Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kentucky Bourbon Trail ... Maker's Mark Tour

When you find yourself in Kentucky, especially anywhere between Lexington and Louisville, you can't help but be taken over by the "Bourbon Spirit."

Kentucky has a "rich history and proud tradition" of crafting the state's signature spirit. "It began in the 1700s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task," according to Kentucky Distillers’ Association's website.

"They soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier.

"Since then, generations of Kentuckians have continued the heritage and time-honored tradition of making fine Bourbon, unchanged from the process used by their ancestors centuries before."

Monster warehouses dominate the landscape in 'Bourbon Country' (Julianne G. Crane)

The importance of the Bourbon industry is clearly obvious when driving through this part of Kentucky. Ominous monolithic warehouses dominate much of the landscape.

RVer Jimmy Smith walking among the "spirits." (Julianne G. Crane)
These huge warehouses store the aging 'spirits' that have helped create "9,000 jobs, generate more than $125 million in tax revenue each year, and is a growing international symbol of Kentucky craftsmanship and tradition." Learn more by clicking on: Kentucky Distillers’ Association's web site.

 The process begins. (Julianne G. Crane)
In 1999, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour was formed to give visitors a firsthand look at "the art and science of crafting Bourbon." Nine distilleries, seven of which are within 35 miles of Lexington, dot the Bourbon Tour.

Bourbon tourism has skyrocketed since then, with nearly 2.5 million visitors to the Bourbon tour in the last five years alone, according to industry folks. We were two of those millions when we drove the windy back-country roads to the Maker’s Mark Distillery, a National Historic Landmark that is nestled in Loretto, Kentucky, in the rolling hills of Marion County.

Maker's Mark Visitors Center (Julianne G. Crane)
Maker's Mark Distillery
350 Burkes Spring Road
Loretto, Kentucky 40037
Tour: $9 for adults (helps defray the cost of the tasting samples for those of legal drinking age)
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday (March through December) -- 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Grab a bite to eat at the Tollhouse Cafe.

During the winter months, it is highly recommended that visitors call the distilleries you plan on visiting before heading out to make sure they are open.

To read more RV lifestyle articles by Julianne G. Crane, go to

(Photos: by Julianne G. Crane)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nez Perce Bear Paw Battlefield … “I will fight no more forever” — Chief Joseph

It was 137 years ago on Oct. 5, that Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce surrendered following the final battle of the four-month Nez Perce War of 1877 at the Bear Paw Battlefield.

Jimmy Smith reads about the Nez Perce War. (Julianne G. Crane)
"The 1877 flight of the Nez Perce from their homelands while pursued by U.S. Army Generals Howard, Sturgis, and Miles, is one of the most fascinating and sorrowful events in Western U.S. history," according to the U.S. Forest Service's Nez Perce National Historic Trail Webpage.

"Following the breakout of war in Idaho, nearly 800 Nez Perce (including elders, women and children) spent a long and arduous summer fleeing U.S. Army troops, first toward Crow allies and then toward refuge in Canada," states the National Park Service's Webpage. Nearly 100 died on the journey.

On Sept. 30, 1877, after traveling 1,170 miles through the mountains and only 40 miles short of the Canadian border, "400 troops and 50 scouts" surprised the Nez Perce encampment and attacked at dawn.

Battlefield marker (Julianne G. Crane)
Chiefs Looking Glass, Ollokot, and Too-hul-hul-sote along with many other warriors and Native people were killed during the five-day battle and siege in snow and freezing conditions.

The Nez Perce surrendered their weapons on Oct. 5.

"Some of the soldiers wrote in their journals that it was the coldest weather they had ever experienced," said Bear Paw Battlefield park ranger Stephanie Martin.

It is recorded that Chief Joseph spoke the following words on abdicating:

Chief Joseph's words. Click on image to enlarge. (Julianne G. Crane)

The battlefield is part of Nez Perce National Historical Park and Nez Perce National Historic Trail.

Battlefield sign. (Julianne G. Crane)
If you go:
- Bear Paw Battlefield from Chinook, Mont., (on Hwy. 2) travel 16 miles south on Route 240.
- Once there, walk the 1-1/2 mile self-guided trail to get a greater feel of this sacred site.
- There are picnic tables and vault toilets available.
- No charge.

To read more RV lifestyle articles by (Julianne G. Crane), go to

Photos from the top: Jimmy Smith reads about the Bear Paw siege. There are numerous plaques along the trail that mark significant points of the battlefield. Chief Joseph's words on surrendering at Bear Paw Battlefield on Oct. 5, 1877. Photos by Julianne G. Crane.