Thursday, August 26, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Six


Walk Around Lake Hematite

Lois and Eric and I have traveled all over the world together for the past twenty-five years or so, and have always been able to walk wherever we wanted to go. Despite the insane tour guide force-marching us for miles every day in India, we were able to keep up with the younger members of the tour just last year.

So when we decided to take a day at the beautiful Land Between the Lakes, we thought a mile and a third path would be an easy stroll. The Land Between the Lakes is a national recreation area in western Kentucky and Tennessee, created when TVA dammed the Kentucky River in the 1960's, creating Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. The area has something for everyone, lodges with all the comforts of home, cabins, and camping areas where you can camp out in a tent. Walking trails wander all through the park, which is at its most glorious in autumn, when the leaves turn.

Hunting is allowed but carefully governed in the wildest areas of the Land Between the Lakes. In other areas there are herds of bison and elk, a nature station, and even a planetarium. One fascinating exhibit is The Homeplace 1850, a working farm run exactly like a farm in this area in the middle of the 19th century.

You can fish, canoe, sail, bike, picnic, or just wander around this beautiful preserve and take pictures. Even an indoor girl like me gets out to the LBL from time to time to enjoy a little touch of nature.

This time, though, Kentucky was in the middle of the longest heat wave in history, so we chose a cloudy day, and welcomed the few raindrops that did fall on us.

We are experienced hikers. We were slathered in sunscreen and insect repellant, all wearing hats, and Lois and I had our walking sticks. We each had a bottle of water. We should have had a pleasant, easy walk.

What we didn't count on were the humidity and the recession.

Although it was cloudy and we were in the shade for most of the walk, it was breathlessly still that day--no breeze, just heat and humidity. Most of the trail around the lake, named for the hematite gems that are rather easy to find in the area, is clearly marked, and there are wooden slat causeways over some boggy areas.

What we discovered was that with the recession causing layoffs of park personnel, some of the broken and rotting slats on the causeways have not been repaired, and in one place a very important sign was missing.

We set off along the length of the lake, following a typical hiking trail of packed earth with some climbing up and down--the sort of trail we have hiked dozens of times all over the world. But with the heat and humidity, all three of us found it unexpectedly hard going. Still, only one and a third miles....

We swung around the far end of the lake, negotiated a rickety causeway, and came to a Y. We figured that the newer-looking causeway that stayed closer to the lakeshore was the short way to go, and as we were all tired by then, we chose that route. That Y is where the important sign is missing: there ought to be one pointing the direction we took, saying "Dead End."


By this time we were half-way around the lake, so we decided to continue our plan to circle the lake. Unfortunately, although the packed-earth trail remained similar to what we had traversed on the other side, each causeway we encountered was in worse repair than the last. By the time we reached the turn to the "short" end, numerous missing and rotted slats made the causeways more dangerous than the bare earth of the trail.

Fortunately, a few raindrops fell as we came out from under the shade of the trees and worked our way across the boggy approach to the steps up to the trail entrance. I guess we were the only people dumb enough to try walking any trail that day, for we saw no other hikers, just a man in a boat on the lake and two women fishing from the shore near the entrance to the trail.


As you can see from the photos, Hematite Lake is a lovely place--just try not to go hiking there in the middle of the longest heat wave ever recorded!

Next week: Superman's Home Town
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Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Five

Chain Across the Mississippi

On the Kentucky side of the Mississippi, atop a cliff, there is a most unusual relic of the Civil War. Columbus-Belmont State Park memorializes the attempt to stop Union Gunboats from traveling down the river. Confederate General Leonidas Polk commanded the fort on the bluff, and came up with the idea of stretching a huge chain across the Mississippi--but it didn't work. The gunboats sailed right over it.

The failed strategy was forgotten--actually treated as a legend--until torrential rains in the 1920's eroded the earthen fortifications, revealing the giant chain and anchor. They were then put on display, and the area was made into a pleasant park.

Although the wooden fort is long gone, the bunkers are still clearly carved into the hillside, looking today much like earthwork fortifications from prehistoric times. There are picnic tables, a playground, and a small museum--a lovely place for families to spend a summer afternoon, and indeed, we saw families doing exactly that despite the sweltering heat wave  that has consumed Kentucky all this summer.

Next week: Walk Around Lake Hematite

_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Four

Ferry Cross the Mississippi

Kentucky has mostly farmland along the Mississippi River, and on the other side of the river so does Missouri. Nonetheless, people who live far from the bridges to the north and south need a way to cross--hence the Dorena-Hickman Ferry.



This is one of the last operating riverboat ferries in the U.S. It's not a tourist attraction, but a simple means of getting from one side of the river to the other. We, however, treated it as a tourist attraction, and enjoyed riding across this unspoiled section of the river.

video

The ferry operates from 7am to sunset, M-F, all year long except Christmas Day.

It would have cost us $14 each way to take our car across, but as we knew we were not going anywhere in Missouri, we paid the $1 pedestrian toll, rode across, talked with other people taking the ferry on the Missouri side, and when the ferry came back again we rode it back.

We were not the only tourists that day. Families were out enjoying the sights, including one group taking the family dog along.

Next week: Chain Across the Mississippi
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Semi-Staycation, Part Three


Dinosaurs in Kentucky

 People don't usually think of Kentucky when they think of dinosaurs or other kinds of fossils, but actually there are lots of fossils to be found in this area. Hence the Dinosaur Museum near Mammoth Cave.

The museum is interesting, but the gift shop is amazing. You can actually buy real dinosaur eggs, dinosaur teeth, and dinosaur bones! Jurassic Park, anyone?
If you are traveling with kids, be sure to let them see at least one of the dinosaur attractions that dot the area. Kids love dinosaurs, and will amaze you with their ability to identify all the different species, their eras, and their habitats and habits.
 

Next week: Ferry cross the Mississippi
_________________________________

Travel Diary Software click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

My essays on travel with pets begin here.

My posts on Travel and Cancer Survival begin here.

The series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog about a fabulous carousel is here.

MATERIAL CONNECTION DISCLOSURE: You should assume that the author of this blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned in this message and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.