A Kentucky Story

Since buying the property in Kentucky, Mr Nobody and I have made several forays to the state and have experimented with various routes. Considered in the selection process were speed limits, traffic patterns, and directness. The Nobodies are all about efficiency when travelling. We have an official halfway base camp to refuel both Penelope and ourselves.

(I’ll have to write an ode to Penelope Prius someday. I love this car <yes, and thanks so much to Derrick Jensen for pointing out that hybrids take more energy to manufacture than can be recouped in their lifetimes….you made my day>, even though, for a person who regards the internal combustion engine a poor use of technology, my affection for Penelope is quite unseemly.)

We stay at the same place every time and some of the staff know us, know the Kentucky story, etc., which makes the stay a little more pleasant.

The well that hit water collapsed. One option is to re-drill it at considerable cost, using fill, and inserting a permanent and expensive pump, with no assurance we’ll hit water again or that it will be any good. Another option is to drill below the layer of shale. Exploring other options was on our minds for this trip, to meet with our architect cum agent who is advising us and acting as liaison (Kentucky native and nearby) on various projects. We’ve talked overall vision with him and he’s interested in the project, but he has no “green” experience in the formal sense. He does have a sense of what was done and what worked years ago.

At dinner, the agent tells us about talking to the geologist who did the water survey and maybe taking another look at possible well drill site number 4. It was rated number 4 because it was downhill and would require a pump. But actually, it sits on three fractures, so for hitting water, it was actually the number one site. We drilled at the spot closest to the house site, which sits at 1200 feet elevation.

We agree to meet at the site the next morning to locate #4. This is an exciting relief, because we were thinking that we’d have to put a road in on the west side of the property, from the orchard to the bottoms. We eventually want to have that path cleared, but it wasn’t a high priority. In search of water, though, may mean bumping that to priority one. So we’re thinking of a big ass clearing job just to mark the way for the bulldozer. Think jungle.

The bottoms is at about a 1060 foot elevation. That’s a lot of pumping and a lot of trenching (pipe has to be buried at least 3 feet deep) and expensive as hell, obviously.
Upon arrival Saturday morning, we discover that our big beautiful orange front gates are gone from the beautiful fence along the future orchard/garden site. They (had to be a two person job) thoughtfully left the chain (but not the lock) and the fence is intact. (So far)DSCN1130

So imagine the range of emotions we go through the rest of the day, starting from expletives and rage to, ok, we’ve made a contribution to the community and now we know who we’re dealing with. No doubt in our minds that those gates are still on the mountain.

Consulting the water survey, the agent says that #4 isn’t in the bottoms. It’s near a sinkhole (which also doesn’t sound too good and must be investigated) but as we’re walking along it becomes clear that what is identified as a sinkhole is actually where the waterfall area is, along with Eagle’s Path.

The bottoms waterfall.  Above and to the left begins Eagle's Path.  I love this spot.

The bottoms waterfall. Above and to the left begins Eagle’s Path. I love this spot.

We had just had an overgrown road re-dozed and it leads practically right up to #4 (we think). So, now we’re talking an 1130 to 1160 foot elevation, much closer, and existing infrastructure to support it.

Part of the reason we selected our homesite was the view of the lake. The lake is actually the stream that runs through most of our property and was created by an earthen dam. We’ve never seen it close up, so decided to take this opportunity to investigate. We know we can reach the lake from our property and through the Forest, but haven’t done that hike yet. Our agent told us we can drive up to it, that years ago, it was really deep and people used to fish and picnic around it. He said they opened the gates or something like that. He also said it was a long drive.

He was right. It’s a long drive because of the switchbacks through breathtaking cliffs. Mr Nobody was doing all of the driving and at one point, I looked over and said, “We’re going to have to get back up, you know.” The road, which started out one lane gravel, degenerated into puddled ruts. After Penelope bottomed out, we decided to park and walk the rest of the way.

Kentucky has had a lot of rain and some snow this winter, so the water table seems high to me. Even the stream on our property was full, had little cascades, and really widened out once it made the turn around the bottoms and toward the Forest.

I’ve taken pictures of what we saw. I’m not sure exactly what we saw. This appears to be decaying infrastructure, but if anyone out there knows anything about dams, I’d love to hear from you.

View of lake from earthen dam.

View of lake from earthen dam.

It’s a beautiful sunny 59 degree day. We’ve satisfied our curiosity about the lake and the dam and it’s time to think about a shower and dinner.

Of course, we got stuck on the hill. Mr. Nobody puts her into reverse, builds a head of steam and…..nope.

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, a couple of hours of daylight left. Full tank of gas. Not starving.

We try it again a couple more times, and now I’m thinking about having to call somebody to bail us out and imagining their thoughts: What kind of stupid Yankee brings a Prius into the mountains?

I really hate being an idiot.

The fight or flight hormones are flooding my system and I’m thinking – lighten her up!- so before he backs up for another try, I jump out of the car and scramble up to the top of the hill so I can will her up.

On the second try, this works. Turns out Mr Nobody had his own plans. But Penelope was heroic.

And that’s the latest on Kentucky.

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4 Responses to A Kentucky Story

  1. Chris says:

    Oh my god…the gate! No water, yet, and a lake. My mind is in a whirl

  2. witsendnj says:

    Hey now I remember checking your blog a few months back – but now I’ve got it bookmarked. So sorry about your gates! Middle daughter in Lexington had a break-in about a month ago and they took all the grandmother’s jewelry she had been given. Sigh well I guess it can happen anywhere.

    But, water is important!! Vital even as I’m sure you know. So that’s quite a lake.

    Once, taking first daughter to a horse show in PA, I got a map off the internet and decided to take the most direct route. Turns out we headed up a hill that turned into a narrow dirt road, so steep that the wheels started spinning and we weren’t going anywhere. I was screaming – I thought we were going to barrel backwards, with the horse in the trailer, and die.

    I finally got us turned around in a field but I learned something about venturing off the beaten path with no foreknowledge!

Thanks for reading!

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