My 2012 Kentucky Resolutions

Despite spending over 25 of my 30 years in the great state of Kentucky, there are still some pretty essential Kentucky experiences that have escaped me. Seeing as how I bill myself as a proud Kentucky spokesperson, some of these oversights are becoming embarassing. In 2012, I'm going to start checking some of these items off my list.

  1. Visit Mammoth Cave. A national park and the longest cave system in the world - not to mention just about two and a half hours from my house - Mammoth Cave seems to always be at the top of any list of Kentucky tourist attractions. I'm not quite sure how I escaped childhood without a single field trip there but I plan to remedy that this year. 
  2. Become a Kentucky Colonel. One of the most humiliating moments of my life was when I worked for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. One of the interns found out I was from Kentucky and exclaimed, "Are you a Kentucky Colonel?!? I am!" He had never even been to Kentucky. He was from NEW JERSEY. Oh, the shame. 
  3. Visit Bubbleland. The Kentucky Bend fascinates me. I'm not saying a visit would be life-changing but it's close and seems like something you just gotta see.
  4. Try Col. Bill Newsom's Aged Kentucky Country Ham. This recently popped up on a essential Kentucky list in Garden and Gun. One of the few culinary experiences in Western Kentucky, it seems crazy I haven't tried it yet. 
  5. Go to Tater Day in Benton. Every cool kid in my high school skipped school to go to Tater Day. I'm not sure why I never went except that I wasn't that cool. Well, there's nothing to stop me now and I love sweet potatoes. 

The Rest of the State

Image via KentuckyRoads.com

It has become a bit of a joke among me and my friends. How far does it actually take to drive Paducah from Louisville? 5 hours, right? 5 and a half?

NO. It does not.

Driving west for five and half hours will land you somewhere in the Ozarks, not Paducah. It's about a three hour drive if you don't stop. Four if you drive slow and stop A LOT.

But this isn't post isn't sponsored by Google Maps. It's sponsored by the Western Kentucky Appreciation Society and I'm the dang President. I'm stinking tired of being forgotten, mocked, and downright ignored.

Don't get me wrong. Louisville is lovely. I lived in Lexington for four years and it will always hold a special place in my heart. The rolling green hills and horse farms of Central Kentucky are truly beautiful but they are not the entirety of what Kentucky has to offer.

Even eastern Kentucky gets a certain amount of specialized press. Sure, it's not exactly positive all the time but they have that whole Appalachian thing going. No one will ever deny that the mountains of eastern Kentucky aren't some of the most beautiful in the nation or that the culture is distinctive and intriguing.

But hello! There is a whole other section of the state with some things to offer.

For example, when the Kentucky Bucket List came out only EIGHT items on the list come from Western Kentucky. EIGHT. No mention of Land between the Lakes? Seriously? What about the National Quilt Museum in Paducah? Or Col. Bill Newsom's Aged Country Ham in Princeton? Patti's 1880s Settlement? I mean those things are WORLD famous.

I realize I'm starting to sound a bit like Jan Brady but I promise you I'm not the only one. We western Kentuckians get really tired of being treated like the red-headed stepchildren (which as a redheaded stepchild myself I REALLY resent) of the state. Dinner parties are rife with complaints about the state meetings always held in Louisville or the glassy eyed stares returned when someone suggests Paducah as a convention site.

Well, I'm here to tell you western Kentucky is fantastic. We might not be as showy as some other parts of the state but WE are the birthplace of Bill Monroe and bluegrass music and WE have the best damn barbecue in the entire state - nay, NATION - AND we've got Bubbleland. So, there.

But don't take my word for it, take a trip down the Western Kentucky Parkway and find out for yourself sometime!