Discovering the Bluegrass in October

A trip report by Mike LaBar

My solo adventure to tour Kentucky started off as plans to attend the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, MO.  Those plans changed Thursday night after watching too much of the Weather Channel   I started my trip on Thursday around 1300, bike fully packed for camping.  This was the first real adventure with my K75s.  The K75 is not known for it’s power, but it had no problem on the expressway doing 70-80 mph. Still, smooth as a baby’s bottom.  That’s what the three cylinder K75 is known for – Smoothness.  No matter, the slab is essential for making time and avoiding congestion and by the time I was to Richwood, I was into the curvy pavement heading towards Big Bone Lick State Park on rt  38.

  

Backtracking to 42 south, my next destination was Markland Locks & Dam.  Route 42 is nice as it hugs the bank of the Ohio River until Carrollton.  My only complaint is that there are lots of trucks.

Next stop, General Butler State Park in Carrollton.  At this point I decided that State Parks deserve a drive through – not just a quick shot of the sign and go.  I’m glad I did.  The road was nice and the leaves were just beginning to peak. 

After studying the paper map, I decided to make some time to the next state park which was located in the Louisville area.  Tom Sawyer State Park is just off 265 and is very small as parks go, but is a favorite for dogs and their owners.  

Back on the slab to I64 West and into Indiana.  I rode past McAlpine Lock & Dam in Louisville but just didn’t want to deal with the rush hour traffic. Perhaps another time.  I stopped at the Welcome Center to pick up a map of Indiana and met another rider on his way to visit his son in Evansville.  He was from the Columbus area and rode a Victory cruiser… with straight pipes.  We both left the Welcome Center at the same time and I quickly overtook him as his pipes were interfering with my tunes.  My next plan was to take I64 to sr 66 and ride through the Hoosier National Forest.  I chose 66 because it too hugs the banks of the Ohio River and takes me to my next photo op.  SR 66 was pretty nice, but there was lots of road repairing going on and I had my only close encounter with wildlife.  About a half dozen turkeys were trying to cross the road, so I slowed down to about 30 mph and laid on the horn thinking they would all fly away.  No such luck.  With my horn still blaring, I rode right through the flock, some still just standing in the road.  I was lucky and looking back on it I should have come to a full stop and got my camera out.  Surely every one of them would have flown away.  Cannelton Locks and Dam was my next stop off sr 66. 

I continued on sr 66 along the river until I reached Rockport and crossed the bridge back into Kentucky.  With about an hour of daylight left, I rode into Owensboro and stayed at the Executive Inn Rivermont.  Riding along the river and staying overnight in Owensboro brought back pleasant memories of my barge dispatching days over a decade ago. 

Friday morning the Weather Channel hadn’t changed their forecast for the St. Louis areas – rain.  I decided then to make this a Kentucky photo gathering – get lost – fun day of riding roads not so much traveled… and to head south then east to stay in the sunshine.   After a quick jaunt down sr 60 to get a picture of Ben Hawes State Park and a McBite to eat, 

I was heading south on sr 81 with no real  plan.  Just me, the K bike, and some lonely roads.  I take sr 81 south towards 62 and parallel the Western Kentucky Parkway.  I remember when WKP was a toll road.  After collecting the amount needed to fund the roadway, the toll booths were taken out, and now it’s just a good looking slab.  At this point I punch in the closest photo op waypoint – Rough River Dam State Park 15 miles or so up sr 79.  My alone time on the road turned into the complete opposite.  The whole 15 mile stretch up to the park was yard sale after yard sale.  Arriving at the Rough River Dam State Park I notice a small airstrip with one plane on the park grounds and nice cabins on the lake. The golf course parched. 

I circle the lake taking sr 259 south through Leitchfield to Bee Springs and catch sr 728 to my next stop – Nolin Lake State Park.  This area is beautiful and the roads are very nice.

I circle the lake and take sr 88 north back to sr 62 east at Clarkson.  I ride 62 into Elizabethtown and grab a bite at Subway while figuring by next course.  I decide to proceed north on I65 to sr 44 east at Shepardsville.  Taylorsville Lake State Park is my next stop and it’s a quickie – snap and go. 

Sr 44 is a quiet, fun road and it take me right to sr 127 where familiarity settles in.  Rush hour in Frankfurt sucks but there is a distillery right on the way right. 

I eventually catch 71 to 275 and arrive at home just as it’s getting dark. 

 

 

My Route: