Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Recent Trip

In case you're wondering what I did last week, my partner Doug went to the IBM/SAM magic convention in Louisville, Kentucky. We met up with friends, and I spent several days exploring the tourist attractions ...

The science center proved to be waaayyy too loud so we skipped that and went to a different museum, the Frazier Museum, which had lovely exhibits on toy soldiers and Lewis & Clark. I think my best find there was the book of native perspectives on the Lewis & Clark expedition. At least I don't get kicked out of class now for reading the other side of history. ;)

Indiana Caverns is a comparatively new cave, just opened to the public in 2013. Regrettably it's owned by creationists, so all "facts" must be considered dubious unless confirmed by an outside source; this isn't a cave for the Christian-averse. But it's the closest to wild caving I've done since the one time I actually went wild caving: lots of stairs, some low ceilings, and a boat ride. It has a huge room, some interesting tunnels ... and a massive cache of Ice Age bones. :D Also what amounts to an untapped flint mine: at one point you can look up and see chert nodules embedded in the ceiling, and another place has one on the floor broken in half, rather fine blue-gray chert from the look of it I got. It was like seeing fist-sized nuggets of gold. I don't think I'm ever going to lose my tendency to squee over tool materials in situ. The cave is about 60 miles south of the glacier's southern edge, which means: last stop for weapons before the big hunt. Mastodons were too big to tolerate deep snow so they liked to flank the glaciers where it was drier. That made for fantastic hunting. While the cave's Ice Age entrance probably closed before humans arrived (depending on whose numbers you like) and there are no signs of prehistoric human activity inside the cave, I would bet those gorgeous veins of chert attracted some attention. If it hasn't been plowed under someone's field, what we're looking for is wherever those veins transect the surface, probably in the deep river valleys but possibly along cliffs, and then the closest of those to the glacier would have been damn valuable mines. Even a river that's washing out an upstream deposit is worth fighting over, and that's what I mined flint out of at Ancient Lifeways Camp. But if you can find the source, it's higher quality material. A few of these have been found, for instance in France. So then, look for a place that's been dug into a bit, and would have toolmaking spalls everywhere. It's easy to overlook if you don't know what you're seeing -- and there's a chance it's not tilled under, because a good chert mine is lousy farming/building space. Hunting camp is another likely find. There's a surface river just a few minutes from the cave. Some enterprising archaeologist could merge the vertical cave map, the chert veins, a topographical map of the area with rivers, and the glacier line to identify some promising areas to look for dig sites. I left them a note. So far the only archaeologists they have onsite are going after the animal bones, but people talk; someone might be interested in looking for human activity in the general area. Also worth noting, the gift shop is splendid; I blew a big chunk of my budget there. Despite the iffy science, it's actually the most fun cave I've been in short of the majors like Carlsbad Caverns and Mammoth Cave. Highly recommended if your ability level is just short of wild caving.

We went looking for several used bookstores and found a couple of them, whereat I bought some more books. But honestly, what I remember most from that day are the Comfy Cow parlor of homemade ice cream (loved the Rip Van Ripple) and the Cellar Door Chocolates (fuuudge, and also truffles).

The Old Bardstown Civil War Museum is actually a complex of four different sites: one Civil War, one a mix of Civil War and other wars, the Civil War Women's Museum, and the Pioneer Village. I hit an unexpected jackpot in the gift shop there, where they were selling off retired prints from the museum. \o/ Holiday shopping for two hard-to-buy-for relatives, ticky ticky!

We saw some beautiful scenery just driving around.  Louisville has gorgeous architecture.  The surrounding hills and mountains are lovely.  While we did not go on any of the paddleboats, we saw several of them lolling around the river -- our hotel was right next to it.

We had a lot of fun with restaurants. The Irish Rover had Scotch eggs: a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried. Frankly I think the batter is overkill, but the idea of sausage-wrapped egg is fabulous. I've been wanting to try these for a while, and may try something similar at home. At Eiderdown, I couldn't find the stuff I thought I'd seen online, so I ordered something called a bierock, which turned out to be things stuffed into the best pretzel bread pocket ever. Ramsi's Cafe had truly epic mango barbecue prawns. I had been meaning to get the bison burger but they were out of that. Regrettably the basil aioli did not go at all with the mango; I would've liked to explore that one a little more.

We also had tickets to all four of the big magic shows in the evenings. These were entertaining, but honestly, I wasn't all that impressed. I think I got my hopes up too high, this being a joint convention of two world-class organizations. Trouble is, they're pulling in opposite directions and not getting along at all well. >_< Most of the acts consisted of stuff I'd seen before, and not as well done as they could've been. There were some delightful parts -- the dove act was lovely, as was the mask dance. The hula hoop dancer actually did two figures -- the Eagle and the Butterfly -- from Native American hoop dancing, which was a pleasant surprise. But I saw more botches, fumbles, flashes, and drops here than I have in any other professional show. The juggler dropped things ELEVEN TIMES. I've seen the Chicago juggling club screwing around in the lobby of SF conventions and they won't even take a trick out in public until they've got it down to no more than one or two drops. Magifest had some better performers. Conversely some of the for-sale demonstrations were excellent, and my partner came home with all kinds of loot. We actually found a couple of items that work based on images instead of text, and I just can't resist trying to think of different ways to use a prop than what it was originally designed for. He said some of the lectures were fascinating too.

I am now totally spoiled when it comes to vacations, on account of traveling in a mixed group of people who were 1) generally inclined to accommodate everyone's special needs as best we could, and 2) contained two logistical experts of different types such that it was super well planned and I didn't have to break my brain trying to make all the plans or handle all the numbers myself. I could look up and rank my favorites of things, to be compared against other people's favorites and sorted into a schedule. We had spreadsheets. When some things didn't pan out in person, we usually managed to make alternate plans that worked. :D 3q3q3q!!!

So that was a success.
Tags: magic, personal
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