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Weekend Wanderings

One-tank weekends

Have you let skyrocketing gas prices curtail your
travel?

While it’s true that gasoline prices are at unprecedented
levels, fuel costs really become a minor part of your travel budget once you
factor in lodging, food, and the occasional souvenir.

To be sure, aimless wandering isn’t the way to go
with gas prices so high. But the fact is, you can see an incredible amount of
Kentucky on just one tank of fuel. Almost anywhere you live, some interesting
and exciting weekends are only one tank away.

Let’s make some assumptions: first, that the average
vehicle gets about 21 miles per gallon; second, that your typical gas tank holds
12 gallons. That establishes a one-tank cruising range of 252 miles-call it
125 miles in each direction.

Now take a state highway map and draw a circle 120
miles around your house. This gives you your cruising distance, and allows a
few extra miles. On the most current state highway map, incidentally, that circle
will have a 9-inch radius, covering an amazing amount of territory. Anything
within that circle fits your one-tank weekend destination.

Within that circle is sure to be a state resort park,
or three, as well as numerous other points of interest. There will be large
cities and small towns, along with lakes, mountains, and areas of great natural
beauty.

To test how this works, we laid a Kentucky map on
the floor and tossed a dime at it. The coin landed on Dawson Springs. A full
circle drawn around Dawson Springs doesn’t fit within the state’s borders (it
rarely does, in fact). Excluding the area covering Indiana, Illinois, Missouri,
and Tennessee, the entire western third of Kentucky falls within that circle.
Included are Elizabeth-town, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Henderson, Hopkinsville,
and Paducah-any of which makes a great destination weekend.

If water sports are your thing, there is a veritable
ocean contained within that circle. Among the large lakes are: Barren River,
Nolin, Rough River, Malone, Beshear, Kentucky, and Barkley, plus a host of smaller
lakes. Whether you’re looking for fishing, water-skiing, pleasure boating, or
just sitting in a cabin by the shore, you’ll find it a shorter drive away than
you might have thought.

There are five state resort parks within that circle,
providing everything from horseback riding to tennis; golf to hiking; swimming
in lakes and pools; or just enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer.

Mammoth Cave National Park falls within that circle,
along with all the attractions-natural and manmade-of Kentucky’s Cave Country.

Museums and historical sites abound. Lincoln’s Birthplace
and the Jefferson Davis Monument are found in this circle, as are the Adsmore
House, Shaker Village in South Union, the Warren Thomas Black History Museum,
and Wickliffe Mounds.

The long and the short of it is this: if you’ve been
letting the high cost of gas stop you from traveling and visiting Kentucky,
you’re doing yourself a disservice. Sure, gas is ridiculously high-priced, but
for a little over $20 you can see some incredible places while staying close
to home. Why not toss your dime on the map and see where it takes you!

Day Trips & Short
Stops

Richmond’s White Hall

Cassius Marcellus Clay was one of the most controversial
figures in Kentucky history. An ardent abolitionist in a slave state, he was
also a newspaper publisher and Minister to Russia. When he was 89 he married
a 15-year-old girl. And he’s credited with killing two men in his own library.

There’s no question, though, that Clay left his mark
on the Kentucky psyche…just as his house, White Hall, left its mark on the land.

Now a state historic site, the 44-room brick Italianate
mansion sits on a 13-acre park, part of Clay’s original estate that includes
shaded picnic areas, a gift shop, slave quarters, and cooking buildings.

Period-clad interpreters shepherd you on guided tours
of the three-story building. Along the way, they relate stories, anecdotes,
and opinions bearing on Clay’s life and times. You’ll learn, for instance, that
Clay was an architectural innovator, one of the first in Kentucky to install
central heating. He also had a flush commode and a sink and bathtub on the second
floor, operated by a gravity-fed 16-ton water system-luxuries practically unknown
at the time.

Although the staff doesn’t like to talk about it,
White Hall is supposedly haunted. With a little luck, you can get one of the
interpreters to tell you the story.

For details, contact: White Hall State Historic Site,
White Hall Road, Richmond, KY 40475, (859) 623-9178.

Outdoor Log

Summer trout

Trout fishing is often thought of as something you
do in the spring.

There are reasons for this. Trout are cold-water
fish, and they are at their most active when the water temperatures keep other
species inactive. By the same token, the major trout foods-aquatic insects-also
are more active during cool weather times.

Then too, come summer, our streams tend to be low
and slow. Often enough, the water is only ankle-deep except where it pools up.
This makes fishing difficult, because the fish are spooked easily.

But they are there. And on the upside, there are
fewer anglers on Kentucky’s trout streams during the summer than at any other
time.

During the sultry days, we like fishing streams that
are deep in the woods. Both the creeks and the air temperatures are slightly
cooler under the trees, which makes fishing more comfortable.

Case in point: Indian Creek, near Red River Gorge.
Indian Creek and its East Fork meander for miles through the Daniel Boone National
Forest, in Menifee and Powell counties, before emptying into the Red River.
Trout can be found in almost their entire lengths, including brown trout in
the East Fork. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stocks rainbows, and browns
are put in by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Conservation.

Indian Creek is exceptional, too, in that a road
follows most of it. This provides ample, easy access to any part of the stream.
This time of year, when you’ll be hopping from one pool to the next rather than
fishing the whole stream, having a road nearby is more than a convenience. Although
this can lead to more traffic (hikers and rock climbers like to camp along Indian
Creek’s banks), the road facilitates your ability to hopscotch from one pool
to another.

Summer trout, especially for the flyrodder, are particularly
challenging. You have to fish fine and far off, and keep out of the water as
much as possible so as not to spook already wary fish. But the thickly overgrown
banks make long casts difficult, especially if there’s any wind. So you can
easily spend more time jockeying for position than you do actually casting.
And then you get only a few good casts before disturbing the water, and have
to rest that pool.

Gentle presentations of small flies are required,
on long, fine leaders. Our choices for these conditions are #3 or #4 weight
outfits. We opt for double-tapered lines rather than our standard weight-forwards,
because they are less likely to disturb the water. Ten and 12-foot leaders,
tapering to 6X, are the norm for this fishing, too.

Like most of our trout streams, Indian Creek is not
particularly fertile, so the fish eat targets of opportunity. For fishing on
top, terrestrials are particularly effective this time of year-ants, small crickets,
and beetles in sizes 16-20, for instance. While Adams patterns are usually effective,
you’re better off with caddis imitations, such as the Elk Hair Caddis. Again,
go with the smallest sizes you can handle-18-22 usually makes the most sense.

Generally speaking, however, you’ll do better with
nymphs and soft-hackle wet flies than you will with dry flies.

For more information, contact: Stanton District Office,
Daniel Boone National Forest, 705 West College Ave., Stanton, KY 40380, (606)
663-2852.

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