Lots of people have visited Red River Gorge (RRG).
My parents attempted to take me, my brother, my cousin, my grandma, and my aunt many years ago when my brother and I were kids.
We never made it.
Well, I guess technically we did make it because we drove around in the rain and fog on winding roads in the area that is called the Red River Gorge Geological Area.
But we never saw an arch, a trail, a cave, a waterfall, or a big giant hole in the ground because my brother puked in the car (from said winding roads), and we all practically sat on my grandma's lap to avoid the puddle of stomach bile on the floor.
That trip sucked, but boy-howdy was it memorable.
When I started planning for a summer trip this year, I knew I didn't have the mental bandwidth to plan an out-of-state trip. Our governor has been very cautious about COVID, and some other governors acted like there hasn't been a pandemic going on for over a year, so I just didn't feel comfortable heading into some of the more bat-shit states. Plus, with my dad's health issues over the last 10 months, I didn't know what would be going on with him. I didn't want to be 10 hours away from home.
Plus, we had a good time last year checking out several places in Kentucky that had been on my to-be-visited list: Cumberland Falls and Land Between the Lakes.
I tend to not like to revisit the same places repeatedly, and RRG was someplace the kids had never been. I think maybe D and I had gone there while dating but that is seriously ancient history. And my childhood trip was a non-event.
So we rented a house and took my parents, my MIL, my niece, and our crew and drove down.
I think every family has a story or tradition of something they do or something one member does that everyone pokes fun of.
In my family of origin, it is my dad's notorious frugality. Now, I'm all about frugality, but I learned from my dad that paying for a halfway decent hotel or rental home is a very good idea. I'm not at all a big spender, but when you pay cheap, you often get cheap.
In 1998, when D and I went to Las Vegas with my parents after we married, we stayed at what looked like a bordello. We could see the Bellagio, which was brand new, out our window. We looked longingly at the bells and whistles and newness of that hotel.
In 1999, my brother, future SIL, our parents, and D and I went to Virginia Beach. My parents got the hotel. The pool didn't work at all and the hotel rooms smelled like someone sat in them each day smoking 3 packs of cigarettes. My parents STILL have not lived that hotel down.
After that, my SIL and I have never allowed my parents to select the hotel or rental.
In the family D and I have created, their story about us is that we pick the most remote, out of the way places to stay. Nearly every human who visits the Rocky Mountains stays in Estes Park. This was enough reason for me to rent a home clear on the other side of the Rockies. That side was just perfect for people like us who hate crowds and traffic.
When we arrived at our RRG cabin, N (who drove with my MIL) commented on how we had to turn around 3 times because the roads didn't have roads signs so we weren't sure where we were going. She said, "This is so typical of them, picking the most isolated spot in the world."
The weather was rainy quite a bit while we were there, but we still managed to find some dry(ish) times for quick hikes. Our hiking motto with G (who hates to hike) is also a perfect hiking motto when a 78-year-old who has had 4 surgeries in the last year is going too: easy and not long.
I knew my dad was a tough old bird before this trip. He's had his colon removed, open-heart surgery, and the many surgeries with his cancer diagnosis from the last year. But I guess this RRG trip really brought it home to me when he hiked up the original Natural Bridge trail. It took him awhile and he had to stop to rest many times, but he made it up and back. He is not invincible, but he is the epitome of "As long as I can try, that's what I'm going to do."
Four days away is about all we can handle with the kids being eager to return to our house and their friends and their devices. And truly, four days is all I can handle of coercing and listening them ask when they can return home.
But those four days were pretty darn good.