Build Your Own Folly

When I arose - literally - at the crack of dawn Monday morning, I immediately stepped outside my wigwam so as to enjoy the cool crisp morning air and watch the tepees cast long gnomen-like shadows. As my gaze traveled down to a large leaf resting next to my foot, my eyes slowly made out the form of a gorgeous green and black cicada, most likely the same exact variety that had serenaded me in such an impressive fashion the night before.  I ran back inside to get my camera hoping he would stay put long enough for me to snap his photo and not only did he patiently wait, he even allowed me to pick up the leaf and take him into the light for a closer examination.  When the rays of the sun struck the lacy tracings of his transparent wings, they dissolved into a million brilliant copper colored sparkles that glittered and flashed as I moved the little fella to and fro.  I was ecstatic with the marvelous glittery effect, but even the opportunity to examine such a beautiful insect so closely was a thrill to tell you the truth.  The picture above simply does not do the thing justice - it was absolutely dazzling.  And what a lovely omen with which to begin the day!

I was soon packed up and on the road knowing that I had a good bit of driving to accomplish before day's end.  I elected to continue along the same vintage two lane highway where the Wigwam motel was situated, figuring there might well be other hidden wonders tucked away along its winding length.  I decided I'd stop and get some breakfast at the first place that called out to me, which turned out to be a place called Mammy's Kitchen in Bardstown, Kentucky.

The perky young man that waited on me suggested I order the local speciality - a "Kentucky Hot Brown" - his favorite dish on the menu. It sounded a bit daunting, but I always like to sample what the locals choose to eat, so I readily agreed to his proposal.

Mammy's iteration of the Kentucky Hot Brown, while not the least bit brown, consists of a base layer of Texas toast, topped with sliced turkey, sliced tomato, country ham (looks like bacon), fried eggs, Parmesan cheese sauce and grated cheddar.  Can you tell I've arrived in the Heartland? Nary a jalapeno or a fleck of black pepper in evidence.  It was tasty, but casserole-like in its texture and presentation.  I could only eat so much of it since it all tasted the same.  I wonder if my tongue was white when I finished my meal? I should have looked.

As if in a gesture to the cultural tone set by my meal, when I stopped by the bathroom before leaving, I found this amazing toilet tissue cozy in the bathroom:

After breakfast, I spent some more highly enjoyable time swooping along the rolling Kentucky back roads, weaving between horse farms, tobacco fields and barns bedecked with Amish quilt designs.  While I didn't discover anything nearly as interesting as the Wigwam motel, it was a fun drive.   

My next stop was in a beautiful wooded area on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio - a place known as Loveland Castle.

In 1926, Ohio boy scout leader Harry D. Andrews and his troupe won a free plot of land along the Little Miami river near Loveland.  When they began visiting the land for camp outs in 1929, Harry started constructing a medieval castle by hand, entirely of rocks he fetched in buckets from the nearby river bed.  Harry was only able to work on the castle during camping trips or breaks from his day job supervising WPA projects until he retired in 1965, at which point he began building his castle in earnest.

Loveland Castle is an interesting example of a concept called a folly.  A folly is an extremely elaborate decorative building that is used strictly for amusement.  Architectural follies were faddishly popular during the 18th and 19th centuries on the estates of wealthy people, and since Harry was a dedicated medievalist, choosing to build a folly himself makes a weird kind of sense.   Only Harry gifted his folly with the personal touch of incorporating rocks he'd found on his world travels with hand written labels describing where they specimens were from.  I was tickled to see the pink granite chunk at left - most likely from Marble Falls - representing Texas (since that's what the capital building is entirely made of).  It was also fun to see Harry's tower bedroom and office which have both been preserved much as they were when he died in 1981 at the ripe old age of 91.

Harry's will (he never did date or marry) left the castle to his troupe the Knights of the Golden Trail (hence the K.O.G.T. above) who are still active today.  They have "renovated" and "upgraded" and "finished" it according to various printed accounts.  This is one of the things I find most interesting about the place, actually.  A weird sort of kitschy, anachronistic decor has appeared in every nook and cranny of the castle, from crocheted flags to giant fake suits of armor to glitter candles in faux medieval J.C. Penny sconces.  It's hard to tell, but I think the Knights have mostly been the ones who've had a hand in producing the strange veneer that covers the castle at present.  Many of the weird items tickled me, but I have to admit I felt a bit confused...

Ah well.  Confusion is only a problem if you think it is.

Time to head to Dayton.  On my way out, I had a gal who was just arriving take my picture in the stocks. Ah, Loveland Castle, you have me in your strange fake clutches now!

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