On the Road
The heart of the Bluegrass
It was a rare and beautiful picture. Backlit by the sun, the three horses were
running through a meadow. Tails streaming behind them, breath frozen in the winter
air, they looked more like dragons than thoroughbreds. There's no better place
than the Bluegrass for a winter wonderland adventure.
The best way to enjoy a tour of the Bluegrass is to hub-and-spoke from a central
location, and fan out in any direction that strikes your fancy. Lexington is the
natural hub home base. No matter what the road brings you, home base awaits with
lodging, fine dining, and attractions of its own. Here are several hub-and-spoke
possibilities for viewing the Bluegrass at its best:
Old Frankfort Pike, the 15.5-mile stretch of KY 1681 west of Lexington, has, according
to the state travel department, been named one of "America's Most Outstanding
Scenic Byways." It runs under a canopy of grand old trees, past elegant horse
farms, and dry-laid rock fences. Between Lexington and Frankfort the road passes
six historic districts and four National Register properties.
Near Midway you'll find the Headley-Whitney Museum of Decorative Arts, which displays
jeweled sculptures and boxes, a shell grotto, and traveling exhibits.
Coming back to Lexington, pick up Pisgah Pike (KY 1967), which takes you past
Pisgah Presbyterian Church (which dates to 1784), and continue south to U.S. 60
east, which takes you back to town and past "The Castle," one of Lexington's
most unusual attractions.
U.S. 68, east of Lexington, takes you through the famed horse country of Bourbon
County. In Paris, near the Beaux Arts-style courthouse, you'll find Duncan Tavern,
built in 1788. Take time for a tour.
Further on along U.S. 68 is Millersburg, whose historic buildings reflect its
1798 beginnings. You'll then drive past an old cemetery, with headstones going
back to Colonial times. U.S. 68 makes a left turn, heading for Maysville. Continue
straight, at that point, to Carlisle. One of Kentucky's smallest county seats,
Carlisle still manages to have more than 350 buildings on the National Register
of Historic Places and includes one of the largest cast-iron building collections
Returning to Paris, take the Bypass to U.S. 460, and follow it to Georgetown,
where you can see beautiful historic houses and a Victorian courthouse. At Royal
Spring Park you'll find a sculpture of Rev. Elijah Craig, who is credited with
inventing bourbon in 1789. The sculpture shows him with a Bible under one arm,
and the other resting on a barrel of the elixir he brewed.
Georgetown, by the way, was founded at Royal Spring, which is still the city's
Take U.S. 25 south from Georgetown to Ironworks Pike (itself a scenic byway),
and connect to the Kentucky Horse Park-the only state park dedicated to horses.
Actually a collection of museums and exhibits, you could easily spend a full day
here. Certainly you want to allow several hours, minimum.
U.S. 25/421 south, just past Jacobson Park, connects you with Jake's Creek Road,
and the 470-acre Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, which showcases the spectacular Kentucky
River Palisades. The park preserves one of the few undeveloped limestone gorges
left in the state, and is rich in human history as well. There are miles of hiking
trails (including the handicapped-accessible Freedom Trail) and a nature center
that often has special events.
Continue on U.S. 25 south to Boonesboro Road (KY 627). To your right is White
Hall, historic home of Cassius Marcellus Clay. Unfortunately, it is closed
for the season. You can, however, drive by and take a look at the Italianate mansion
built by the emancipationist in the mid-19th century.
Turning left on Boonesboro Road will take you to Fort Boonesborough State Park,
where you'll find a replica of the original Fort Boonesborough. Artisans and staff
in period dress demonstrate what life was like in Kentucky's first settlement.
Although the staff and programs are curtailed this time of year, the fort does
remain open during the winter months-one of the few historic state parks that
Cross the Kentucky River after leaving the fort, and pick up KY 418. On Gentry
Hill Road, in the small community of Athens, you'll find Boone Station State Park.
Daniel Boone and his family lived here from 1779 to 1782. His son Israel, nephew
Thomas, and brothers Edward and Samuel are buried here.
KY 418 returns you to Lexington.
For more information, contact: Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, 301 East
Vine St., Lexington, KY 40507, (800) 845-3959.
Day Trips & Short Stops
Finger licking good
When you're 65 it's time
to start thinking about slowing down, maybe retiring. Right? Not if your name
was Harland Sanders. When he was 65, after selling the restaurant/motel he'd lovingly
nurtured, he started the fast-food industry. Armed with $105-his first Social
Security payment-he set out to franchise his secret chicken recipe and cooking
method. Seven years later, he sold the corporation for $2 million.
We're talking about Colonel Sanders, of course, and how fast food has changed
the way America eats.
The original Colonel Sanders Café is still in Corbin, serving as a museum attached
to a KFC. Touring it, you'll discover that the Colonel's marketing genius originally
had very little to do with chicken. His specialty was the Colonel's Country Ham
Breakfast-an overflowing plate of Smithfield ham, eggs, grits, biscuits, and red-eye
gravy. It cost $1.70 back in the 1950s, which was, Sanders said on the menu, "Not
worth it, but mighty good."
In the Café Museum you'll find original restaurant furnishings from the 1940s,
an open kitchen where the Colonel perfected his method of pressure frying (which
gave birth to the fast food industry), and one of the Colonel's hallmark white
suits and specially crafted canes, as well as other mementos of the Colonel's
life and the KFC chain's history.
Find the Colonel Sanders Café & Museum at Junction US 25E & 25W, Corbin,
KY 40701, (606) 528-2163.
The small camp stove threw enough heat to warm up the lighthouse where we'd stopped
for a mid-morning break. Savoring the hot chocolate we'd brewed, we leaned back
to comfortably enjoy the view while ice bells tinkled in our ears.
Across the valley, cedars were green silhouettes against a sky so blue it was
painful. Icicles, some more than 25 feet long, hung like daggers from the cliff
lines. Down below us a creek flowed like a black ribbon through the frozen crystals
of hoarfrost coating the meadow weeds. A doe, drinking at the stream, suddenly
lifted her head at the crack of a frozen tree limb.
Hiking and camping in the winter brings special joys to outdoor enthusiasts. The
air is clearer, the views sharper, the wildlife less wary. At no other time does
Mother Nature change the acts in her floor show more dramatically. And best of
all, you'll likely have the woods to yourself.
This is a shame, because cold weather can mean quality time in the woods, so long
as you are prepared for it. You'll require more energy for just about any task,
and have to take steps to protect yourself from cold and wet. But there's nothing
difficult about doing this.
The whole secret is thermal control. You want to keep yourself comfortably warm,
but not overheated. This means dressing in layers that are easily removed or put
back on as necessary.
Stay away from cotton. Cotton readily absorbs moisture from rain, melting snow,
or sweat, and holds it. Instead, you want materials that will pass moisture, dry
quickly, and retain their insulating qualities when wet. By and large this means
wool and synthetics like fleece.
Start, therefore, with polypropylene, silk, or thermal underwear. Over that add
a layer of lightweight fleece or wool. Then a second thin layer. We prefer garments
that button, snap, or zip all the way down, because pullovers can be awkward when
the wind is blowing. Over all of this goes a wind suit, to protect you from rain
The total should be whatever it takes to keep you warm and dry when you are sitting
still. When you are active, your body will generate more heat, so one or more
layers come off. Above all else, avoid working up a sweat-a guaranteed way of
getting chilled, or even contracting hypothermia.
Even if you're only day hiking, it pays to carry a lightweight cook stove and
some of your favorite energy bars or nuts. Nothing picks you up quite like a hot
cup. It takes moments to brew some tea, cider, chocolate, or soup. But those are
moments worth spending several times during the day.