2023: Year in Travel and Other Stories – Part 1

The year 2023 was a roller coaster ride!!  Some wonderful travel opportunities happened, but there were accidents and operations that seemed to throw hurdles in the way.  Following is a highlight post for the year.

Welcome to Hocking Hills, Ohio

We actually started off 2023 on the road with a trip up to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.  My wife met her sister and they camped out in the cold with our daughter in a nice big tent.  I spent the night in a nearby motel in Logan, Ohio.  It was January.  It was cold.  While they slept, I visited Lake Logan State Park to check it out.  Much of the lake was nearly frozen over.  Logan, Ohio is a nice little town. Saw a couple of murals and an old movie theater.  Hocking Hills is a great place to visit any time of the year (if you’re prepared). January 2 I drive over to Kingston to check out another unique (and kind of spooky) mural.  That afternoon I picked them up and we enjoyed a nice Mexican lunch in Chillicothe and it was back home.

Hocking Hills State Park
Camping out at Hocking Hills
Hocking Hills entry gate
Spooky Mural in Kingston, Ohio.  Painted by Cheryl White Mitchell in 2003
Welcome to Logan, Ohio

The next travel for us was back on the Sheltowee Trace.  My wife and daughter joined a number of other hikers for the first hike of the year.  While they hiked in central Kentucky, I visited Lake Linnville and Brodhead, KY.  I was fortunate to see a couple of eagles (which is why I went to Lake Linnville in the first place).

Eagle over Lake Linnville near Mount Vernon, KY
Hikers ready to head out on to the Sheltowee Trace in late January
Sinking Creek Road near London, KY
Winter morning over Lake Linnville
Turning angelic at Dorado’s restaurant in Mount Vernon, KY

In late January, my wife and daughter decided to do a small hike at Lake Shelby in Shelbyville, KY.  I had never been there either, so I took advantage of a look-see while they hiked. Though small, it was very scenic with a small waterfall, some unique winter sunlight and a very friendly kingfisher that posed for us.

Lake Shelby in Shelbyville, KY
Unique winter sky over Lake Shelby park in Late January
A friendly and patient female kingfisher let us take a few shots and even some video.
We were also greeted by a swan at Shelby Lake

February opened up with more escapades across Kentucky. Julianne decided to bike part of the Sheltowee Trace near McKee, Kentucky.  This is scenic portion of the trail.

My wife Julianne bikes down one of the dirt road portions of the Sheltowee Trace.
One of the Sheltowee Trail Blazes on a sign post near McKee
By late afternoon we had a colorful sunset up on on the ridge of Wildcat Road near East Bernstadt, KY

The next day my wife took another hike, this time it was with a hiking group on some trails near the Abbey of Gathsemani Monastery (which was founded in 1848) in Trappist, which is near New Haven, Kentucky.  Though it was mid-February, it was a nice day for a hike for them.  While they hiked for a number of hours, I drove through New Haven, New Salem and even over to Cecilia to see what sights might be out there.  Saw a couple of camels in New Haven, passed the railroad museum and then saw Sandhill Cranes in Cecilia.  It was a good day of travel for me, but would be my last for a few weeks.

Trappist, KY
The Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky
Gethsemani historic marker in Trappist
Welcome to New Haven, KY
A camel smiled for me in New Haven, KY
Log Still Distillery in New Haven, KY
An old building in New Hope, Kentucky
Speed Limit 7 MPH!!
Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, KY
Sandhill Cranes flying over Cecilia, KY
An American Kestrel stares down at me in New Haven

A week after Gathsemani, we were in Livingston, KY for another Sheltowee Trace hike.  I was planning to be a support driver for the group.  After we met them all that morning, we loaded up the cars and got ready to head out.  Livingston sits on US 25 and the Sheltowee Headquarters is located in downtown, where many of the hikers camped for the night before heading out on the trail.  There is not much traffic on this section of the highway and the speed limit in town is 25 MPH.  It is not unusual to see many people make a U-turn from one of the wide shoulders.  Our first car did fine and I too moved to do so after seeing the other car at the top of the hill.  All appeared clear until all of a sudden a pick-up truck came barreling down the road at about 60 MPH and slammed into my driver side door and front end.  My car was totaled and I suffered a fractured shoulder.  The other 7 passengers in the car were all OK.  In the long run, I was cited for a U Turn while the speeding driver didn’t even appear to get a slap on the wrist.  I was taken away in an ambulance to nearby Mt. Vernon.  I would be off the road for nearly two months as I recovered from my fractured shoulder. I was just grateful to take the brunt of the impact and that all of the others were safe.

Daniel Boone statue in the Sheltowee HQ building in Livingston, KY (just a few minutes before the accident)
Old Wilderness Road goes through Livingston and Mount Vernon
My poor Honda Pilot in mid-February 2023
Spent six weeks in a sling for fractured shoulder to heal

Since the car was totaled, in March we ended up getting a new vehicle…  A 2018 Lexus GX460.  Goat a great deal and I was happy… Four-wheel drive, sun roof, plenty of room for the driver.  Sadly, I wouldn’t be able to drive it until almost April.

Our 2018 Lexus GX-460 — purchased in March 2023

With the new car we ventured out at the end of March for a nice springtime Red River Gorge trip. Though a passenger, it was nice to get out, see nature and get a few pictures.

Nada Tunnel near Stanton, KY
Tarr Ridge Road in Red River Gorge
Zebra Swallowtails and Tiger Swallowtails all join together
Ha! Steam Shovel Road in Stanton, KY
Jackson County Trails sign in McKee, KY

Did you enjoy what you saw here?  My books cover so much more.

Enjoy the Ride with Sumoflam
You can get my books online!  The series now has five books and I am working on books six and seven.

Book Six will be all about murals from all over the country!! Watch for them later in 2024.