Chill’n in Kentucky and North Carolina

I would like to begin this post with an explanation of sorts.  When I was asked to write the blog for this Summer Road Tour I asked whether I should write only on days when we had an actual event.  In fact there are a few days (not many) when my family and I have a bit of downtime between these tour stops.  My fear was that I would end up making this blog all about our summer trip and less about the the Grill’n & Chill’n Summer.  I was actually afraid that people would see through that and lose interest – in other words, that you would all stop reading.  In social media terms, that’s about the worst thing that can happen.

However, based on feedback my wife received from a number of followers I understand that many of you apparently think the daily adventures of criss-crossing the country and stopping at random spots as a family is kind of “fun”.  So I made the decision to continue on with this travel blog.  Consider this a bonus of sorts.  With that being said, let me tell you about our day.

Day 4/Travel Day

On this fine Kentucky morning I awoke to the sound of that oh-so-annoying iPhone alarm at 6:15.  Truth is I would have woken up on my own considering that during a normal school year I’m up at 5:45 each day.  The body’s internal clock has a way of keeping pretty good time.  We ate breakfast and re-packed the car.  On today’s agenda was not a race to another cook-out filled with alumni but rather a leisurely day of driving and sightseeing.

The second is to remember to keep ourselves flexible.  This is easier said than done for a man who has had his spine fused twice.

Ever since our son was six weeks-old we have been in the habit of taking summer road trips.  One of the things that Karla and I bonded over when we first met was our love of exploring the open road.  When we were joined at the altar and then blessed with a baby nine and a half months later we decided that we must make conquering the interstates a family pursuit.

We are so fortunate that my work schedule and hers have allowed us the freedom to continue this pursuit and that our children have cooperated and even seemed to enjoy it.

When we set out for a day of driving I always have two goals in mind.  The first is to plan just one stop that I really want to see.  The second is to remember to keep ourselves flexible.  This is easier said than done for a man who has had his spine fused twice.  Pun.  Sorry.  The third, I suppose, is to avoid running over aramdillos.  On the first front my plan was to spend some time at Cumberland Gap.  This would require us to divert off the interstate just a wee bit.  But on the flexibility front we were delighted to divert our drive almost immediately.

Just a half-hour outside of Louisville I turned to my son and asked “Hey Ben,is the capital of Kentucky pronounced /loo-ee-ville/ or /lou-a-vuhl/?”  He had no idea so I gave him the answer.  “Neither, boy.  It’s pronounced /frank-fort/.”  And it is Frankfort that provided us with some amazing tales.  Thanks to the Roadside America app we were able to navigate to a few peculiar things.  Driving through this quaint town we headed up a winding hill.  I’m a sucker for scenic overlooks so I exited at the first one I saw.  We were enthralled when we realized that the view was a perfectly framed vista of the capitol dome.  Continuing on we drove around the Capitol grounds (quite beautiful and I wished we’d had time to take the tour).  Then we stopped at the grave of pioneer Daniel Boone who had opened the West to settlement.  In the same cemetery we came across a monument to the unborn.  This monument was more impressive than any I had ever seen and it allowed us a moment of prayer and teaching for our children.

On the road again we continued on toward the Gap when a sign caught my eye.  My rule of thumb is that if it’s not more than five miles off the road and I really want to see it; then I will.  The kids and I are fans of the History Channel show Modern Marvels.  They had run a special called “Fast Food Tech” in which they highlighted the life and times of greats like Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s) and Ray Kroc (McDonald’s).  But their treatment of Harland Sanders was particularly endearing.  It was just our luck, then, that the Colonel’s very first KFC was right smack dab in the middle of our drive.  Talk about an amazing man.  The sign even attested to this by calling him “Kentucky’s greatest goodwill ambassador”.

And finally… The Cumberland Gap!  For a day that started at the burial site of Daniel Boon it was fitting we should pass through the very place not only made famous by him but that also made him famous.  Twenty years ago the mountain passage he had forged in the 18th century was returned to its “natural” state and the US highway that had run its course in the vee-shaped passageway had been sunk into a tunnel below the neighboring mountain.  Pity, because the orignal trail crossed through the three states of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee while the tunnel skips VA altogether.  This would never do.  We parked at the visitor’s center and decided to embody the spirit of Boone.  “It’s only two miles,” I said to my wife.  Two miles that was all uphill at a climb of a thousand feet.  She was in flip flops.  I’ll let you watch the videos.  Suffice it to say that we made it to the top and I totally feel like a pioneer!

The best part of our day was stopping for the night in a town about forty miles southeast of Asheville, North Carolina.  It was here that we visited the home of Art and Jessie Decotiis.  Jessie (nee Gordon), class of 2000, is a dear friend of Karla from their Christendom days.  The Decotiis’ family were unable to attend any of the tour events so we thought we’d bring the tour to them.  What a beautiful homestead and what an even more beautiful family!  The oldest of their six children, Artie, is a model of good manners and a prodigy of music.  I’ve played the piano since I was four.  This kid is amazing.  We spent a good while discussing composers and technique while I sipped on the gin and tonic his dad had poured for me.  FYI, if we come to your house I like gin.  My kids loved playing with the Decotiis children and especially loved searching for bullfrogs outside at night.  The family home is also a working farm and the kids had a blast petting the ponies and marveling at the pigs, or as I call them “future bacon”.

Thank the Lord for the blessings of this day.  A little more driving tomorrow and then a chance to see my niece for a couple of days; then it’s back on to the next stop.  Can you blame us for a bit of downtime?  Of course not.  Similarly I can’t blame you for not filling out the survey yet.  That’s because I know you will as soon as you finish reading this blog.

Tell your friends.  We really want to give away the Apple Watch and we can’t do it without a thousand completed surveys.

Thank you for reading this far and I promise the posts won’t be this long in the future unless I feel like it.

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