Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Falls in the Fall - Part 2

Part 2 

Along Spring Street, locally important buildings lined the streets: the Masonic lodge, and the local hardware store.  I love local hardware stores; we have one up the street from us where we’ve gotten keys made for every apartment we’ve had.  The gentleman who ran that place has been doing it forever, and he’s always happy to joke with you, even if you’re a new customer.

A quick jaunt across 7th Avenue put me right beside the Vintage Fire Museum, complete with a restored antique right out front.

I’m no classic car expert, so I couldn’t tell you the year, the make, the model, or any of the modifications done to this fire engine.  The vehicle was in excellent condition; there was someone there who did know all those things, and had lovingly cared for this vehicle for a long time.  It did bear the mark of another city: Leominster.  The only Leominster in the United States is in Massachusetts, located in the center of that state about forty miles west of Boston.  How the truck got here from there must be quite a story.

Although you can see the museum, you can’t hear it.  Some kind of blues or country museum emanated from the other side of the building, and as I walked north on Spring Street, it got louder.

This band, along with perhaps two or three dozen spectators, were enjoying the beautiful afternoon with song and food.  This museum doesn’t look like it’d charge much for admission, if anything at all, so I’d peg it as a fundraiser for the museum or some other charitable cause in the community. 

I suppose one of the ancillary benefits of having a bunch of old factories and warehouses that have fallen into disuse is the opportunity to create haunted houses.  We’ve got spookhouses of all kinds, with all sorts of interesting (read: apocryphal) backstories to entice young and old in for a scare.  Industrial Nightmare was one of the more popular ones, though it appears it was closing for good at the end of this Halloween season. 

Around Louisville, and I’m sure where you live, too, billboards that flank the local highways are still plastered with advertisements for haunted houses long into November and even up till Christmas.   

Although fog machines, make-up, and necromantic practices are becoming more advanced, the idea of a haunted house is still delightfully quaint in its concept.  It’s an annual circus.  I hope they never disappear.

Just a bit farther and it’d be time to hang a left.

As you take I-65 north from Louisville, you cross the river and are immediately presented with “Exit 0,” a hitherto unmatched phenomenon in the interstate system, at least in my experience.  I had walked almost to the first actual exit in Indiana, but before proceeding on my trip, I had to get past this arterial highway.

My plan was to head under the interstate, emerge on the other side, and meander through the industrial side of Jeffersonville before getting to –

Oh.  Well, never mind.

I walked past the sign a few paces, just to see if it was physically possible for me to cross through.  Obviously cars wouldn’t be allowed through, or even a motor scooter.  But what about something with the precision and dexterity of an unencumbered human being?  Several workers were moving dirt, so I decided it would be best to let them be and find another route.

Time to go down the aptly named Indiana Ave., a side-street at the edge of town.  The west side remained undeveloped.  The other side held dated, but well-maintained homes and apartment buildings.  At the next intersection I turned right, skating the edge of a car dealership.  Another sign on the other side informed me that road was closed, but the sidewalk appeared open and was not blocked.  Good enough, right?

Along this freshly paved stretch of road, an abandoned tractor trailer sat.  The side was blank, but the mudflaps bore the name of the bread company, “Klosterman.”  I hope that the bread on board got out alive, poor things. 

I was consigned to the only path possible under I-65, which required me to backtrack all the way to Court Street, and even that was currently under construction, too.  I sidled in between the orange barrels as the traffic roared through the underpass.  The concrete structure tends to box in the sound, so the air no longer dissipates the sound waves, much the same reason that popping a balloon is much louder inside than outside.

I crossed the under-construction onramp entrance carefully and, after clearing the road, noticed a bird flying overhead and landing on a sign that sat beside the onramp.  The hill to climb onto the ramp was steep, but I clamored up the side, camera slung over my shoulder to free my hands.

It looked like a hawk, which are pretty common in our neck of the woods.  The zoom on my camera wasn’t enough to get a good angle, so I inched closer.  Even at my best angle and with maximum digital enhancement, I couldn’t get a great shot. 

Then, after posing for what it felt like was long enough, it took flight with four great flaps of its wings.

What a diva.

Getting down the hill proved to be more challenging, as scree, rebar, and loose patches of soil peppered my route down the hill.  I slung my camera back over my shoulder and took it at a bit of a run.  I slipped at the last second but didn’t put said tails over said teacups.

This next stop was familiar; Kye’s is an event venue and, I think, a catering company, too.  My senior high school formal was held there almost ten years ago.  Really make a twenty-something feel old, why don’t you.

At this point, I had to alter my walking plans to accommodate the new route.  While I’d originally planned to just cross and continue, I now had to rendezvous with my original checkpoint.  Or, I suppose, I could forge a new path entirely with the help of my phone’s map.  I figured I’d try to maintain the original plan as long as possible.

Looks like I missed the invite.  There’s even a lonely wallflower, secluded in the top left.

I think a lot of times we forget how big things are.  It’s easy to think things are small when you’re whizzing by them at seventy miles an hour, but being at ground level reveals the true height and scale of everyday structures.  That light pole is probably two hundred feet tall.  The concrete pieces in the foreground couldn’t be lifted by a whole construction crew working together.  Just something to remember.

It became clear that proceeding to my original rendezvous, Montgomery, was not going to be possible.  The road was incomplete to get there and the intersection ahead was fully blocked off, meaning that proceeding with my original plan would have been trespassing at best and dangerous at worst.  I backtracked to Clark Avenue, took a left and went alongside the Colgate plant. 

The Colgate plant, which has been here for almost a century, is most famous for the huge clock that sits atop of it, visible from the Kentucky side of the river, but more on that later.  The factory beside me was silent; I’m not even sure Colgate made toothpaste there anymore.  It felt eerily like a school, with its well-maintained brick walls, straight lines, but with architectural styling reminiscent of a place of learning, not an industrial facility. 

The building right next door was directly attached to the larger plant complex.  This building, a considerably newer addition, looked to have been constructed in the middle of the 20th century given its chromed metal and color palette, but I couldn’t say for sure.  The structure on top is a smokestack or exhaust of some sort, perhaps for a foundry or some chemical furnace.  Neither toothpaste nor its current packaging have metal to my knowledge, so I’d imagine it’d be the latter or something else entirely.  The curve of the building was particularly attractive yo mr.  This one, for some reason, also looked more like a school than a workhouse. 

The door was dusty and presumably locked, maybe even chained, from the inside.  People had written graffiti, if you could even call it that, in the dust on the glass door.  As I doubt this unassuming portal was the main entrance to this imposing facility, it may have been a visitor entrance or a service entrance. 

Clark Avenue took a northerly curve as I proceeded down the sporadic sidewalk, swirling around  behind the plant.  This back lot seemed unused, leading me to believe that, in fact, the Colgate plant no longer operated.  The grass in the asphalt that you see, brown and stiff, is perhaps the largest indication of a dearth of activity, combining a lack of maintenance and repaving with the lack of traffic to run over any nascent grass buds.  I don’t think the plant has been empty for long, maybe five or six years, but this drove that notion home to me.

Passing beneath one railroad underpass, I found myself in a neighborhood.  

The roads were pretty quiet on this particular Saturday, and the fickle sun kept deciding to what extent and how long it would live behind or before the clouds, creating a fading and swelling of sunlight across the ground.  The weather belied the season, and after over an hour of walking, I was neither hot nor cold, even in the absence of a coat. 

Look at this relic!  Classic cars have always been popular, but classic motor homes are a rare taste.  The make, Barth, doesn’t exist anymore, with its last model rolling out of the factory almost twenty years ago.  This particular vintage appears to have been produced between 1975 and 1985, with my guess being that it’s on the newer side of that estimate.  Knowing folks in Jeffersonville are in it for the long haul, it wouldn’t surprise me if the owner had owned it for its whole lifespan and retained it as a hobby, or perhaps a point of personal pride.  This specimen is in really good condition.  I particularly enjoy the generically patriotic plate on the front of the coach, but it definitely adds to the charm.

This little mutt was at the fence and, as I lifted my camera for a candid shot, he noticed me and barked loudly right as I opened the shutter.  It startled me how loud and piercing his instinctual howl was.  As I’m sure they’d been conditioned to do, his little friend came to visit. 

I said hello to said little friend.  However, lest the owner of these understandably defensive animals think I was there to cause trouble, I kept moving.

At the nearby intersection of Clark and the forgone Montgomery Avenues, I noticed something peculiar.  The church at the northwest corner was named Colgate Baptist Church.  The green space and aquatic center on the northeast side was inside Colgate Park.  Was this little neighborhood called Colgate?  Had I left Jeffersonville entirely?

I crossed the intersection to ride alongside the park for a spell.

Across the road from the grassy park, a cluster of aged trees jutted up from the leafy earth.  A drainage creek seemed to feed them from a small gulch below. 

I reached a crossroad of Arlington Road, a small side-street that would lead inevitably to the Falls of the Ohio, the road I was on, and a footpath that flanked the other side of the park.  I stopped on a bench to consider my course of action, having laid down about four miles or so already.  I weighed my time, answered a couple texts, and stood, convinced that I had the time to take the path that backtracked along the eastern edge of the small park.

This was a charming diversion; aside from a small post at the entrance that restricted anything wider than a bicycle down its path, the paved walk was uninterrupted and completely empty.  The trees rustled with the significant breeze of the day, the sound of a thousand leaves scuffing together interspersed with clack of naked branches tapping their neighbors.  The walkway was significantly raised on a ridge of sorts perhaps fifteen feet above the fairly level park below.

About halfway down the path, I spotted a father and presumably his two young sons in the park below.  It looked like they had a small bow and were shooting at the well-defined earthen ridge for practice.  He looked up, somewhat surprised, and greeted me, and I returned his salutation. 

I can’t help but think that the sport of archery has gotten such a boost thanks in part to The Hunger Games movies and books.  Although it’s just an assumption, it’s nice to think that the lead, a young girl, has inspired young boys to do something active and fun.  Kids' bows have popped up for sale in every large sporting goods store and big box retailer I’ve been to since the success of The Hunger Games franchise.  I have to admit, Katniss/Jennifer Lawrence does makes it look pretty cool.  

The slope of the footpath either descended or the park’s grade ascended, as soon as I was nearly level with a fence that enclosed the town’s aquatic center, which had already been in hibernation for well on two months. 

When I was a kid, the pool you went to said a lot about who you were.  In Louisville, you had the option of several different pools, both public and private.  The pool with whom I was a member was actually based in another subdivision, as our family didn’t live in a subdivision ourselves, and it was perfectly fine, if not a bit boring.  Several of my friends went there, and we'd go a couple times a week in the summer.  There was Tom Sawyer’s pool, based in a nearby state park, that charged a small fee to swim, and there was Plainview and Lake Forest’s pools, a membership-only affair. 

The coolest pool, in my opinion, was Lakeside in Bonnycastle, which, if my hardiest memory serves, was built alongside a cliff and had the deepest pool in the neighborhood at fifteen feet (my pool's deepest point was only eleven feet, and I suffered from insecurity about that for years.)  I went there once for a classmate’s birthday party in third grade and continued to be jealous ever since.

Apparently it was one of the most expensive clubs in town.  Another cool pool, based in the nearby Oldham County, had slides and a play area like this one, and that was among my favorites too.  If my sister and I prodded my dad enough, he’d take us the 45-minute round trip to that water playground, too.

However, this little number seemed to fit the bill nicely for a small town.  As is, the pool had been drained, which seemed too soon on a 65-degree day like today, but a freeze had passed over the region just a week earlier, so it was for the best.  As it was, this was a surprisingly expansive pool, especially for such a small town.

Aww, a little buddy!  And his little red tongue, flicking out and smelling the world!  Oh, sorry, buddy.  I promise it’s not me. 

When I was younger, I was really into snakes; I had lots of painted rubber snakes like you get at the zoo.  I have a crudely formed and painted papier-mâché snake sitting in my parent’s closet somewhere.  I had books about them and still know the three types of venomous snakes found within Kentucky: the copperhead, the water moccasin, and the timber rattlesnake. 

This little fella seemed harmless.  In some later research, it appears to be some kind of northern brown snake, maybe not yet full grown or close.

I reached the end of the short walk and hooked a right back onto Montgomery Avenue, crossing the empty street to the opposing sidewalk, ready to push to the Falls of the Ohio at the end of the street.


This is the second part of a four-part series; updates go up every Wednesday!

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