Virtual Travel – New Mexico

Welcome to New Mexico. As you will see by the length of this post, New Mexico was one of the last states I got to but has become one of my favorites.

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State Capitol – In my opinion (!) the New Mexico State Capitol is the very finest in the country. Located in Santa Fe, which is amazing by itself, this is the only round capitol in the country.

It was designed to represent the Zia sun symbol when viewed from the air. This is the symbol on the New Mexico State Flag.

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Unique State Symbols

Official Litter Control Mascot – Dusty the Roadrunner.

 

State Cookie – Biscochito

 

 

State Guitar – New Mexico Sunrise Guitar

 

 

 

 

New Mexico Cultures

1946        1973 Acoma         2007 Abo Ruins

 

 

Santa Fe – It seems as though New Mexico has a better respect for all of the cultures that exist in their state than most, and Santa Fe as the capital and cultural center embraces all of those.

Art and culture abound everywhere in the city. It has been recognized by UNESCO as a ‘Creative City’.

In addition Santa Fe was established before the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, and is home to the oldest public building in the United States (photo on bottom row – with bell at the top).

 

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Albuquerque – Easily the largest city in the state with a metro population of around 1 million, Albuquerque is cultural unique like Santa Fe, but with a much more urban feel to it.

 

Hotel Andaluz – We were lucky enough to spend our one night in Albuquerque at the Hotel Andaluz. This historic hotel was opened in 1939, with an extensive remodel occurring in 2008.

 

 

 

Artesia – This small town celebrates it’s oil industry history with a collection of sculptures around town.

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Clovis – This small eastern New Mexico town is legendary for the recording studio there that was the place where Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others had their start. Our amazing good fortune had us show up, unannounced, to a tour with a cool guy named Dave who had been a backup singer in the studio.

There is a museum in town as well, but the studio is the true museum – with most of the original equipment still there. For this posting I have included a photo of nearly every piece of original equipment.

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Quirky New Mexico

1947 – Dude Ranch         1950 -Taos Mountains

 

As you travel across the state you always come across something unusual and interesting.

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The baseball team in Albuquerque is called the Isotopes, and have adopted the Simpsons as their mascot since Springfield’s team in the show had the same name.

 

 

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The town of Portales has a retired fighter jet in the median strip.

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Roswell – I have had the good fortunate to travel in every state, and in 22 foreign countries but never have I seen a town play up their legend more than Roswell. And we loved it! Nobody is alien in Roswell.

 

And to top it off they have an ‘airplane boneyard’

 

Outdoors

1958 – Cristo Rey Church     1974     1992/1994 Pecos National Historic Park

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Rio Grande Gorge

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View from Sandia Peak in Albuquerque

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Lonely Eastern New Mexico Highway.

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Carlsbad Caverns – America’s best cave.

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Roads

2003 – US 84 near Abiquiu     2014/2015  Las Cruces

 

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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

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Cool freeway bridges in Santa Fe

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Sandia Peak Tram

 

 

Trains in the plains.

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Route 66 in Tucumcari

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Kentucky

Today’s visit is to Kentucky, and the vast horse culture that exists there. But there is far more to Kentucky than horses.

The first map in our journey dates from 1942. Interestingly the state highway map  was contained in a booklet that gave tourist information based on the roads of the day.

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The most famous of these roads was the Dixie Highway. Originally part of the National Auto Trail system in the very early 1900, the Dixie Highway modeled itself after the Lincoln Highway in that private promoters lead the effort to build it.

When the federal government took over the route it was assign along U.S. 25 through most of Kentucky. The route was dotted with motels and restaurants for the travelers headed from the Midwest to Florida. When the interstates came along I-75 replaced it.

(photo from Pintrest)

336 Best Louisville, KY! My home! images in 2020 | Louisville ...

 

 

 

1947 – A Mountain Road.

Much of Eastern Kentucky is in the Appalachian Mountains. This is coal country, with winding roads going up and down the mountains.

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1960 – Another mountain overlook.

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The mountains make numerous appearances on the cover of the map. Left to right – 1997 – 1986 – 2015.

 

Today the vast majority of the roads are still twisty two lane routes.

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Appalachia has had tough times for decades now, with most of the population long ago heading north for jobs in factories. Today few coal mines still exist, most have closed leaving relics behind.

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Kentucky is horse country. It is estimated that nearly 100,000 jobs in Kentucky depend on horses. It is the number 1 producer of thoroughbreds in the nation.

This fact is celebrated on numerous map covers including this 1945 map.

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Horse Farms were also featured in 1968, 1988, 1989 and 2007.

 

In 2019 we had the opportunity to visit Claiborne Farms near Paris, Kentucky. The horses are beautiful, and the grounds immaculate.

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Bridges

This 1949 map features Eggner’s Ferry Bridge. This bridge was completed in 1932, and decommissioned in 2016. A new 4 lane bride has replaced it.

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With the Ohio River bordering the entire northern side of Kentucky there are a number of impressive bridges linking the state to it’s neighbors.

The new cable stayed bridge at Owensboro was featured in 2003.

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Louisville – Second Street Bridge, also known as the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge.

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Covington (to Cincinnati) – Roebling Bridge.

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Maysville. Simon Kenton Bridge – Completed in 1931.

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1955 – Kentucky Colonel.

More than just chicken, a Kentucky Colonel is an actual title of honor that the governor of the state can issue to individuals.

Prior to the 1930s very few people were made Kentucky Colonels, but the governor of the time greatly accelerated the number including one Harland Sanders – hence the name of the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

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To this day if you find yourself in Corbin, Kentucky you can stop by the original Sanders Cafe for some fried chicken. (photo from tripadvisor.com)

Birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Kentucky ...

 

 

For the mid 1960s Kentucky still showed their southern side with a lawn jockey and a plantation house being featured.

 

 

 

1966 – Daniel Boone. Boone was born in Pennsylvania and spent a great deal of time in Virginia before arriving in Kentucky. It was here his actions became lore.

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The 1970s featured the Kentucky Parkways. The state was ahead of their times in building additional freeways to augment the interstates that were in the state. They did this in the form of toll roads.

Despite the names the Parkways do not prohibit truck traffic.

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Horse Race Trumpeter – 1973, 1974 & 1975

In the days before electronic amplification they had to have a way to notify the jockeys it was time to come to the starting gate, hence the trumpeter. The song they play is called ‘First Call’, a military march.

Santa Anita Trumpeter

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Churchill Downs Trumpeter

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1979 – Man o War

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When people make a list of the greatest race horses of all time there are really only two, Secretariat and Man o War. Secretariat is Man o War’s grandson.

How good was Secretariat. He still holds records 40 years later. The photo below from the legendary Belmont that he won by 31 lengths!

A Tremendous Machine: Secretariat in the Belmont | America's Best ...

 

Man o War was just as impressive. In 1920 he was co-athlete of the year with Babe Ruth

Article Image

 

Man o War has a statue at the Kentucky Horse Park

Man O' War Racehorse Statue in Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington ...

 

Seretariat’s statue is at Keeneland.

Secretariat Statue @The Racing Hall of Fame | Horses, Beautiful ...

 

Both are representative of the best of Kentucky Horse Racing. Along with the great thoroughbreds are great tracks.

The two best are Churchill Downs in Louisville and Keeneland in Lexington.

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Keeneland

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1982, 1983 and 1983 – State Parks. While they look very similar there are slight variations to the covers.

 

2013 and 2017 returned to the parks.

 

Kentucky has a number of nice state parks with lodges. This is Cumberland Falls Park Lodge.

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1992 – Kentucky Bicentennial

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1998 – Cumberland Gap & Tunnel

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The Cumberland Gap is a pass in the Appalachian Mountains, at the point where Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee come together.

It was the first primary route over the mountains for the early settlers. For millenia bison had used the pass to make their way back and forth for feeding. The folklore of Daniel Boone was enhanced by his effort to blaze a trail through the mountains.

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Today a twin tube tunnel makes the pass much easier to traverse. Each tunnel is 4600′ long.

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The Cumberland Gap National Park has some very scenic overlooks.

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2000 – Scenic Byways

 

There are 10 Scenic Byways in Kentucky.  These byways take you to the less traveled parts of the state for some unique sights like…

Nada Tunnel. That small hole in the bottom of the hill is indeed a tunnel for auto traffic.

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2004 – Paris Pike. This stretch of highway was a very dangerous 2 lane road. When the decision was made to expand to 4 lanes the Department of Transportation worked with many to come up with an aesthetically pleasing but functional road.

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The road leads from Lexington to Paris. The town of Paris is the center of the thoroughbred farms. It is a very picturesque town, complete with a mini Eiffel Tower.

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2005 – State Capitol

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The State Capitol is in the small town of Frankfort. The current Capitol was completed in 1909.

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The grounds are very well groomed and include a floral clock.

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The former capitol is down in the middle of town.

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Just outside of town are some bourbon distilleries that were built more than 100 years ago, shuttered, and recently re-opened. It makes for a very cool environment.

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Nearby is the city of Lexington, home of the University of Kentucky.

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The city is home to a vast array of murals, some of the best we have seen.

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2006 – Cumberland Falls

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2008 – Lincoln in Kentucky

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2009 & 2010 – Equestrian Games

 

 

2011 – Corvette Museum

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The Corvette Museum is in Bowling Green.

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2014 – Old Friends Retirement Home. While some race horses live a pampered life being set out to stud, many do not. In 2003 Boston Globe movie critic Michael Blowen lead an effort to open this farm for retired race horses.

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2016 – Mammoth Caves

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The longest cave system in the country, Mammoth Cave has more than 400 miles of surveyed passageways. Photo from tourist website as I am terrible with cave photography.

Mammoth Cave: An Underground Attraction That Sparked a War in ...

 

 

2018 – Culinary Trail. The most famous culinary trail in Kentucky is the Bourbon Trail.

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While we didn’t do the entire trail we did tour the Jim Beam Distillery.

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This storage facility burnt in a fire in 2019.

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Grant, Alabama – May 2019 – Cathedral Caverns

Not far from Huntsville, Alabama is the amazing natural wonder of Cathedral Caverns. For the last 20 years the state of Alabama has owned the cave and operated it as a state park.

The entrance is said to be one of the world’s widest entrance to a ‘commercial cave’ at 25′ tall and 128′ wide.



This column has been named ‘Goliath’, one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45′ high and 243′ in circumference. To get an idea of the size, note the walkway railing in the lower left corner of the photo compared to Goliath.



The cave is filled with amazing stalagmites and stalactites.



For many years the cave was owned and operated privately. Note the railing on the left side of the photo – that was the path that the original owners had put in. When the state took it over they built a nice walkway with no stairs that runs 3/4 of a mile back into the cave complex, allowing all to have the chance to experience it.



More of the interesting formations in the cave.



About 1/2 mile back into the cave you come to this amazing field.



The stalagmite called ‘Improbable’ is renown as it is only 3″ in diameter, and goes up at a 45 degree angle for 25′.

Cathedral Caverns is truly a wonder of nature, and well worth the trip to northern Alabama.






Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 10 Zodiac Boat Tour and Historic Kona

Day 10 started out with a Zodiac Boat tour down the coast to another snorkel location. A Zodiac boat is a rigid hull, inflatable boat that can go very fast across the water, as Captain Bill demonstrated.

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Assisted by Chris, the first mate.

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As we made our way down the coast we stopped by some sea caves.

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Despite being formed by lava, they were very colorful.

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We arrived at the bay where the snorkeling occurred. It is the bay where Captain Cook met his demise.

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The snorkeling was great.

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On our return trip we passed more sea cliffs

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Along the way we encountered a group of ‘Spinning’ Dolphins, as this series of photos illustrate.

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After returning to the boat, we made our way back to Kona one more time for a historic tour.

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We toured the Queens summer palace.

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Finally it was time to return to our home for the week.

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Coudersport, PA – May 2018 – Ice Mine

In the small north central Pennsylvania mountain town of Coudersport is a cool (literally) little tourist attraction known as the Ice Mine.

Technically it is not a mine, it is a small cave that due to some unique geothermal reasons cold air gets trapped in the mountain during the winter. Once summer comes the cold air begins to expel the warm air, causing ice on the moisture that seeps into the mountain.

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It had been a tourist attraction up until the 1960s when it closed, but has recently been re-opened.

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We showed up because of a huge sign in town saying ‘Ice Mine is Open’, but as we arrived we found that it was supposed to open the next morning as we were met with a sign that said ‘closed’. Still I drove up.

We did however have the good fortune of meeting Gary, the owner, who was more than happy to show us around.

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Sure enough on this 85 degree day ice was pushing up out of the ‘mine’, and the air temperature near it was about 45 degrees.

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The ‘mine’ is at the bottom of a 17′ pit, and goes down another 17′ into the ground. As a result of the perpetually cold environment the moss and other growth in the pit is more similar to Northern Ontario than Northern Pennsylvania.

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While not the most impressive sight around, it is still a very ‘cool’ experience, and Gary is a great guy who is proud of his hometown, and would welcome a visit – they are indeed now open for the summer. If you find yourself driving across historic U.S. 6 across northern Pennsylvania – go see him. And if you want to know more detail on how ice can form in the summer check out the wiki page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coudersport_Ice_Mine

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Bellevue, Ohio – May 2018 – Seneca Caverns

A full Saturday had us heading across the north central Ohio flatlands …

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To – A Cavern! We have been in a number of caves and caverns before but the pancake flat Ohio countryside seems like an unlikely location for one. Aided by Google maps and about 50 road signs we arrived just as they opened for the morning.

The small tourist attraction is a family owned business, and it was quickly apparent they appreciate the people who showed up to tour their cavern. All who worked there were friendly and helpful.

Finally our time arrived and our tour guide Sam(antha) lead us down the stairs in the small gift shop to the start of the cave. I had previously read on Tripadvisor that unlike many of the larger ‘show caves’ this one meant actually getting a little dirty as you navigate the natural stairs – and they were right.

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But we successfully made it down to level 2 where Sam explained the geology – it is a ‘Crack in the Earth’ cave – cause basically by a sinkhole, not water erosion.

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The cave was discovered by two boys playing (aren’t they all) in the late 1800s, and up until the 1930s it was a fairly ambitious effort to go into the cave. Many who did left marks that they were there, including Mr Moyer who used his skill as a tombstone carver to leave a nice etching of his name in the late 1800s.

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We continued further down, past a few fossil and very small stalactites to level 3.

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The bottom of the cave has an aquifer known as the Old Mis’try River. The water levels will vary greatly depending on rain and we have had enough rain recently the water levels were fairly high. Look closely at the railing continuing down and you will see where the water level has filled the stairway to the next level (the water is the greenish tint).

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Having gone as far as we could we started back up. Squeezing up some of the ‘stairways’ to the top. Sam was a great tour guide, informative without being boring, energetic and fun – making the hour long tour go by very fast. While not spelunking – it was adventurous enough for me.

If you would like a bit of caving Seneca Caverns in the Ohio flatlands is recommended.

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Logan, OH – June 2017 – Whispering Cave

Having made a number of trips to Hocking Hills State Park to hike the trails to the caves and cliffs, we thought we had seen them all. Fortunately this spring they opened a trail to a cave that had been off limits for 50 year, Whispering Cave.

Named so because of the acoustics that allows a person to whisper on one side and someone on the other side can hear what was said. The trail has been opened, and with an early start we had the place to ourselves.

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Leaving Whispering Cave and continuing on the Hemlock Bridge Trail, we passed on great rock formations.

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After a two mile hike we arrived at Lower Falls – Old Man’s Creek

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The climb out of the gorge

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Upper Falls – Old Man’s Creek

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Interesting lighting on the cliff walls. It was a great day of hiking in the cliffs and gorges.

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Eastern Kentucky – Late Fall 2016 Road Trip – Day 10

We ate breakfast at the hotel opting for oatmeal and fresh fruit rather than the ham and cheesy scrambled eggs. The fatty food probably accounts for the area of Hazard and Perry Counties having one of the worst life expectancy rates in America. Kentucky ranks in 45 out of 50 states and the town of Hazard is even worse than the Kentucky average.

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The morning air was a cold temperature of 26o F. as we left Hazard. The hillside and trees were covered with kudzu as well as a school bus on our drive to Breathitt County.

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As we made our way north we ran into smoky air from wildfires in the area. The smoke was thick enough that we can smell it in the car with the windows closed as we moved along state route 15N through the hills.

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Layers of exposed rock sheered on both sides of the highway rise at least 100 feet. Rock is why we are here; to see Natural Bridge State Park. The park was founded as a private tourist attraction in 1895. It is still cold at 23 degrees as we began our hike on the original trail to see the natural bridge, but with the steep ascent up uneven steps we didn’t notice, and we followed the path up hill to reach the bridge.

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The trail ends under the bridge but a narrow passage called Fat Man’s Squeeze and some stairs lead to the top of the natural bridge. The view from on top of the natural bridge was marvelous. It looked as if their was a laser beam of light shooting outward into the air from the cliff in front of us over the valley of autumn colored trees. I believe it was a layer of thin fog hovering in air; in any case, it looked really awesome.

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We climbed down onto the same trail, and back through the Fat Man’s Squeeze again.

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Leaving the Natural Bridge Park, we headed north on Kentucky Highway 77, reaching Nada Tunnel,  a 900-foot long tunnel that was formerly a railway tunnel.

Since the tunnel is a single lane you must honked first before entering to alert anyone on the opposite end. The tunnel was originally 12 feet in height but when the first train load of logs became stuck and had to be blasted free, the tunnel’s height was increased to 13 feet.

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After passing through Morehead we made our way to the town of Olive Hill to see Carter’s Caves. Unfortunately we arrived at a time that the next tour was hours away. Deciding not to wait, we went for a brief walk on the trail that allowed us to explore the cave park area on our own. The half-mile loop trail from the visitor center led us into a great open cave.

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The cave had a small round opening at its roof, jagged walls of stone with niches and a small stream that flowed among the layers rocky floor surface. We finished our walk and promised to visit again but for now we headed home to end our latest advenutre.