Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mountain Gateway

Come with us to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park where you can enjoy autumn in three states all at once. Located in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky’s Bell County just past the town of Middlesboro with parts of it in the states of Tennessee and Virginia, it’s 26 miles long, covers 24,000 acres and is from 1 to 4 miles in width. The Cumberland Gap is exactly what it says it is, a gap in the mountain range known as the Cumberland Mountains. This is the route that native Americans took to hunt the bison on their winter grazing grounds, Daniel Boone blazed his Wilderness Road and early settlers used it to head out west to seek their fame and fortune. In the Civil War both the North and the South viewed the gap as valuable property and both sides occupied Cumberland Gap twice.

The Gap area has a rich history and a down home culture, but it’s the fall season that really sets it apart with a kaleidoscope of colors.

Just inside the park’s winding entrance road is  the visitor center. This well maintained two story building itself hosts an information center with a museum, interactive displays, a gift shop with items crafted by local artisans and a movie theater. Aptly put by ranger Pam Eddy “The film Daniel Boone and the westward movement is not to be missed”.

Leaving the visitor center on the four-mile long Skyland Road  you will arrive at the  next feature of the park, the Pinnacle Overlook which is at an elevation of almost one half of a mile. Standing on the guard-railed edge you will be able to see Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Looking out towards Kentucky you can still see the outline of the meteorite crater that the city of Middlesboro was built on.  Sumac bushes, maple, poplar, oak and sourwood trees surround you with all the colors and smells of autumn that your senses can handle.

A few miles northeast of the visitor center is Hensley Settlement. Hiking to the Settlement is possible but it’s best to take the scheduled tour bus from the visitor center, the guided tours last approximately four hours. Set on a plateau and surrounded by chestnut rail fence this Appalachian historic scattering of buildings date back to 1903 when Sherman Hensley decided he and his family would have an entirely self sufficient life. The settlement grew and was prosperous for many years and at one time had a population of close to one hundred inhabitants. Your first look at  Hensley Settlement will make you think, whoa, this was one tough bunch to build all this in the middle of wilderness. You immediately get a real  sense of the word isolation. Many of the buildings still stand today including several cabins, the one room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and spring house and the cemetery. What you see before you was all built by hand.

There are twenty six known entrances to limestone caves in the park. The most obvious ones have names like gap cave, skylight cave and sand cave. Of these caves Gap cave is the most popular and guided tours will take through these underground caverns. The gap cave has had several names including King Solomon’s cave, soldier’s cave and Cudjo’s cavern .It has been rumored that gap cave in the past was used by highwaymen, runaway slaves and moonshiners. In reality when traveling settlers saw the cave they knew that they were almost through the gap. Later on it was used by civil war soldiers and some of their writing is still visible on the walls. Guide and ranger Scott Teodorsk explains that “The cave is exquisite”The tour lasts approximately two hours and you

 will see drip stone and rock formations with names like Cleopatra’s pool and Hercules Stalagmite”.

Southeast of the visitor center is the town of Cumberland Gap which looks like someone picked up a small town and set it carefully in between some mountains. This is where situated in a small valley and next to running brooks is the iron furnace. This historic landmark is where charcoal, limestone and iron ore were mixed together to make iron in the 1800's.

The park has miles of hiking and horse trails,a fitness trail and  both front country and back country camping. The Wilderness Road campground is located approximately 3 miles from the park visitor center off of Highway 58 in Virginia. There are over 85 miles of hiking trails in the park ranging from short, easy 1/4 mile hikes to the 21 mile ridge trail where you can rent a cabin at Martins Fork. Many re enactments take place here.

As locals Donnie and Sandy Vaughn will tell you “The park is a place we just keep wanting to come back to” and it surely is worth the trip.

 By Jimbob Baird

Kentucky Living Magazine

Photos by Harold Jerrelland Jim Baird

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jimbob and the Adventures of the City Beagles - Gardening

Beagles aren’t known for their gardening skills but they can surely be a big help in planning out a rabbit stew menu. In our citified subdivision I’ve created a garden of sorts with most of it being river rock ,junipers, grapevines a few decorations like a rooster weather vane with a small area reserved to plant things you can

eat. This garden patch is exactly sixty four square feet in area, no Allis- Chalmers needed. Along with the usual oregano, basil and sage the hounds and I decided to plan ahead for rabbit stew and grow some eggplant this season. Eggplant is like a lot of things in life, either you like it or you don’t. I rank eggplant on my list of favorites right up there with lima beans.

What we were planting was not ordinary eggplant, this was rabbit stew eggplant and any good Gardener will tell you that preparation is the foundation of having a good one. The Beagles were a big help with this important first step because they sniffed out the mole trails, no sense in planting the vegetables on top of a future mole volcano. After we found the right spots to plant and prepared the soil the eight-foot square looked good enough to be a Beagle sandbox but we moved on.

We planted three eggplants, four basil, a sage and a couple of oregano. All these spices would go into the rabbit stew. The dogs probably weren’t crazy about the basil but they could pick it out while eating their share of the stew.

I added a flower bed edging, watered the plants and called it good. That evening we made a couple of extra rabbit patrols and chased away three of the outlaw rabbits. The next morning we ran off two more of the renegades the size of small kangaroos. The beagles and I had done a lot of work and we decided to take the next day off, not only was that a big mistake but I also must have hit another temporary spell of insanity because when the dogs and I checked on the eggplant it was chewed down to stubs. The culprit was obvious, the derelict rabbits were the only animals in our neighborhood viscous enough to undo our hard work. Further action was needed and we made a trip to the lumber store where we bought some two by two pieces of  lumber, heavy duty mesh fencing, a pair of wire pliers, electric staple gun, extension cord, duct tape, staples, leather gloves, sledge hammer, chain saw, a posthole digger and some rawhide treats. I also looked fondly at the display of electric fencing but decided that might be going overboard, I could always come back and get it later.

The rabbit stew was starting to look like it was going to be of the premium gourmet variety and also a reminder why I gave up gardening, the Beagles and I could have been playing tag instead of dripping sweat and sporting hanging tongues. While the Beagles took a nap I dug the holes for the posts that would hold the new fencing and used the chain saw to cut the pieces of lumber to size. Next up was a trip to the store to get three more eggplant and two more basil, the oregano had somehow survived.  After chasing off one more renegade rabbit we rebuilt our enclosure and watched our eggplant grow the rest of the summer until harvest time.

The key to preparing eggplant is to peel away some of the outer skins in stripes, some people use a potato peeler to do this in the kitchen but I make sure that I’m wearing my hunting knife while I’m cooking and pull it out of its sheath. Cut the eggplant into about one inch pieces and broil them on a cookie sheet in butter or olive oil for about five minutes, you’ll know it’s done when you stab it with your hunting knife it goes in easily. Add to the rest of the ingredients in the recipe and you will have the best rabbit stew ever. One optional ingredient is to go outside and burn a few sticks of pine and scrape off some of the ashes to add to  the stew.

Cost of the plants, replacement plants, parts and tools along with the small electric chain saw for the enclosure was approximately $261.94 but the taste of the stew will be priceless.

Eggplant rabbit stew

3 -4 lbs rabbit

6 potatoes, quartered

8 carrots, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

As much eggplant as you want

3/4 cup beef broth

3/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon basil

4 basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon rosemary

3 sage leaves

This stew is best when eaten on a cold winter’s day with the dogs by your side out on the front porch with the space heater gong full blast.

Jim Baird

Better Beagling

Friday, July 5, 2013

Jimbob and The Adventures of The City Beagles

The Adventures of Jimbob and

the City Beagles


Growing up as a young boy in the farmland of Michigan I am no stranger to the outdoor world. Many times have I heard the crunch of snow under my boots during the frigid winters or felt sweat stinging my eyes while baling hay beneath the hot August sun.  Field corn had to be planted by Memorial Day and should be knee high by July 4th. is how the old guys put it. After the corn was put in the silos in October it was also time to Pheasant hunt. A good hunting dog to have along with you was like having a multi tool at your side.

It seemed like we always had a dog around, I guess it was ours because we fed it and it stayed with us. When you’re ten years old it really doesn’t matter what kind of dog it is, it’s just comforting to have a companion that doesn’t tell you to mow the lawn or to come in and eat supper. Sandy the Collie was with us for many years and helped me form the beginning of an affectionate bond for dogs for a long time to come.

Years went by and I finally realized that now I was one of the old guys. I  had retired from career number one of Retailing. After spending thirty five years of working in different parts of the country I was really looking forward to spending time on my photography. Most of my photography is done on the weekends and with the wife working I had plenty of free time during the week. Taking up drinking and chasing women would not be a good idea and the Gambling places were too far away. It was time to get a dog. Part of my early upbringing had included getting taught that dogs do not belong in the house and it took me while to get used to the idea of having an animal inside. We went ahead and did some research and after much discussion I, or we, decided on a Beagle . They had all the traits that would make life more interesting without things getting out of control. Knowing that Beagles are mainly working dogs I was a little concerned about one having enough space  in our house on our 1/3 acre lot in our subdivision, but a  few good walks a day should solve that problem. The answer came one morning by way of  the local TV channel. The County Animal Shelter was showing abandoned dogs up for adoption and it just happened to feature a hybrid Beagle/ Basset hound with the most handsome and I was sure honest and loving face that I had ever seen on a dog. That was probably the best Television Feature we had seen in a long time.

Bringing a dog into the house also involves a learning curve both for the dog and the owner and Indie was no exception.  You learn real quick like where not to leave food set out at.. I swear that even a 13" Beagle can stretch herself out to be at least seven feet long. A few weeks after bringing Indie home my eighty seven year old mother in law came to visit us, nice old lady with a very established routine. The first morning of her stay she performed her usual morning practice of reading her daily Devotions while eating breakfast. I was in the half bath around the corner and next to the dining area working at my sometimes usual routine of shaving.

Break Time

The Beagles at their job assignments

I heard her setting out her toast with jelly , grapefruit half, a few grapes and coffee. This all is placed a certain way with the coffee in a cup on a saucer, the toast sliced into triangles, the grapes to the upper right and the grapefruit squared off. She must have forgotten to set out her daily reader because she passed by me through the hallway and returned with a book in her hand. The next thing I hear is a loud “You Rascal”. Fortunately I was rinsing the razor at the time and did not have it positioned at my throat. Somehow I sensed what had happened and with a belly chuckle ran around the corner to witness the transgression. Sure enough, no more toast, grapes were gone, the grapefruit had a bite out of it and there was coffee spilled on the table. I couldn’t help but think that these were some good Beagle memories in the making.

When you have dogs in the house there is always a learning curve for yourself as well as for visitors. You would think that letting someone in the front door would be a simple task, just open the door and let them in. Right? Wrong. If they come to the front door by way of the front porch there is an immediate problem that needs an answer. Any self respecting Beagle will seize upon the opportunity to burst out the door, bolt across the porch through the open gate and look for the neighborhood rabbits.  By the time a visitor pulls his vehicle into the driveway the dogs are already on high alert, the sound of the gate opening is a sure call to action from one of  their other job assignments. Toni’s job is to sit on the top of the Love seat and watch for sidewalk son of a guns and Indie’s job is to make sure the Love seat doesn’t slide out from under her.. After the visitors ring the door bell or knock on the door they are again greeted. This time by me and I’ll shout through the closed door “Shut the gate” and I’ll let you in. An alternative to this would be for them to read the instruction sheet that I’ve posted on the door and come in through the garage. By the second time company visits they are usually trained, and the Beagles, well they’re as much fun as always.

Jim Baird for Better Beagling

Monday, May 20, 2013

Auto Racing in Kentucky
Mostly Dude Territory

Horses and Kentucky have been associated with each other for a long time, but there is another kind of horsepower here also, the kind on four wheels instead of four legs. Kentucky is also home to world class Drag Racing and Stock Car racing. Cars are just one of the parts of Auto Racing, the finished product also includes the fans, the owners, drivers and support personnel. A common link between fans is that they originally come to watch the cars but return because of the people they meet at the Track. All racers and Stock Car racers especially, have a huge fan following and unlike some other Sports, the Drivers and crew are a down home humble bunch that is easily accessible to fans. You can actually walk up to the drivers and crew and talk to them, get an autograph, ask questions and get answers. Handshakes and smiles are normal.

A few of famous race drivers from Kentucky include Danny Sullivan Professional race car driver, Winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1985, Darrell Waltrip, three-time former NASCAR Winston Cup champion, Michael Waltrip ,a semi-former professional race car driver, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. If you were to ask ten Dudes about the origin of oval track racing you would get at least twelve different answers, and possibly at least a couple of them alluding to the possibility of Kentucky drivers’ racing skills evolving from past History of Bootlegging and trying to outrun the Law.

Bootlegging means one of two things, producing alcohol for consumption illegally or delivering it to a prohibited area, namely a dry County. Either way, it had to be transported, usually at night to evade the Law or the Revenuers. Bootleggers would take a stock automobile and modify it in several ways. The stock car would get a beefed up suspension so it wouldn't sag and show that it was carrying something heavy, the engine would get supercharged with extra horsepower and it was not uncommon to have a switch on the dashboard to turn off the rear tail lights.
Stock car racing is the most popular form or racing conducted, it is done on asphalt, dirt and even sand.  NASCAR is one of the most watched professional television sports, surpassed only by professional football.
  Racing a car on an Oval track involves more than just knowing how to turn left, it takes the stamina of a bull, nerves of tungsten steel, sharp reflexes, a good car, crew and money because there can be up to 42 other guys wanting the checkered flag before you do.

            The Communicator

Kentucky Speedway in Sparta is the premier track to watch oval track racing. It is the only Track in Kentucky to host NASCAR Events. On hand at the Speedway will be Tim Bray, officially he is the Director of Communications, or  the Media Guy and he carries one big umbrella. Tim is well suited to the job with a long background in Sports.

The guy just loves Sports and the people that make up the Events.  He has been a former Sports anchor for CBS affiliate WKRC in Cincinnati, Television Commentator at Indianapolis Speedway and worked at  various radio jobs. When you ask Tim what his responsibilities are he’ll tell you “I’m responsible for any spoken or written word coming from the Speedway”, that folks, makes for a lot of coverage.. Tim has three full timers on staff and a flexible extended part time group.” It’s a small closely knit group with a passion for what we do”. According to Tim “One of the really neat things about our group is their longevity, we are very stable”. Tim and his staff are responsible for Newscasts, photos ,race reports, keeping the Archives and providing the working Press with working accommodations.  They also maintain their social networking sites and Press credentials.

If you were to step into the Media Center during a race weekend you would think that you had entered a giant room where a telethon was taking place. Rows of desks and counter tops with electrical outlets and wi-fi connections fill the room. Roaming around somewhere fielding phone calls, talking on the radio, listening to the Announcer, making sure the cameras are rolling and watching the time will be the kindly face of Tim. The growth at the Speedway has been phenomenal and Tim has a great deal of satisfaction in walking across the parking lot and seeing license from virtually every state in the U.S. and from Canada.

              The Fans

Racing wouldn’t be much of a sport without spectators, the reason most people go to watch racing the first time is for the thrill of watching fast cars compete, the reason they come back is because of the people that they meet.
Jeff Robinson and his wife Sharon  from Louisville  go to as many NASCAR Events as they can. They have been to races at Bristol , Atlanta, Indianapolis and have season tickets for Kentucky Speedway. The season tickets get purchased only after the couple is sure to be sitting next to the frie

nds they have made at the Track in the past. When he was a young man, Jeff attended Auto Repair school and was a mechanic for local racers at Ohio Valley Dragstrip. Years went by , Dale  Earnhardt, Sr. died and Jeff thought that he should get involved in racing again before something happened to another one of his heroes. Besides the excitement of coming to watch the cars Jeff says that what keeps him coming back is “ That the people you meet are so decent, when we get into our seats at the Track we feel like we’re with family”.
What do race fans do in the winter time? Some of them do what Jeff and Karen did, buy NASCAR 2011 for the Wii.

Joe Hoffman , born and bred in Florence Kentucky has been a race fan since 1994 when the Baseball players went on strike. After taking the bait by watching racing on TV, he swallowed the hook, line and sinker after going to the Daytona 500 in 1998 and becoming a Dale Earnhardt Sr. Fan.

Joe, with his family watch lot of racing on television and attend at least two Sprint Cup or Nationwide Evens a year. They also go to Indy car races, Indy cars travel all over the world to race and have two classes, the regular cars and their younger brothers, the Indy Lights.  Indy cars normally will average 198 mile per hour a lap and are the are open wheel design. Being able to make racing a family event allows Joe to share his appreciation of the cars and the drivers. Admiration for the cars’ engineering and  and drivers skills are  apparent when Joe talks about the Sport and in his words”It gets the blood pumping”.

By the way, Joe’s father in law just finished restoring a 1957 Chevy from the frame up.

 Drag Racing’s usual  agreed on birth place would be California. Specifically in the area of the Bonneville Salt flats. And organized by a military tank test driver by the name of Wally Parks. Drag racing involves two cars going down a straight track side by side to see which  car gets to the other end the quickest. Cars are divided into several classes and race against other cars in their class, you should never see a funny car racing against a dragster. Drag racing is one of a very few Motor Sports where someone can take their street car onto a Racetrack and compete. Organized racing is governed by two main Associations, the National Hot Rod Association and the International Hot Rod Association, each which similar but different rules. Drag racing can be done by the eighth mile or the quarter mile. Most modern drag racing is performed as what is called “Bracket racing” or handicapped which means each driver predicts beforehand how much time it will take his car to get to the other end of the Track. Based on their predicted time for that pass down the track the cars take off at different time so when they finish they are close together. As long as the driver doesn’t take off before he gets a green light, gets closest to his “dial in” (predicted time) without being faster or “breaking out” from his time, he wins. Head up racing simply means that both cars leave the starting line at the same time. A few of  the many World championship drag racers from Kentucky are Kenny Cook, Joe Williamson and Austin Meyers.

                 The Drag Racer

When you drive out to Franklin Kentucky to the Farm of Gary Summers you will pass by a stretch of road called Summer’s Stretch. This is where record holder racer Gary Summers when he was young and on the farm used to organize Saturday night drag racing for the County. That also was about thirty years ago when Gary acquired an old, used yellow County school bus, cut the top off half of the bus  and used the back end to trailer a car while he lived in the front half. Gary now farms about 10,000 acres, has a few cars and races like he means it on many weekends. He says  has a “Need for speed and for competition”In between farming ,Gary builds engines and races his Mustangs and Ranchero. The Mustangs are a pair of 1985's identical in color and style. and the Ranchero is a 1963. The Super Stock Mustang has just a little better than 400 horsepower and the Stock one about 205.  Stock means the car is basically the ways it was when it was built at the factory while a Super Stock car has major engine modifications.  The Super Stock Mustang will travel down the quarter mile in 10.60 seconds ,that’s from a standing stop and that is also in less time that it takes my electric garage door opener to open my garage door. While rebuilding one of the Mustangs, Gary discovered he had just found one of three hundred fifty only GT model. In addition to his normal weekend racing, Gary and his wife Cindy attend six to seven National Events every year with Pomona California being both the first and the last one of the season. Gary was a 2011 Super Stock champion and holds six other National Championships.

     The Dragster Dude and the Dudettes


Lynn Ellison’s car is built for one thing, speed. It is not a car that used to be something else and was changed, modified or altered after it came from the factory. It is a dragster, it has a chassis, big tires in the back, little ones in the front , one big engine, a seat, a couple of parachutes and just a few other goodies. The top dragster has a wheel base of 246 inches from front to back and weighs just under 1800 pounds with Lyn in it. He will drive his dragster one quarter of mile in 6.60 seconds with a speed of 210 miles per hour, which means he has two parachutes not just one. It also means that he can go the quarter mile twice in the time it takes my garage door opener to lift my door. To get that fast in that short of time his engine has a base power of 1100 horsepower and comes up to 1400 when the engine gets sprayed with nitrous oxide. Stamina and safety figure into the equation also,
when Lyn gets into his ride he has on his driving booties, a fire suit, a Hans neck device, helmet , goggles and locks himself in place with the harness.
Ask Lynn what it feels like and he’ll tell you “When I get in my dragster it’s like I’m dressed to meet death but actually racing is safer than walking across the street to the Grocery store”. He’ll also tell you that when he leaves the starting line “It’s like getting shot out of a cannon , the g-forces make you think you’re flying with the Blue Angels but I can relax some after the parachutes open up”. Lyn is another National Championship driver who will keep racing as long as he can maintain his ability to compete well with pride.
Lynn’s wife Shannon the Dudette says of racing “ It gives us motivation to do something together as a family and I take a divine interest in Lynn’s driving”. Their two daughters Madison and Mallory  also race Dragsters.... Jr. Dragsters. Shannon does more than give emotional support, she makes sure the Motor home is loaded and ready before a race, fills out the tech cards at the track, maintains the nitrous and helps analyze data for their racing strategy. Race day is hectic and for lunch it’s usually a bologna sandwich, deluxe would be with cheese, but in the evening it’s time to haul out the grill and cold beverages. Visiting racers in the evening would be like going to see a couple hundred of friends at a Campground.
Autocross, also known as solo racing involves driving a winding and turning course which has been defined by an arrangement of cones. It is called solo because the drivers race the course one at a time and compete to see who can complete course the quickest without too many penalties [knocked over cones]. The racing is typically held in very large parking lots and is an entry level Motor Sports that concentrates on skill rather than speed. Autocross is sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America which has four chapters in Kentucky. If you want to get involved in Autocross you pretty much just need to show up, show a drivers license, pay a fee and borrow a helmet.

The Drag RacingTech

Zach Baker of Bowling Green realized at age 11 what he wanted to do when he grew up. That’s when a guy moved in down the road with a Camaro drag racing car. He had always helped his dad who was a boat mechanic so it wasn’t too much of a reach to try and figure out “Why does that car do what it does to make it go fast?”. Zach grew up and went to Mechanics School while turning wrenches at auto dealerships. Word got around with the local drag racers that he was good at what he did and he was willingly recruited to work on race cars in his spare time. Zach techs for several drag racing teams throughout the season. Keeping a race car mechanically sound and safe for humans is a tricky job, or as Zach puts it “The driver needs to have enough faith that what I am doing is not going to kill him”. At a race what he does first is visually inspect all parts of the car from the hood to the wheelie bars, starts the engine and analyzes electronic readings from sensors throughout the car such as spark plug performance, carburation, and engine temperature.
The next step is to head out onto the track with the car and driver and make a practice pass down the track, At the very beginning of the track is an area where water is sprayed to make a puddle, this is known as the water box and cars will get their tires wet to do a “burn out” to warm up the tires so they stick better to the sticky surface of the track. Zach stands in front of the car in the smoke, steam and smell until the burn out is done and lines up the car with the groove or the stickiest part of the track. He will watch the car as it leaves the starting line until it gets to the end observation things like track condition, how the car is handling and how the driver is performing. After each test and tune pass it’s Zach’s job to review any information from the electronic sensors, re inspect the car, make any needed changes and give advice to the driver. Repeat until the green win light on the scoreboard lights up.

The Track Owner
Dallas Jones and his family have owned several  race tracks for over thirty seven consecutive years. He can tell you that there’s just a little bit more to operating a Track than opening a gate and letting a few cars run around at a fast speed.

Dallas himself has been a drag racer since he was 16, he’s raced longer than just about anybody around. He started out racing in Hardinsburg at US 60 Dragway in with a 1956 Chevrolet that had two carburetors on the engine  and a three speed transmission that you shifted from the steering column. He also drag raced at Owensboro and Beech Bend. From racing he went to operating and owning various Race Tracks, at one time he operated three Tracks at once. Starting with Owensboro which he operated starting in 1972.

May, 2010 was a very memorable for Dallas and the rest of the folks at Beech Bend Raceway Park, major flooding which set a 73 year record from the Barren River put the Racetrack and the Amusement Park under brackish debris filled water anywhere from eight to thirty feet, and a  major National Event was coming up in three weeks .Thousands of cars and over 100,000  spectators would be attending the National Hot Rod Reunion mid June. Experience would tell you that the thing to do is wait for the water to go down, call in some help with brooms, squeegees, a fire truck, clean it up cut the grass and check the electronics and be ready. According to Dallas “ Getting the Track ready again was a matter of everybody pulling together, we had help from friends, neighbors and racers”. Being ready for race day would also include a checklist that would read like this: Personnel in place, bathrooms cleaned, track groomed and sprayed, Inspection station open, ambulance in position and the Compulink timing system checked. As Dallas says “If owning a Race Track was easy work, everybody would have one”.Dallas and team host several National Events a year including the National Hot Rod Reunion, The Ford Mustang Nationals and the Sports Nationals. Between the Racetrack and his adjoining Amusement Park over 500,000 visitors a year come to the rolling countryside of Beech Bend Park which account for over 42 million Tourism dollars to the local economy. Dallas is also the recipient of Kentucky’s Unbridled Spirit Hospitality Award.

From Pikeville to Paducah and from Louisville to London the exciting sport of  Auto racing is available. Go and see the cars, come back for the people.

By Jim Baird

Kentucky Monthly

A Tale of Two Mustangs

I love good stories. I am not the best at telling them but I sure do love hearing one, especially if it involves something old and mysterious looking. Brian Hatton and Super Stang

On a warm and muggy Kentucky morning I’m at the National Hot Rod Reunion. Then in its seventh year, the National Hot Rod Reunion has made Bowling Green its home. Traditionally held over Fathers day weekend it brings to mind cars--lots of cars--hot rods in particular. This festival of automotive history brings with it memories of metal but also a lot of emotions. It’s a time where the past is staged with the present.

I see out of the corner of my eye what looks like some kind of old Mustang. Faded and rusty it looks like it has no business being next to the other shiny and polished Show cars. What I had spied was the "Boss Hoss".

After talking to the young man named Brian standing next to the car I find out that The Boss is a 1967 Ford Mustang built for drag racing. It had a 427 engine, special paint and lettering. The owners Paul Hatton and Paul Stefansky raced the car in Detroit Michigan and on other Midwest race tracks.

Hatton and Stefansky were buddies since the 1950's. Hatton did the paint job and the lettering, Stefansky was the driver. With the paint and lettering business taking off, Hatton sold his interest in the car to Stefansky. The car was updated in 1969 and 1970 with a new fastback style on top of the original frame. All this called or a new name so the ‘Boss Hoss" was transformed into the"Super Stang", paint and lettering by Paul Hatton, Brian's father.

The car was raced until 1972 when it was sold and found its way to Connecticut. The new owner decided that racing wasn’t for him after all and the Stang sat in storage for 15 years.

Being around cars since an early child, Brian Hatton--son of Paul--went on a quest to find a chunk of his Dad’s past. He didn’t find the original Boss Hoss body, but he did find the Super Stang. After 15 years of storage and neglect Brian painstakingly re-assembled the car to its 1972 state.

Hot Rod Reunion 2009 seemed like a good time to reintroduce the Super Stang, and it was. Shown for the first time since being put back together on Father’s day at the Reunion was a fitting tribute not only to metal but also to mortality. The car still has the original lettering on it done by Brian’s father.

Time-line: May 2012 Hardinsburg Kentucky

Nice little 1/8 mile Drag Strip with a lot of history in the Northern part of Kentucky, good down to earth friendly people live here. To make the day even better it’s a weekend of Nostalgia racing. I’m surrounded by Camaros, Mopars, Anglias and Bucket T’s just to name a few. Steve Alvey and Wild Thing

Taking a break from photographing the action on the track, I see some sort of “must be customized” red old car at the edge of the grass. Getting a little closer I see that it’s an old 60's modified Mustang, with some letters, numbers and the name “Wild Thing” painted on the side of it in white lettering.

Knowing that every car here has a story behind it I look for and find someone who appears to be the owner. From underneath the car a voice yells out “I’ll be right there”.

The voice belongs to a Steve Alvey from Louisville. Steve is the current and final owner of the Mustang, a 1965. He tells me that the car belonged to his dad who built it in 1966. Chopped and channeled it was built as an experimental B-Altered and powered by a 427 side oiler with Hillburn fuel injection.

The car was raced until 1973 when it was sold by Steve’s dad. After being sold, the car pretty much went into hiding and was not heard from again until last year.

Looking through one of the Automotive Trader newspapers one day, Steve saw an ad for someone looking for the history on his dad’s old race car. After the owner spoke with Steve, he decided that he would sell Steve the old Mustang. Still wanting the car after forty years, Steve didn’t hesitate to say yes. Steve picked up the car in Pompano Beach Florida where it had been stored under a tarp alongside a house.

Time-line Fathers Day weekend 2012

The Two MustangsIt’s a warm and muggy clear sky Friday morning with lots more heat to come. I’ve decided to walk around one of the show car areas before heading track side to photograph racing.

As I turn the corner on one of the Vendor booths I spot two old Mustangs parked side by side. By a twist of fate, Brian, Steve and the two Mustangs have found each other.

After spending a few minutes talking to them I can’t help but think of some of the lyrics of that old CSN&Y song...

”Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by”.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Adventures of Jimbob and his Beagles

Jimbob and The Doc

Beagles and anal glands


I have two Beagles, well actually one Beagle and one hybrid. Both hounds are rescues and without a doubt in my mind the best Beagles in the world. The big one is the male, a Beagle and Basset mix and his name is Indie, Toni is the smaller female and acts looks like a regular Beagle. Both are mostly house sitters and heart warmers. The history of Beagles can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Napoleon was known to favor them and the Basset hound. Beagles have been used to hunt small game such as rabbits as far back as the 1500's. The AKC first recognized the breed in 1850. The well-known  Beagle Brigade is used at Airports to sniff out contraband and I've read where in California they are used to sniff out bed bugs at a 90% success rate.

 Our house is in a subdivision with large lots and between the bank and us we own about one third of an acre. Along with the large lots there are also wooden fence rows, grass, bushes some out buildings and here and there pieces of undeveloped land. Prime territory for rabbits. This can make our early morning and evening walks quite interesting sometimes. Not sure if its from a sore shoulder or from holding the leash or from making a decision about letting Nature take its course but  once in a while I’ll say to the dogs”All right go get ‘em”Sundays are usually the best days for this and I can usually pick the dogs back up in my Van in about forty-five minutes. Beagles are great working dogs and love to have a job to do, even if it is just a quarter mile walk every morning.


Being that Indie and Toni  are house dogs and me being with them at least ten waking hours daily I get really in tune with them and vice versa. This feeling of  being in tune also of course includes smells or as they say in the city “odors.”  I knew that I was washing my hands but every so often I would get of a whiff of “that smell” in different parts of the house especially when I was close to the dogs. Bath time came and went for them but not much improvement in the odor department. At this point I thought to myself that something wasn’t quite right and started observing Toni a little closer. I saw that sometimes she would rub her butt in the grass and that she seemed a little cranky. The next time we went on a walk I did something that dog trainers tell you not to do, I let the dogs in front of me and, yes, I saw a brown pooper instead of a pink one. The solutions to that appeared simple enough, stop by the half bath for a couple of wipes. That seemed fine until I  realized I didn’t really want to be doing that. The problem came to real head the night I dreamed that my wife had said to me “Honey, it’s not the dogs that smell, it’s you.” I vaguely recalled reading hearing somewhere about anal glands or "scent glands" and decided to do some research.

In dogs the anal glands are located near the anus in roughly the five o'clock and seven o’clock position, they are filled with a fluid that enables a dog to mark his territory. The sacs are filled with a liquid that comes out in minute quantities when a dog urinates or defecates. Anal glands are a little bit like transponders on airplanes or race cars because they pass  on information. When a dog smells another dog's butt the tail is usually raised which puts enough pressure on the anal glands to release some of the fluid  and pass on his information such as age, gender health and in the case of Beagles maybe even his zip code. Under normal circumstances they are not a problem, but two problems can happen especially in house dogs. One is that they can become impacted and two.  They can become infected. Impaction is the accumulation of pasty secretions in the anal sacs, usually happens in small breed dogs like Beagles and other overweight dogs.  Anal sac infection complicates impaction. Infection  creates a painful swelling on one or both sides of the anus. The anal secretions are often  blood-tinged. The dog will scoot, lick, and bite at his rear. Dog feces are normally firm, and the anal glands usually empty when the dog defecates. When the dog's stools are soft, they may not exert enough pressure on the glands, which then may fail to empty. Soft stools can be caused by poor diet, an infection or  from lack of exercise. This may cause discomfort as the full anal gland pushes on the anus. The glands then can become impacted or infected. To empty the glands they are "expressed.” Think of what you would do with a pimple or a boil. If the liquid is bloody, it usually means a trip to the Vet is in order.      



It was our  time to go visit the Vet. Our town is what a lot of people would call “City with small town feel” and we are fortunate to have several Veterinarians. Our choice is Dr. Denton who looks a little bit like Albert Einstein’s younger cousin and seems to work eight days a week. When you enter his office you typically will see at least three dogs and one cat waiting along with the occasional Gerbil and the  smells that go along with them. Other dogs are leaving to go back home, some with bandages or casts. The walls are paneled, everything is clean,  the TV is turned to a Talk Show and there's a lavender candle burning. The front office person usually has one hand on the phone, the other on the calculator and the third on someone's pet. They set a new standard for multi tasking. No Medicare or Medicaid here. It's one of those Offices just like hundreds across the country that have been around a while and you can say to yourself in under five minutes "These people know what they are doing and they care.”    Dr.  Denton has been a Veterinarian for 47 years and is one of those guys that you can tell just loves his job. In addition to all the other animals, he normally sees over two hundred dogs a week. Ailments he treats  run from routine shots to ACL injuries, kidney problems, rabies and diabetes.

All three of us went into the examining room and I said to the Doc “Doc I’ve heard about infected anal glands but have no real idea what they are about.” Dr. Denton replied “If I had known about anal glands when I was young I never would have attended Veterinary School.” This sounded like it could be really interesting.   The good Doctor put on a rubber glove, did some probing and pushing, made a strange face and said "I think we have infected anal glands here.” He then continued my education by walking me through me the normal  course of action. The first step which was to 'express" the glands he had already done. Now using a syringe, he gave the glands an injection of antibiotics. We were given more antibiotics to continue treatment at home.

As soon as three days after being at the Vet’s I could see an improvement in Toni, she was starting to be her old self again and so was I. Seeing blood on my dog and in particular in its stool had put some fearful thoughts into my mind, but with some follow up and Professional care we’re Beagling right along once more.

Jimbob Baird

Better Beagling