June 1, 1980 -- A Guest Post by Allison Johnson of PinkLouLou

Do y'all read our friend Allison's blog, PinkLouLou? It's your daily dose of over-the-top pink decor, pugs, big hair, and all things Carrie Underwood. Allison, a Lexington native and UK alumna, was kind enough to share this adorable story about her parents' wedding. Somehow, their story of what may be the worst wedding day ever seems unique and precious. Thank you so much for sharing this sweet story, Allison! -- HCW

June is often thought of as wedding month, and since we are in wedding season I thought I would share a tragic, but very very sweet story. This story is about my sweet parents, who just celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary. (They dated 7 years before they got married, mom would kill me if I left that out!) Anyways… My mom was oldest of 5, and grew up very privileged with nannies, and housekeepers and the whole nine yards. She grew up in a beautiful home, but always felt just very different from her brothers and sisters. She was interested in music, and saving baby birds etc. (ha!) and not at all into the froo-froo-ness of a wedding. She didn't want a diamond engagement ring (pause.. Insert gasp here) she just wanted to be with my dad. Dad had a break in between Med-school and his residency and I quote, mom said "I think this might be a good time to get married." and that was it.

The wedding was planned for June 1 (I feel positive my Nana was involved in this!) My mom had insisted on making her own wedding dress (which was beautiful, might I add) and everyone came home to Pikeville, KY for the wedding weekend. Wedding was planned for Sunday, and that Friday evening before the wedding, their neighbors were having a dinner for the wedding party etc. My mom remembers not feeling well, and wanting to stay home and nap, but of course no one in there right mind was gonna let the Bride get away with that, ha. 

And then, it happened. Not sure exactly who discovered it, but my grandparents' house, that my mom and her siblings had grown up in, was on fire. There is still debate about the cause-I have heard many things over the years (you know how stories seem to change with time). Everyone ran next door and watched my grandparents' home burn to the ground. The city fire department would not come, as my grandparents' house was a few miles out of the city limits- so there was nothing to do but stand there, and watch all of their memories go up in smoke. My mom's wedding dress was inside. My Aunt Lucy was home from college, and all of her things were inside. All of the baby books, pictures, childhood memories that meant so much to my family- were inside. My mom's suitcase that she had excitedly packed for her honeymoon was inside. The family Boxer, Oscar, was inside. My mom tells me she remembers watching her brothers try and throw the iron pool chairs through the sliding glass doors to save the dog, but they wouldn’t break. The rest of that day, and the days to follow were a huge blur. My mom says she hardly remembers her wedding. The entire family had to go to Dawahares, who opened their doors especially for them early Saturday, to buy new clothes for the wedding, and my parents honeymoon. I know you are thinking, WHY in the world did they not postpone the wedding?? Well in all seriousness I think it is because my Nana was scared my parents would never actually get married if they did that, HA! ;) so they went on as scheduled. My parents left the next day for the Virgin Islands, and wouldn't you know the airlines LOST all of their luggage, so they had to go by brand new clothes all over again once on their honeymoon. Yep… serious. Icing on the cake right? 

This next little thing I have to share, is my favorite part of the story, and I know could only be orchestrated by God. While my parents were gone on their honeymoon, the rest of the family spent time going through the ashes of the house. Guess what they found. A small little box. The fuzz on the outside was all melted away, and the hinge had broken. It was the ring box holding my dad's wedding band that my mom had gotten for him. The ring was inside, untouched, and untarnished. Just sitting there perfectly. To this day this little charred box sits on my mom's dresser in her closet, with the ring inside. Is that not the sweetest thing you have ever heard?

Another sweet little tidbit? After my mom got home from her honeymoon, she re-made her wedding dress that she lost in the fire. My sissies and I all plan to wear this dress on our rehearsal dinner nights, just the way she made it. (we might have to add some fabric... we aren't exactly 95 pounds, HA) Isn't it just beautiful and timeless? 

 Not sure what possessed Aunt Liz and Cam to pose for a pic in front of the remains? 'Awkward family photo' for sure, right? ha ha 

Sweet parents :)

My teeny tiny adorable momma!

And last but not least, meet Imogene. I am pretty sure I got my poofin' skills from my g-ma. I mean look at that volume!

 I guess things worked out alright, because my parents have been together for 40, (married for 33) years, and have a wonderful marriage. They had us three girls, and I bet if you asked them, they would tell you that life has been pretty good. :) Some people have the perfect storybook wedding, and unfortunately don't make it. It really is about so much more than the "wedding." My parents had all they needed, and still do. Each other, and love. Love you mom and dad!

Top Ten Kentucky Geocaches

HerKentucky welcomes our good friend Jessica Lotz for a special guest post about geocaching Kentucky. Jess lives just outside St. Louis, MO with her husband, toddler son, and 5-year old dog, Cooper. After a successful 13 year career in health care administration, Jessica quit her job in November 2011 to answer life's next calling as a stay-at-home mom. Jesssica likes football on Sundays and cruises to just about anywhere. Although she's lived throughout the U.S. courtesy of the Air Force, Kentucky really is her second home. -- HCW

One of the many things I enjoy about HerKentucky is its ability to introduce readers to places, historic or trendy, that we may not have experienced otherwise. Whether through HerKentucky’s 60 Things Project or because of the passion of its contributors, it's not unusual for me to add new places to visit, businesses to support, and adventures to experience to my Kentucky Bucket List on a nearly weekly basis. As an adopted Kentuckian, I appreciate learning about it all.

In that respect, HerKentucky is much like geocaching. Geocaching, an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use GPS enabled devices to find hidden containers or caches, began in 2000 and since then has attracted hundreds of thousands of loyal cachers who have hidden over 1.6 million caches throughout the world. Caches range in size from nano (the size of a screw) to large (ammo box), and can be traditional caches (a physical treasure), virtual (no actual cache, but rather a site you’re visiting, usually for historical purposes), or Earth caches (think Mammoth Cave). Some caches can be located rather quickly (within minutes of arriving at the coordinates) while others can take hours (particularly if hiking/repelling/kayaking is involved).

My Geocaching hobby actually began in Kentucky. While visiting the in-laws over Christmas one year, I stumbled across something regarding geocaching. I started researching it online and within 30 minutes, I had my entire family outside looking for a cache in the park behind my husband’s childhood home. Using my sister-in-law’s iPhone, we quickly found the cache and immediately wanted to see where the next closest one was located. That’s how easy it is to get started.

Since then, geocaching has become a lifestyle for us. We love it because it gets us outside (year round), it's an activity our 2.5 year old son enjoys with us and we usually take care of Mother Earth while we’re at it (a practice known as CITO, or Cache In, Trash Out).

And, just like HerKentucky, it takes us to places we would not have otherwise visited or seen. Honestly, that’s my favorite part about geocaching. While I enjoy the fresh air and spending time with my little family, ultimately what gets me off the couch is knowing that we’re about to visit somewhere beautiful, unique or historically significant. 
Falls of the Ohio in Southern Indiana
Not surprisingly, many fabulous geocaches call Kentucky home. I recently spent some time researching them and compiled a list of 10 which I feel are worth a look:

1)    “Tom Sawyer” Traditional cache. Placed back in 2001, it ranks as Kentucky’s oldest and second most favored cache by those who have found it. Located in E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville.  Just as I was about to walk across the stage at my college graduation, someone placed this cache in a park mere minutes from where my future husband lived. Nearly 12 years later, almost 900 people have found this cache! How am I not one of them? This cache is top on my to-do list during my next trip to KY.

2)    “76 Falls” Traditional cache. Placed 10/17/2004. Located about 2.5 hours south of Lexington, on the south side of Lake Cumberland. Requires a hike, but pictures posted by other cachers are absolutely beautiful. Nature at its finest.
The view from 76 Falls geocache location
3)    “Kentucky Floral Clock” Virtual cache. Placed 1/3/2003. Located in Frankfort, KY. From the description: “There are other flower clocks in the world-one in Canada at Niagara Falls, some in Europe, and smaller ones in the United States. Kentucky's is unique because it keeps time over a pool of water instead of resting on a bank of earth. The face of the giant clock is 34 feet across. The planter that holds it weighs 100 tons. Dedicated in 1961, the floral clock was a project of the Commonwealth and the Garden Club of Kentucky. It takes more than 10,000 plants to fill the clock. All are grown in the Commonwealth's own greenhouses near the Capitol. Coins from the pool are used to benefit young people in Kentucky.” Best viewed in the spring and summer.

4)    “Reflections” Virtual cache. Placed 9/19/2002. Located in downtown Louisville. Ranked as the #1 geocache in the state. A very cleverly designed cache which takes you on a brief walking tour of downtown. Using the glass buildings, the cacher must look for reflections to get clues of how to proceed to the next point in the cache. Comments from those who have done this cache: “It was fun identifying the different buildings and making our way to them. We spent a lot of extra time just admiring the architecture and seeing different things in the downtown area” and “What an awesome cache. Had some time before catching our plane back home to Colorado and this was at the top of our list to do. We certainly were NOT disappointed. Fun, fun, fun. Got a nice walking tour of the town and even spotted a place to have lunch. Thanks so much.”

5)    “Gatti Land(ing)” Traditional cache. Placed 12/31/2006. Located in Pikeville, KY. It’s highly rated for its creativity (meaning the cache container or location is pretty cool). Historically, the site of the cache is now a popular pizza joint, but was once home to Valley Airport. Comments by those who have found this cache rave about how creatively designed this cache is....another on the top of my to-do list.
A very creatively hidden (inside a wooden log) geocache found in Florida.

6)    “Cache Across America- Kentucky.” Traditional cache. Placed 8/24/2006 as part of the Cache Across America Series. Located at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. Any geocachers trying to complete the Cache Across America challenge must find this specific cache in order to qualify. This cache has likely been found by more out-of-staters than Kentuckians due to the nature of the cache.

7)    “Holy Overlook”. Traditional cache. Placed 11/21/2005. Located in Wickcliffe, KY (about 30 miles West of Paducah), this site is apparently very beautiful with an incredible view of the Mississippi River. Another highly rated cache. 

8)    “DOWN Town.” Traditional cache. Placed 5/27/2003. Located in Horse Cave, KY (about 80 miles South of Louisville, East of Mommoth Cave). From the description: “The town, which formed around the cave in the mid 1800's, once sustained a thriving tourist trade. Visitors arrived by the train load to see the natural wonder, once billed as the "World's Largest Cave Entrance". By the 1940's, pollution had cut off not only the drinking water but also the streams of tourists the cave attracted. The cave's restoration in 1993 was one of the most remarkable environmental success stories in America and a breath of fresh air for Horse Cave. Today, Horse Cave, Kentucky is a constant reminder of the delicate balance between caves and the sunlit world above.”

9)    “Vampire U- Fact or Fiction” Traditional cache. Placed 9/28/2011. Located in Lexington, KY. For all of the Transylvania Alumni! From the description: “Old Morrison, the only campus building at the time, was completed in 1833, under the supervision of Henry Clay, who both taught law and was a member of Transylvania's Board.”

10)     “Dead Men Don’t Cache” Virtual Cache. Placed 8/12/2012. Located in Lexington, KY. For all of the UK basketball fans. From the description: “The location of this virtual cache is nationally recognized as one of "America's most beautiful arboretums.” If you haven’t visited this grave, can you really call yourself a C-A-T-S fan?

Geocaching can be reduced to a mere hobby where folks use expensive GPS equipment to locate tupperware containers hidden in the woods. While that may be true, the other reality is that it also encourages participants to explore nature, delve into local history, and spurs commerce as people will sometimes drive 2-3 hours off course during a road trip just to snag a specific cache.

Three things are certain in my life: death, taxes and if there’s good weather on the weekend, you’ll find my little family, including our 5 year old dog, Cooper, outside geocaching.
A fellow and his dogs find King Kong's Log cache just south of Louisville. Coop would love this one!