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