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Sunday, June 5, 2022

Weekend Getaway, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Prestonsburg, KY, June 3-5, 2022

 (No filter, just the way my old iPhone captured the light on the trail :)


So as mentioned in the last post, we decided late Friday afternoon that we wanted to get out of Dodge, for the weekend, but that is a tall order in a post-COVID world, last minute - especially because my husband being from Michigan relaxes best around large bodies or water (well, who doesn't?) - and Kentucky is landlocked, having very few lakes at all, and the ones that are here are usually small and man-made.

However, I managed to find a single room at a state park resort we'd not yet been to, which is perfect, because we plan on visiting all of these state parks before Mark retires and we move away - Jenny Wiley State Resort Park on Dewey Lake, in South-Central Eastern Kentucky - which turned out be a surprising little hidden gem!  

Okay, again, if you're looking for luxury, not gonna work for you, but they're quiet, clean, cozy, and historic, and scenic -  PLUS - they allow pets, and the staff is always very friendly and helpful. 

The food is usually ... eh, so-so - but this park has the best food we'd ever had at a state park so far!

Locally grown veggies, cured country ham and sausage - yummmmm.

Well, not deserving of a Michelin star, or even close, but better than most the other resorts we've visited thus far, and even better than most "Kentucky-fare" restaurants here in Lexington.

(If you don't know how to make biscuits and sausage gravy, beans and cornbread,  corn pudding, or a Hot Brown properly, in Kentucky, don't bother - but this place will rival your granny's food, I'm telling ya  ;)

Also, for those COVID skittish, like us, since it is a state-government-run resort, they sanitize the rooms and don't rent them again for 24 hours - PLUS - you enter from the outside, plus you can eat order carry out and eat in your room or on the back patio (which we chose for dinner).

Now, for starters, where is this place?

Floyd County, in Prestonsburg, Kentucky  - past the foothills, but not yet in the biggest  and steepest mountains of Kentucky, which are still 1 to 2 hours to the southeast - still coal country, but there is other business (including this state park and marina, so not quite as poverty stricken (but close), and people are still somewhat open to outsiders and tourists. 

Just an FYI, Floyd County is right next to Johnson County (count seat of Paintsville) - home to famous country singers Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle -  and recent Grammy-award winner, for his unique mixed country-western/rhythm-and-blues style, making him a "crossover" artist - Chris Stapleton.  

(Chris was born in Lexington, but raised in Johnson County, Kentucky and they very proudly claim him. In fact, though, good luck getting a ticket to Chris Stapleton's summer tour anywhere in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, or North Carolina, at this point.

You might not know Chris, but you have most likely heard his  famous country/blues cover of George Jones's ballad, "Tennessee Whiskey?"  - which I wouild dare say is 50 times better than GJ's)

"You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey,  
You're as sweet as strawberry wine, 
You're as warm as a glass of brandy, 
And I stay stoned on your love all the time"

When I try to compare Chris Stapleton's style, I come up short, but the closest I can find is imagine if   Stevie Ray Vaughn  and Otis Redding (or perhaps Ray Charles) had a baby,  he would sound and play guitar like Chris Stapleton (only with a country twang) lol :)

(Or maybe since all of the above were influenced by BB King, BB King's grandson? 

Back to our trip, the one thing I forgot to prep my husband on before going to this area was that when you are asked what part of Kentucky you're from, or your family's from, unless it's Louisville, Lexington, or Paducah, you want to answer with the county, rather than the city or town you live in - but no big deal, and more on that in a later post ;)

Back to the park ... 

So who is Jenny Wiley?

Most of her history you can get online, but the there's a pamphlet handed to you upon your arrival that gives you the account believed to be the most accurate, which excludes a very important part of the story. 

Virginia (Jenny) Sellers Wiley was born in 1760 in Pennsylvania, her family moved later to Virginia, where she eventually married Tom Wiley and moved to the Big Sandy area of Kentucky.  

While her husband was away selling goods at a nearby settlement, Cherokee and Shawnee Native Americans attacked her home and killed her brother and three of her children, sparing only a pregnant Jenny and her youngest son.

What they don't tell you online was that the reason the Cherokee/Shawnee band attacked is that her neighbors, the Harmons, had killed two Native-American Cherokee braves out of fear, and the Native-Americans were actually after the Harmons in vengeance, but attacked the Wileys in a case of mistaken identity.

Long story, short, her youngest son and newborn eventually either died of the elements or were killed, and Ginny was to be killed as well, but the Chief became impressed with her stoicism in the fact of death and spared her life to make her a slave.

She managed to escape back to the Big Sandy region of Kentucky, all by herself, somehow evading the the Native-American search parties tracking her, as well as surviving the elements, all alone. 

She returned to her husband, Tom, and they had five more children together, living happily ever after - and her descendants can still be found in this region.

It's less than two hours away from here, but we didn't arrive until 11:00  p.m. because we decided to this this so late on Friday, so no pics from that first night.)

Waking up early the next morning, I'd forgotten how the daylight works in the mountains of Kentucky  and West Virginia, versus say Tennessee, Virginia, or North Carolina, a combination of slightly different climate and coal dust (which is at its worst in the extreme Southeast of Kentucky).

So it's foggy and though light, it's about 60 degrees regardless of being summer, and you won't actually see the sun until about 9-10, when the fog clears - and then it will heat up to about 79F degrees (85-95F in Lexington).  

Nevertheless, we snapped a few pics after picking up breakfast from the restaurant, then breakfasting  on our balcony.

This first pic was actually snapped at 8:15 a.m., believe it or not ... 

Resort restaurant, downstairs .... 

From our balcony - like I said, chilly in the mornings lol ...

By the way, Brookie LOVED this one, for some reason - she spent most of her time listening, watching, and sniffing all the sounds and smells of the wandering wildlife, and when not there, she wanted to be on the bed, lying on her back, with all four paws up, sound asleep, not to be disturbed - totally relaxed, as if to say, "Yeah, about that guarding/shepherdess thing, you all are on your own, I'm on vacay." lol

She's normally very alert/anxious, so this is unusual for her - the second most relaxed I've ever seen here (the other was a cabin in North Carolina on our big vacay, last year.) 

When the fog began to lift at about 9 a.m. ....

Just some shots of the lodge once the fog had lifted ... 

Yes, there are black bears and bald eagles there, but we didn't see any during our short trip. 

Jenny Wiley is the Kentucky State Park responsible for reintroducing the elk to Kentucky in 1997, after they disappeared from Kentucky about 150 years ago, roughly the same time is the buffalo disappeared entire - both from overhunting. 

The population now is over 1,000 and in the fall, they give elk-watching tours at sunrise, which the best - and some say only - time you can see them in Kentucky :)

Gotta love mid-cen architecture, right?  :)

After breakfast, we decided to hike, but didn't want to do a heavy-duty hike because this weekend was about chilaxin' ;) 

Mark decided he wanted the short trail on the perimeter of the lodge lake, about 3 miles ...

After which we showed and got ready for the pool ... during which time we ate lunch, including home-made potato chips from the restaurant, when Mark became obsessed with me getting a picture of him throwing a potato chip into the air, to make it look like it was a "flying ghost potato chip?"  lol

I don't kn...?  lol

Yeah, so ... that didn't work out so well.  This was the best I could do - see the "flying ghost chip?"  Spooky right?  ;)


Then we went to the pool, which I was super excited about, because I hadn't set foot in a pool since before COVID. 

I mean, we have one in our community, but it was closed during the 2020 summer season, then limited in number last year.  It's open this year, but it's super crowded, plus I'm not particularly excited about getting my 53-year-old self out there in front of all my neighbors in a bathing suit.

However, we went to the pool here, which wasn't crowded at all, swam and splashed around, laid in the sun for a bit, and had a great time. - despite my husband being very reluctant to do so ;)

(No, there are no pictures of us at the actual pool in our bathing suits, thank you very much - there's lots of pics of young girls in bikinis and guys in speedo for you out there, instead, go forth onto the internet and find thee those ;)

Then we went for another hike before dinner, a short one, the Moss Ridge Trail, which was supposed to be a mile, but I swear it was more - PLUS - it was only 6 p.m. and thus still sunny, but again, once you get into the woods in the mountains of Kentucky, you'd think it was 9 p.m., there's very little light, so we decided to turn around for fear of black bears prowling in the dark, rooting through the rooted up trees.

BTW, I was initially first on the trail ahead of mark, but after walking through no less than four spider webs, he braved ahead lol. 

Welp, guess this is why it's called "Moss Ridge Trail" ... 

Now keep in mind, as you go through these next photos, it's only about 5:30 - but the deeper we went in, the darker it gets, despite being still very sunny outside of the woods ... 

Aha!  There it is, I know the sun was there somewhere ... 

These next few are my favorites from this trail ... no filters on these, it's just the way my older iPhone captured the light ... 

Beech tree ... 

Just some nice photos of the lodge before dinner ...  again, no filter, just the way my old iPhone does sometimes ... 

The bar and grill (upper floor)  just as we ordered our food for the patio - 10 minutes later, packed to the brim ... 

Our dinner on the patio, watching the sun set ... with Miss Brookie :)

Where Brookie became the unofficial resort greeter and mascot for the resort, EVERYONE had to stop and pet her, staff and guests alike, including a wedding party ... 

And I think Mark found he's new happy place ... 

And I chilled with a glass of rose ... 

Yeah, that would be a double-shot of Irish whiskey in that styrofoam cup - we're fancy! lol

After which - or during which, I should say, the moon came up ... 

The lodge looks pretty at night ... 

Off our balcony at night (a family had reserved the back part of the patio for a family reunion dinner) .... 

In the morning, it was sadly time to go, but Brookie didn't want to?!?

So we snapped a quick pic of us on the balcony before checking out  ...

(Forgive the lack of makeup and the self-haircut - my stylist left and I trimmed it myself, screwed up, and then had to go short! I tried to turn it into a sort of Downton Abbey-ish bob, but ... erm  ... no lol.  Oh well, it'll grow, right? )

But before checking out, I visited the gift shop for this ridiculous thing - it's Baby Bigfoot -  whom we subsequently named "The Notorious BGF" or  "Biggie" for short - because my husband thinks the whole Bigfoot craze hilarious, and wanted to tell everyone he saw Bigfoot lol.

He was just hanging out in a tree, I swear! ;)

And then sat on a rock and asked us to take him home with us ... 

So of course we did, because Brookie fell in love right away  ...

We've now decided to take Biggie wherever we go, so that my husband can always tell everyone he saw Bigfoot again lol

SO glad we did this before our bigger vacay later this summer ... ah, just what we needed :)

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