Make My Trip, Again

On May 12, 2013 · 10 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle picks a different state for its vacation each summer, and concentrates on an aspect of it intensely. Previous examples have included Alaska, Utah, and Oregon. The ultimate purpose of these holidays is to focus on unusual or oft-overlooked sites within the United States while sprinkling-in a few of the more famous sites as well.

The state selected for the 12MC treatment in 2013 is KENTUCKY, specifically the far southeastern corner.



View Kentucky Thoughts in a larger map

Diverse factors went into this decision. Key amongst them was my lack of county counting coverage. I’ve driven Interstate 75 through the target area and I’ve also nibbled on its western edge. As a whole, however, my time on the ground there was minimal and my county count has been decidedly lacking.

Southeastern Kentucky also offers the ability to avoid airline travel. I am completely fed-up with the airlines. I am annoyed by overly-abundant airport security hassles, I am disgusted by a complete lack of customer service and I am tired of being nickel-and-dimed with an endless parade of airline fees, each one more outrageous than its predecessors. This summer, 12MC will give the airlines the old One Finger Salute by selecting an automotive destination. It should take about nine hours — a long but manageable single-day drive — which compares favorably to dealing with an airport, flying cross-country, grabbing a rental car, and driving to a hotel.

The target area I’m anticipating includes a 20-ish county area that avoids major cities as represented on my crudely-drawn map: Adair; Barren; Bell; Casey; Clay; Clinton; Cumberland; Edmonson; Green; Hart; Knox; Laurel; Lincoln; McCreary; Metcalfe; Pulaski; Rockcastle; Russell; Taylor; Wayne; Whitley. I won’t hit every one of those counties, and I’ll probably stray outside of those boundaries for the right opportunities (including into Virginia or Tennessee). I’m still early in the research process so it’s in flux. I’m using it focus my concentration for the moment and using it as a starting point, primarily.

The map presents several possibilities even in its embryonic stage. My attention has already been drawn to all things Cumberland (e.g., Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Falls, Lake Cumberland), as well as to the Daniel Boone National Forest and to Mammoth Cave National Park. I visited Mammoth as a kid and I want to return as an adult to see if my pint-sized memories hold true. Plus, my kids love going on cave tours and Mammoth is the king-of-kings for the eastern United States.

My 12MC Complete Index didn’t present an abundance of geo-oddities within the target area, although there are a couple. I’ve shaded the map in yellow and blue to split the target between Central Time and the Eastern Time. We’ll be bouncing between time zones like on the Dust Bowl trip and that always provides a level of amusement. Plus, a time zone anomaly exists within the target area with a chunk of central time farther east than a chunk of eastern time. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to experience the anomaly although I’d probably do it for grins if I happened to be nearby for some other purpose.

Here is the part where I consult with the wise and all-knowing audience. You’ve come through for me several times in the past, suggesting great places to visit that I never would have learned about without your input. Some of those included Capulin Volcano in New Mexico, gas stations in Oregon where I could pump my own gas, Timpanogos Cave National Monument and the ATK Rocket Park in Utah. I am certain that there must be people in the 12MC universe who have either lived in or who have vacationed in southeastern Kentucky.

What "can’t miss" spots have I overlooked? You may see your recommendation mentioned in a 12MC article in July.

On May 12, 2013 · 10 Comments

10 Responses to “Make My Trip, Again”

  1. Randy Clark says:

    Not my favorite state (too many smokers)so about the most I can do for you is to recommend a book: Moon Kentucky (Moon Handbooks) by Theresa Dowell Blackinton
    which I think is pretty decent.

  2. Coming from northern Virginia, the home of the original Interstate 66, you may be interested in the Cumberland Parkway, which is the corridor running from Somerset to just west of Glasgow now co-designated as ‘Future I-66’.. As well, there’s the divided town of Jellico, which straddles the TN-KY border.

  3. Craig says:

    Apparently,the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum is at 1002 W. Dixie Hwy, Corbin, Kentucky, which looks to be in the middle of your trip area. While it’s technically not the first KFC franchise, it was the first restaurant to serve Kentucky Fried Chicken, so they call themselves the first Kentucky Fried Chicken, and that might be of interest.

    Moreover, Corbin is at the tripoint of Whitley, Knox, and Laurel counties.

  4. Even though you plan to focus on the southeastern corner of Kentucky, you shouldn’t overlook a noteworthy geographic anomaly in the state’s southwestern corner: “The Kentucky Bend”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_Bend

    This was the part of Kentucky that I visited during my ‘around the contiguous United States’ trip in 2011: http://project49.rossfinlayson.com/category/kentucky/

  5. weekendroady says:

    Tips from my only experience with SE Kentucky…

    1) The shopping mall in Middlesboro might rank up (or down) there with the one in Martinsburg, WV. I don’t recommend looking for lunch there.

    2) I took 58 all the way from Bristol, VA to Cumberland Gap. It’s one of the most scenic routes I’ve ever driven in this part of the country (sans the biggies, like Blue Ridge or something). The Daniel Boone Trail is truly a “time warp” of sorts…

    3) There is a 3-mile (roundtrip) trail from the Cumberland Gap Iron Furnace Parking Lot (in Cumberland Gap, TN) to the Tri-State Peak, which, of course, memorializes the KY/TN/VA tri-point. I didn’t have time to do this hike the day I was there (which I slightly regret now). The Furnace is absolutely huge (you can easily walk into it). Of course, the paved parking lot is the furthest west you can go by car in Virginia.

  6. Jasper says:

    I’ve flown into London airport, found a welcome to Kentucky sign, and eaten a $100 burger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/$100_hamburger, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g39598-d3731073-Reviews-London_Corbin_Airport_Hangar_Restaurant_London_KY-London_Kentucky.html).

    Not very special, but it’s all I can come up with.

    From flying over, my impression is that’s it’s a very empty rural area. Pretty woods.

  7. Chris says:

    The Red River Gorge and the Natural Bridge State Park are just outside of your boundaries– it’s a geological oddity if not a geographic one. My kids and I have had several adventures there, well worth the trip.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_River_Gorge
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_Bridge_State_Park_(Kentucky)

  8. Peter Wilde says:

    Definitely check out the system of Kentucky State Resort Parks. I stopped in several on a trip to that part of KY in 2011. Everyone had great cabins that included full kitchens for very reasonable prices. Some have amenities like individual docks on lakes, etc.

  9. Stan says:

    I lived in Lexington, Kentucky for 15 years (1978-1993). My favorite recreational area (for hiking and photography) in the state, by far, was the Red River Gorge area. I think you might be disappointed by Mammoth Cave; because of its size, it is on the bucket list for everyone with an interest in geology, but it is a dry cave, and thus not as visually appealing as caves with more formations.

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