Since this is Road Trip #9, you can imagine how many times The Mate and I have crossed Kansas. But Kentucky, not so much. We’ve generally passed either above or below it; the big interstates make it fairly easy to miss. But this year we went to eastern Kentucky, on purpose, for two reasons.
Reason #1: St. Patrick’s Day was our 40th anniversary, and we wanted a pretty place to spend the night, plus a kitchen for me to make the Reuben sandwiches we’ve been eating together ever since March 17, 1979.
Thus: Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
I’ll be honest: the culture of eastern Kentucky makes me uncomfortable. In these polarized times, it’s hard not to imagine people looking askance at our scruffy Subaru, and The Mate’s ponytail. It’s hard not to wonder how we’d be received if we were a gay couple, or people of color. I also imagine what they’d think of me, a middle-aged lady acting like an early retiree, eating my hummus-arugula sandwich…a left-coast, REI-wearing, Subaru-driving Ivy Leaguer…
Maybe I’ve been listening to too much CNN, or reading too much US history, but that polarization is real
So it was a sweet relief to get up into those lovely trails and find people…enjoying the same beauty I was enjoying.
The Natural Bridge itself is very cool…
…but it’s only part of the sandstone sculpture on display. There’s also balanced Rock…
…and then just the stone itself. I couldn’t get enough.
All the trails are concentrated in a small area, so I imagine during high season it must be pretty crowded. But in March, meeting handfuls of other tourists was just nice. Everyone up there had walked steep trails for the sake of scenery: my people!
Reason #2 for our Kentucky dalliance was two sets of old friends, not seen for over a decade. The first lives in Louisville, where I didn’t take any pictures, but we did ride our top-favorite bike path, the Louisville Loop, so here’s a picture from last year.
The second was in Land Between the Lakes, near Kentucky’s western tip. We met our friend for a day hike, then spent another night in a very pleasant cabin. (Could we have camped? Yes. It only got down to freezing that night. I wimped out. No excuses.)
No sandstone here, but we did enjoy a lovely lakeside walk…
which treated us to some splendid little crowds of turtles.
And just as before, meeting fellow walkers in the woods did my conflicted soul as much good as reuniting with an old friend.
From Kentucky we headed across Missouri, another non-Subaru state. There, we visited another section of the amazing Katy Trail, a 200+-mile rail-trail that stretches nearly the entire length of the state.
Our section follows the Missouri River, thus…bluffs!
Otters wallowed in the powerful current. Cliff swallows attended their nests. Signs alerted us to Lewis and Clark’s one-time camping ground.
Because it was the middle of a work week, we met very few souls out on the Katy. But just knowing it was there, knowing that citizens of Missouri support this…
…gave me those warm fuzzies about my fellow Americans that I so badly need.
Once again, our privileged status, on vacation in the middle of March, gave us the park to ourselves. And the solitude of my walk set me thinking.
Funny – my son and I went to southern VA and parts of Kentucky on spring break a couple of years ago and I had the same worries. We have a Hispanic last night and although I am white and my son is 1/2 (and looks white), I did worry about how people would act when I would check into hotels or use my credit card. Thankfully, everyone was lovely and sweet.
Great photos! I love those natural bridges in Kentucky. We went to one and it is slipping my mind right now. 😀
Yeah, face to face, people are usually nice. Usually. Sometimes I just need to turn my brain off. 😏 Thanks for visiting, Jennifer!