Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Field Trip: Wandering Kentucky's Back Roads

Because today was International Women's Day/Women's Strike and because it was a spectacular day outside, I chose not to work – and Ed's backed me 100% and suggested that we take a field trip. Nothing we like better than driving around the back roads of Kentucky, taking in the beautiful countryside, and laughing at the all-too-true stereotypes of our fair state.

We left mid-morning with the vague idea of driving to Owenton for lunch, stopping on the way to explore the Wildlife Management Area along the Kentucky River. We headed north to Eminence and then on to Port Royal, home to our favorite writer: Wendall Berry. We whizzed past the Port Royal Baptist Church catching sight of an old cemetery behind the church. We looked at each other and said at the same time: "Let's go back."

So back, we did go.

On our way out of the cemetery I glanced next door at an old abandoned house. A tattered curtain blowing in the breeze caught my eye – and broke my heart.

We followed the old road along the Kentucky River stopping at the Boone Wildlife Management Area, where we hiked a muddy trail up to the dam that created a 15-acre lake. Looked like some good fishing -- and so we promised to come back another day with our gear.

From there, we headed to downtown, Gratz, a mostly forgotten town that in the mid-1800s was one of the most prosperous ones in the area due to the business of portaging goods around an unnavigable part of the river. Today, it is a sad place, even Charlie's Old Time Shoe Repair was closed.

We were getting hungry, so we pressed on toward Owenton, but not without stopping every few minutes for me to jump out of the car and take photos of whatever caught my fancy, mostly structures that had gone to rack and ruin or were on their way there. Ed was an exceedingly good sport.

Downtown Owenton, population 1327, sits atop a ridge about a half hour north of Frankfort. Owenton was founded in 1822 but its growth in the late 19th century was limited because a railroad was never built to it. Today, it supports one downtown coffee/sandwich shop: Bird Dogs Coffee. So that is where we stopped for lunch. Soup and sandwich were fine; the brownie was excellent!

After lunch, we continued our travels, with more stops for photos along the way.

We ended up in Carrollton, an old town on the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers. We crossed the Kentucky River bridge and headed home, with one more stop at Starview Nursery in Henry County to pick up some extra strawberry plants to fill in some bare spots in my raised bed. 

Seven hours after we left home, we pulled back into the drive. We had basically made a 125-mile circle through Shelby, Henry, Owen and Carroll counties. Glad we spend our day wandering roads we knew and ones we had never travelled before. It was a good day.

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