A few years ago, while Ramsey was laid off from his welding job, he decided to use his time hiking and exploring Kentucky. A native of Hickman, Kentucky and graduate of Western Kentucky University, he found that more of Kentucky looked like his hometown than cities of Lexington and Louisville. He started sharing photos and posts about his trips on his personal Facebook page, and when he returned to work, continued to explore Kentucky and share posts several days a week.
By Cory Ramsey:
A McDonald’s sausage biscuit is hot and held taut in my right hand, the wrapper folded halfway back around to catch errant crumbs. My left hand grips the steering wheel, thumb pointing back towards the biscuit halves. My right foot rests forward on the accelerator giving gas, but not too much. Hazel eyes point straight. Taste buds busy separating the spices as I chew. An upbeat song is cranked to the pleasure of ears. Perhaps Dire Straits or Creedence. The smell of fresh ground, black coffee in a stainless travel mug snug in the center console. Another day down an outpost off ramp, to the open road. The breakfast of a professional road tripper.
My Grandad was a truck-driver. Air-brakes, CB, good buddy, and all. His handle was “Slow and Easy,” but he said he’d go as fast as the truck would allow. The asphalt came naturally for me I guess. But the back road took some coax. I was driving thirty years somewhere before I actually drove nowhere. One afternoon, sitting at home, two hours to kill and a folding map in front of me on the coffee table. I plotted a scant loop around Bowling Green’s surrounding counties by back road and just went. The sunset kept me from turning it to more before returning home that night smiling. It was a start for seeing Kentucky just because by way of the also rans.
Now it’s become a crusade.
Maps don’t hardly get plopped anymore, so chunks of the state don’t hardly get traveled to. The bulky large pages of an atlas have been replaced by an app we spread apart with our fingers on a tiny screen. Gas station pamphlet-style map folding has become a lost art. Blacksmiths, now map folders all classified archaic. A shame, because that’s where some great Kentucky is found, with research outside the beltloops, throwing imaginary darts to the dots and just going. The crossroads, the country stores, the court squares, the nether regions. Kentuckians are complacent with never leaving their own county or college town. Living here their whole lives and saying in unison “You know, I’ve lived here my whole life (but have never really traveled there).”
I’ve seen what the sausage is made of. A Kentucky more than the noted barrel or horse barns we already know about. Tourism agencies have well done their job there. We’re proud of those things and our exclusive birthrights to them.
But there’s way more in that wrapper.
I’m out to see every single Map Dot. The Common parts of the Commonwealth. The shared wholesomeness of a people glad to get a howdy and a wave from the friendly finger. Twice now the trips have taken me to every county, and to within twenty miles of anywhere called Kentucky. So I’d say you’re in pretty good hands so long as they’re not busy with breakfast. How about you buy your own biscuit and come along with me for a road trip or two. You mind a little Creedence?
Welcome to the rest of Kentucky.