So, from my niece’s we were off to West Virginia. We went to a nearby Starbucks (2013 Colby Taylor Dr, Richmond, KY) and got breakfast there. Kids each got steamers to drink and a bakery item (2 donuts and a slice of lemon pound cake). Tom & I got our usual non-fat caramel mistos and each got a plain multigrain bagel. We take advantage of Starbucks’ free wi-fi and Tom planned the night’s stay on his laptop. With the rest of the trip in our minds, we opted to not use points for tonight. Tom got a great deal (surprise, surprise) at the Holiday Inn Express in Charleston (like 2 blocks from where we’d be hanging out that night). With plans for the night set, we were on our way!
First stop on our trip is at Ruth Hunt Candy Co. (903 Maysville Rd, Mt Sterling, KY). It’s a local candy company that has been in business for over 90 years. It moved into a new facility about 10 years ago and according to their website they are so proud of the new place, they give tours. Well, now we were really interested. We got kids out, opened the doors to the place with it’s wonderful smell. Ahhh. Tom went to find out more information regarding a tour as we started to look around. I have to admit some things here: I was very disappointed. THe store is a decent size but more than half of it is random crap. I mean a whole wall full of plush toys, Kentucky memorabilia, just kind of stuff you’d find in a Hallmark store. The candy area itself was on the smaller side. that being said, they have one of those huge areas with Jelly Belly jellybeans, and all Jelly Belly stuff, then one area where they repackaged things like gummies and laffy taffy and things you can buy WAY cheaper at Target. Call me a snob but if I come to a candy place, I want THEIR candy! Tom informs us there are no tours right now. The women in the store (“working”) don’t seem to mind that we were there. We did get some chocolate from the counter.. if I was going to buy candy here, it better be made here. Let’s see if I can remember what we got. CT got a Mallow Caramel covered in chocolate, OC got a chocolate covered pretzel with M&Ms, and Tom & I got 8 melt-aways in different flavors. Meltaways were good. CT liked his. OC didn’t care for his. It was very pricey. In our opinion, it wasn’t worth the detour and we wish stopped somewhere else instead.
Driving through the no man’s land of Kentucky, we realized when we see food, we need to stop and eat. Enter Dairy Queen (12759 US Route 60, Cannonsburg, KY). This is THE slowest DQ I have ever been to. I think we waited well over 15 minutes for our food. Fast food my butt! It is what it is. I ate a healthier lunch so I could have my small dipped cone. Yummy splurge!
With our bellies full, we headed to the Highlands Museum And Discovery Center in Ashland, KY. It’s on their main street and it’s quite an interesting place. We parked right by it, on the street. There was a parking meter we gladly fed (although I don’t think we needed to). For 2 nickels and a dime, we got 2 hours of parking. The kids were amazed to see an old parking meter and the 20 cents for them seeing it work was awesome. The museum itself is housed in an old/defunct department store. It focuses on local history and has hands-on kids stuff too. We first headed upstairs to the second level. There is the major history part of the museum. They highlighted early Kentucky starting with the Native Americans and the white explorers. There is a one-roomed school house where kids can even dress the part and be either a teacher or the students complete with chalk and boards at their seats. There was an old medical exhibit where you could weigh yourself on an old scale or pretend to have an injured arm. There was period dress from times past along with artifacts. They had a display of baseball in the area which my baseball loving husband liked. They even have the telephone that was on Hitler’s bedside when he committed suicide which is located in their military exhibit.
The main floor houses a gift shop, lobby, a fairly large open area and a few exhibits. The current temporary exhibit was/is ‘Scouting in America.’ With 2 boys in scouting, they related well to the memorabilia. They loved seeing the old Boy’s Life magazines and comparing them to the ones they receive in the mail. The main floor also houses their music area. This exhibit showcases local musicians whose careers have brought national acclaim They have Billy Ray Cyrus’ outfit back when he sported that awesome mullet of his as well as daughter Miley’s clothes. They have stuff about Keith Whitley, Loretta Lynn , and of course the Judds (whoa re from Ashland itself). There is an interactive area where you can create your own music and a few other hands-on things but my kids didn’t care much about the music part except to make noise on the one wall and I felt bad being we were like the only people in the museum and it was loud and echoed.
We headed, finally, downstairs to the super kid-friendly area I knew they’d enjoy. It’s completely hands-on playing in the basement. You walk into a backyard setting: tree house to climb on and trees with stuffed birdies and a bird song identifier. We then proceeded through and saw a piano that showed how a piano works, played in a puppet theater and sat on a porch swing on a porch (house facade). Then we got more science-y as we went where they had a wind tunnel (where you make paper airplanes and see how they fly). Not sure why, but in a small room , they had 2 chairs, a TV and an ATARI! Tom was in heaven! They had a small cave built in the next room with a fossil dig area out front. There was s simulated community where kids could work at McDonald’s a bank, a supermarket and more. A wooden ambulance to play in with lights (and thankfully, no sounds), and the actual top part of a towboat named Little Joe. Cole loved wearing the life vest and working on Little Joe, plus he looked so cute doing it!
The museum, as a whole, is a bit ratty-looking especially compared to what we are more used to but it was very entertaining for the kids and they liked it. Next stop, Charleston, West Virginia.
Tom has a buddy we were going to hang out with that night. He was still working when we arrived and invited us to his work. Doesn’t sound thrilling? Well, his friend, Dale, is the Program Director for the local radio station – West Virginia Radio Corporation (1111 Virginia St E) . We chatted while he was ‘program directing’ the talk show going on. After he was finished, we got the grand tour or all the station in the building and got to meet some of the on air talent. The kids dug the tour big time! Then, we were off to the local A-baseball game – the Appalachian Power.
We followed Dale’s wife, Shannon, to the park. We arrived at Appalachian Power Park (601 Morris St, Charleston) and proceeded to head on in. Dale graciously provided us with tickets. Tonight, was also free bobble”head” night. I quoted head because he was a bobble arm, not head. I’ll get to that later. We followed Dale to our seats which were…..amazing! He got the 7 of us a suite! The kids were beyond elated! The view was great! They got a souvenir bobblearm of Toast man (Ok, brief Toast man story: There is an electrical outlet located in the stands behind home plate which was was added for this local guy they call the “Toast Man,” who, oddly, has become one of the most famous fans in minor league baseball. Anyway, Toast man is an avid fan & brings bread and a toaster to games. When a Power pitcher strikes out a batter, he yells “You are toast!” and then tosses slices of toast into the seats around him.) where his bobble arm “flings” toast just like he does. The mascot, Chuck, came to greet them. They got to watch a great game, talk to and hang out with great people (Dale & Shannon), eat yummy stadium food that was delivered to them, and ended the night with a fireworks show! Tom & i had a great night. It was relaxing, I talked a bunch to Shannon who I really like (and I don’t normally like girls very much) and Tommy got to hang out with his friend whom he got along well with. We left feeling a bit sad because we really like Dale & Shannon and wish they lived closer to us than WV. The kids hated leaving them, they really liked them. It was a great night thanks to Dale (and Shannon) and we cant say thank you enough!
We then went to our hotel which was only like 3 blocks away. The Holiday Inn Express (100 Civic Center Drive, Charleston, WV) was just what we needed. We’ve stayed at many HI-Expresses over the years and they never disappoint. We went to bed, got ready, had our free breakfast & were on our way again – headed through Ohio oddly to spend the night by Louisville.