Fifteen More…

Posted by: cory.ramsey | March 19th, 2014

Welcome For Real

Yesterday, an article from Movoto.com was posted on several social media outlets, including Kentucky Tourism’s Facebook page. It ambitiously pitched for us and the nation the “Fifteen Best Places To Live In Kentucky.” Using a matrix of several categories and limiting itself to consider “the 42 cities in Kentucky with populations over 10,000,” here was what they came up with.

1. City of Murray
2. City of Jeffersontown
3. City of Burlington
3. City of Erlanger
5. City of Fort Thomas
6. City of Fort Knox
7. Fort Campbell North
8. City of Lyndon
9. City of St. Matthews
10. City of Glasgow
11. City of Madisonville
12. Lexington-Fayette (Fayette?)
12. City of Louisville
14. City of Henderson
15. City of Owensboro

I’m still trying to find out where Ft. Campbell North is. But that’s not the only way to tell this article was likely written from a coffee bar far, far, away from the Fried Chicken touted twice in the first paragraph. Look at the list. Four are Louisville Metro, plain and simple. Another three within miles of Cincinnati. And can just anybody move to Fort Knox like that?

All of the usual towns of course made the list with the slots left (you know you’re awesome, Murray), but I thought of another 15 that needed some mention at this point since the matrix studies left them out.

Bowling Green

1. Bowling Green. Third Largest City wasn’t enough to make the cut. Neither were our Corvettes. I live here. We’ll take our Vettes and be on our way, thank you.

2. Paducah. The riverfront down there is totally walkable. Festivals galore headlined by the quilts and such. An art lover’s dream. Irvin Cobb said the best folks were in Paducah. I’ll take his word over a blog.

3. Ashland. Stroll downtown Ashland as I have and it looks different than it does from your computer screen. It’s impressive. Riverfront. Large city buildings. Looks like Louisville on the small scale. I would live there just to drive across the different colored bridges every day.

4. Bardstown. Bourbon. Nuff Said.

5. Winchester. Prettiest downtown, next to number six coming up. I love how most every building downtown is still a coffee shop or open store. Old Courthouse. Older Charm. Plus, dare I say, Ale 8.

6. Maysville. I grew up in a river town (Hickman), so this is a trip back in time. Another turn of the century river town well preserved and walkable. Bars on the corners of brick lain streets within view of the Limestone Landing fronting the Ohio. Love. Clooney Stayed Here.

Berea

7. Berea. Southern Charm. Stay at Boone Tavern. Then decide to live there. Craft Capital.

8. Midway. I’d live here just to watch a train roll by in the middle of downtown. Within miles of Lexington, but unmistakable small town.

9. Pikeville. Didn’t make the blog cut due to it only having about 6,000 in population. But the skyscrapers competing with the mountains tell me there is something awesome going on in Pike County. Worth a trip to see.

10. Princeton. Another downtown that has stores filled to the brim. I’m a sucker for old buildings. Brand New Interstate, too. Seems livable enough for me.

11. Paris. Ahh, Paris. Not that one. The one with horseshoes embedded in the sidewalks. That’s what I’m talking about.

12. Somerset. I called this the best place to live for adventure a few years ago. Still think it. Live here and you’re within 20 minutes of hiking, rafting, horseback, or anything outdoors. Boone Forest in the backyard.

Ashland

13. Campbellsville. Has the last Druther’s. College town on the move. Just watch it grow.

14. Mt. Sterling. It’s growing. And really attentive to their downtown renaissance. Morehead at 14b.

15. Harrodsburg. Live where it started. Had Harrodsburg failed, we might all still be the other Commonwealth.

Here’s the truth. I’ve been to ALL of these places, not just peeked at them with Google Earth. And while a visit isn’t the same as moving there, at least 15 more to consider that fit another matrix. The “Been There And Really Seen It Not Just Acting Like I Did And No Idea” matrix.

Cory Ramsey is the Road Tripper of Map Dot, Kentucky.

Fall Adventure Starts Right Here

Posted by: Randy Daniels | October 16th, 2013

The leaves are turning and the morning air is quite crisp. Yep, fall is in full swing here in the Bluegrass State. You know what that means? Well, for us adventure seekers it means now is the perfect season to get out there and experience what Kentucky has to offer. Let’s face it, Kentucky can get pretty humid during the summer months. So, in this humble mans opinion, fall and winter is the perfect time to explore! If you’re looking for a great place to assist with those experiences, one place that will definitely help in your fall plans is a little place called Life Adventure Center.

Just like the name implies, these folks take adventure seriously! Their mission is to “engage, educate and empower their community to build respect, responsibility, and self-esteem using hands-on learning in a natural setting”. They are located in the heart of the Bluegrass in Versailles, just down the road from Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve distilleries. Their 575 acre farm is home to Equestrian facilities, including an indoor and outdoor arena, a 40 foot tall Challenge Course with zip-line, Environmental Education programming, and an Outdoor Adventure Program. I think it’s safe to say your interest is officially “peeked”!

Their Outdoor Adventure program specializes in offering back-country adventures, backpacking, canoeing, and a ton of other activities that can cater to any variety of group! “Through environmentally sound practices such as Leave No Trace, participants take responsibility for their impacts of the surrounding environment.

“All of the Outdoor Adventure programming options at Life Adventure Center can be customized to your groups needs. Whether the focus be team-building, communication, or just experiencing an adventure outside of your norm, LAC has the ability to create a memorable experience for you and your group. All of our activities can range from just a few hours to several days, in many locations.”

 

Not just for wilderness adventure seekers! The Challenge Course is pretty freakin’ cool too! Starting off with a 40 ft climbing wall, you have 8 high ropes elements that take you through the treetops and then down a dual zip-line across a small pond to the exit! Kids and adults alike love this thing!

Let’s face it, this IS Kentucky. What self-respecting farm in the middle of horse country wouldn’t have a horse or two of their own wondering around? Well, LAC is no exception! Most of the horses at LAC are used in their programming to build teamwork, leadership, and communication. If your interested in riding lessons, they do that too!

If you happen to be one of the 194,300 Kentuckians who own a horse, you will be interested to know that they have a huge network of horse trails open to the public! The only thing they ask for in return is a small donation of $10 for trailer parking! Not bad huh?!

 

 

So, if you happen to be like me and LOVE the state of Kentucky, get out there and explore it! Not sure where to start? Why not the Life Adventure Center? Give ‘em a call, I know they would be happy to hear from ya!

Life Adventure Center Video

Moonbow

Posted by: cory.ramsey | October 5th, 2013

“He made the lesser light to rule the night.” Gen 1:16

Scientifically, put moonlight dancing at a certain angle over a certain sized waterfall at night, and one gets the ballyhooed moonbow Cumberland Falls is famous for. Ok, so “ballyhooed” rarely makes its way into an official law of science (or the King James Version).

But there it is, and Kentucky is one of a couple of places in the world to see it. I’d been to the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park eight times since 2009, but my ninth life moment there would be the first one totally in the dark. The gates stay open until midnight. When I left the lodge around 8pm, the sky was already black except for a cratered up moon in the sky. It was enough. I drove down the hill to the parking area for the falls, which only had a handful of cars left in it. All I could hear was the rushing of the wild river over the cliff. Five people stood at the falls up top. She, of course, was as usual. Non-stop. I squinted. A faint ray of gray light protruded from the midst heavenward and then with gingerly arc resumed back into the flow further down. A chill came over me. That was it (the freakin’ MOONBOW!!).

I rushed for a vantage point, as if it was going to disappear any second, or worse, sunrise might be hours early. The bow stood, though, and the falls continued their pour. I turned and asked an older couple with cameras hanging from their necks if this was the best spot to see The Ballyhooed. He pointed to a yellow guard post near the cliff line we were standing on. “I’ve asked folks that have been here for 30 years,” he said, “and they say this spot right here is the best to get a picture.” A younger couple up ahead with a tripod setup glanced back at the sacred post. We were all speaking in hushed tones, whispering as if we were going to wake sleeping nature. It was like church during the offering collection.

I pulled out my Iphone, but it would fail me on this, my greatest occasion at post. No signal, nor picture. Human memory the only proof for claiming the best spot at Cumberland Falls.

Walking back to my car in an empty parking lot, I was thankful technology had taken a break, and the lesser light had indeed ruled the night.

Posted in Eastern |

Will Hike For Spoonbread

Posted by: cory.ramsey | September 19th, 2013

Southern Charm. That’s what you get off the old Dixie Highway in Berea. A charming little college where a charming little hostess decided to throw a charming little party in the early 1900s. It was all too much for her, so the hostess, who happened to be married to the college president, insisted a hotel be built in which to throw future parties.

Boone Tavern was born, and Kentucky gained a white-columned treasure.

The South drips everywhere on this block. Rocking chairs wait outside on the long front porch under slow twirling ceiling fans. Hanging plants tout their multicolored blooms. Inside, a lobby that could double as museum. Furniture you just want to gaze at rather than sit in. A staff in vests, “Sirs” and “Ma’ams” frequent from the tongues of college students paying for school supplies by working the Tavern. An honest to God bell hop! No swipe cards here. The keys are still real keys attached to an imprinted polished keychain, sold separately as souvenir if one is so desirous. I was.

The room, though modern, carries the old charm as well. I overlooked a view out my window that Rockwell could have captured. But it was the spirit of Ansel that would accompany this Outdoorsman the following morning.

Berea has a woods to its credit. Well, a mountain. Known locally as the Pinnacles, a series of trails that switchback up a hill reminding one of a walk in the Smokies. And up top, a view of Kentucky I won’t put into words. Just go and stay a minute. I did for the space of an hour. Looking out over the Commonwealth, I saw both developed and rugged areas existing together and enjoyed it all.

Craving Spoonbread the whole time.

Duncan Hines touted Boone Tavern for years a top spot to eat and stay while on the road. The restaurant is a show of chandelier and fancy coffee cups atop little platters. Two forks to plate’s left. I sat wearing a plaid flannel and two day beard, boots still muddy from the hike, savoring gravy smothering biscuits prepared by a pastry chef. Later that day, I was back for Spoonbread, which is simply cornbread dipped onto a plate with a, well, you know. Southern Charm.

I’ll be back for the block of arts and crafts shops that line the sidewalk beside the Tavern and also fill the city. I’ll be back for the pocket of southern graces still shining in Berea.

Online at http://www.boonetavernhotel.com/

Nolin Nifty At Fifty

Posted by: cory.ramsey | August 2nd, 2013

Nolin Lake

Plop out any Kentucky map and you’ll notice several lakes adorn the otherwise river-chopped landscape. We have mountain lakes in the east, recreational lakes in the south, and land between some lakes in the west.

That’s a bunch of lakes!

Plop out another map of Kentucky at the turn of the century, however, and you’ll not see hardly any. In fact, just three.

Rivers have always been a staple of Kentucky, and the state’s history was written into every bend and set of falls the 90,000 miles of streams gave us. Cities sprung, cities faltered, cities flooded. It was the latter that led to a bunch of lakes.

Depression, 1937. Clouds moved into the Ohio River valley that grey January and started a downpour that lasted a month. Before all was dry and done, Louisville and Paducah along with several other cities sat underwater. Levees failed. Sandbags did little. The progress of the 20s was ruined and cleanup took epic proportions.

Enter FDR. In 1938, he signed into law the Flood Control Act. It authorized the building of dams along rivers to help prevent further flooding. Dams weren’t a new phenomenon, but this took the prevention to a new level. It was through this measure that many lakes were orchestrated in Kentucky; perhaps a better word: Engineered.

Between the Army Corps of Engineers and the TVA, the Kentucky map is now full of blue expanse that came with playground for the rest of us. State Parks and recreation areas began to dot the surrounding landscape, and countless pontoon boats found a resting place in new coves.

Once such lake was created along the Nolin River north of Mammoth Cave in 1963. In March of that year, the project begun by the Corps in 1959 came to completion. I wasn’t around at its birth, but I have arrived just in time for its 50th.

This Saturday (August 3rd), the official birthday party takes place for Nolin Lake. As a patron of its recreation and beauty the past several years, I can say that the ruggedness is unique to any other lake statewide. There is just something special about Nolin, and I’m glad to see it gets a party this weekend.

Happy 50th, and good to see you on the map.

Friend of Nolin Lake can be found on Facebook via facebook.com/friendsofnolinlake

Posted in South Central |

Pulling At My Horsestrings

Posted by: cory.ramsey | June 13th, 2013

Hidden?

Kentucky is known worldwide for Horses. With a capital H. For centuries, thoroughbreds and white oak barrels were both nourished by the same limestone water that managed to carve out some pretty big caves in the meantime.

Kentucky is known for Caves. With a capital C.

Simple arithmetic adds H+C and gets HC. Horse Cave.

And Kentucky is about to be known for Horse Cave. Right in the middle of downtown is a huge cave opening that is sarcastically called Hidden River Cave. You can’t miss it. And Hidden River Cave is no stranger to innovation. In the late 1800s, a dynamo took advantage of the river current and produced an electric current to make Horse Cave the only lit city in Kentucky outside of Ashland and Louisville. Now Hidden River Cave is ready to be a power player again in the realm of adventure tourism.

Zip Here

For years the small cave on the block with the National Park down the road (and another in the same town) struggled to get the same sort of visitation that the others may have received. Their wild tour with helmet and knee pad was on par, but the general tour was missing the OMG element.

Until now. Horse Cave is going to have the world on a string.

Beginning this weekend (June 15), adventure seekers will be able to zip-line over the gigantic cave opening from the street level down. And if that’s not enough, you can rappel right down the same towering cliff wall, too.

It’s a challenge no other zip in Kentucky can provide. And it’s just the start of what is planned for the innovative city in Hart County. Believe me, what they’ve got in store is almost too much. Stay Tuned.

For More: www.hiddenrivercave.com

For Medicinal Purposes Only

Posted by: cory.ramsey | May 18th, 2013

Pennyrile State Forest

Doctors these days are starting to give out “Park Prescriptions” for folks to simply get outside and into nature.

One with the woods. Surrounded by greenery.

Do a self study on the color itself, and you’ll see a whole host of psychological benefits ranging from an uptick in mood to feelings of adventure.

I’m not a doctor, but I play an Outdoorsman on TV. Little reason why so many are trading the cubicle for the canoe or woodland stroll so often. It’s good for us.

“Good for us” was the reason Kentucky’s first ever Trail Town of Dawson Springs got on the map in the first place. Folks there are trying to replicate the Appalachian Trail town feel of Damascus, Virginia in our own backyard. A town fit for trail relaxation and atmospheric depressuring. While there last week to take in the gaze of old buildings and older woodland, I stopped for a moment to watch the Tradewater River. It flows just south of town near the Governor Steve Beshear birthplace signage. The river was named that way for the location of fur trading between Indians and Whites in the early 1800s. Little else happened around the area until the railroad came through in the 1870s.

New Century Hotel c. 1898

As with railroads, development began to occur around the depot. A man named Washington Hamby was building a house and an eating establishment for travelers when he struck a well full of mineral water. The first of two found within the town around 1893. Dawson’s depot had “Springs” attached to it (though not really a spring at all, none the wiser), and the rest was boomtown history. Some forty hotels in the new resort town heralded as the premier of the south for folks to enjoy the…water. Crown jewel of it all was The New Century Hotel with 150 rooms completed in 1898. Medical conventions held in the city to promote the quality of the mineral water for ailments worthy of conventions. A town so cool the Pittsburg Pirates and Honus Wagner had spring training there.

Dawson Springs, Kentucky's Trail Town

But then, as with most of the turn of the century towns that blossomed with railroad lore, the automobile came, passenger trains stopped coming, colleges became status quo routine, and generations drove away from birthplaces.

And modern medicine replaced bottled water. Sort of.

These days, Dawson Springs still has the Tradewater flowing out of town like always. Still runs through a woods and beside a trail that leads by a lake and a state park called Pennyrile like the forest and like the flower. And in the long shadow of old traders before wells and hotels, one can still take in the natural sights and sounds of western Kentucky from a canoe ride or hike through miles of woodland. Then hang out and take in history, trail town resort style.

After all, that’s what the doctor ordered.

MOUNTAIN EAGLES: Soaring Birds Return

Posted by: Dean Henson | March 8th, 2013

The “Mountain Eagles” have returned to Pine Mountain State Resort Park.  They’re Turkey Vultures, of course, and the park’s Mountain View Restaurant annually provides premiere, window-seat viewing of a large gathering of the great soaring birds from mid February through the end of March.

Turkey Vultures

They muster in February annually and over the subsequent month and a half, park visitors enjoy spectacular views of their avian aerobatics.  At Pine Mountain in late winter, a vortex of a couple hundred vultures is observed morning & evening during their period of communal roosting.  Now that March has arrived, a menagerie of magnificent soaring birds dominate the skies.  The birds roost in the crowns of giant, old growth trees nestled in the heart of the park’s celebrated Hemlock Garden.

 In recent years, the event has been embraced as a natural tradition and the annual occurrence provides excellent opportunities to photograph these lesser celebrated birds of prey, in significant numbers, as they pinwheel and pirouette in casual soaring and aerial play.

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Posted in Eastern |

Kangaroo Clichés

Posted by: cory.ramsey | March 6th, 2013

Faster than You

Well known, a least to folks in Hart County, that a kangaroo can outrun a Derby-ready race horse if they all came down the stretch together. The Aussie anomaly can top out at 40mph while escaping a hungry dingo in the dark wilds of Australia (mate).

However, the pouched, long-footed mammal has had a hard time out-hopping clichés.

-Kangaroo Court: (c. 1853) Phrase coined during the California Gold Rush period of 1848 onward to describe the hastily carried out proceedings used to deal with claim jumping miners.

-Boxing Kangaroo: (c. 1891) After coinage becomes the national symbol of the Royal Australian Air Force, and is stenciled on fighter planes during WWII.

Captain Kangaroo

-Captain Kangaroo: (c. 1955) Bob Keeshan’s character headlining the popular children’s show that ran for 30 years on CBS.

 

And, of course, the kangaroo had a guest starring B-list role for much of the Winnie-The-Pooh saga. Poor Roos. Their down-under novelty just won’t let them be.

Two weeks ago I had a dream that I was on a familiar Kentucky road trip. I saw blue skies, a two lane road, and a creek running on my left that was lined with various brush and canebreaks. Between the road and the brush, there was a pasture hemmed in by barbed wire fence. Within the fence, a kangaroo farm (!). Ten or so kangaroos jostling about while I rubbernecked on the highway. Worse yet, such farms aren’t even legal in Kentucky. No more Copper River Grille for me.

I had to dust out my dream catcher, and in the process of analyzation make a trip to Horse Cave.

Kentucky Caverns has been touring guests for nearly 100 years, and when kangaroos were added to the attraction in 1990, Kentucky Down Under was born. Just this month, the park has brand new management, and it’s being renamed Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo. Ambitious future plans over the next few months include a ropes and bridges obstacle course (summer 2013), crocodile exhibits, and a building on tap that will pay tribute to Kentucky’s bourbon heritage. And still, all of the familiar birds, wool weaving, border collies, didgeridoos, boomerangs, and of course, the roos too.

Horse Cave

I spent my preseason visit watching a mob of kangaroos hop around, oblivious to the fact they had just made my dreams come true. But then, Horse Cave has that dreamy way about it.

 

Here’s a town even Andy Griffith could whistle in. A historical district that runs just 2 blocks. Maybe 2.5 next to railroad tracks. Buildings still standing since their stagecoach days. A big honking cave opening right off main street.

 

If only the bricks in the facades could talk. Oh, but they can! Horse Cave has a walking tour of the city that uses QR codes for your smart phone to tell you in full voice-over what the building’s first purpose was. Maybe an Odd-Fellows Hall. Or a saloon. Or a bank. Or dry goods store. Every town in Kentucky is full of this type of heritage. Horse Cave simply puts a voice to it.

Consider it “Straight from the horse’s mouth.” And that’s hopefully one cliché even a kangaroo can outrun.

For more on Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, visit www.kdu.com.

For more on Hart County, visit www.kygetaway.com.

-Thanks to Candace Forsythe and Sandra Wilson while on site in Hart County.

Uncle Outdoorsman and the Kentuckysaurus

Posted by: cory.ramsey | February 27th, 2013

First Day as Uncle, 2010

Occasionally, I have to lay aside my wide-brimmed Outdoorsman hat in exchange for the meek and humble Uncle hat. I haven’t managed a Hiker Jr. (yet) but my sister and brother-in-law did succeed in birthing a boy that carries on much of the Ramsey nature of nonsense. Three years in, and he’s already turning into his Uncle with each passing sigh from my mother and sister.

Braxton

Braxton lives in Almo, which is a suburb of Murray in Calloway County. Every few months, he buckles into his car seat harness and is transported to Bowling Green to see me, always accompanied by the usual entourage of family members. But he is the star, that thing is certain. The world, my world, stops when B is on the scene. He carries with him a contagious smile, and the typical childlike confidence that can tackle any restraint the older, fearful world might lay on him. He loves that world, still three years experienced with all of his young heart, and that world can’t help but love him back.

Trouble Pair

On this day, I presented him with a photo of himself I had posted on my Facebook page for a weekend, asking my online friends for a “like” as a Valentine’s Day gift. I had set the goal at 100 such likes. We got 111. Someday, I’ll have to explain what Facebook was all about when we’ve hopefully gone full circle back to crank phones. He can already operate an iPad better than me, and soon enough, he’ll be Mobile Uploading and Tweeting like the rest of us poor, addicted souls.

We posed for a said Mobile Upload, then I noticed he wore a themed shirt to town. Toddlers in the 4T size are notorious for themed shirts that match the day’s activity, or hope thereof. His theme was not his beloved trains on this trip, but rather dinosaurs.

“He must needs go through Cave City.”

The gateway to Kentucky’s fabled national park has seen better decades, no doubt. Amongst the overwhelming mountainous scenery that trumps any on Kentucky’s portion of Interstate 65, historic attractions, storefronts, and property sit overgrown and vacant, waiting and begging for a developer’s dream to deliver itself. If you’re reading and have millions to help this city, please do.

Blessing Barren County

Maybe it was all taken over by the dinosaurs fronting the interstate exit. The thankful bright spot downhill from the Guntown Mountain signage. Every car from Chicago to Mobile has a one point rubbernecked at the oversized T-Rex that blesses Barren County.

Dinosaur World. A three year old’s Mecca.

Life

Pilgrimage in progress, we spent the next hour and a half looking, pointing, running, and posing for pictures at each new attraction. Walking the rope line to one of a hundred or so life-size dinosaur replicas. Digging for fossils in the sand. Shopping for keepsakes in the gift store. Taking home yet another memory as family. Earning Uncle Points.

Only three of these such “worlds” exist in the world, and Cave City is the headquarters for it all. Consider it a hiking trip to the Mesozoic Era. Your 3 year old will love it. And the three year old at heart will love it, too.

For more on Dinosaur World, click Here.

For more on the vision of Cave City, click Here.

-Special thanks to Nicole Randall while in Cave City.

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