Exploring Kentucky: Recharge!

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By Katherine Tandy Brown

Our ancestors would be amazed at how fast today’s families zoom through their days, with activities scheduled from dawn till dark. Busy schedules can eat into quality family time and over-scheduling can be a stressor for single folks as well.

And then there’s technology. While it expands our worlds, it can also push us into information overload, inundating us with the unsettling political scene, the oddities of climate change and ever-changing news headlines.

Occasionally, we all crave a simple time out.

Fortunately, Kentucky has plenty of opportunities for those who want to recharge their lives and reconnect with the important things that may have been neglected in day-to-day busyness. “Take a break” spots run a wide gamut across the commonwealth. Following are a few ideas for carving out time for a bit of peace.

Now is a perfect time to turn off the technology and find your nirvana.

Holler Hospitality
Just 20 “country miles” from Berea near Irvine, Snug Hollow Farm: A Kentucky Bed and Breakfast has been offering folks the opportunity to find peace and comfort in their souls on a 300-acre organic farm in Red Lick Valley for some 37 years. Owner and hostess extraordinaire Barbara Napier has created a remarkable hideaway tucked in a mountain “holler” amid winding creeks, glorious arrays of wildflowers, bountiful wildlife and woodsy mountainsides. Simply put, it’s country life at its best.

“These ol’ mountains,” says Napier, “are a place to rest, relax and grow.”

A perfect artists’/writers’ retreat, Snug Hollow puts up guests in a restored chestnut log cabin, two pine/cedar cabins, and a spacious two-story farmhouse, where Barbara’s luscious, award-winning, pure vegetarian-but-you’d-never-know-it meals are served on a porch when weather permits—which is often. There are walking trails, porches with rocking chairs, a remarkably eclectic collection of books, lush gardens, bird songs from dawn till dusk, starry nights, and crackling fireplaces on snowy days. And no TV.

I know from experience that you won’t want to leave!

It’s no surprise Snug Hollow was chosen “One of 50 Best Girlfriend Getaways in North America” by National Geographic Traveler. Come and see why.
(606) 723-4786 snughollow.com

Peaceful Paddling
In this its eighth season since opening in 2014, Dragonfly Outdoor Adventures (DOA) offers peaceful times kayaking and canoeing on the Little Sandy River in Greenup County and on Grayson Lake in Carter County. Founded, owned and run by Myra and Sandy Mosser, this eco-friendly company offers guided and unguided excursions, cabin rentals and an outdoor café, i.e. a food truck with tacos, sandwiches and salads created with as many local ingredients as possible. Or you can BYO food and cook on a charcoal or gas grill.

End your outdoor day gazing at the stars while sitting around a fire pit and comparing stories of the day’s adventures. DOA is all about getting out in the fresh air, exploring our state’s phenomenal scenic beauty and listening to the quiet.

Pack light but be sure to include your childlike sense of wonder. You never know what treasure may lie around the next bend.
(606) 465-0306 or (606) 465-7750
dragonflyoutdooradventures.com

Retreat in the Knobs
If you’re looking for a lovely, quiet getaway, sign up for a stay at the Abbey of Gethsemani, the monastery where renowned Trappist monk, writer theologian, mystic, poet, social activist and scholar Thomas Merton resided. Founded in 1848 south of Bardstown in Nelson County, the order welcomes men and women of all faiths to spend silent, self-guided retreats in its Retreat House year round.

Its 30 rooms are clean and simple, three monk-made meals a day are furnished, and a monk is available for consultation. Payment is freewill offering. Guests are invited to join the monks in chanting at any of a number of services throughout the day.

At first glance, the abbey itself looks much like a Bavarian castle. Surrounding it is a 1,500-acre nature preserve with walking trails (originally used for logging) crisscrossing the property, which is beautifully rife with knobs, lakes and forests. The setting is perfect for meditation and/or communing with nature.

While there, you can peruse a retreatants’ library and in a small shop you can find monk-made cheese, fudge, homemade fruitcake and trail maps.
(502) 549-4133 monks.org

Relax at a winery
Paducah’s Purple Toad Winery is the city’s first and Kentucky’s largest and most awarded winery. Opened on July 1, 2009, the winery was family-built from the ground up. Allen Dossey, head winemaker, caught the “winery bug” on a trip to Napa Valley in 1998. He planted 2,500 vines, then had to go door-to-door soliciting precinct votes to open his business. The rest is history, as they say.

Specializing in high-quality sweet wines, Purple Toad offers more than 40 wines, because they like to try new ingredients to make “out of the box and unique” wines. Groups of up to five people can taste up to eight wines free of charge, while kids can sip on nonalcoholic fruit punch slushes.
Check out Purple Toad’s website for music at the winery. Pick the right dates and you can hear Wildflower Honey and the Hot Biscuits!
(270) 554-0010
purpletoadwinery.com

Elegant lodging
When it’s time to rest your tootsies, the Belle Louise Historic Guest House Bed and Breakfast in Paducah can fill that bill beautifully. Built in 1879, this splendid Italianate mansion is located in Paducah’s LowerTown Arts District, home of the renowned Artist Relocation Program that helped revitalize the area’s historic architecture and develop beautiful streetscapes. The mansion’s five rooms all radiate their own personalities. One features its own private porch, courtyard and garden.

The Belle Louise herself is but a few walkable blocks from the National Quilt Museum, the Greenway Trail, the Riverfront with its vibrant murals, and the city’s historic commercial district, which is filled with boutiques, craft breweries, superb dining choices, art galleries and entertainment.

A whole-house buyout includes five bedrooms to sleep 12 for a bachelorette party. Or you can settle on the porch with a finger or two of Kentucky bourbon and pretend you own the manse!
(270) 210-2553
bellelouisepaducah.com

The aforementioned destinations are but a few of the Bluegrass State’s options for taking time out to restore balance in your life. For more choices, visit kytourism.com.

As a last resort, if you can’t travel right now, turn your home into a retreat. Try no TV for an entire weekend. Once you recover from news addiction, you might just get to know your family, housemates, or even yourself better!

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