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Weekend Wanderings

Get up and go

  January. A new year. A new millennium. A time for retrospection. A time
for planning. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, Kentuckians turn to
planning their vacations. For those intending to take a week or two, this is a
relatively simple task. For those who break their time into long weekends, it’s
a little harder. Or so it seems from the mail and phone calls we get. “Loved your
story on such and such,” a typical caller will say. “How ever did you find that
place?”

  In fact, there’s an incredible number of resources available to the trip
planner. The most important of these is our own Kentucky Department of Travel
and its many publications. The Official Vacation Guide, for instance, published
annually by the department, is a never-ending source of information. Does it give
all the details of a particular attraction or region? No, but it is a general
guide to the Bluegrass State, on and off the beaten path. Even a cursory reading
provides insights into places to visit, and things to do and see when you get
there. The local contacts provided can give you more details and suggest other
attractions.

And don’t forget the numerous pamphlets and brochures distributed at visitor centers.
Those racks are a gold mine of destination data.

  As with so much else nowadays, the Internet is an unending source of info.
A simple search under “Kentucky Travel,” for example, produces nearly 1,000 pages
to be perused. Add up the links, and links to links, and there is no end to your
ability to find vacation spots this way.

  Don’t own a computer? Not to worry. Just about every library in the Commonwealth
now offers computer use as part of its services. And there will be somebody there
to show you how to conduct a search. 

  While at the library, don’t forget to check the many travel books available.
Several of them offer clues to those out-of-the-way places that make travel so
worthwhile. Zoe Ayn Strecker’s Kentucky Off the Beaten Path, for instance, can
take you to Bluegrass places you never dreamed existed.

  Don’t confine your search to Kentucky travel titles. You can find locales
through subjects as diverse as the outdoors and cooking. For instance, Another
Sunrise in Kentucky, by Tracy and Phyllis Winters, is a collection of recipes
from some of Kentucky’s finest bed and breakfasts. But the bed and breakfasts
themselves are described, too, which may find you a locale you’d like to visit. 

  The same applies to more general titles, such as Best Places to Stay in
the South, by Carol Timblin, or the Fodor’s guide, Great American Vacations. Kentucky
sites are often found in such books. 

  Finally, keep in mind that January is the start of the travel show season.
Between now and March there are several such shows in the works. The largest of
them is the Cincinnati Travel, Sports, & Boat Show, coming up January 14-23
at the Cincinnati Convention Center. Chip Hart, the show promoter, told us there
will be a record number of Kentucky exhibitors there this year. 

  What’s the best way to proceed once you’ve amassed all this data? There
are two major approaches. The first is to pick a destination area. Is there a
specific attraction that piques your interest? Either through data you’ve already
gathered or by calling the contacts found within the literature, determine if
there are other sites in that immediate location you’d like to visit. At the same
time, inquire about lodging, restaurants, and so forth.

  The second method is to choose your lodging first. Surely, in all those
books, pamphlets, and Internet data is a bed and breakfast or country inn where
you’d like to stay. Call the owners and inquire about attractions in the area.
Most bed and breakfast operators make a point of keeping tourism information on
hand. 

  It’s only a little harder to set up a weekend tour. Because you will be
covering some distance, you’ll want to arrange the sites you visit in a logical
sequence. And you’ll need to find lodgings at logical points along the way. 

  There are many sites already linked into such tours by local tourism boards
and the like. But there’s no reason to depend on them. Take a highlighter and
mark an arbitrary route on a Kentucky map. Then use your collected info to find
interesting locations on that path.

  We guarantee they will be there. You cannot drive anywhere in the Bluegrass
State without finding interesting attractions. 

For more information, contact: Kentucky Department of Travel, P.O. Box 2011, Frank-fort,
KY 40602, 1-800-225-8747, ext. 67. 

Day Trips & Short Stops

Eyeing the eagle

  Every January, something special happens in Kentucky: American bald eagles
come to the Bluegrass to spend the winter. 

Several hundred eagles-including the occasional golden as well as the white-headed
symbols of America-will land here, mostly taking up short-term residence near
some of our larger lakes.

  Kentucky and Barkley lakes draw more than their share of these majestic
birds. You can spend a day with them, driving to the many points that jut out
into these lakes and glassing the tree lines with binoculars. Kentucky Dam Village
SRP, Kenlake SRP, Lake Barkley SRP, and Dale Hollow Lake SRP, in fact, even have
eagle watch weekends scheduled, which include special programs, guest speakers,
and guided tours to view eagles from the land and from boats set up for this purpose. 

  The eagles are here seeking milder weather and ample food sources, away
from the bitter temperatures and frozen waterways of the North. Thus, it’s no
surprise that Land Between the Lakes attracts so many of them. 

  Check with the recreation supervisors at the three state parks, and they
can direct you to some of the best viewing areas. Better yet, stop at the visitor
centers at LBL (there’s one at the north entrance, and another at Golden Pond)
where you can get up-to-date viewing info, along with brochures and pamphlets
about eagles in Kentucky.

  Cumberland Lake hosts several pairs of eagles each year. Unfortunately,
because there isn’t the road access found at LBL, you generally need a boat to
find them. And when you do, it’s more by accident than design because they could
be anywhere around the lake.

  Dale Hollow Lake is yet another great eagle-viewing site. They can often
be seen right from the lodge in the state park. But there is a better way. The
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be hosting open barge tours on January 14 and
15, and again on January 21 and 22.

  Departing from the state park at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. CST on each of
the four days, these three-hour tours are free to the public on a space-available
basis. You must bring your own approved life jacket, however. Naturalists will
be on board to help you spot the eagles, and to discuss their habits and life
histories with you.

  For more information, contact: Dale Hollow SRP, 6371 State Park Rd., Bow,
KY 42717, (270) 433-7431.

Outdoor Log

A year of the great outdoors

  There are great outdoor adventures awaiting you every month in Kentucky. 

  Some months it is hard to decide, because there are so many choices. In
November, for instance, do you go deer hunting? Or go after upland birds? Or try,
one more time, for that bucketmouth bass that lives in the farm pond?

  Other times, it seems, there is nothing to do. But look around. There is
always a reason to go out in the green world, to hunt, or fish, or hike-or just
to watch the birds or smell the wild- flowers.

  To help you plan your year, here is one possible outdoor calendar:

  January. A winter hike is just the ticket to relax and rejuvenate from
the hectic holiday season. One great choice is the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge,
near Gravel Switch. There are six trails of varying difficulty, and a frozen waterfall
most years.

  February. Most hunting seasons are closed, but grouse gunning extends to
the end of the month. Our choice for the king of game birds: the forested slopes
along the Little Sandy River.

  March. The white bass runs are a rite of spring in the Commonwealth. First
choice goes to the Dix River, where the run has reached international renown.

  April. In April, the redbuds, dogwoods, and crappie all show their stuff.
Our choice is Barkley Lake for big slabs.

  May. Before really hot weather sets in, trout fishing should be on the
menu. Of the many miles of trout water in Kentucky, our pick goes to Trammel Creek,
in Allen County.

  June. Largemouth bass can be fished for anytime of year. But June is an
especially good time. Bass will take surface lures and bugs with abandon on the
cypress ponds in northwestern Kentucky, such as Metropolis Lake, outside Paducah. 

  July. Now is the time for bull bluegill. And the place is Wilgreen Lake,
in Madison County, the undisputed top choice for bluegill fishing in the Bluegrass. 

  August. Escape the heat with a canoe float on any of the 700 miles of moving
water in the state. Our top pick is Green River, as it runs through Mammoth Cave
National Park.

  September. Musky mania has hit the Bluegrass, with anglers now targeting
them wherever they are found. The best target, however, remains Cave Run Lake. 

  October. The glamour fish of the ’90s was striped bass. And it’s likely
to continue that way as interest in the striped speedsters continues. Without
doubt, Cumberland Lake is the place to be. 

  November. Deer hunting is a logical choice. The herds are large and healthy,
as the liberalized hunting regs indicate. Our first pick: muzzleloading in the
Pioneer Weapons Area, in the Daniel Boone National Forest near Morehead.

  December. For most anglers the year is over. But not for the knowing few
who hit the smallmouth bonanza at Dale Hollow Lake. 

For more information, contact: Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, #1
Game Farm Rd., Frankfort, KY 40601, 1-800-858-1549.

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