Every great adventure had to start with a first step. I planned to explore southeastern Kentucky and now I had to get there. Part of the appeal, frankly, was not having to deal with an airline or an airport. I could drive to Kentucky. Theoretically. And so the long drive began.
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I’d always understood intellectually that Virginia was much larger or at least much longer than most people give it credit. Now I got to experience the distance first hand on a drive from within sight of the Washington Monument to the absolute westernmost extreme of the Commonwealth at Cumberland Gap. One expects Texas to be wide. One expects California to be long. One doesn’t often think of Virginia. I drove nearly eight hours and 500 miles (800 km) before I crossed a state border.
Admittedly, the most direct route would have nicked Tennessee a little sooner. I took a minor jog so I could capture the independent City of Norton and add it to my county counting map. Virginia has that crazy system of independent cities that the Federal government considers "county equivalents" for various statistical purposes, so county counters visit those too. I figured I might never get another chance to be this close to Norton so I deviated from the shortest route by about 15 miles.
That still didn’t impact my thesis that Virginia is LONG. This was considerably longer than my drive to Connecticut last summer to participate in the Extremes excursion organized by Steve of CTMQ. In fact, I’d cover about the same distance from my home to the Maine border.
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This also marked my first trip to Lee County, the spear tip on the western side of Virginia. I featured this area in the early days of 12MC in Remote Southwestern Virginia. Lee County is closer to eight and possibly nine state capitals other than its own capital in Richmond, Virginia. It’s farther west than any point in West Virginia. It’s even farther west than Detroit, Michigan!
Alright, I think I made my point.
Another Slight Detour
Normally I’m not one to use the 12MC Twitter account to talk about my latest meal. In fact, I’m pretty sure I make fun of people who think the public at large even cares about what or where they eat. Generally speaking, I don’t want to see anyone Instagramming food and broadcasting meals on Twitter unless he’s a professional food critic.
I’ll rationalize my slight detour to Radford, Virginia by noting that it was a very special numerical event. I maintain lots slightly obsessive-compulsive lists and one of them involves visits to breweries and brewpubs (list and map actually). I felt an exception to my general Twitter rule was warranted by Visit #300. I apologize to any Twitter followers if I caused undue eye-rolls.
The River Company Restaurant and Brewery was responsible for my three hundredth brewery visit although I don’t hold out much promise for the rest of the trip. I might grab another one or two more before the adventure winds down. Unfortunately a lot of the journey will fall within "dry" counties. We are in the south. Don’t cry too much for me, though. Bringing one’s own automobile offers one an opportunity to be well provisioned with goodies from home.
Beermapping.com greatly simplifies my collection of new breweries and brewpubs. I used to have to put maps together by hand before each adventure.
County Counting Conundrum
I added five new Virginia captures to my county counting list. However, my total went up by only four when I entered them into the Mob Rule count counting website. I scratched my head for a brief moment before spotting a posted notice: "… the formerly independent city of Bedford, Virginia was absorbed into Bedford County, Virginia. If you haven’t been there yet, now you don’t have to go!" Except, I had been to the (formerly) independent city of Bedford so my total dropped by one when Bedford city disappeared.
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How did I not realize that the city of Bedford was going away? I must have been so fixated on planning for the trip that I somehow overlooked it. Otherwise I would have posted something on 12MC on July 1, 2013 when the change became official.
The process is called "reversion" and it’s not unknown in Virginia. Other independent cities have renounced their independence in recent years and I suspect more will do the same in the future. It’s an odd system and many of the cities are not large enough to sustain themselves. Bedford’s reversion was covered by The (Lynchburg) News & Advance:
Reversion has become a commonplace term in city and county government in Bedford since 2008. That’s when the city announced its intention to become a town again — by a complicated process known as reversion — and no longer be independent of Bedford County. And today, as they say, is the day… the main benefit of the reversion is the removal of “artificial boundaries” that distinguish a six-square mile city in the middle of a 700-square-mile county. The two governments are partnering, not competing, for economic development and education enhancement
Thus my Virginia tally dropped by one on July 1 and increased by five on July 19, a net increase of four. Finally I’ve crossed a 90% capture threshold for the Commonwealth.
Oh, so how did the trip end? With a two-minute clip of Tennessee and then another two minutes to our hotel in Kentucky. Next we attack the Cumberland Gap.
Kentucky Adventure articles:
- Part 1 – Getting There
- Part 2 – Blazing a Trail
- Part 3 – Appalachian Heritage
- Part 4 – Power of Water
- Part 5 – In the Middle
- Part 6 – And the Rest