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Or “Kookville,” as my Aussie-voiced Garmin named Sheila calls it.
The Meetup kicked off Friday night with dinner at the Persis Indian Grill:
Left to right we have neutral observer, Sarah Weivoda, and Randy.
Left to right we have Katie Koppleman, E. Kent Golding, Golding’s wife Darlene, Samuels E. Jenkins, and Painter Jean.
Not shown: Omega Paladin, International Man of Mystery (henceforth known as OM: IMOM).
There was a large variety of Indian cuisine to choose from, with exotic names like Tandoori, Vindaloo, Tsunami, and Tatooine. The four main meats used in the meals were chicken, shrimp, lamb, and goat. Yes, one brave soul ordered goat and said it was delicious.
After dinner, we met at Randy and Sarah’s house, where we consumed adult beverages. We also got to meet Sarah’s mom, who had some great stories to tell us.
Saturday breakfast was every person for himself, herself, or itself (we’re all-inclusive). Then came the trek to Burgess Falls State Park, several miles south of Cookeville:
These weren’t even the main falls. If anyone has pictures of those, they are much more impressive.
We saw plenty of breathtaking scenery, but the hike was long and the temperature hot. Afterward, we ate lunch at the Chestnut Oaks Farm & Kitchen, located near the park entrance. The restaurant and store was located in a recently converted giant red barn. Joining us just for this meal was Lois Lane and her husband, Shawn. If anyone took pictures of our lunch here, please post them in the comments.
Afterward, we headed out for the Short Mountain Distillery tour, located not too far from the restaurant. As it turned out, the distillery may be one of, if not the, smallest distilleries in the country. It’s run by two guys, both of whom participated in the tour. There was no walking, as the entire facility was located in one small building. The post-tour taste testing was special, given we had around ten or more different blends to taste. The lovely and talented neutral observer bought a bottle of apple moonshine, while I got the Charred Shine:
Dinner Saturday night was held at Crawdaddy’s, located downtown. It was packed, but there was plenty of room outside for us Ricochetti. Joining us for just this dinner was Concrete Vol. OP: IMOM took the best pics, so I’m sure he’ll post them in the comments. Anyway, we gorged ourselves on appetizers, delicacies such as gator bites, bayou shrimp dip & chips, and fried green tomatoes. Still, we had room for some incredible Cajun & Creole entrees. Many adult beverages were consumed in the process . . .
Sunday morning began with breakfast at the Bravo Cafe and Grill, also located in beautiful downtown Cookeville. Everyone loaded up on food because there would be no lunch today. IIRC, OM: IMOM mystery took a picture of us.
Next, we headed to Mammoth Cave State Park in Kentucky for the Wondering Woods tour. The original idea was to see the main cave, but the online tickets disappeared faster than you can say, “Taylor Swift tickets now available.”
We met at the main visitors center, and following a safety briefing (“Don’t touch any bats.”), rode a bus out to the cave area. The ride itself was interesting, leaving the main road and following a partially-graveled dirt road waaaaaaaay back into the woods. Before the bus stopped, I briefly had visions of going to a snake-handling service. Those visions disappeared once we got off the bus and started up the hill toward the cave entrance. Interestingly enough, the cave itself provided relief from the heat, almost as if it had air conditioning. You could even feel a cool breeze going down the steps into the cave. The following pic shows
neutral observer’s rear neutral observer from the rear, descending the steps into the cave:
The steps leading down inside the cave were pretty cool. Here is one pic looking down, the next looking back up:
There were dozens of interesting formations to see. This picture shows what is probably the main attraction:
People often ask me as a former submariner, if I ever got claustrophobic. I never did, and trust me, this cave had tons more room than my boat.
The Cookeville Meetup wrapped up with dinner at Rib City. The Ricochetti were joined by my former coworker and friend Dan, and his wife Lynn. Dan moved to Cookeville when he retired, and had actually met Randy at a Republican Party meeting there before I asked if he and his wife could attend. Needless to say, with a name like Rib City, there was tons of food to be devoured. We Ricochetti kept up our reputation for
gluttony fine dining with fares ranging from ribs, fried shrimp, sandwiches, pulled pork—you name it. And as usual, adult beverages. Again, if anyone took pictures, please post!
Some of us said our goodbyes after dinner, as we wanted to get an early start home the next morning. I believe others retired to the Weivoda’s home for farewell drinks. Randy will have to provide an update if anyone did.
If I’ve forgotten to mention any attendees, please accept my apologies. Feel free to admonish me in a comment.
Once again, I highly recommend going to Meetups. You don’t have to participate in every event on the schedule. Even if you only show for one meal or event, please come – we’d love to meet you!Published in