Shakers and Horror in Ohio

Here is the story of my last 3 days in Kentucky.

Day 4 in Lexington. A shook community.

Centre Family Dwelling once was the home to more than 100 Shakers

Since it was Sunday, we felt it would be appropriate to combine the planned excursion for the day with something religious and as there is a “living museum” about 25 miles from Lexington at the small settlement of Pleasant Hill, where a religious community from the Shaker movement have been maintained and restored, we decided to go there because Skye and Michael had been there before and they felt that it would appeal to my historical interest. The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing better known as The Shakers (referring to their enthusiastic and quite physical services) was a religious sect, or movement, in the 17th to 19th centuries although despite its decline because of, amongst other reasons, its demand of universal celibacy, the last adherent did in fact not pass away until 1923. The place sounded interesting so I was happy to go there.

I left the hotel early and aside from the traditional forced pet petting tribute we left as soon as I got to the house. That meant that we arrived in Pleasant Hill while it was still relatively cool, although it wasn’t really until late afternoon the temperatures rose to unbearable as the museum is on a high airy ridge. The museum is interesting since almost all still existing houses have been effectively renovated so although some of them have naturally been turned into a restaurant and shopping possibilities, you can still enter and see a 15-20 different houses to learn how the community was structured in the 19’Th century. The Shakers maintained their numbers through adoption or conversions and as those numbers fell in the aftermath of the American Civil War, Pleasant Hill began a decline, but before that it was a fascinating community with, amongst other things: equal gender rights, charitable work etc. We walked around for a few hours looking at the town before we ended the visit by going to the active farm still run by the museum, in order to - amongst other reasons - get fresh local vegetables to the restaurant, and there we said hi to the animals that was kept, (pigs, donkeys, llamas, horses and cows) and saw the various crops that were of course amongst those the Shakers grew themselves 150 years earlier. After the visit to the farm we discussed whether to get some lunch in the restaurant but instead decided to drive the couple of miles down to a riverboat run by the museum to take a cruise on the nearby Kentucky river, so we wouldn’t have to wait at least another 2 hours for that.

The trip to the landing was only about 2 miles but the road there was so winding that it took us nearly 10 minutes from the museum. Down in the ravine at the river the temperature was entirely different than on the cool ridge above and while I was in my usual shorts and shirt with the sleeves up, at least Skye looked slightly uncomfortable and in general I was reminded of the humidity and heat of a south Louisiana swamp. After 20 minutes in the sweat hut of a waiting area the riverboat crew arrived and we allowed to board. The boat itself was a classic steamwheeler design, although it was modernly constructed and had a diesel engine, rather than running on steam. Maybe that makes it a dieselwheeler? The trip lasted about 45 minutes each way and we got to see both birds, turtles and other beautiful nature on the way up and down the river, while the crew told us the story of how important the River and its trade had been to the Shaker community and their part in the trade route down the river from eastern and central Kentucky towards the major river trade on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers further west, and how the river trade had eventually been made outcompeted by the emerging railways which further added to the decline of Pleasant Hill. All in all, both the museum and the river cruise was certainly worth the 30 dollars we paid and if you happen to be in the area it is an experience you should not cheat yourself out of.

It was now getting towards mid-late afternoon so we decided to drive back to Lexington since I had an important errand to run. Since my hotel was without any services in order to keep prices down I had now run out of toilet paper, so a shopping trip had become absolutely necessary. First though, we headed back to the house so Michael could check his work email (on a SUNDAY even!) and we could say hi to the animals (naturally except Winston). When Michael had completed his work, we first drove to a nearby store so I could restock on what was needed for my last 3 days in town and after that I was taken on a guided tour to parts of Lexington I had not seen before so I could take more pictures. Then we found an Applebee's to eat dinner together again. My father have written enough about our Applebee's traditions so I’m not going to bore you are with that, but the food was, as usual, excellent and after the meal I went back to the hotel, stopping to take some photos of an interesting church I hadn’t seen before and relaxed until bedtime.

Day 5 in Lexington. Sitting on children and animals

Boarding the river cruise on Kentcucky River

Today was the day in Lexington where least was planned and that was how it turned out. Skye and Michael had his son from a previous marriage that day, and since Michael had to work I had volunteered to help Skye babysitting. Ok, I say babysitting, but in fact Aidan (as the kid is called), is actually 10 years old so perhaps more like child sitting? In any case, I was to sit on him.

Since we had absolutely nothing planned for the day except for a single shopping trip, I ended up not setting my alarm and it was past ten before I left the hotel. Well at the house I met the boy who is a nice and fun kid and we got along swimmingly from the moment we met. It’s usually like that with me and children over the age of 2. Before that they usually hate me, after that they usually love me. Maybe because I'm big and loud and willing to have fun with them while and is also treating them as much like adults as is responsible. After having spent 3-4 hours hanging out and entertaining Aidan and the animals (minus you know who) we went to shop at a local Target. Earlier on the trip our Texan friends had, incredibly generously, given me the starter pack for Cards Against Humanity (a kind of card game where you try to make funny and/or rude and risqué sentences by drawing cards), and now I wanted a few of the expansion packs and I knew they could be gotten cheap in Target. Since Skye also needed a few things from there, we loaded Aidan in the car and headed down there. After we had done our shopping I decided that I would like to see the Hair- and Skin laser removal company that Skye worked at and meet her coworkers that I had heard a lot about. As said, so done and we drove to the place where she works as an administrative secretary. On the way I entertained Aidan by driving strange places just to see what we could find. Something he seemed to find hilarious. Unfortunately due to some ufortunate circumstances I ended up owing him quite a lot of money that I then had to try to pay back in quarter dollar installments for the rest of the trip :-). Skye’s clinic was inspected and her very nice co-workers met after which we drove back to the house where Aidan played some videogames while Skye and I chatted and entertained the house dictators (minus… I really don’t have to say it anymore do I?)

This evening I had been invited for a homemade dinner at the house rather than going out to eat (probably so they could save money on food bills, it was MY vacation after all, even if Skye had taken time off work to spend it with me) and she had made some excellent burgers for when Michael came home. After that we all chatted for an hour or so before I drove back to get as much sleep as I could before Tuesday’s program. All in all a very relaxing day without any real exciting experiences, but I suppose those kinds of days have their place as well on a vacation. Even on a road trip.

Day 6 in Lexington. Horror and fear in Ohio.

Around Dayton in Ohio lives a very sweet and cool girl named Shannon. She have a YouTube channel where she tells creepy or spooky stories and details supernatural and unexplained events or creatures. The channel is called Take a look.. Under the Veil, and Skye knows her loosely, while I have become very close friends with her throughout the last few years, like A. from the trip to the creationist museum.

During the planning phase of the trip I had realized that she was only a few hours north of Lexington, and we had decided to drive up and meet with her and her husband. Shannon have a nerve condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth which destroys her muscles and gives her problems with her sense of feeling and control of extremities like feet and hands, so she is mostly confined to a wheelchair, and we had therefore decided to just meet at a restaurant and hang out there for a few hours, and I thus got up rather early in the morning and went to pick up Skye. Following the traditional submission before the animalistic tyrants of Lexington (apart from [please see the previous parenthesis on this subject]), we left so as to not be caught in the noon traffic around Cincinnati that we had to pass on the way. The trip north went as well as we had hoped and we did get through Cincinnati as easily as we had hoped, although we stopped a few times to take pictures of its very pretty skyline. So because of this we were only a little bit ahead of the schedule when we, with about 30 minutes left to our appointed time, ran into road work. HEAVY roadwork. The traffic ended up being so bad that I felt back in Connecticut. More about that in the article One truly lousy day from 2014. Fortunately after about 20 miles the traffic began to loosen up again. At that time we had lost a lot of time though and was actually behind schedule and to make matters worse my bladder had started to rebel against me, while all exists had been blocked during the roadwork.

Shannon and Tim

Luckily we soon found a chance to get off the freeway and with a bit of help from the GPS, we found a gas station some hundred yards from the exit. It turned out that they had only one rest room in a separate building behind the main building, so I got the key and ran out there. That was when I nearly had to flee in sheer terror. I have used public bathrooms many times both in the states and elsewhere and both in rural and urban surroundings; in train stations and many other places, but this was the first time I ever actually must have turned pale from fear. I do not know who… or more likely WHAT had been out there before me, but what had been done there went beyond foul and disgusting directly into issues regarding biological warfare and breaches of the human rights commissions rules on torture. Had my bladder been any less full I would had run away and found another place but I honestly feared that I couldn’t find another place in time, so I closed my eyes and nose and tiptoed on the only clean part of the floor while I did what I had to do while thanking the stars that men can do that sort of thing standing up. Finishing, I stumbled back to the car with tears in my eyes and I am sure Skye was able to tell from the haunted look on me that I had experienced horror beyond human endurance, so naturally she laughed mercilessly at me and my attempts to get sympathy and pity. Despite this harrowing experience the rest of the trip was easy, and as it turned out, Shannon and George were a little bit late themselves so we actually got to the restaurant first. As soon as they arrived we ordered some food and then we chatted for about 3 hours. By which I mean that Shannon and I chatted as if we had known each other all our lives, George and Skye both seem to have some issue with shyness around new people (something you cannot exactly claim about Shannon or I) so despite our attempts to include them in the conversation it was with mixed results, but I do hope both of them enjoyed the time anyway.

As mid-afternoon approcahed Shannon and George had something to do and since Skye wanted to get home to take care of the animals and start dinner before Michael came home from work, we said goodbye and I got another hug from Shannon (not an easy task as she is about 1.5 foot shorter than I, but totally worth it) and promised to meet again as soon as possible, which I hope will be sooner rather than later. Despite our fear that we would now meet rush hour traffic through the roadwork, it turned out that it was only in the northbound lanes, so the trip home actually took nearly an hour less than the trip out despite it now being around 5pm.

Like the previous dayh I had been invited to dine at the house especially since this was also my last day in Lexington, before I was to leave the area and travel south. So while Skye was cooking I was entertaining the dictators when the trip’s miracle occurred. Winston came out from under the bed and observed. He never came near me and if I made too sudden movements it was back to his fortress for a while, but the rest of the evening he was actually mostly in the same room as I. A true July miracle. The food was pasta and tomato sauce and was really good, one of the best spaghetti dishes I’ve had in the states and after we had eaten we talked for another couple of hours before I, with great sadness, said goodbye to both Skye and my new animal friends and returned to the hotel after a quick stop at Walmart for some fruit and chips. All in all it had been a wonderful week and I can’t wait to get back to see the area and Skye again. Probably next year for a single day at least. Back at the hotel I relaxed for a few hours after having packed my suitcase and then went to bed.

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