A Road Trip to Kentucky Bend (AKA “Bubbleland” or “The Western Tippity-Tip of Kentucky”)

22 Aug

Kentucky Bend, Bubbleland, New Madrid Bend, Fulton County, Kentucky

When we set out to explore the great state of Kentucky, we promised ourselves we’d explore every inch, every shadow, every hidden corner of our home. Ladies and gentlemen, let it be said that we’ve stood on the western-most tippity-tip of Kentucky looking out over the grand Mississippi River, and we came away with two thoughts:

1. Man, this is a big corn field.
2. How in the world did we get here?

Let me start at the beginning.

To get to the most western point of Kentucky located in Fulton County, you have to really want to go there. Like really, really bad.

The Kentucky Bend (also called the New Madrid Bend, Bessie Bend, or Bubbleland by locals for its odd teardrop shape) is an exclave of the state. This means that it is a piece of land belonging to Kentucky, but separated from the rest of the state entirely. Surrounded by Tennessee and Missouri and without touching any other part of Kentucky, the Bend is only accessible by Tennessee State Route 22. The 17 residents of this far-southwestern peninsula claim Tiptonville, Tennessee as their mailing address because the town 8 miles south is the closest post office. To vote, they make the 40-mile trip south into Tennessee then north back into Kentucky to Hickman.

You’re not just going to stumble upon these 15,000 acres. Well, I suppose you could if you get really lost. Or if you make a wrong turn leaving Tennessee’s Northwest Correctional Complex. Or if you’re an escaped inmate. But other than that, if you’re going to Bubbleland, you’re going there on purpose.

my old kentucky road trip western kentucky map

I couldn’t tell you how we got there, except to say we took the Purchase Parkway to US-51 to KY-94 (which leads you through the adorable sleepy town of Hickman that is home to one of the most friendly ferry drivers around … he’ll take you across the Mighty Mississippi to Missouri and back for a couple of dollars if you ask real nice) to TN-78 and then through a round about of detours to TN-22 heading north. You’ll pass a few grave yards, tens of thousands of acres of corn and soybeans and sweet sorghum crops, a state jail, and some friendly locals. And to get back, you’ll retrace your steps and do it all again.

A Little History Lesson

Now, it wasn’t always an (almost) island unto itself. In 1812, this area of the Mississippi River was disrupted quite a bit by a series of earthquakes along the New Madrid fault line that occurred in 1811 and 1812. If you ask the locals, the Kentucky Bend was created “when the Mississippi flowed backwards,” and rerouted, cutting off this bit of land from the area that would become the Jackson Purchase in 1818. The Bend was claimed by Tennessee for a while (and was part of Obion County), but around 1848, our southern counterpart dropped its claim on the 17.56 square miles of mostly cropland, and it became part of the Bluegrass State.

So here’s the real question road-trippers: Is one giant corn field and a couple of houses worth the trip?

It’s always worth the trip. Like us, many of you are from central, northern, eastern, or various other hollers and hills across Kentucky. And many of you have never taken the Bluegrass Parkway down to Western Kentucky Parkway over to the Pennyrile Parkway and connected to the Purchase Parkway. On your way to Fulton County in far western Kentucky, you’re going to pass through a ton of map dots that are worth slowing down for. Half of the fun of this road trip for us was the trip itself. It’s the journey, you know? It’s the gettin’ there that is full of laughter and singalongs and memories. It’s always worth the trip.

Plus, you, too, will be able to say you’ve stood on the most western tippity-tip of Kentucky.

So grab an overnight bag and make the haul down to Bubbleland. Stop in Hickman on your way and take the ferry across the Mississippi River to stand on the banks of Missouri and look at your great state across the water. Introduce yourself to locals. They’re proud Kentuckians, too.

Just don’t forget to pack your map. Cell phone and GPS services are rare and unreliable.



We’re Headed Back on the Road …. Tell Us Where to Go Next!

24 Mar

spring promotion

So, as many of you may have noticed, we’ve taken a bit of a break. A little work here, a little real life there has kept us off the road for a while. But we’re ready to head back out again and check out all of the amazing sites Kentucky has to offer.

Where should we go next?

Leave us a comment to let us know where you think our next road trip should take us and why. We can’t wait to hear from you!

A Road Trip to See the Moonbow at Cumberland Falls

21 Mar
Moonbow at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky

Moonbow at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. Photo by Elliott Hess for My Old Kentucky Road Trip. http://www.elliotthess.com

I’ve always wanted to see a moonbow. It was one of the things we put on our Road Trip Bucket List, and something I would recommend everyone see at some point in their travels through Kentucky.

It’s a phenomenon you can’t see anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere – the only other reported moonbow can be seen at Victoria Falls in Zambia in Africa. They’re rare because a lot of factors have to occur at the same time to produce the moonbow.

• There must be a bright, nearly full moon (usually 2 days before or 2 days after a full moon) and an almost cloudless night.
• Mist must be rising from the waterfall.
• Moonbows will appear white except on cold, crisp nights in the fall and winter when the atmosphere is drier and more clear. Then colors can be seen.
• Water temperature, fog and wind direction are also factors.

Lot’s of stuff to consider right? And there’s even more. Even if all of the above occurs, you still have to be in the right place at the right time to catch the moonbow. The time to view the moonbow depends on when the moon is high enough to shine over the mountain and into the river gorge. This can be as early as 7 p.m. in the winter and as late as 1 a.m. in the summer. It’s best to see the moonbow if you are standing along the upper outlook areas above the falls, looking down over the falls.

During Elliott and my recent trip to Cumberland Falls, we dedicated one of our nights to seeing this phenomenon. We were determined not to leave without it. It was the first weekend in March, still winter according to the crisp temperatures, and we lucked out because it was very clear and just a day after a full moon (OK maybe we didn’t luck out entirely, we sort of planned the dates of the trip around the elusive moonbow). Wrapped in layers and armed with a tripod, camera and lenses, Elliott and I arrived at the upper outlook at 8 p.m. and staked out the falls.

We didn’t see anything.

We waited some more.

Still nothing.

After about an hour of waiting, Elliott decided he didn’t think we were close enough. You see, usually at the park, you can walk out onto the rocks near the top of the falls and get closer to the water. But because of recent heavy rainfall, the barriers had been moved back, further from the water. So with a little minor trespassing, Elliott squeezed through an opening in the barrier and VERY CAREFULLY (I was freaking out internally the whole time) walked closer to the falls. Sure enough, peering over the edge of the rock, you could see the colorful arch in the mist rising from the water at the base of the falls.

So I joined him in his minor trespassing because I just had to see for myself.

Now, I’m not going to condone trespassing or breaking the rules. In fact, I’m going to pull a “do as I say and not as I do” parental moment and tell you to stick behind the barriers for your own safety. I have to tell you that. I don’t care for being sued.

But I’ll also admit this: I’m glad I followed Elliott out on that rock. It was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen and by far a highlight to one of my favorite road trips.

For a schedule of predicted moonbows, follow this link to the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park website, and then click on the Moonbow tab.

A Road Trip to Cumberland Falls State Park Near Corbin, Kentucky

21 Mar
Eagle Falls, Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

Eagle Falls near Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, Kentucky. Keep reading for the full story of our adventure, and visit http://www.elliotthess.com/blog for more lovely photos of the falls (including a moonbow picture!) Photo by Elliott Hess for My Old Kentucky Road Trip

When I was in elementary school, I loved to play The Oregon Trail computer game. Recently, some of Cameron and my friends downloaded The Oregon Trail game onto my iPad to relive one of our favorite childhood games. News flash: It looks totally different now. I mean, obviously this is to be expected. I hardly think Apple would let the old version of the game on their shiny hi-res screens. But still, a part of me was shocked to see the well-animated, bright and colorful game that played back at me. We were used to this version:

Nice outfits right? Perhaps it was because I had just been playing The Oregon Trail that my mind went straight to the game when the boyfriend, Elliott, and I took off on a road trip to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park a few weeks ago. Or maybe it’s because a lot of rain and some unplanned hiking trips made me wish I had a few oxen and a covered wagon. All in all, we had an awesome time at the falls and a couple of days of cloudy, but beautiful weather (Professional Photographer Elliott says cloudy days are the best picture-taking days … especially of water.) And we even got to see the world-famous Cumberland Falls moonbow – a phenomenon not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. But we’ll tell you more about that later.

Let me back up a little bit. Here’s how the trip went:

Elliott had planned out a few hiking adventures on our drive to Cumberland Falls. He wanted to see nearby waterfalls like Eagle Falls and promised me they were “just off the road.” Perhaps we had a bit of a different definition of “just off the road.” To start our day off, the lady working the front desk at DuPont Lodge where we stayed – very nice and very affordable, a bit older since the lodge and its surrounding 15 cabins were constructed in 1933, but great views from the room – told us about a new waterfall that park rangers had just found days before (it’d been raining a lot recently) that was along a 1 mile hiking trail behind the lodge.

DuPont Lodge, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Kentucky  DuPont Lodge, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Kentucky  DuPont Lodge, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Kentucky

Well, we didn’t find the waterfall, but we DID get to climb across a massive fallen tree that completely blocked the hiking path and then navigate our way back toward the lodge on our own trail. Good thing I packed my hiking boots.

After making the (poor judgement) call to skip breakfast because we were desperate to see a waterfall at this point, Elliott and I drove the short distance from the lodge down to a small turn off and parking lot at the trail head to get to Eagle Falls. Here’s where The Oregon Trail comes into play. You see, just a short distance down the trail, we suddenly lost the path to the overflowing banks of the Cumberland River. Elliott decided we’d forge it.

Cumberland Falls, Eagle Falls, Kentucky

So leaving our oxen and wagon behind (it was far too risky to take the animals along and Elliott didn’t want to get any scratches on his new covered wagon), and packing his camera, bag of camera gear and tripod (no room left for food), we crossed the river successfully.

The oregon trail game

But then we came across another river. Elliott wanted to forge this one, but I put my foot down.

Cumberland Falls, Eagle Falls, Kentucky

The best part about the 2.5 mile hike to Eagle Falls (which involved many, many inclines both up and down and even more stairs), was we walked along the opposite side of the river from the state park viewing area. This meant we got a truly unique view of Cumberland Falls. That’s a lot of water.

We made it to Eagle Falls without breaking any limbs, or contracting dysentery or cholera, and it was well-worth the hike.

Eagle Falls, Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

And then I pushed Elliott in ….

Eagle Falls, Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

OK, that part isn’t true. But I considered it for a half of a second. I blame hunger for clouding my judgement. If you want to orient yourself from the picture above, to Elliott’s right is Cumberland River, down river from the falls. Cumberland Falls is located over Elliott’s right shoulder, behind him about a mile.

Yes, it was a long hike. And yes, I was very hungry by the time we got back to our covered wagon and oxen Elliott’s car. But it was a lovely 2.5 mile walk to the falls and then the same distance back. It took us about an hour and a half to complete in it’s entirety (including some time we sat at the falls taking pictures), and on days in warmer weather when it hasn’t been raining a lot, I’m sure the hiking trails are clear and dry – no river forging necessary.

A little history about Cumberland Falls:

Because I couldn’t just leave you with our entertaining tale, a little history on Cumberland Falls –

Geologists estimate that the rock over which the Cumberland River plunges is about 250 million years old. Dr. Thomas Walker during his 1750 exploration of Kentucky named the waterfall after the Duke of Cumberland, a son of King George II of England.

Ownership of Cumberland Falls included Samuel Garland, a Virginian who traded a portion of his supplies for the land around the falls. He intended to build a water mill, but instead built a cabin in which he resided for a while before returning to Virginia. The first official record of the falls ownership occurred in 1800 when the Commonwealth of Kentucky granted Matthew Walton and Adam Shepard Cumberland Falls and 200 acres. In 1850, Louis and Mary H. Renfro bought 400 acres “including the Great Falls of the Cumberland.” The couple built a cabin near the falls and later added a two-room lean-to for visitors who wished to fish and enjoy the beauty of the magnificent waterfall.

After a few more owners, the Kiwanis Club sponsored the building of a trail from Corbin, Kentucky to Cumberland Falls in 1927. This project involved 200 men and women working for nine weeks to complete the task. In November 1927 Kentucky native T. Coleman DuPont offered to buy the falls and the surrounding acreage and give it to the commonwealth for a state park.

However, not until March 10, 1930 did the Kentucky legislature vote to accept the now deceased Coleman’s offer of the falls area as a state park. Coleman’s widow proceeded to buy the property of 593 acres for $400,000. Under the direction of Dr. Willard Rouse Jillson who had served as the first commissioner of state parks, a committee adopted a motion to make Cumberland Falls part of the state parks system. The dedication of Cumberland Falls as a Kentucky State Park took place August 21, 1931.

The road from Corbin to the falls needed improvement, and in 1931 a new highway was completed. Between September 7, and Thanksgiving Day, 1931, over 50,000 visitors came to see Cumberland Falls. Improvements to the park including the construction of DuPont Lodge have been made over the years and continue to be made today. You can find a complete history here. 

What it’s going to cost you:

The park is free and open to the public every day until midnight. You can park and walk along a few paved trails that take you from the top of the falls to lower scenic overlooks at the base of the falls.

To stay at Dupont Lodge and it’s surrounding cabins, prices will vary from around $70 per night to a couple hundred per night for the cabins. For information about the park and to make reservations, visit the park website. 


It’s funny you’d ask because, well … we got a little lost. The gist of it is, you take Highway 27 in Kentucky to Highway 90 and follow signs to Cumberland Falls from there. We somehow missed Highway 90 and ended up taking Hwy 700 – which resembles a round on a Mario Kart track – which will intersect with 90 and get you back on track. My Garmin GPS did not have any luck finding the address to the park available on its website, but Elliott’s iPhone did find it.

A recommended detour:

After our hike to Eagle Falls, Elliott and I were ravenous. He talked me into stopping at a small restaurant on Highway 27 in Whitley City, about 15 miles back down Hwy 90 away from the falls and a few miles down Hwy 27. Milton’s Burger Hut had some of the most delicious food and friendly servers I’ve had in a while. Elliott took this visit very seriously. He ordered: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, a hamburger steak, fries, a buffalo chicken pizza, cauliflower nuggets and a 32 oz milkshake to top it all off. And our bill was still under $30. Seriously. I’d recommend it.

Cauliflower nuggets for your consideration – Milton’s Burger Hut, 740 N. Hwy. 27, Whitley City, KY

Milton's Burger Hut, Whitley City, Kentucky

Related: Our Cumberland Falls moonbow experience

FYI: A Few Kentucky Horse-Themed Safety Tips

8 Mar

OK, don’t be fooled by the title of this post. I’m not going to bestow on you any deep knowledge about horses and safety. You want some REAL basic safety tips to keep in mind when you’re going to be around horses? Check out this list of tips from The Horsepedia. They’re serious and very helpful. (Like did you know you shouldn’t stand directly in front of a horse? They have a blind spot and can spook.)

This past weekend, I accompanied the Boyfried on a roadtrip to Cumberland Falls. I visited the lovely water falls, Eagle Falls and even got to see a moon bow! And I only participated in a minor amount of trespassing, which is a major accomplishment. While I’m putting together my thoughts from my most recent trip, and waiting on the Boyfriend to tone his beautiful moon bow pictures, here is a little in between post to hold you over.

Going through some pictures a few days ago, I came across these photos that were taken over the Christmas holiday at a close family friend’s horse farm in Lexington. After our annual Christmas Even brunch, my brother announced to the room that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d touched a horse. Which apparently, given he was from Lexington, was startling to him and half the room’s occupants. So we marched him outside – a few carrots in hand – to a field with a few horses enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. The following occured:

Brian begins feeding horses.

Horses are thankful for the delicious afternoon snack and want to thank Brian for his kindness. Brian is overly pleased with himself.

Horses are still hungry. Brian tries to turn them down, informing them they’ve had enough. Horses do not take well to Brian’s superior attitude. Horses turn Brian into snack.

Horses swallow him whole. Christmas is ruined.

OK, well the last part isn’t true. But here’s your horse safety tip for the day: When feeding a horse, let him tell you when he’s finished. And definitely don’t give him the impression that you are calling the shots. He’s bigger than you are (ahem, Brian).

So glad you’re educated now.

Notable Kentuckians: The 2 Cassius Clays

21 Feb

A few years ago, I was flipping through cable channels when I came across a program description that alarmed me. A local television station was airing a documentary on Lexington’s White Hall, the historic home of famed 19th-century abolitionist Cassius Clay. The program description read: “The history of White Hall, former home of Muhammad Ali.”

Now, I’m not a huge history buff. But I know enough to know that White Hall was built more than a century before the legendary boxer was born in Louisville.

An editor somewhere failed to catch a problem we have in Kentucky – we have two famous Cassius Marcellus Clays.

Cassius Clay Lexington Kentucky

The first was born in 1810. He was a newspaper publisher, a naturalist, a politician who fought against slavery, and an orator (this is an occupation that no longer exists, but basically means he was a motivational speaker without the books and late-night infomercials). From 1861 to 1869, the first Cassius Clay was the U.S. minister to Russia under President Abraham Lincoln. And perhaps unfortunately more notably, he married a 15-year-old girl when he was 84.

Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay Kentucky

The second was born in Louisville in 1942. This guy is a boxer. And not just any boxer, he is the self-proclaimed Greatest (and few can argue his point). He is a man of many accomplishments – Olympic champion, three-time heavyweight champion, and orator in his own right. This Cassius Clay changed his name in 1964 to Muhammad Ali to reflect his embrace of the Muslim faith. He retired from boxing in 1981, but remains one of the most famous people in the sport. Think: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee …”

Kentucky (Tall) Tales: Oddly-Named Kentucky Towns

16 Feb

I spent one summer a few years ago working for a daily newspaper in Hopkinsville in Christian County, Kentucky. Even though my grandparents have lived in a town not too far from Hopkinsville my whole life, I wasn’t very familiar with the area but trusted my GPS to take care of me. My new co-workers laughed at me when I began dutifully punching in addresses to Garmin.

“That’s not going to help you,” my boss said. “That GPS isn’t going to be able to get you to Possum Trot.”

To where?

“Possum Trot.”

Now, if I thought Hopkinsville’s nickname, “Hop-Town,” was strange …

Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky

Possum Trot is an actual town. It’s a dot on the map in Marshall County, Kentucky, east of Paducah. On the western side of that western Kentucky town, you’ll find Monkeys Eyebrow – note, that is not a possessive monkey’s – in Ballard County (Garmin, however, will pretend the place doesn’t exist, despite the signs that say it is so). Officially, it isn’t actually a town because it has never had a post office. But don’t say that to the locals.

Here are more of Kentucky’s oddly-named towns:

Rabbit Hash – really just a general store in Boone County on Highway 536 just southwest of Cincinnati. Supposedly, the name comes from the recipe that helped the town residents survive a harsh flood in 1816.

Mud Lick – there are actually 9 towns with this name in Kentucky. You’ll find them in Anderson, Elliott, Greenup, Knox, Lewis, Robertson, Russell, Perry and Pike counties.

Paint Lick – this seems more dangerous than the above. You’ll find this town on Highway 52 in Garrard County. It’s named for a salt lick marked for prime hunting by Native Americans in the area.

88 – yes, it’s a Kentucky town. In Barren County on Highway 90, 7 miles south of Glasgow. It is rumored to get it’s name because one of the town’s founders had 88 cents in his pocket when they were trying to pick a name. Talk about running out of ideas. Other rumors say the local postmaster had such terrible handwriting that he picked the name because he was sure everyone could read those two numerals.

Future City – in Ballard County. This town reportedly got its name from the developer who put up a sign at the edge of the land where he intended to build a town that read: “Future City.” And then he never got around to building anything.

Lamb – there are two of these, one in Kenton County and the other in Monroe County.

Typo – in Perry County, you can make up a good story for that one.

Bush – in Laurel County. This town was named after George Bush. No, not THAT George Bush. No, not that one either. This George Bush founded the town in 1840 when he opened the post office and the general store. The first President Bush did campaign there in 1988, and newspaper headlines read: “Bush Returns to Bush”

The Beverly Hillbillies Bugtussle, Kentucky

Bugtussle – on Highway 87 south of Tompkinsville in Monroe County. This is popular with fans of the Beverly Hillbillies, who may remember that the Clampetts were from Bugtussle … only they were from Bugtussle, Tennessee. Well, Monroe County IS near the Tennessee border. Bugtussele is another word for a backwater town.

Black Gnat – in Taylor County

Black Snake – in Bell County

Co-operative – in McCreary County

Crummies – in Harlan County

Hi Hat – (as in ‘hello’ and not way up in the sky) in Floyd County

Quality – in Butler County

Subtle – in Metcalfe County

Susie – in Wayne County

Whoopee Hill – (not cushion) in Ohio County

Wild Cat – (Go Big Blue?) in Clay County

Kentucky (Tall) Tales: Kentucky’s Many State Slogans

15 Feb

Kentucky License Plate

As seen on TV our state license plates, Kentucky is known as the Bluegrass State – despite the fact that few people outside of the state have any idea what bluegrass is, or that it isn’t always blue (In all seriousness, I was watching a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field once, and the little boy was reading in his program that the field was sodded with Kentucky bluegrass. He looks up to his father with a terribly confused face and says, “But it’s green grass, Daddy. It’s green grass!”). I’ll refrain from getting into the debate that the grass really does have a blue tint to it in the early dawn hours when the day’s first sunlight hits the dew resting on top of the blades of grass … we can discuss the color wheel and how it relates to agriculture later.

Moving on …

Kentucky is truly a land of strange curiosities, and there are a number of things we could slap on our license plates as the state slogan. Here are a few of them:

Gateway to the Wild West – Judge Roy Bean, Jim Bowie and Kit Carson were all born in Kentucky.

The Post Office State – Kentucky has more post offices per capita than any other state.

The Governor State – More than 100 native Kentuckians have been elected governors of OTHER states.

The Volunteer State – OK, so technically this one belongs to Tennessee (though what exactly is a Tennessee Volunteer and why do they insist on sporting that awful shade of orange? Bleh.), but in the War of 1812, more than half of all Americans killed in action were Kentuckians.

The Game Show State – Famous game show hosts Jack Narz (CBS’s quiz show Dotto … and he was also a narrator of ‘The Adventures of Superman’), and Chuck Woolery (the original host of Wheel of Fortune) were born in Kentucky.

Just something to think about. Kentucky’s been known to have some strange license plates before (who remembers the smiling sun that even Jay Leno made cracks about). Who knows what the boys in LaGrange will  be banging out next? … did you know all Kentucky license plates are made at the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange?

There’s Only One: Check out these uniquely-Kentucky destinations

17 Nov

Kentucky was the 15th state to join the Union and the first on the western frontier. High Bridge located near Nicholasville is the highest railroad bridge over navigable water in the United States. Post-It Notes are manufactured exclusively in Cynthiana; the exact number made annually of these popular notes is a trade secret. The first American performance of a Beethoven symphony was in Lexington in 1817. Pikeville annually leads the nation in per capita consumption of Pepsi-Cola. Teacher Mary S. Wilson held the first observance of Mother’s Day in Henderson in 1887; it was made a national holiday in 1916. The song “Happy Birthday to You” was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893. More than $6 billion worth of gold is held in the underground vaults of Fort Knox; this is the largest amount of gold stored anywhere in the world. Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaolin’s restaurant in Louisville. Middlesboro is the only city in the United States built within a meteor crater.

There’s no other place like Kentucky.

The spirit of that phrase has inspired the Kentucky Department of Travel to host a campaign and Twitter contest this fall. “There’s Only One Kentucky” highlights 26 uniquely-Kentucky destinations filled with history, fun and beauty.

There’s only one Mammoth Cave National Park. There’s only one National Corvette Museum. There’s only one Cumberland Falls. There’s only one Bourbon Country.

The contest asks you to tweet for 26 days about only-in-Kentucky attractions with the hashtag #OnlyOneKentucky. Each day you tweet, you’re entered to win that day’s prize. You can learn more about the contest rules and details here: http://www.onlyonekentucky.com/

In the spirit of the contest, we’ve put together a short list of some of the “Only One” destinations we’ve visited. We’ve had a great time on our travels so far — we’d love to have you join us in enjoying the Bluegrass State!

Photo by Elliott Hess for My Old Kentucky Road Trip, http://www.elliotthess.com

1. Lexington is known as the Horse Capitol of the World

OK, we’re a little bias here. We’re both born and raised Lexintonians, and we’ll be the first to tell you there’s no where else in the world like it. The rolling hills of Bluegrass and sweeping fields of thoroughbred horse farms are just the start of its beauty. While you’re there, take a walk through Gratz Park or visit downtown and Cheapside Park. There are tons of great things to do in Lexington.

 2. Take to the high seas Ohio River on the Belle

The Belle of Louisville is a historic steamer docked on the riverfront in downtown Louisville. Take day cruises, dinner cruises or special event cruises. A few years ago, our friends joined us for a special fireworks cruise on the Belle on the Fourth of July. It was a beautiful night of dancing and fireworks.

3. Take a tour of Bourbon Country

Earlier this year, we road tripped to the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. It was a fun an informative day full of good friends and great bourbon. But the Maker’s Mark distillery is just one stop on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail. 95 percent of all bourbon is distilled, aged and bottled right here in Kentucky. That makes it a must-see.

4. Hang out with the buffalo in Land Between the Lakes

I’ll always hold a soft spot for Land Between the Lakes and the bodies of water that surround it (Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley). My grandparents live in one of the neighboring counties, and I spent countless summers growing up there with my brothers and sister. In fact, I just made a trip back to western Kentucky a few weeks ago and it is just as beautiful as I remember it. Enjoy the great food, all of the miniature golf, the lovely resorts along the lake — Lake Barkley State Resort Park, Kentucky Lake State Park, Prizer Point, just to name a few — and if you look close enough, you’ll even spot a few buffalo. How very uniquely Kentucky.

5. Whether to rock climb or to eat some delicious pizza, people come from around the world to see Red River Gorge

This canyon system on the Red River in east-central Kentucky is about 44 square miles of high sandstone cliffs, natural bridges, waterfalls and rock shelters. ‘The Red’ attracts rock climbers and bolder-ers from around the world to experience the tons of bolted routes in overhanging, pocketed sandstone. When you’re there, be sure to check out Natural Bridge State Park. This natural sandstone bridge spans 78 feet and is 65 feet high. And don’t you dare leave without stopping at Miguel’s Pizza in Slade, Kentucky. Some of the best pies I’ve ever tasted.

Photo by Elliott Hess for My Old Kentucky Road Trip, http://www.elliotthess.com

This is just a few items off of the “There’s Only One Kentucky” list. To see them all, go here.

Our Fall Road Trip to Evans Orchard and Cider Mill (they have pumpkins, too)

24 Oct

We took an impromptu road trip this weekend to Evans Orchard and Cider Mill in Georgetown, Kentucky, and discovered that a pumpkin patch is no longer just a pumpkin patch.

My mother says we used to get our pumpkins every year from a man who set a bunch he’d picked from his field on his front porch next to a coffee can where you stuck your cash to pay for the pumpkins you took home.

There was no pay-by-the-pound, there was no trudging through fields of pumpkins still on the vines. There certainly was no corn maze, obstacle course, petting zoo, camel ride, apple orchard or live music.

Apparently, pumpkin patches have come a long way.

At Evans Orchard this weekend, we found all of the above and more. We picked our pumpkins, indulged in lunch from the Sweet Apple Cafe and sipped our apple cider while listening to a lovely rendition of “My Girl.” We bought six or seven mini pumpkins, coming to about $7 and then spent a collective $50 in the gift shop on fried apple pies, apple donuts, candy apples, pecan apple butter, peanut butter fudge and cartons of apple cider. What pumpkins?

We didn’t set foot in the dirt fields, but we could’ve if we wanted to pick our own pumpkin. We didn’t walk up and down the rows of apple trees with baskets in hand, but we could’ve if we wanted to pick our own apples. Just like we could’ve taken a hay ride, we could’ve walked in circles atop a very perturbed looking camel, and we could’ve participated in the pet costume contest — but we couldn’t even coax Bows into posing for a picture. There was so much to do we couldn’t take it all in.

But we left happy with pumpkins in hand and fried apple pies stuffed in our mouths. A pumpkin patch is no longer just a pumpkin patch … it’s way better.

Check out Bows in all of her googly-eyed glory. (No wonder she didn’t want to be in our pictures).


What it’s going to cost you:

Not a thing just to go and walk around. You’ll pay by the pound for big pumpkins and gourds, and $1-$2 for the small ornamental varieties. Visit the gift shop to spend even more cash on some delicious desserts and fun decorations. Kids activities including camel rides, the petting zoo and the corn maze are also going to cost you. Find a full list of activities and prices on Evans Orchard’s website. 

Hours and Directions:

Evans Orchard and Cider Mill is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. And it’s not just a pumpkin patch and apple orchard! In the spring time, you can pick strawberries and in the summer months you’ll find peaches and pears. The orchard grows We grow 15 acres of peaches, apples and pears, two more acres of small fruit, and more than 20 acres of farm-fresh vegetables.

From Lexington, you’ll travel eight miles north of the I-75 bridge (exit 115) on Newtown Pike (Highway 922). Take a right onto Stone Road and the orchard is the third drive on the left.

To see a map and find other directions, visit Evans Orchard’s website.


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