Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Mammoth Thanksgiving

Wonker promised you a brief overview (or 3) of his recently concluded Thanksgiving holiday voyage to the cavelands of Western Kentucky. Along with the Mad Redhead, aka, Mrs. Wonker, W (not to be confused with the real W) traversed hill and dale, staying overnight in picturesque Ashland, KY (home of a huge Marathon oil refinery on the banks of the Ohio River). After dining at the badly decaying town's one decent restaurant, we traveled a few blocks to drive around the central park of which featured an impressive nighttime Winter Wonderland of Lights, ranging from Santa and his elves to—quel horreur!—a Nativity Scene also done up in lights.

Ringing the park and its extensive, picturesque displays were what appeared to be as many as two dozen or more immense, magnificent Victorian houses, most in pretty good repair, that were completely at odds with the town's otherwise shabby appearance. According to the restaurant's maitre d', Marathon had moved its corporate headquarters out of Ashland some time ago, leading to a major exodus of jobs to neighboring Ohio which copped the new HQ. That, plus other decaying industries, give poor Ashland a lean and hungry look. But the town is not without its resources. These include the impressive King's Daughters Medical Center and the well regarded Morehead State University. The former, in fact, is at least indirectly responsible for the care and feeding of Ashland's Victorian homes. The big-name doctors attracted to the Medical Center become smitten with the huge houses, it seems, purchase them for a song, and spiff them up to a fare-thee-well, creating one of the best-looking groupings of such houses east of the Mississippi. Things are not always what they seem in America.

More anon. Meanwhile, a hearty hat-tip to Luther who kept HazZzmat buzzing blizzfully whilst Wonker was out consuming mass quantities of cheap Kentucky gasoline (as low as $1.92 per gallon) as he continued on to Mammoth Cave. Guess it helps to have a refinery in your backyard. Maybe Libs should stop sneering at those canny Midwesterners who can fill their Democratic Hummers far more cheaply than the New Yorkers who seem to have greater need of them.

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