K is for Kentucky – #atozchallenge

One word: Staycation

My family moved to Kentucky with in 1993. We moved from the western United States and had not lived in a humid, green environment since our time in Japan in the late 1980s.

Kentucky the Beautiful
Kentucky Backroads

Like many others, when we heard the word Kentucky, we thought about the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Kentucky bourbon. There was not much else to really understand or know about Kentucky.

Honestly, looking back I can say that our move to Kentucky was one of the best things we ever did. Kentucky is a beautiful and diverse state. Living in Lexington, which is the Horse Capital of the World, we are surrounded by beautiful horse farms. In fact, I can leave my driveway and be driving through horse farm country within five minutes. The black plank fences, the nicely mown fields, immaculately expensive barns and the horses out grazing in the field… always uplift our souls.

Kentucky Capitol Building in Frankfort
Black Plank Fences are all over Kentucky…this is Horse Country
Lebanon, KY

There are so many things to see and do in Kentucky. The worlds largest cave, Mammoth Cave is here. Beautiful waterfalls, streams, rivers and lakes. The hills of eastern Kentucky are lovely.

The drive across the state takes about six hours if you’re driving east to west from the furthest points. The diversity that you will see on a drive like that is amazing.

Mail Pouch Barn in Central Kentucky
Rabbit Hash General Store in Kentucky
Louisville, KY as seen from across the Ohio River in Indiana
Lexington at Sunset
Wisdom, Kentucky
Mare and foal jaunt
Oddville, Kentucky
Sumoflam at Cumberland Falls
Flippin, Kentucky Post Office
Ice Storms leave lovely art

Kentucky is one of those states that has true four seasons. The wintertime typically has snow and sometimes we even get some pretty impressive ice storms.  Not fun in and of themselves, the ice storms leave beauty hanging around.

After winter comes springtime and the abundance of colorful flowers and flowering trees. One of Lexington’s favorite places for visiting and viewing flowering trees is the Lexington Cemetery. It is a lovely place when everything is in bloom.

Cherry Blossoms in Lexington Cemetery
Yes, it can snow in the spring and cover the flowers.
Kentucky is famous for its lovely Redbud Trees
Thoroughbred Park

April is the start of the horse racing season in Kentucky. Keeneland Race Track is one of the premier race tracks in the United States and then after the Kingman meet horses move onto Louisville and Churchill Downs and eventually the Kentucky Derby. In the past I’ve had the opportunity to attend those events and they are a lot of fun.

But there are many other horse activities in Kentucky such as show jumping and even Polocrosse — a mix between polo and lacrosse done on horses.

 

Polocrosse at the Kentucky Horse Park
Show Jumping at Kentucky Horse Park
Horses frolic
A horse relaxes against a tree in late winter
The grandeur of nature with sunbeams shining over a lake in Kentucky

Throughout the year, I make my way to a local reservoir/lake on the outskirts of Lexington. It is called Jacobson Lake and is part of the huge Jacobson Park. It is a beautiful place to come early in the morning and watch a sunrise or come in the evening and catch a sunset. I also thoroughly enjoy spending time at the lake and listening to the birds and watching and photographing birds. There are a variety of them from the great blue heron in the beautiful bald eagle and Osprey, to many smaller birds such a seagulls, Killdeer, blackbirds and bluebirds and Cardinals.

Blue Heron taking flight at Jacobson Lake
We call this Bald Eagle “Jake”. The local eagle at Jacobson Lake
Sunset at Jacobson Lake in Lexington, KY
Blue Heron grabbing some breakfast
Fall at Jacobson Park

Summer in Kentucky is generally mild but can be warm and sometimes very hot and humid. Those are the times to stay indoors or to go to the lake and sit out on the lake. The family has made a few visits to Cave Run Lake in eastern Kentucky to enjoy the nice environment.

Sanders Cafe in Corbin, KY. Birthplace of the KFC Special Recipe
Wigwam Cafe in Ravenna, KY

Also, during the summer I often take back road drives around Kentucky. There are so many lovely little two lane back roads that one can take and see the landscape, lifestyle and many other unique things. On these trips I’ve discovered old churches, beautiful old farm houses and buildings. I’ve come across fields of sunflowers. I even came across “Kentucky Stonehenge.”

Sumoflam at Kentucky Stonehenge
An old bourbon plant in Woodford County
Turkey Vultures guard their meal near McKee, KY
Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville
Sandhill Cranes

Traveling south of Louisville I took a back road during the spring in hopes of catching the migration of the beautiful Sandhill Cranes. And I was fortunate enough to be there when they were there in the small little town of Cecelia, Kentucky.

 

Sandhill Cranes near Cecilia, KY
Cave Land Motel – Cave City, Kentucky

On other trips we have visited Cave City, a kind of National Park resort town that supports Mammoth Cave. Cave City offers one of only three remaining historic Wigwam Motel complexes, the other two being in Arizona and California. Further south on the same interstate or taking a back road, is the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. This is the only factory in the world that builds the Corvette. Kentucky is also home to the largest Toyota plant in the United States, a huge Ford production facility in Louisville that makes F150 pick up trucks.

Sleep in a Wigwam – Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky
Wigwam Motel in Cave City, KY
Giant T-Rex statue in Cave City, KY
Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Lincoln by Eduardo Kobra, part of the 2013 PRHBTN Festival in Lexington, Kentucky

 

Both Lexington and Louisville feature amazing murals and wall art.  Lexington even has an organization called PRHBTN that invites famed street artists from all over the world to come to Lexington and paint on buildings around the city.  There are some amazing pieces.

 

Louis Armstrong Mural by Sergio Odeith from Portugal, for PRHBTN 2015
Another large mural on the side of an old warehouse in Lexington’s Distillery District

I love Kentucky. I am so glad that we had the blessing to move here to this beautiful state. If you have not visited Kentucky, you need to add it as a “must see” to your list.

Ranada Riley, owner of the Lexington Diner in Lexington has been on television Food Network Competitions such as Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen
One of many horse barns
Sunrise in Eastern Kentucky as we approached West Virginia
Mist covered farmland as seen from Kentucky Highway 79
Paducah, Kentucky
Mural Tribute to Kentucky Bourbon by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Jac’s Coffee Shop – Harlan, Kentucky
Past Time Cafe storefront – Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November
Humongous field of sunflowers in Central Kentucky. This too offers a feeling of grandeur

And, if you live in Kentucky…go take a “staycation” and see this great state.

 

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Bike Trails: The Legacy Trail – Lexington, KY

This is the first in a continuing series of Bike Trail posts.  Like the back roads of America, the recent interest in bike paths and rails-to-trails paths provides a new insight on “back roads”.  Each Bike Path post will include surrounding information, vehicle support info and trail ratings as provided by my wife Julianne.  One bike pump equals a “poor” rating while five pumps equals an “excellent” rating.  We’ll also provide links to the RTC TrailLinks overview of the trail. Complete Trails Overview Post is HERE.

legacytrail_logosmall

BlackPump4THE LEGACY TRAIL – Lexington, KY

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

DSC_4870The Legacy Trail in Lexington, Kentucky is a totally paved bike trail that basically covers a 12 mile distance from downtown Lexington to the Kentucky Horse Park.
Legacy Trail Flags
Legacy Trail Flags

Though not a “rail trail,” per se, the trail is well-maintained, has ample parking on both the north and south ends of the trail and also includes a parking spot midway in the trail at Coldstream. All along the trail are flag banners that can be seen from quite a distance.

The trail runs through farmland after it leaves the city and then eventually enters into horse farm country. For the bikers that want a little bit more ride than the 12 mile trail offers, there is an extension that can be taken through the Kentucky Horse Park that is about 8 miles and goes through some beautiful horse farm country where one can see the plank fences, horses grazing in the fields, etc. My daughter Marissa took this video of horses following them on the trail.
Plank Fencing along the trail...a sign of horse farm country
Plank Fencing along the trail…a sign of horse farm country

One of the scenes of Lexington's Legacy Trail including the iconic stone walls that line the entire Bluegrass area.
One of the scenes of Lexington’s Legacy Trail including the iconic stone walls that line the entire Bluegrass area.

The rail trails typically are straight and fairly level with slight hills and slight curve. The legacy trail, according to my wife Julianne, is a bit more challenging in that it has some pretty heavy duty Hills and there are a couple nearly 90° turns, including one at the bottom of the hill they can be even dangerous.  These are a downside to this trail, as far as my wife is concerned, but since she has ridden it numerous times, she knows when to be cautious.

Sumoflam at Legacy Trail
Sumoflam at Legacy Trail
Julianne and Marissa after a nice ride on the Legacy Bike Trail in Lexington
Julianne and Marissa after a nice ride on the Legacy Bike Trail in Lexington

She loves this trail and has only rated it lower than a five because of the hills and the curves. Julianne and our daughter Marissa also enjoy adding on the Horse Park portion of this trail as it is a biweekly adventure for them to come out and get some good exercise and still get in about 16 or 17 miles of riding.

More flags along the Legacy Trail
More flags along the Legacy Trail
Bike Pump and Tools on the Legacy Trail - provided by Lexington's Pedal the Planet
Bike Pump and Tools on the Legacy Trail – provided by Lexington’s Pedal the Planet

Other amenities included on this trail are drinking fountains, bike air pumping stations with a variety of useful tools and each parking area does have a portable restroom. I should note that the bike pumps and tools were kindly provided by local Lexington company Pedal the Planet where both Julianne and Marissa got their bikes.  I hope to get mine there in the near future as well.

PedalthePlanet
Happy to promote a great bicycle vendor. Give them a visit. (This is not a paid promotion)

Other non-motorized vehicles can be used on the trail including skateboards, in-line skating and walking.

A bridge along the Legacy trail
A bridge along the Legacy trail
Signage on the trail with history and more
Signage on the trail with history and more
The Legacy Trail Map as seen at the Iron Works (Horse Park) trailhead
The Legacy Trail Map as seen at the Iron Works (Horse Park) trailhead
Julianne enjoying the Legacy Trail
Julianne enjoying the Legacy Trail

In terms of vehicular support, there are actually three areas along the trail with good parking.  The main trailheads are at the Northside YMCA in Lexington (near Lexmark), the mid-trail Coldstream parking area and then the Horse Park trailhead on Iron Works Pike, across the road from the Horse Park.

There are  ruminations that the trail may be extended further north towards the town of Georgetown, but I have not been able to find anything definitive regarding this at this point.

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