On the Road
We'd been out walking along the lake, hand-in-hand, when an unexpected
rain shower hit. Chilling pellets bombarded us as we ran for the lodge and the
waiting hearth. We laughed and giggled like teenagers as our clothing sent wisps
of steam rising toward the open-beamed roof.
We would return to this fireplace, after a change of clothes, to snuggle
on the couch and read poetry to each other.
Sounds like a courtship. And in a sense, it is. Several times a year we head out
for a romantic weekend. The workaday world is left behind, along with the cameras,
the word processor, and the deadline pressures. We go to rediscover each other,
to rejuvenate and renew the days when we first fell in love.
March is a wonderful time for a romantic weekend for two. The winter is
over. Spring lurks just around the next bend. It is a time for renewal of all
More times than not, we find ourselves taking such a break at one of the
many state resort parks, with their natural beauty, rustic charm of the lodges
and cabins found in many of the parks, and the activities they offer.
For many years, Kentucky's state parks carried the sobriquet "The Nation's
Finest." Based on our travels across the country, we would have to agree.
Many of the parks, it's true, suffered a decline. But a few years back,
as part of the bicentennial celebration, a substantial budget was established
to refurbish and renovate the parks that needed it; several new resort parks have
been established as part of that ongoing process. So if you haven't visited one
lately-for a romantic getaway or any other reason-it's time you did.
Here are a few we've especially enjoyed.
Opened in 1924, this beautiful mountaintop resort was Kentucky's first
state park. And it had begun to show its age. But there's been a complete refurbishing
(they all but rebuilt the lodge), and Pine Mountain has reclaimed its position
as Queen of the State Parks.
Perhaps the most beautiful of our parks, there are miles of hiking trails,
a golf course, 30-room lodge, 19 cabins, and numerous special events. Contact:
Pine Mountain SRP, 1050 State Park Rd., Pineville, KY 40977, (606) 337-3066.
The natural beauty draws us to Natural Bridge. The highlight of the
park is, of course, the 78-foot long, 65-foot high Natural Bridge. But with 18
miles of hiking trails and scenic high cliffs and rock formations, there's a lot
more going on.
There are 35 rooms in the lodge, 10 cottages, a convention center, nature
center, and fishing and boating on two lakes. There's the sky lift, in season,
for those not able to make the mile-long walk to Natural Bridge.
Contact: Natural Bridge SRP, 2135 Natural Bridge Rd., Slade, KY 40376,
Long known as the "Niagara of the South," more water actually flows
over Cumberland Falls than its better-known namesake. Plus it offers something
not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere: a moonbow. Under the light
of the full moon each month, a rainbow forms in the mist thrown up by the falls.
Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the lodge
is one of the most comfortable we've been in. There are 52 rooms in the lodge,
20 "woodland" rooms, and 26 cottages, plus a convention center, museum and nature
center, pool, tennis, and 17 miles of hiking trails.
Contact: Cumberland Falls SRP, 7531 Highway 90, Corbin, KY 40701, (606)
There's something about Carter Caves that draws us back again and again.
Maybe it's the fieldstone lodge. Or maybe it's the 20 caves on the property, four
of which are open to visitors. Or the canoeing on Tygart's Creek, or fishing the
lake, or hiking the 20 miles of trails that lead to unique formations like the
Box Canyon. When it comes to romantic getaway weekends, Carter Caves is the best-kept
secret in the state.
There are 28 rooms in the lodge, 15 cottages, meeting facilities, a boat
dock with rental rowboats, guided cave tours, golf, and two swimming pools.
Contact: Carter Caves SRP, RR #5, Box 1120, Olive Hill, KY 41164, (606)
Whether you choose one of these or one of the other 13 state resort parks
for your romantic getaway, keep one thing in mind: Kentucky's resort parks are
very popular. Even in the off-season, they are likely to be booked up-especially
the cabins. So make reservations ahead of time.
Day Trips & Short Stops
It was the summer of 1915. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad's steam
locomotive No. 152 huffed and puffed, pulling passenger cars along as it passed
through the forests, fields, and farmlands of the scenic Rolling Fork River Valley.
Meanwhile, at the New Haven station, residents waited anxiously to greet
returning passengers, while the station agent readied his list of freight goods.
More than 85 years have passed since that summer. But, superficially, not
a whole lot has changed at the old depot. Locomotive No. 152 is still pulling
passenger cars, and the train's arrival is still exciting spectators.
What has changed is that there's no longer any retail service to Louisville,
the New Haven depot has been reconstructed and renovated to resemble the early
1900s structure, and No. 152 is now owned and operated by the Kentucky Railway
The New Haven station has been home to the museum since 1994. The depot building
contains a collection of railroad memorabilia that trace the history of our nation's
rail system from the late 19th century through the 1950s. Exhibits and displays
highlight the adventure of sleeping cars, the elegance of railway dining, and
the importance of postal cars to a population that used to depend on rail transportation.
After touring the museum, hop aboard one of the excursion trains for a
narrated 22-mile jaunt to Boston and back. As you clickety-clack through the countryside,
you'll recapture the golden days of the railroads. In addition to scheduled rides,
the museum holds periodic special events, such as train robberies, bootlegger
hijackings, an Easter Bunny train, a Santa train, and, by special arrangement,
a murder-mystery train.
For schedules and details, contact: The Kentucky Railway Museum, 136 S.
Main St., New Haven, KY 40051, 1-800-272-0152.
The whites of spring
Science is rediscovering what many of us have always known: old wives'
tales and country traditions are often pretty good rules of thumb.
Take this one, for instance: "When the dogwood leaves are the size of a
fox kit's ear," the old saying has it, "the white bass will be running."
That's pretty good advice. But it presupposes that you (1) know how to
recognize early season dogwood, and (2) have some idea how big a fox kit's ear
is. If you don't, then you're better off just marking the calendar.
Like so many other species, white bass run upstream in the spring, looking
for spawning beds. Sure, you can find them other times of the year. But in the
springtime, vast numbers of them crowd certain creeks and rivers. We usually figure
about the second week in March to hit the peak of the runs-providing the spring
runoff hasn't flooded things enough to make fishing impossible.
The tributaries to any lake that holds whites get runs. We wouldn't be
a bit surprised to discover, for instance, that streams leading into Fishtrap
Lake load up with the little striped battlers.
But there are two streams in Kentucky whose white bass runs are legendary: Dix
River, above Herrington Lake, and Salt River, above Taylorsville Lake. Both of
these get consistent runs of big fish. And in big numbers as well.
When the little linesides (whites look like scaled-down versions of striped
bass) are in, it's almost hard not to catch them. A typical rig is to use two
popeye jigs in white, yellow, or green. Or sometimes other colors: pink, for some
odd reason, has been very effective the past few seasons. Tie one of the jigs
to the point of your line, and the other to a dropper. Clip a bobber to the line,
and you're all set.
Cast this rig across and upstream and let it float down, jigging it slightly
to impart movement to the jigs. If others around you (and there will be others)
are getting hits and you aren't, it means the jigs are either too high or too
low in the water.
You can experiment to find the right depth. But white bass anglers are
a friendly lot. Chances are, if you ask how deep to fish your jigs, you'll be
shown exactly how to do it.
Fly fishermen can find some of the fastest action of the year during the
white bass runs. Rig a pair of small streamers, size 8 to 12. The Colonel Bates
is our first choice among traditional patterns, because it combines the two best
colors-yellow and white. Marabou streamers, with a bit of Krystal Flash, work
well too. Fish them just like the jigs. Start with a floating line and a 7- to
9-foot leader. If you aren't deep enough, switch to a sink-tip line.
A good investment for this kind of fishing is the new Scientific Anglers
Quad-Tip line. A floating running-line comes with four interchangeable shooting
heads: a floater and three different density sinkers. This simple kit allows you
to cover any depth necessary.
For more information about white bass fishing, contact: the Kentucky Department
of Fish & Wildlife Resources, #1 Game Farm Rd., Frankfort, KY 40601, (502)