Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Porky Pig Diner (Pig, KY)

Bike:  KTM Super Duke R
Route:  Google Maps

65 degrees in January? No rain? Gotta ride...

I often find myself missing Pasadena during the cold Kentucky winter, mostly from a motorcycling perspective. Living ten minutes from the Angeles Crest Highway, the ability to escape the smog of the LA basin by quickly climbing a few thousand feet up the San Gabriel Mountains en route to Newcombs Ranch was priceless. And that opportunity was available nearly year-round.

FLASHBACK:  Angeles Crest Highway memories, circa 2003.

But this year we haven't had much of a winter. And a warm sunny January day like this reminds me that South Central Kentucky is a fine place to live, too. My favorite BBQ joint is one minute from my house. 12 minutes from home I can be taking an underground boat ride through a cave. 15 minutes from home I can be strolling across a 21,000-student University campus or watching America's favorite sports car roll off the assembly line. An NFL or NHL game is never more than an hour away.

And 33 minutes from home I can be eating lunch at Porky Pig Diner in Pig, KY.

No joke. Porky Pig Diner. In Pig, KY. I love Kentucky.

This was a great ride for several reasons:
  1. My favorite picture ever.
  2. It's a fun loop. There's only a few miles of well-traveled straight line road on the way up, and the entire route home is fun twisty backroad stuff. This is a loop the Bowling Green Rocket Club from the late nineties would appreciate, even though no Taco Bell is involved.
  3. Apparently there are two places named Rocky Hill, KY. More on that later.
  4. I used the GoPro HD Hero2 on the way back, and I dug up some good photos from previous rides to compare the two cameras and the different scenery from the different seasons.

The obligatory New Cut Road photo.
The rare double-sided matching fence row.
This is the most boring stretch of the whole ride, and it doesn't last long.
Smiths Grove, KY.
On the left is a burger joint called Flavor Isle that has supposedly been owned by the same person for almost 50 years. I have a feeling I'll be eating there soon...

We love those signs...
I know that house on the hill. Good people live there. I think we're related somehow.
Pig, KY.

Pig, KY sits on the outskirts of Mammoth Cave National Park and there are no road signs to prove Pig actually exists. The last time they put signs up, all four were stolen within a month. I've ridden past this place on the intersecting road many times without even realizing there was a diner at this intersection. But I'm glad I recently heard about it because this is where I got my favorite picture ever...

Meet Pound Hound, the official greeter at Porky Pig Diner.
My favorite picture ever.
Big place!
Ain't nothin' wrong with that motto.
It's true -- the ferries are still pretty important around here.
Roast Beef Manhattan.
Apple Pie.
I don't know what they're pointing at. There ain't nothing over there.

VERDICT:  Fine homestyle country cookin', and served fast! This place was bigger than I expected. I've heard they're known for the catfish and the owner, Mona, said their best dish was the smoked pulled pork BBQ. But I've had my fair share of BBQ lately and I'm not a good judge of catfish, so I went with the roast beef. It was great -- just like you'd do at home in the Crock-Pot -- and it was served in less than two minutes. So I reckon this diner is a good place for a quick meal, if you happen to be looking for a quick meal while you're in the middle of nowhere. But you'll probably enjoy it more more if you have time to relax and chat while you eat (I'm sure you can meat some real characters here). They have a big menu and plenty of dessert choices, so I look forward to coming back to try the BBQ and the cherry cobbler. I'll return with some of my motorcycle friends soon.

[NOTE:  After a few conversations with friends, I feel obligated to address the smoking issue. Yes, this place is smoker friendly. No, I didn't see anyone smoking in the back while preparing the food! Generally speaking, I don't get too bothered by eating in a smoking environment. Of course I've been to places that are so full of smoke that it is distracting and even disturbing, but this ain't Harper's Catfish! This was my first visit and I wasn't even aware of the ashtrays until I looked at the pics, so don't shy away because you've heard it's too smokey.]

Anyway, I switched to the GoPro HD Hero2 for the ride home. I wasn't real happy with the Hero2 images on the Buell, but with the more upright ergonomics I was hoping the narrower field of view would be OK on the KTM...

Call me crazy, but I think Pound Hound is once again copying the KTM's pose...
You can see PH's doghouse over there next to the ice.
KTM Super Duke R. I love her.
"Mammoth Cave National Park -- A World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve"
I have no idea what that means, but I didn't mean to go this way so I'm turning around.

FLASHBACK:  The same spot last June.

While riding some of these roads over the past year I kept seeing signs for Rocky Hill, but they weren't in the same area. I thought I was losing my mind, but apparently there are TWO Rocky Hill communities -- one in Edmonson County and one in Barren County. That don't make no sense at all.

The Edmonson County Rocky Hill was a bustling place early in the 20th century, but most of the town burned down and it never quite recovered. Cruising through nowadays it has an old west ghost town feel. Pretty cool...

Rocky Hill, KY (Edmonson County).

FLASHBACK:  It looked a little different in Summer.

The Post Office.
Across the tracks is the Rocky Hill Inn B&B. It was built in 1857 and they do provide ear plugs for the guests.
Dang! I'm gonna say this was a total loss. Apparently Rocky Hill buildings are still burning to the ground.
South of Rocky Hill, 259 sports a bunch of first gear turns amid nice Kentucky farmland...

...and the road is often pretty dirty.
That awkward moment where you pull out to pass just as you spot the road sign you 've been looking for.
I love 255, especially the portion between 1297 & 252 -- cool farms and fun curves.

Just 15 miles away from the Edmonson County Rocky Hill, here is the Barren County version of Rocky Hill, KY. All I know about this one is that you can't miss the Rocky Hill Missionary Baptist Mission, and I hear there's an "Octagon House" somewhere nearby...

Rocky Hill, KY (Barren County).
I had to backtrack for a quarter mile to find the road sign on 1297.
Rocky Hill Missionary Baptist Mission.

Now that the Rocky Hills are out of the way, it's a quick trip home. There's more photos than usual because of the flashbacks...

The Dam Store is still closed, baby... the Dam Store is still closed.
But the big parking lot is a fine place to stop and check voice mails & emails on a workday.
Barren River Lake Dam. The water is low.

Just a cow and her reflection.

FLASHBACK:  It didn't look much different in October.
FLASHBACK:  But it did look different in September!

FLASBACK:  It looked different in October.
They cut a bunch of trees down. Boo!
Headin' home...
FLASHBACK:  Headin' home in October...


UPDATE (2/16/12):  I went back tonight to grab some dinner and drop off a copy of my favorite picture ever. I gotta say, the BBQ and the catfish are A-OK. The pork is smoked on-site and the sauce is a sweet tomato-based deal. I also learned that they have a buffet on Sundays that transitions from breakfast to lunch around 10:30. Calvin said they're so busy on Sundays that a buffet is the only way to accommodate everybody. Gotta check that out...

Pound Hound.
There's my favorite picture ever again.
BBQ Pork Sandwich & Potato Salad.
Catfish (complete with Hush Puppies) & Cole Slaw (to go).