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Weekend Wanderings

Fall foliage tour

Come October, Kentuckians head out to see fall
color. This is understandable, because no matter where you live in the Bluegrass
State, nature’s autumn light show is spectacular. But for us, there is one area
that stands out above the rest: it’s the tour through the Cumberland Valley.

Start your tour at Pine Mountain State Resort
Park. Arguably the prettiest of our state parks at any time, it’s especially dramatic
during fall color.

Several hiking trails lead you through woods
and to overlooks that provide panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Depending on your time and energy levels, we’d recommend the Honeymoon Falls trail,
Chained Rock trail, and the Living Stairway/Fern Garden Double Loop trail as among
the prettiest.

Just outside the park is The Narrows, a thin
gap through Pine Mountain. This was the true gateway into the Bluegrass for thousands
of settlers who first passed through the well-known Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap, itself, lies a few miles to
the south. There are more than 50 miles of hiking trails in the National Historical
Park, ranging from nature paths to overnight backpacking trails. But there are
many scenic overlooks you can drive to as well. Be sure and visit the Pinnacle,
from which you can look out over three states.

Just outside the park is Middlesboro, which
sits in the center of the largest meteor crater in the U.S. Several attractions
are worth visiting, including the Lost Squadron Museum at the airport, where a
P-38 fighter, recovered from a glacier, is being restored.

From Middlesboro follow KY 119 east toward Harlan.
For those with ATVs and four-wheel-drive vehicles, you can access the Little Shepherd
Trail here. The 38-mile off-road-vehicle trail follows the crest of Pine Mountain,
offering views of some of the most spectacular scenery in eastern Kentucky. Also
near Harlan is the half-day trail up Stone Mountain.

Farther east is the town of Cumberland and Kingdom
Come State Park. Overlooks at Kingdom Come offer vistas second to none, or you
can hike the network of 13 trails, none of which are longer than one mile. South
of Cumberland is Black Mountain, the highest peak in Kentucky. You can drive almost
to the top.

Either to or from Black Mountain, stop at the
Kentucky Coal Mining Museum, in Benham. Here you’ll find memorabilia from the
coal-mining days, when Benham and nearby Lynch were considered the Cadillacs of
coal camps.

Also in Benham is the School House Inn, the
old high school that has been converted to a bed and breakfast and restaurant.
This would be a good place to spend the night.

Continue eastward on 119 in the direction of
Whitesburg. For the first few miles, you’ll pass many of the locales used in filming
Coal Miner’s Daughter. About 15 miles out of Cumberland, watch for KY
932. Turn right and a mile and a half later look for Bad Branch State Nature Preserve
on the left.

Without doubt, Bad Branch is the prettiest wilderness
area in the state. Its 2,343 acres of forested slopes surround a deep, rugged
gorge cut by Bad Branch, a tributary to the Poor Fork of the Cumberland River.
A 60-foot waterfall plunging over a sandstone cliff crowns the natural beauty
of the preserve.

End your fall foliage tour at Breaks Interstate
Park, near Elkhorn City. This 4,600-acre park, straddling the Kentucky/ Virginia
border, contains the largest canyon east of the Mississippi River.

For more information, contact: 

Pine Mountain State Resort Park  (606) 337-3066
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (606) 248-2817
Kingdom Come State Park (606) 589-2479
Kentucky Coal Mining Museum (606) 848-1530
School House Inn (606) 848-3000)
Breaks Interstate Park (540) 865-4413

Day Trips & Short

Tea for two

Until 1776, Americans, like most of the English-speaking
world, were tea drinkers. But with the Revolution came a rejection of all things
British, and Americans took to coffee. By the War of 1812, tea had been all
but forgotten as a general drink. And the British tradition of High Tea was
all but unknown.

This has changed in the past few years, and tea shops
have been opening throughout the South. High tea, while not exactly common,
isn’t particularly out of place anymore, either.

Here in Kentucky, Elmwood Inn in Perryville is credited
with reintroducing tea to the Bluegrass. And for many years, it has been the
only place to go for such an experience.

Monthly teas, offered by the Bennett House in Richmond,
are the latest addition to formal tea service. The Bennett House, a brick Queen
Anne-style home with Romanesque detailing, is a bed and breakfast owned by Richard
and Rita Smart. Rita had always wanted a tea house, and decided that the B&B
was a good starting point for such an endeavor.

Right now, tea is offered once a month, as a special
event. In less than a year, they have become very popular, and reservations
are absolutely required.

At the Bennett House, tea is a formal occasion. At
each of the three sittings, there are three courses served, along with tea of
your choice (four flavors are offered). The food items change with the season,
and the menu reflects special holidays.

Seatings are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. But plan
on arriving early, so you can tour the house itself. Built in 1889 by Elizabeth
Chenault Bennett, it was the home of Sarah James, daughter of Cassius M. Clay.
Although few of the furnishings are original to the house, Rita has used her
own antique collection to furnish it in a manner that is true to the times.
Some of the chandeliers, floors, and woodwork-including the cherry wood grand
staircase leading to the upstairs bedrooms-are original and have been lovingly

October tea is scheduled for October 27. The Holiday
Tea will be held November 24-25. There is no tea in December. For reservations,
contact: The Bennett House, 419 W. Main Street, Richmond, KY 40475, (859) 623-5229.

Outdoor Log

Sucker fishing

Several years back we introduced you to Gerald
Bates and his special method of taking trophy linesides using huge suckers.
But now Bates has a new bait technique to show us.

Suckers are harder and harder to come by.
Dealers don’t want to mess with them because people are reluctant to spend a
lot of money on bait. When Gerald is sucker fishing there is typically $70 worth
of bait in the livewell.

Striped bass fishing has changed another way.
While shad are still the primary forage base, alewives are playing an increasing
role in the rockfish’s diet. Ever innovative, Bates has come up with a method
that takes all of this into consideration.

Once out on the water, he dipped a small alewife
out of the baitwell for a small 2-inch fish. He then reached for a small plastic
tube, filled with what looked like brown putty. "This is a new scent paste,"
he explained. "It puts out a scent trail that smells like shad. The stripers
can’t resist it."

Kodiak Fish Attractant Paste was actually
developed and introduced by an Ohio company. Its main use, so far, is by crappie
fishermen, who use it like chum. About a quarter-inch of the paste is squeezed
out and dropped in the hole where they are fishing. This brings the crappie

For striper fishing, it’s used differently.
Gerald squeezes a tiny amount onto his fingertip, then spreads this across the
baitfish’s back and gill covers. Other than that, he rigs as usual, running
one barb of a treble hook through the bait’s lips.

"This stuff works the same whether you
use it on live bait or on artificials," he added. "So you can use
it on whichever type bait the fish prefer at any particular time of year."

That’s an important consideration, because
about now the linesides will start hitting plugs and bucktail jigs with curly
tails. The scent makes these artificials that much more appealing.

How appealing? While we were with him, we
limited out on rockfish weighing up to 22 pounds at a time when the fishing
was slow.

To check it out yourself, book a trip with
Bates Guide Service, 219 M. Tucker Rd., Russell Springs, KY 42642, (270) 866-8703.
Or contact Kulis Inc., 725 Broadway Ave., Bedford, OH 44145, (216) 232-8352
for information about the new scent product.

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