Furnace Mountain is a Buddhist Temple located in Estill County, close to Irvine. It’s about a thirty-minute drive from Richmond. It is in a beautiful location near the Red River Gorge-where I grew up. It is modeled after a traditional Korean Temple. The teacher is Zen Master Dae Gak, who has been practicing Buddhism for over thirty years. Furnace Mountain us an offshoot of the Buddhist Temple in Lexington, which outgrew itself. They chose the location in Estill County due to the beautiful scenery and the proximity to the mountains. Aside from daily mediations and rituals, they also offer retreats every month. If you would like to visit, they welcome guests. It wouldn’t hurt to e-mail them in advance, however, to make sure you’re not going in at a time when something else is going on.
On a side note, my mother had a student not too long ago from Irvine. When she mentioned Furnace Mountain he said, “Aren’t those the people that worship rocks?” Well, they’re trying to educate people in the community but I guess it’s a slow process.
This is out in the boondocks about half way between Franfort and Lexington. But if you are into Birding then this can make a great daytrip.
Getting there is half the fun.
I-64 exit 58, south on US60 for one block and connect to Duncan Road (route 1681), go west then south on route 1681 for about 3 miles (you will pass through the town of Millville); connect to Watts Ferry Road (route 1964) and go west on route 1964, go past Millville School about one mile then turn north onto Germany Road; go north 1 mile and see park signs.
There are fields, woods, wetlands and ponds, so dress appropriately for the season and the day.
There are no facilities (welcome to the country) therefore you had better pack a lunch and have a water bottle (maybe a first aid kit just in case).
Most of the trails are short beginners trails so you have little worry of getting lost, but it is always prudent to buddy-up with someone.
Depending on the season (spring and fall are best), you will see a good selection of birds not native to the area. This is because this part of Kentucky is on the central U.S. flyway of some of the migratory birds.
Just on a whim, I decided to go by Transylvania University, and see what was there. We found a parking spot right away, and went into the library. There the archives person said that I couldn't come and look myself, but that she would look for and send me R.C. Hewett's thesis. (Robert Carson Hewett was my husband's great great grandfather)
So we took some pictures of the buildings and signs (other Transylvania alumni include Jefferson Davis, John Hunt Morgan, Stephen F. Austin, Cassius M. Clay, John Fox Jr., 2 vice presidents, 50 U.S. Senators, 101 Representatives, three House Speakers, 36 Governors and 34 Ambassadors) and drove back to the condo unit
Take a frisbee (you know, those plastic flying saucers) and an 18 "hole" golf course and what do you get..... DISCUS GOLF.
In Lexington, KY, in Veterans Park, they have set up eighteen fairways and 18 metal pillars with chains on top (these are the "holes"). Throw the frisbee as far as you can down the fairway. Go to the spot where it lands. Pick up the disk and throw it farther down the fairway. Repeat until you can see the "green" (the area where the metal pillar is). Throw the frisbee and try to hit the chains and make the disk land on the pillar platform. You just played one hole of Discus Golf. Now repeat 17 more times and you have had your daily workout.
I thought this was a great change from hitting the equipment room in the motel or walking around the motel parking lot.
To learn more about this game, see this website:
to get to Veterans Park:
I-75 exit 108, onto Man Of War Blvd (route 1425), go west 2 miles to Tates Creek Road, go south 2 or 3 streets on Tates Creek Road and see the park signs
There are nine operating bourbon distilleries in KY. The best to visit from Lexington are Labrot and Graham (most convenient and prettiest) and Buffalo Trace (home of the best bourbon). If you really are interested in bourbon I recommend Buffalo Trace -- a short drive from Lexington (30 - 40 minutes) in Frankfort! Ask for Freddie. Or take both tours. north of Frankfort on US 421, about 27 miles northwest of Lexington.
Labrot and Graham is quite beautiful. But while the profile Woodford Reserve the inside story is that it is still made in Louisville at their Brown-Forman distillery. The whiskey in the L&G distillery has not met their taste profile (yet). To get there from Lexington, you could take a scenic drive along US 60 West Shortly after passing the US 60/Ky. 1685 intersection, turn left onto Grassy Spring Road; when the road dead ends turn right onto McCracken Pike. Labrot and Graham is on the left. (859) 879-1812.
You could also take I-64 for a faster trip. Exit Route 60, drive east and follow the signs. The distillery is about 23 miles west of Lexington
I do NOT recommend the Wild Turkey Tour. It is shorter and I found the guide far less informative.
Old Frankfort Pike is the old road between Lexington and Frankfort, Kentucky. The National Scenic Byways organization lists this road as one of the top scenic drives in Kentucky. Take New Circile Road, the ring road around Lexington, until you find Old Frankfort Pike heading away from Lexington. this road is almost a narrow country lane lined by trees and stone walls.
This is horse country! Stud farms with breeding barns that cost more than most mansions.
Some of the most senic throughbred farms in the world are near Lexington, Ky., most of the time the pictures of this area were taken in the spring or summer. Last year we discovered the winter beauty of winter at the horse farms.
On your map draw a triangle between Lexington, Ky., Georgetown, Ky., and Paris, Ky., no matter what season, get out and drive the country roads and lane. You will be amased at the beauty of the farms.
Located about 20 miles south of Lexington, just off of highway 68, there is a large restored village originally founded by the Shakers in the early 1800’s. Originally from England the Shakers were a devoted religious sect that initially located in New England. As they expanded from the New England area, they move to the west and south, settling in a number of areas throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and ultimately Florida.
This village “died” in the 1900’s and the buildings were left to ruin. A private citizen’s group formed a nonprofit in an attempt to restore at least some of the history that was held in the “compound.” A number of the key buildings have been restored and the area now operates as a tourist destination. Don’t plan a short trip to this area. The short “one mile” walk around the grounds will take a number of hours as you take in the beautiful grounds and restored historical buildings; some of which are in (almost) original condition.
PHOENIX PARK This is a montage of photos of Phoenix Park, one of many small public parks in downtown Lexington. I have added a travelogue which is basically ground level pictures of Phoenix Park. These photographs were taken from the top of Lexington Public Library.
TRIANGLE PARK A popular place to eat and relax in a central downtown location. Triangle Park is situated immediately in front of the Civic Center & Rupp Arena and is a particular favorite during the summer with the children when the water fountains are active. (This picture was taken on a fairly cool day).
Raven Run nature sanctuary in Southern Fayette County on Jack’s Creek Pike is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Lexington and stop and smell the wildflowers. Raven run is free and open to the public and frequently offers special programs, such as Spring wildflower walks. Call 859-272-6105 for information. See my travelogue for more pictures from Raven Run. This is an overlook from a limestone cliff viewing the Kentucky River.
For a relaxing and beautiful side trip in Lexington you do not want to miss a stroll through the Lexington Cemetery. I know that visiting the local cemetery does not sound like an appealing idea, but trust me on this one. There are the graves of many locals and a few national figures that you will recognize, including Henry Clay. But the true majesty of this place is the serene setting itself. A short walk through this place in the springtime or fall is a true delight. The flowers and many different types of trees awaken the senses. It is fun to just look at the old gravestones and reflect one the lives of these long-forgotten people. Some of the plots go back into the 1700's. The cemetery is located just north of the downtown off of Main Street.
As you head towards the Headley-Whitney museum and beyond you will see a very scenic side of Lexington. Rolling hills, fences for miles, horses, and majestic barns. This is a relaxing way to spend some time on a Sunday afternoon.
THOMAS HUNT MORGAN/GENETIC RESEARCH
210 North Bradway, Lexington, Kentucky
Historical Marker #1714
ADOLPH F. RUPP (1901-77)
Memorial Coliseum, University of Kentucky campus, Lexington, Kentucky
Historical Marker #1826