has their own forests in the Northeast.)

*1.6 million bats are made each year.

KID FACTOR: The museum part of the place isn’t all that big (though admittedly, we were in a hurry and did not see everything) and had some fun things for kids to see. The tour was interesting – we got to hold some bats of pro players, see bats made and received a small souvenir bat. We also were able to chose the top of a bat (the part they cut off) to keep. This is just a piece of wood, but still cool.

This is definitely a kid place, especially kids who play softball or like baseball.

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Zachary Taylor

I’ve been through Louisville a lot on the way to other places. In fact, I was through Louisville just a few weeks ago – and I knew there was a president’s house there, one of the few I haven’t seen. The difference about Zachary Taylor’s house, however, is you can’t actually go inside because people live there and I guess they don’t (understandably) want tourists wandering through their kitchen or bedroom.

But it was there and since Roger and I were both in Louisville – we decided we would drive by so we could say we saw it – so that’s what we did.

Beautiful house  – but didn’t find too much more about it than you can find out by looking at this picture.

Still – another president’s house crossed off the list.DSC02960

COOL RESTAURANT – OR MAYBE I WAS JUST HUNGRY

OK, I think it’s been a couple centuries since I wrote on this blog – but that’s what I get for doing two other mandatory blogs – the voluntary one gets neglected.

But have a lot of travel stuff to catch up on from this fall – so I’m going to slowly get through it … going backwards.

DSC02970The busy fall ended at the D6 conference in Louisville.

On the way home (three van loads of us – though our van was my brother and me and three HUGE beanbags) we stopped in Indy for supper – a place some of the crew had found on the way down.

The place was called Squealers and it had some of the best barbecue I’ve ever eaten. Not sure if it’s because it truly was some of the best barbecue I had ever eaten or because most of the other meals I had eaten that week consisted of pizza or plastic-wrapped sandwiches (Yuck!).  There were ten of us and so we ordered five Squealer Samplers which consisted of three individually chosen meats and side.

Just all around good.

But this is not the highlight of the fall – so moving on backwards …