Tag Archives: JD Dotson

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Maker13: A Community Workshop

Dream.Design.Build

Story and Photos by JD Dotson

I was first introduced to the idea of Maker13 by the owners in a tent at Harvest Homecoming 2015. I bought some small, laser-cut wood pieces to use in my jewelry making and picked up a brochure about the Maker Mobile and a future “makerspace,” a place where people from all walks of life would have access to resources, equipment, technology and knowledge they otherwise might not have the opportunity to use.

I have always been an artist and crafter, but the expense of equipment and space has left me relying on others. The thought of a makerspace in Southern Indiana made my head swim with possibilities.

With backing from the Ogle Center, John Riley and Brian Niehoff designed and brought to life a mobile version in the Maker Mobile, a non-profit, fully functioning maker studio on wheels. Maker Mobile is a 32-foot trailer outfitted with laser cutters, 3Dprinters, Vinyl Cutters, computer stations and more. It travels to schools, organizations and robotic competitions all over Southern Indiana and Kentucky educating and exposing people to opportunities to create and build.

With their engineering expertise in the field, Riley and Niehoff enlisted a finance and accounting specialist and a marketing entrepreneur to join in opening Maker13 in Jeffersonville. Together, husband and wife teams John and Christy Riley and Brian and Lauren Niehoff, have built a space for dreamers and artists, small business owners, crafters, builders and curious people like me wanting to be all of the above. The unassuming. charcoal gray building in Jeffersonville houses a beautifully-decorated interior, and an incredible collection of tools and machines, some I am familiar with and some I am itching with curiosity to learn.

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Maker13 has many options for membership, including ones for individuals, families and businesses. There is a weekender membership, monthly memberships or rates for the year. There are even scholarships available for qualifying makers. Classes are offered for each of the machines in the space for a small fee. Once the class has been completed, you are free to sign up to use the machine of your choice. Maker13 also offers events, one-time classes, date nights and group events, and parent and child classes to members and non-members alike. Some of the classes and events include handmade cutting boards, trivets, paint and stencil classes, mason jar candy dispenser class and an Etch and Brew with a local beer distiller.

The list of equipment at Maker13 is extensive. Surrounding several work tables and computer stations is a bank of Ultimaker 3D printers, which lay down thin layers of melted plastic to build your three-dimensional design. Maker13 is an authorized reseller of the Ultimaker 3D printer as well.

Next to the printers are three different sizes of laser-etching and -cutting machines. Materials ranging from wood to slate, metal, plastic and glass can be etched or cut using these machines. Sewing machines and an embroidery machine cover an area in the corner. A vinyl printer and digital vinyl cutter align the wall with capabilities of printing on all types of material, including vinyl stickers, heat transfers for t-shirts, and printing on canvas. The woodshop in the back of the Maker13 space is home to your basic wood shop tools: hand power tools, miter, band and table saws as well as some not-so-basic machines. The CNC ShopBot Router and CNC Metal Mill are cutting, drilling, carving and machining powerhouses. These smart machines are perfect for furniture making, machine part manufacturing, sculptural pieces, sign making and any type of woodworking a creative mind can dream up.

The staff does an amazing job training curious novices in the operation of all the machines, as well as in safety procedures and finding online resource material. The machines can be intimidating at first, but the classes have given me confidence and boosted my creativity with endless possibilities to realize a dream of starting or enhancing a small business, jumpstarting creativity, the ability to design something and see it come to life, and the tools to build everything imaginable. I am starting to rethink my year-long membership. I should’ve signed up for the lifetime option.

Maker13

Open House 6:30-8:30 p.m.

June 7

629 Michigan Ave.

Jeffersonville
502.208.3440
www.maker13.com info@maker13.com

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Explore | Tell City

Story and Photos by JD Dotson

Lucky to have a partner in exploration, Jon and I headed west to Perry County not sure of what we would find in this part of south central Indiana. We knew that Perry County was the hilliest and most forested part of Indiana and home to the Hoosier National Forest, but our knowledge ended there. Our first stop, in the county seat Tell City, was the Tell City Pour Haus, where we came up with an exploration game plan over a beer and an iced tea. Built inside the Tell City Foundry and Machine Works building, the Pour Haus is home to Tell City Brewing Company, which has a large craft beer selection, huge menu, pool hall, outdoor music venue and summer concert series. The interior has retained much of the wood beams and brick work from the original building, and the beautiful wood booths were made by a craftsperson in Evansville using reclaimed wood. The walls are covered with photographs of the town and the building’s history. Our server was exceptionally helpful in not only helping Jon with a local beer selection and me with a snack selection, but also gave us plenty of tips for exploration. We finished our beer cheese and pretzel and drinks and headed off to our first stop just a block away, the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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TELL CITY POUR HAUS

706 Humboldt St. | Tell City

812.547.2739

www.tellcitypourhaus.com

The Tell City Depot, home of the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau, offers much more than tourist maps and brochures. The gift shop is filled with goods from Indiana artisans, paintings, sculpture, jewelry and crafts, all of which are handmade and unique. In addition to maps and brochures, there is a walled kiosk of sights to see in the surrounding area and the most knowledgeable staff. Very helpful and proud of Perry County, the staff assisted in helping us plan a route for the day. Before we left, we had to get a picture. Channeling Lily Tomlin, we climbed into the oversized, massive antique Boston rocker, one of two left in the world, before setting out to explore.

TELL CITY DEPOT

333 7th St. | Tell City

812.547.7933

www.pickperry.com

e3We decided to drive further up the hill to check out the view at the top, even though our guide informed us we showed up on a day Blue Heron Vineyards & Winery was closed. At least the cross was open to the public and the view from the top was spectacular.

Being nosy individuals and knowing the winery was closed, we drove down the driveway anyway, pulled into the parking lot and encountered someone in the lot spraying for weeds. I remarked that we were aware they were closed but were just exploring, and her answer was: “If you are here, then I am not closed.”

Lynn and Gary Dauby graciously stopped their work to give us an amazing tour of the vineyard, the beautiful view, other works of art by Gary Harris, an amazing house for rent overlooking the river, Gary’s walking stick collection, the winery gift shop with Lynn’s beautiful artwork, a vineyard kitty and (also!) a tasting. The wine was delicious and we ended up purchasing a couple of bottles to take home, but the most enjoyable part was the conversation of two incredibly lovely people. Lynn and Gary are a testament to our favorite aspect of Southern Indiana, the people that we run across.

BLUE HERON VINEYARDS & WINERY

5330 Blue Heron Lane | Cannelton

812.547.7518; 812.619.6045 | www.blueheronvines.com

Perry County offers many beautiful views of the Ohio River, from the murals and parks along the waterfront in Tell City to the view of the locks at Eagle’s Bluff Overlook Park in Cannelton. We made a few scenic detours on our way to see the Celtic Cross. Commissioned by Gary and Lynn Dauby of Blue Heron Vineyard, local self-taught sculptor Greg Harris has carved into a 20-foot stone the largest “in-situ” (or of its own stone) Celtic cross in the world. The cross sits just up the hill from the main road and down a wooded path. Coming into the clearing, the cross takes your breath away as soon as it comes into view. The size, detail and sheer perfection of the work of art in this quiet setting, surrounded by trees and sounds of the woods, is quite a humbling experience.

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EAGLE’S BLUFF PARK & OVERLOOK

5100 E. State Road 66

With a bit of time to kill before dinner, we drove the strip of Tell
City and visited the courthouse, where I learned Tell City was named for William Tell, who shot an apple balanced on the head of his young son. (How did I not know that?) We popped into Domestic Goddess Salon and Boutique. The front of the space boasts a really cool shop with everything from jewelry, clothing and accessories, baby gear and home decor, much with an Indiana theme. We have seen a lot of Indiana tee shirts before, but we really loved these colorful state jersey tees. Domestic Goddess has a bit of something for everyone with some really unique affordable gifts.

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DOMESTIC GODDESS

510 Main St. | Tell City

812.547.8477

Our final Perry County stop for dinner was The Post, a casual multi-cuisine restaurant and bar in Tell City’s original post office building. Elements of the original interior, postmaster and teller windows separate the dining room and the bar area. The huge menu ranged from Italian pasta dishes and pizza to tacos, sandwiches and wraps and a few Creole and Asian-influenced dishes. I ordered the Tell City Cod Tacos topped with house made pico de gallo and chipotle cream with house jalapeño slaw. As a rule, I don’t usually eat too much super spicy food, but I was feeling adventurous and there was a sauce on the menu called Bang Bang sauce. How could I resist that? It was a delicious, slightly fiery cream sauce that added just the right amount of kick to my meal. Finishing up dinner, Jon and I made plans for an extended stay in Perry County, revisiting some wonderful people at the winery, catching a concert at the Pour Haus, bringing some friends and soaking up more of this part of Southern Indiana.

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THE POST RESTAURANT AND BAR

516 Main St. | Tell City

812.547.4700 | www.thepostrestaurantonline.com

JD Dotson

Finding a New Derby Tradition in New Orleans

The exterior of a two-story corner building of a street in New Orleans, which is named Elysian Fields and runs between the L&N tracks and the river. The section is poor but, unlike corresponding sections in other American cities, it has a raffish charm.

So begins “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams.

Seventy years later at the exact address of Stella and Stanley Kowalski is where a New Orleans adventure begins for me. A Bicycle Named Desire and I.J. Reilly’s Knick Knack and Curiosities now occupy the house at 632 Elysian Fields and is home to bike rentals and tours and a menagerie of locally-made art and products.

In addition to the beach cruiser that I rented to take me all over the city, the shop rents tandemene bikes, children’s bikes and baby seats, and outfits riders with maps, bike routes, helmets, locks, a wire basket, lights and a bell. I am well-equipped and ready to explore this amazing city, home of Bourbon Street, birthplace of jazz, and my escape from the Kentucky Derby: the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

I am trading in one track this year for another, as Jazz Fest is held around the track at the New Orleans Fairgrounds just minutes outside the French Quarter. Jazz Fest is two music-filled weekends beginning April 28 and lasting through May 7. New Orleans is host to every music lover’s dream with local musicians and internationally-renowned artists in jazz, rock, blues, zydeco, gospel, blues, R&B, latin, folk, Caribbean and Cuban music. This years lineup includes Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, Maroon 5, Lorde, Snoop Dogg, Earth, Wind and Fire, Patti Labelle, the Dirty Dozen brass band, the New Orleans Classic R&B review and hundreds of other artists. in addition to music, Jazz Fest brings together local handmade artists and craftspeople, the Congo Square African Marketplace, Cultural Exchange Pavilion welcoming Cuba to Jazz Fest
and amazing new orleans, Cuban and African Food.

ene5There is a Jazz Fest App that allows you to personalize your experience. There is parking on-site,  but the best way to get to and from the fairgrounds is by Uber or bicycle.

Tickets are $70 a day in advance/$80 at the gate and more information can be found on the website, www.nojazzfest.com

Attempting to guide someone to the charms of New Orleans would take volumes. This city is an explorer’s heaven and, luckily, she never sleeps. I have been in love since my first visit in college over 25 years ago. It’s the place I had chargrilled oysters for the first time, got a taste for deliciously nutty chicory coffee, saw my first drag show in a bar in the quarter and still as often as I go back, new experiences arise in the Crescent City.

New Orleans is one of the best places in the country to be a tourist, and tours present ene1themselves at every turn, whether you’re into ghosts and vampires, architecture, history, pirates and plantations or swamps. The food is unique to the area, spicy cajun alligator or crawfish served in famous restaurants as well as some of the most delicious po-boys in the back of a tiny convenient store. Some of my favorite spots are not on any tourist map and some I have happened upon by accident.

It is tradition with my group of friends, after picking up the bikes, to make our first stop Organic Banana in the French Market. You will come across many a boozy, slushy-selling bar in the French Quarter, but once you have a Flaming Monkey from the Organic Banana, you will swear off the cheap imitations. The Flaming Monkey is 151 Bacardi, Irish Cream, banana and coconut cream. Non-alcoholic smoothies are available as well but all drinks are made with real, organic fruits and juices, and since we are on bikes, virgins all around this visit.

ORGANIC BANANA

French Market 1100 N Peters St. #27

www.theorganicbananafrenchmarket.com

The past couple of years has seen the opening of Crescent Park and the Lafitte Greenway, as well as dedicated bicycle paths throughout the city. We rode our bikes through the quarter, into the Marigny, past Cake Cafe, home of a delicious king cake and site of my official engagement ene4and into the bywater, to the entrance of the Crescent Park. The 20 acre urban linear park along the banks of the river offers spectacular views of the city, public art, native landscaping and pedestrian and bike paths. The Lafitte Greenway begins just at the edge of the quarter and is over two miles of paved path along the city’s most historic transportation corridors. Originally people traveled by canal, then train and now tree lined bike and pedestrian paths all lead to City Park. Biking is definitely the easiest way to get to Jazz Fest. There is bicycle parking with overnight security in case we need to leave bicycles. With our Jazz Fest route secure, brunch is our next top priority.

CRESCENT PARK

www.crescentparknola.org
www.thelafittegreenway.org

Sometimes it is hard finding something everyone can agree on for food. St. roch Market is a southern food hall and craft cocktail bar with history as a market going back to 1838. After falling in disrepair sitting empty for years following Katrina, the market has returned as a multi-vendor market and bar. Street food, coffee shop, pastries and juice bar, Haitian, Mexican and Japanese, oyster bar, organic vegetarian and southern barbecue all under one roof, we were sure to spend an hour making a decision, and surely find something for everyone. I found my brunch at Juice nola. My avocado toast was semolina bread, mashed avocado, lemon juice, sea salt, chili flakes, egg and cherry tomato to start. I finished my meal off with the Morning bowl of quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, pumpkin seeds, cotija cheese, a sunny side up egg and avocado dressing. I apparently had pedaled up quite an appetite.

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ST ROCH MARKET

2381 St. Claude Ave 504-609-3813

www.strochmarket.com

The French Quarter is definitely a must see, though it can be tricky to navigate through crowds of people and cars by bike. We like to stick to exploring neighborhoods on two wheels and the quarter by foot. The Marigny and bywater offer breathtaking public murals, Dr. bob’s Art gallery, famous for the tag line “BE NICE OR LEAVE”, and haunting X-codes or Katrina “crosses” still on some houses and buildings in spray paint and some turned into iron sculptures. The crosses ene3identified rescue workers, time and date and survivors or the dead. the grand houses of the garden District and restaurants and shops along Magazine Street, through neighborhoods and parks, exploring in the big Easy is a feast for the eyes. You could wait in an hour long line for beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde in the quarter, but my exploring in the found a great coffee shop without the wait. I am an admitted fan of chicory coffee, and so glad I can pick up a can at Kroger at home, but Hi Volt Coffee in the lower garden District has me hooked. they have a Cola Cocktail on the menu. Mexican Coke, shot of espresso and vanilla over ice gives me just the sugary, caffeinated jolt of energy we need to get us back to the quarter before dark.

HI VOLT COFFEE
1829 Sophie Wright Place

504-324-8818

www.hivoltcoffee.com

We lock up the bikes and hoof it through the quarter stopping to look at wigs at Fifi Mahoney’s, ene6stumble upon a vampire themed gift shop, peruse the artists at the Second Line Art and Antiques and end up at Lafitte’s blacksmith Shop. Lafitte’s was built between 1722 and 1732 and is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the united States. The bar feels old, mainly lit by candle light, dark and crumbling, mysterious with the spirits of murderous pirates perhaps. The only non three hundred year old thing in the bar is the purple drink, one of the only other acceptable boozy slushies in the quarter. I used to down my drink when the group is ready to go, forgetting that in new orleans, everything is in a to go cup, and downing purple slushy leads to brain freeze, but this time, slushy in hand we head back home to our hostess for some sage advice for Derby escapees coming to Jazz Fest.

LAFITTE’S BLACKSMITH SHOP
941 Bourbon St.

504-593-9761

www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com

Our amazing hostess and friend, Kim Smith was put on the spot as I asked her some questions about a trip to New Orleans for Jazz Fest.

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Q. What is your number one tip for anyone visiting for Jazz Fest?

A. Most people don’t realize Jazz Fest ends at 7pm at night so attendees can get out into the city and see jazz in clubs and music venues. You get to see music up close in some of the same places jazz was born. Also bike to Jazz Fest.

Q. What is the best tourist spot that should be on everyones list?

A. Just wander around the French Quarter, Jackson Square artists, ghost tours. Avoid Bourbon Street. If it’s your first time, you should go to Bourbon Street, but only for an hour or so then explore the streets around it. Also the swamp tours are pretty amazing, where else can you see hundreds of alligators swimming around?

Q. Best non-tourist spot in town?

A. Anything not in the Quarter. Frenchman Street, biking along the levee, Bacchanal in the Bywater, City Park.

Q.The number one thing as a tourist one should NEVER do?

A. Drink a hand grenade, spend all your visit on Bourbon Street, stand in line for beignets, refer to New Orleans as N’Awlins.

Q. Best cocktail in town?

A. Cane and Table has an amazing tiki inspired cocktail list and Victory Bar in the CBD makes a spicy drink called So Pho-cking Good and it is! Our trip to New Orlean for Jazz Fest is sure to end on a cheerier note than A Streetcar Named Desire. While we will miss the fun and festive atmosphere of home around Derby-time, the charms and music of this southern city will keep us happily entertained.

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Building A Dream

Photos by Tony Bennett

Extol staffers JD DOTSON and ANGIE FENTON have decided to compete in the men’s and women’s physique categories of the Kentucky Muscle Bodybuilding Championships in October 2017. An avid runner, JD is already in good shape but will need to build muscle and control his sweet tooth. Angie, who gave birth to her daughter in January 2016, is in the worst physical shape of her life and tired of feeling, well, tired. With the help of their coach, RYAN SCHRINK, owner of Schrink Personal Training, the pair are ready to begin what will be an arduous journey in their quests to get fit. But what will it take to reach their goals? In this first installment of what will be a 10-month series, JD and Angie share where they are now, what motivates them most and any pitfalls they see ahead.

THE COACHcoach

Ryan Schrink was born and raised in Seymour and played football for Ball State before graduating with a bachelor’s in exercise Science. He also has a master’s in exercise physiology from the University of Louisville. The owner of Schrink Personal Training, Ryan averages 45 training sessions a week with clients who vary in age, ability and goals, and has worked with individuals from age 7 to 92. Despite his busy work schedule and fatherly duties – he has four kids, including Brooklyn, 15; Olivia, 12; Rylan, 9; and Gia, 6 months –Ryan fits in five to six lifting sessions a does cardio three to four days a week. A respected bodybuilder with several championships under his belt, he’s also made a name for coaching others who aim to compete and is ready to take on Extol’s JD Dotson and Angie Fenton. “JD’s challenge is going to his social life and transitioning from a runner mentality to a lifting mentality,” he said. “Angie’s challenge is going to be about busyness. She’s going to have to set aside some time for herself and feel OK with that.”

ANGIE FENTON, 41

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GOALS

I want to compete in the physique category of a bodybuilding competition this time next year when I’ll be 42. Pregnant at 40, gave birth the day I turned 41 (Jan. 20), compete at 42 – that’s my goal. I’m out of shape, weigh far more than is healthy. I am an “old” mom and, ultimately, want to be strong and fit so I can be there for my daughter, Olive, for a very long time. I also wouldn’t mind if one of the major benefits is my husband feeling proud of what his wife has set out to accomplish. But at the end of the day, this is mostly for me. I’m better in every way when I am physically fit. It’s time to make a change.

POTENTIAL SETBACKS

I’m a mom, a wife, owned by four dogs and two cats and work two jobs — I’m a reporter for WHAS11 every weekday morning and am editor in chief of Extol Magazine. I also commit much time to charity events and volunteering in the community. Juggling it all while training will be a struggle. But, I am tired of being unhealthy and lacking the strength, stamina and confidence I know is possible. I want this so much.

DIET

My diet currently varies. On good days, I eat mostly protein and low-glycemic carbs: baked chicken, lean cuts of pork, some seafood (fish and shellfish) and roasted or steamed vegetables. On not-so-healthy days, I’ll eat whatever is in front of me: pizza, a grilled chicken sandwich from a fast food or fast-casual restaurant, grilled chicken or chef salad with ranch. I drink a large coffee with cream most mornings (made at home) and rarely take time to eat breakfast — except on weekends when I love egg scrambles. I’m not a huge fan of bread or pasta but will eat them on occasion. I eat sporadically and will sometimes go a whole day without eating anything except a very late dinner just before bed. I drink a ton of water. I don’t drink full-sugar sodas and rarely drink diet sodas because of the aspartame but have craved Diet Coke a few times lately for some reason. I know how to eat multiple meals but don’t do it. I prefer to have a protein shake for breakfast if I have to eat breakfast, though — again — I rarely eat breakfast. Or lunch. Or snack. I enjoy wine and beer, especially at the end of a long week.

EXERCISE

I am currently only walking my daughter in a stroller about 3-4 times a week and usually for no more than 20 minutes. I live on a hill and have four dogs. I could be kicking my own butt every day for their sakes and mine but haven’t taken the time. But it’s time. I am a new member of the LAC in New Albany and already appreciate the supportive environment of the staff and my fellow members.

D DOTSON, 47

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GOALS

I want to naturally compete in the physique competition in October 2017. At 47, I guess my main goal is to be as healthy and fit as possible, to push myself into new territory, new challenges.

POTENTIAL SETBACKS

For sure it will be tough. I’m not worried about the food or working out. I’m a former smoker, and I survived teaching junior high and high school, so I feel like I can do anything. I guess I am worried about failing due to health or injury. But I am a fighter and really excited and grateful.

DIET

This is the part that probably worries me the most. I don’t generally eat anything fried, fast food, processed meats. I eat fairly well, but always succumb to sweets. I drink coffee, cream, agave to sweeten in the morning, usually toast and soy “butter”, jelly, usually a banana, sometimes a smoothie. Lunch is Veggie Sandwich, turkey sandwich, probably chips of some sort, Jonny cooks dinner, always good meat, chicken or beef, always a veg, sometimes pasta, meat tomato sauce. I crave sweets and try to rustle up ice cream or a bowl of cereal, skim milk. I barely drink alcohol or beer, stick to unsweet tea.

EXERCISE

I work out a minimum of four to five days a week, including doing abdominal exercises and lifting, at the YMCA, where I’ve been a longtime member. I run five days a week five to 12 miles each time and average about 35 to 40 miles a week. I also ride my bike to work a few times a week and socially around town after work.

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COACH RYAN SHRINK

Schrink Personal Training

www.schrinkpersonaltraining.com

502.216.9475

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Portage House: A Riverfront Winner

By Angie Fenton | Photos by JD Dotson and Grant Vance

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The riverfront view in Jeffersonville just got even better with the addition of Portage House, 117 E. Riverside Drive, a restaurant featuring Midwestern cuisine – and oysters; oh, the oysters! – as well as plenty of local-to-Indiana products.

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The Roasted Oysters – with chipotle butter, lime and Texas toast – are divine.

Housed in a home built in the 1870s, the goal was to create “a welcoming atmosphere,” said Chef Paul Skulas, most recently of Holy Grale and Gralehaus in Louisville. “We focused on creating a vibe more than (being known for) an exact dish.”

Part of Doers LLC, whose first project was Citizen 7 in Prospect, Portage House boasts several large windows that allow natural light to stream in, which helps to create an inviting environment. The “majority of the design was (conceptualized) through Alex Tinker, one of the Doers partners,” Skulas said. Nathan Weaver of StrADegy Advertising Group “was the main designer.” (Note: Looking for a way to repurpose an old painting or print? Weaver’s talents, on display throughout Portage House, will give do-it-yourselfers and Pinterest lovers plenty of inspiration for your own homes. Simply put, what he’s done is really, really cool.)

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Kathy’s Pork Blade Steak is served with tomato butter beans, fennel and celery salad. This is a popular dish and for good reason: It’s delicious.

The view of the Ohio River, especially from the second floor, is lovely no matter the weather, but what stands out the most about Portage House is Skulas’ simple, sincere execution of the dishes on the menu. “We’re not overly pretentious,” he said, which is an understatement. Skulas makes food that is accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of pocketbook or palate. Though, don’t mistake that for being ordinary, because the menu is anything but.

Raw radishes paired with nothing more than butter and salt are a popular appetizer (just try them; you can thank us later).

Unaltered vegetables are the stars in the Raw Vegetable Salad – served with an herb vinaigrette, pear and feta – which made one nearby diner exclaim, “My god, this is good!”

Other highlights include the absolutely wonderful Roasted Oysters, Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Boneless Half Chicken, and Indiana Steak, which comes in two sizes.

Skulas’ go-to dish is Bucatini: spicy nduja sausage, shiitake, tarragon cream and parmesan, though he also favors the Half Dozen Oysters, served with mignonette and horseradish.

While on a visit during Sunday brunch, our table found the Grilled Cheese Sandwich a delectable dish of taleggio, Indiana goat cheese, fried egg and sorghum. A side of bacon from Hensley Homegrown farm was the perfect accompaniment.

The cocktail program, headed up by Bar Manager Daniel Mahony, is one of the best we’ve seen. “I approached the program off of Paul’s menu. He’s not a spoon drag kind of guy. He takes quality things and knows how to present them for what they are.”

So does Mahony.

Try a locally-made craft beer, Hop-Washed Whiskey or one of the punches that come in either 16-ounce or 32-ounce Mason jars. “They’re very conducive to being shared,” he said.

None of the menus – drinks and dishes – are extensive. That’s because Skulas “would rather do 15 things really well than 30 things mediocre. … I wanted something that was not like a Louisville restaurant. I wanted an Indiana-proud restaurant,” he said. “People really seem to be enjoying us.”

We sure did.

Portage House

117 E. Riverside Drive

Jeffersonville

812.725.0435

EatPortageHouse.com

4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

JD Dotson

Charlestown

Story and photos by JD Dotson

Once again, I am completely in awe of a place I thought I knew, only to be pleasantly surprised at every turn.  Charlestown quietly sits in Eastern Clark County and not knowing where I was going, I stopped in the first interesting place I came upon to ask questions and poke around. (By the way: Don’t forget to check out Charlestown during the Christmas season, beginning with Light Up Charlestown on the Friday after Thanksgiving.)

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The CHARLESTOWN FEED STORE 

11106 Dean St. | On Highway 62 Near Highway 3 | 812.256.2048 | charlestownfeedstore.com

Sitting outside the Charlestown Feed Store was an old giant wagon, shining with color, with row upon row of raw West Virginia glass. I took it as a sign to see what other things – beside feed – I could find at the feed store. I met a beautiful parrot named Goldie, saw the largest collection of vintage coolers and got some good information and stories from Luke, who works at the store. I heard the legend of the haunted Seven Penny Bridge, (or Ten Penny Bridge, if you search online) and got directions to the Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve. Still, I was sure I had more pennies in the floorboard of my car, and I headed out to explore Charlestown.

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CHARLESTOWN STATE PARK 

12500 Indiana 62 | 812.256.5600 | www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2986.htm | $7 entry fee

Charlestown State Park sits just off Hwy 62 on 5,100 acres of land formerly belonging to the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, and on the banks of the Ohio River. The park boasts several marked trails rated moderate to rugged and ruins of ammunition plants in the hills.  I began my adventure at the Riverside Overlook and trail No. 6 which immediately had me running up a steep, rocky ascent. Once I cleared the climb, my run had me along the ridge of the woods with a steep drop-off and the most spectacular view in the park of the river. It was at once both terrifying and beautiful, quiet on the path and breathtaking. I kept the course which wound me back down to creek beds and back up. I was easily distracted by bits of a ruin which took me off trail and off course, just a bit lost but reveling in the adventure of trying to reconnect with my path. Eventually, I found my way back to my car and to my map to Rose Island. I have heard of Rose Island since my childhood. My Granny lived down the road, worked in the ammunition plant and told of picnics at the popular amusement park. In the 1920s, the park, only accessible by steamboat, ferry or a suspension bridge, boasted a small zoo, a pool, shooting gallery, dance hall, cafeteria, ferris wheel and roller coaster and hotel. The Depression closed the park temporarily and the flood of 1937 destroyed the park entirely. These days a short hike down the steep, paved hill and crossing over the Porterville Bridge will drop you at the entrance of Rose Island. There are a lot of really remarkable ruins and historic markers guiding you along the paths with photographs of what once belonged here. A bit of imagination helped to fill in the river banks with thousands of people bustling around the peninsula on a beautiful day. I explored Rose Island quite a bit, knowing I was stalling the run back to my car. At the end of this trip, I will have run 10 miles and the last leg was up another steep incline. As a reward, I asked some fellow explorers a bit of advice on what food I should stuff in my face.

otharocks distantclearing

NINE PENNY BRANCH STATE NATURE PRESERVE 

3143, 3019 Tunnel Mill Rd

The back roads of Charlestown are peaceful, curvy and perfect for a gorgeous Saturday drive. I wound my way down Tunnel Mill Road and took in the sights, the hills and woods, farms and fields. The Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve sits just off the road with a small parking lot and a path leading you away. A quarter of a mile in and you are really alone and seemingly far from civilization. The path curves and slopes down, winding back and forth between trees and vines. I came to a rough-hewn rock bench high above a creek below and spared a few minutes to sit and enjoy the solitude. Eventually, I made my way down the path across a bridge and eventually into the creek bed. It was an easy mile in and a rough run back uphill to get out.

pizza

THE CHARLESTOWN PIZZA COMPANY

850 Main St. 812.256.2699 | www.ctownpizzaco.com

I met a trio in the ruins and immediately the Charlestown Pizza Company sprang out as the best pizza in the area. As if I need any more of an excuse to visit a good pizza place, the next bit of advice had me hooked instantly.: “You have to get the Mashed Potato Pie,” said Morgan Cooke, and I thanked her for ruining my diet because I was certain that is exactly what I was going to get. I ran extra hard off the paved path through the woods, pushing myself thinking about all those calories I was about to ingest. The restaurant sits off the square in the heart of Charlestown. The menu description is as follows: “The Mashed Potato Pie: sauced with garlic butter, then a hearty layer of mashed potato, bacon and cheddar cheese and finished with diced green onions. Served with your choice of one sauce on the side.” It is a perfect amalgamation of pizza and baked potatoes, and fell right out of comfort food heaven and into my belly.