Down the Backroads

Posted on Sep 22, 2018

By Tim Thornberry, Editor Kentucky Farm Bureau News

During a recent visit to West Kentucky, I decided to make the return trip an adventure and stay off the Interstate/Parkway for as long as possible. Nothing wrong with our wonderful Interstate system, but I do enjoy the scenery that can only be found on the less beaten paths.

In studying my trusty road atlas, and yes, I still use an atlas, I discovered I could take the “two-lane” almost all the way back home in Central Kentucky from Paducah. Along the way I revisited places I had been to at one time as a much younger person, and discovered other areas I had never seen before.

There were, of course, the beautiful lakes that, in spots, appeared to stretch out to the horizon, and the acres and acres of farmland, bursting at the seams with crops almost ready for harvest.

There were miles of highway bordered by lush green trees all waiting for fall to overtake the warm summer breezes and change colors. I saw countless fence rows that seemed to never end, livestock grazing without a care in the world, and the occasional wild turkey.  

I saw road signs with interesting names such as Pleasant Valley Road and Hidden Hill Lane. I crossed Elm Lick Creek and Caney Creek. I stopped at the Horse Branch General Store just to say I had been there.

I couldn’t help but notice how all those small towns I travelled through seem to have everything you could need; all the necessary staples of life could be found in those small local stores; places where you can get gas for your car, plumbing supplies for the house and a bologna sandwich, all in one stop.

I also noticed many of these special places were gathering spots for the locals; a place to greet friends, talk business, or brag about the big game last weekend. These venues serve as a sort of real-life social media platform; not one you look at on your phone but one you experience in “real-time” complete with the sights, sounds and smells of the local heritage.

As I continued my journey, I found myself behind a farm tractor a time or two, which meant I could slow down and really enjoy the scenery. Patiently sharing the road is the least we can do for those growing our food.

Eventually I would find a safe spot to pass, throwing my hand up and thanking those farmers for the escort through their part of the world.

My trip home would end all too soon and I couldn’t help but remember similar travels with my parents, as a child, to Eastern Kentucky, where my mother’s family lived. There too are many rural roads that lead you through some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere.

I came to a conclusion that I really already knew; these treasures can be found all across the state and I am so fortunate to live in a place that holds so much rural beauty. And it’s always a good thing to get off the main highway and discover or rediscover these places every now and then, as we move down the backroads.