A Trip to Lexington, Kentucky

My wife and I are both born in Massachusetts and met and got married there, but in 1981 an offer from the University of Michigan to fund my doctoral studies proved to be irresistible and we moved to Michigan. So we have been here for 36 years (as I write this). We really like it in Michigan except for one thing: the winters. They aren’t notably worse than New England, but Cheryl always disliked that part of the Michigan experience. since both of us have careers and connections here we decided we had to stay for now, but I promised that when we retired we would move some place warmer. Well, now that we are both in our 60s it is time to at least begin thinking about that.

We did a lot of research into various places, looking into factors like a nearby University (for music, arts, and culture), medical facilities (because we are in our 60s already), cost of living, walk-ability, biking, weather, and so on. When we crunched all of the numbers, one of our top prospects was Lexington, Kentucky. So we took a long weekend off to visit from 7/1/17-7/4/17. We packed our bags and loaded the bikes, and drove the 5 hours or so to our hotel.

First, we needed to figure out the best options for biking, which is important to us. And all of the guides said to talk to someone at a bike shop, so visited Pedal Power on Upper Street, and got some good information, including a book of Kentucky bike trips. Then we went to the hotel to check in and drop the bikes, and headed for downtown Lexington. While it was OK, it didn’t seem particularly special, but we picked up dinner, then walked around. Hotels and a Convention Center didn’t really appeal, but we wandered out into the general area around the University of Kentucky, and it was like college towns everywhere, bars and pizza joints as far as the eye could see. So, back to the hotel we went.

The next day, Sunday, 7/2/17, we got up early, had breakfast, and loaded the bikes to ride the Legacy Trail. If you ask anyone in Lexington where to go to ride, this is where they will tell you to go, so we went there. We rode up to the Kentucky Horse Park, where we found a competition in progress (Cheryl says it was Equitation). So we rested a for bit until my allergies got to be too bad, and then returned. It was was noon by the time we got back to the car, and very hot, so we were pretty whipped. We brought the bikes back to the hotel, got lunch, and then headed to Berea, Kentucky. This is billed as the big Arts community in Kentucky, so we checked out some of it, but the day was quite hot, so we returned. We talked to a lady at the visitor center who helped us map out a back-roads return route. This introduced us to a peculiarity of Kentucky. There are lots of roads that are barely wide enough for two vehicles (except where they aren’t), and with the hills and twists and turns there is frequently no visibility at all around the bends and turns. And of course all of the natives speed along them without a care in the world. It is miracle that they aren’t all dead by now. So when we got back to Lexington we had dinner and back to the hotel.

On Monday, 7/3/17, we got up a little earlier and headed out to Masterson Station Park for another ride. We did encounter more horse facilities, and a few horses, which is not unusual there. Lexington bills itself as the horse capital of the U.S., if not the world, and it is Blue Grass Country. We rode from one end of the park to other, then back again, and then left the park to ride through a neighborhood that had been suggested to us as a possible place to buy a house. It seemed like a nice enough area, similar to some around us in Michigan. By now it was only 10am, so pulled out our book of bike rides, and decided to see what they looked like if we drove them in our car. We did a couple, then went back to the hotel to drop our bikes and get lunch. After lunch we did a few more of these rides, basically working our way around Lexington to see different suburbs and rural areas. Horse farms everywhere, of course, and more of those impossible roads. And as far as I can tell, no one in Kentucky ever pays attention to posted speed limits, or even to common sense on those roads. So, back to the hotel, then dinner. Over dinner we discussed it, and decided we had seen what we needed to see about Lexington, so we made plans to get an early start on July 4th and beat any traffic going home.

I’m glad we checked out this place, but I doubt we will ever move to Lexington. Those roads are scary, it was very humid, and the biking was difficult for us old folks who do recreational biking. It is all rolling hills, and they kill our legs. As we talked about it on the drive back to Michigan we joked about being con firmed flat-landers, which is kind of funny for people from New England. But the point of the trip was to do this kind of evaluation, so it was a complete success. We’ll probably do a few more trips to potential retirement locations, and there is also the alternative of becoming “snow-birds” who go away for a couple of months every winter. One thing we are becoming aware of is how much we love Michigan.

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