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If you can’t go to Hawaii, try Slade, Ky.

A couple of weeks ago, I said to my husband, Virgil: “I sure would like a change of scenery.”
He glanced up briefly from his favorite TV program, “Law and Order,” and said, “Well! I’m sorry, kiddo, but I think we’re stuck with each other.”
“Nooo. That’s not what I mean,” I said, blushing. “I want to go somewhere. Maybe Hawaii?”
We opted instead for Slade, Ky., home of the Red River Gorge, about 56 miles southeast of Lexington.
As it turned out, our friend Bob McKim of Corydon had just traveled to South Carolina a few weeks earlier and returned to Corydon in his latest “toy”: a 36-foot-long Holiday Rambler RV, complete with kitchen, bath, living room, master bedroom, etc., etc. It didn’t have an automatic dishwasher, but what the heck. I said I would make do with paper plates, if we could just hop aboard for an extended weekend.
We — that included Lorrie Fowler and me, Bob in the driver’s seat, and Virgil in the navigator’s chair — stocked the fridge and water tank, filled up with diesel fuel, and finally pulled out of Corydon a little after noon on Friday, Sept. 6. We headed east on Interstate 64.
I took a deep breath, yawned and began to totally relax. But then, Bob reached up with the remote and started tuning in the big screen overhead. “Don’t worry. I just like to listen while I drive,” he said, laughing at my startled look.
Anyway, we arrived safely at the Gorge about three hours later, checked in at the spacious campground at the Natural Bridge State Resort Park, and set up camp.
Now, I have a couple of warnings, or suggestions. If you’re planning a camping trip to the area (which I highly recommend, by the way), stuff one of your RV compartments or the back seat of the car with firewood, including kindling. You can, of course, burn what’s “dead and down,” or sold alongside the road. I’m not going to tell you how much a five-piece bundle of firewood costs. You know the saying, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” It’s not the price so much as it is the way the pile disappears so quickly, especially in the wee, cold hours when certain pyromaniacs are in charge.
Second most important warning: Do not drive a 36-foot RV on the narrow, often gravel, hair-pin curves around the Gorge. If you do, you alone will be in an RV. While you will be able to enjoy the forest, vistas, natural arches and towering cliffs, the most breathtaking part of the trip is apt to be rounding one of those curves and narrowly missing a speeding pickup. Most sane people make the trip either in a Volkswagen or on a motorcycle.
The Red River Gorge is in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and there are trails a’plenty to hike while you imagine you’ve just discovered the land and all the abundant wildlife. You might even happen upon a bison or two and a late-1800’s log cabin.
Then again, if you prefer the man-made luxury of a sky lift, there’s that, too. Built in 1967, the sky lift at Natural Bridge State Resort Park takes you within easy walking distance of the 30-foot-wide sandstone bridge molded by 70 million years of wind and water. Not to worry, there are dining out spots and, more importantly, gift shops available.
We spent the entire day “Saturday, in the Park,” and shortly before nightfall, found ourselves ravenous. We “gorged” ourselves on the full buffet served in the lodge. The next morning, it was time to head home to Bob’s big screen and a plethora of football games that began at 1 that afternoon. There was even time for a quick stop at Bob Evans for breakfast.
I’m thinking of a return trip, especially during the height of the fast-approaching leaf color season.
The park is run by the Kentucky State Parks. Lodge rooms, cabins, dining facilities, and both modern and wilderness camping are available. For more information, call the park at 1-606-663-2214, or the Kentucky Dept. of Travel Development, 1-800-225-TRIP.
Don’t forget the firewood (and the Harley).