Kentucky Drivers
We moved to the mountains of eastern Kentucky a few years ago and noticed that people here seem to each have a special relationship with their vehicles. 

They never buy one new and of course never sell them either.  They just sort of pile up in the field between the house and the barn. 

The Sunday drive is still a fixture here.  But the older folks drive so slow they might not get back till Tuesday.

The teenagers on the other hand drive so fast on our winding roads that they often catch a glimpse of their own taillights as they go around a curve. I don't know how they do that exactly, especially when their girlfriend is with them making her best effort to distract them.

The main roads, those are the ones with white lines down the middle, have a lot of road signs.  They have to since it is apparently a requirement that drivers be warned of every curve.  If they established the practice of marking the straight sections instead, they would easily save 95% of the cost.  All the extra signs do serve a purpose though.  Where else would you find such convenient targets.  They all have enough pockmarks and holes it looks like some virulent sign disease is rampant. If all the damage was confined to the middle of the zeros in the speed signs I would have some faith that the shooters were competent.  However, a sign advertizing some business can be 8 high by 12 feet wide and the holes will be all over it.  Scattered randomly about you may see the results of several shotgun blasts.  The tight pattern of some of them suggests that the shooters were not more than 10 feet away.  Also peppering the sign you will find dents, probably from 22s, and holes from hunting rifles.  I haven't noticed any sets of holes forming lines which probably means either they aren't using fully automatic weapons or their aim is so unsteady that by the time the second round is fired the gun is aimed in some other direction.  This is not to say that some folks aren't using impressive artillery.  Two signs in particular stick in my mind.  One has a hole that a golf ball would easily pass through the other has one that looks like it was made by a cannon.

Most roads, even the paved ones, are barely wide enough for two pickup trucks to pass. If you meet anything larger, say a tractor pulling a hay wagon you may have to put your vehicle in reverse and find the wide spot you passed only a mile or so back.

We don't have a lot of flat land around here.  The closest we come to flat is where it goes from going up to going down or the other way around.  So when they built our roads they generally hung them on a ridge line or wedged them in a valley.  The ones in the valleys are relatively safe if you don't happen to encounter one of those teenagers seeing just how fast they can make it through "The Curves".  Yes, there is a stretch of road that has acquired that name even though it isn't much different than any other to the unpracticed eye.  Most of the time you should plan your route to stay in the valleys if you can.  If you run off one of those roads, say you found a cow standing in your lane as you came around a curve,  you will hit something rather soon with no more energy than what you brought along with you.  The ridge line roads are a different matter.  There are no guard rails and the berm is a foot or less wide.  Get a little distracted, let your attention drift, or discover that cow and you can easily find yourself running off the road.  No, make that falling off the road.  You won't just drive into a ditch or the adjacent field.  You will join the airborne and you probably didn't bring your parachute.  So when you finally come to rest against whatever is at the bottom of the hill you will have a great deal more mashed metal and bones than you planned on when you started the trip.   

If you do see an accident don't bother to try your cell phone to report it.  The coverage is spotty.  There is a hundred yard stretch of road near our mailbox a half mile from our house where ours works and a few places like that along the ridges but the closest reliable service is on the interstate in the next county.  One advantage is that you won't see anyone driving along paying more attention to their cell phone than their driving.  Of course those that do aren't on the road long anyhow.

Because the hills are steep and the valleys narrow there is one time that you should definitely consider using the ridge line roads.  During spring rainstorms that quiet glen you normally enjoy driving through simply fills up.  During one of these cloudbursts it behaves just like a funnel that can't drain as fast as it is being filled.  The level in the creek at the bottom rises and rises fast.  If you happen to be driving along one of those roads just then you may find yourself in a impromptu water craft.  And while I enjoy whitewater sports this is decidedly a level 6 rated experience.  In river sport language that means it is a definite threat to life and limb.  Avoid it if you can.

We have a lot of gravel roads and they take a lot of work to maintain.  It seems like the gravel just sort of sinks into the dirt.  I wonder why they don't use the kind of rocks that float to the surface like those that we find in our garden every spring.

You will see some motorcycles on the roads.  If the driver is wearing a helmet you can be sure he is from out of state no one around here would ever plan on needing one.

We don't get a lot of snow but then again we don't plow or salt most of the roads either. The numbered state roads usually aren't too bad but getting to them can be a problem.  Venturing out some winter mornings on any of the rest can result in an off road adventure.  Some tourists travel a long way and pay big money for that sort of thing.  They could visit us and get it free.

By the time of the spring thaw we can have potholes that are big enough to get their own name like maybe, Corn Mash Holler.

There are a couple of places around here where that name would be particularly appropriate.  We still have some folks around here who are experts in converting corn mash to the most fabled product of the hills.  While I have never actually seen a bootleggers turn executed in the heat of pursuit there are those who claim it's well worth knowing how to do.  I do know that it is worth having some of their product around if you get enough snow to make venturing out risky.  Of course venturing out then stays risky for some time after the snow melts. 

If you did hear that the storm was coming and decided to run to the convenience store at the nearest gas station to get in some supplies you better like HoHos, Twinkies, and Moon Pies because there isn't much else.

There is more litter along the roads than there should be.  One thing I don't understand though is why the pop bottles you see are half full and have their caps on.  OK, I can guess the reason for the Pepsi bottles with yellow liquid but most of the contents look like they are consistent with the labels.  That is only based on what I see as I drive along.  My curiosity isn't enough to get me to pick up one to see what it really contains.

Our county is dry, no alcohol sales at all, at least not legally.  All the counties surrounding it are dry as well.  That means that when you see a beer can along the road, and there are more than a few, it probably wasn't the first one consumed on the way back from buying a case or two.  I'm not sure just how they stay on the road when they are coming back from a run.  Maybe they find themselves weaving at just the right places.  I wouldn't think that would usually work out though.

Most of the vehicles you see on the road have a little rust.  In fact many have so much that I wonder about just how they stay together.  I expect someday to hear about a friend hitting one of those potholes and finding himself still holding on to the steering wheel but proceeding in loose formation with the rest of his truck.

One thing that is really nice about this area is that there aren't any traffic lights in the whole county.  There was one in the county seat right by the one fast food restaurant there.  After it burned down there didn't seem to be a need for the light so they took it out.  Besides no one stopped for it anyway, they just used it for target practice.

I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea.  So if you live in a place where traffic is a problem you may want to visit and learn to look at the world a little differently.  Drop us a line if you would like to stop by.

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