Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL), east of Paducah, Kentucky
|June 2, 2003 (cont'd) Arriving at Hillman Ferry Campground at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) east of Paducah, Kentucky in the late afternoon, we were able to set up and stay dry as the rain had stopped, temporarily. The campsite was shaded and backed up to a ravine, giving us a sense of separation from the other campers.|
|Campsite at Hillman Ferry Campground||Our ravine, behind the campsite|
June 3, 2003 As we always do in a new place, we spent some time getting the lay of the land. We went to the Visitor’s Center and found out about the formation of the lakes by damming the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, displacing families who had lived and thrived here for generations.
We had a picnic lunch on the shores of Kentucky Lake. It was cold, windy and rocky.
Since Paducah is home to the American Quilting Society, we took some time to explore the museum and were able to see some of the most amazing quilts. The colors, designs and workmanship boggle the mind. Many of the quilts on display were ones I had seen in books and magazines. There was also and exhibit of quilts by men which were wonderful, but in a different way. Doug remarked that for the most part they were constructions rather than artistic wholes. We walked in downtown Paducah which seemed to be dying. There were lots of empty storefronts and very few people. But one of the shop owners we spoke with said that when the boats come in things are jumping and that since Paducah serves a much larger community than the 30,000 residents, it hasn’t suffered much.
|June 4, 2003 Parts of the Midwest and Southeast have Indian Mounds, the equivalent of our Western cliff dwellings and pueblo ruins. Wickliff Mounds is west of Paducah and our destination on this morning. It is a small site run by Murray State University. Originally excavated in the 1930s, most of the original documentation has vanished. The exhibits are in three main buildings. One is the living area and the most prominent feature here was the number of infant burial sites within the “village”. There is an architecture building which showed how the mounds were built. Over 100 years or more, the mounds were built up by piling dirt on top of previous dwellings which were probably destroyed by fire. Each successive building made the mound higher. The third site is the cemetery, an open area (the others were enclosed to protect the few artifacts displayed). Here, you could see and feel the height of the mound. Not much is known or understood about the Mississippian people who lived here, in part because, unlike the west, artifacts and remains have not been preserved due to climate.|
|Wickliff Mounds||Composite along nature walk|
|From Wickliff, we went into Paducah to Hancock’s, a huge fabric store, a warehouse-like place. We walked up and down the aisles and I bought a bunch of fabric for my stash. Then to Chip Winn for a little repair of the back window of the car.|
|On our way back to the trailer we took a detour along a scenic road that looped by Kentucky Lake.|
|Wildflowers along the road|
|June 5, 2003 Today we hiked a portion of the North/South trail. We started at Pisgah Bay and walked along or near the lake through the woods. Lined with oak leaves, the trail was gentle and shaded. We saw unknown (to me) wildflowers and heard many birds, but the dense leaf cover prevented us from seeing them, let alone identifying them.|
|Hike along North/South trail||Wild rose on hike along North/South trail|
|Easier to see, because they were closer to the ground, were the frogs, turtles and spiders. Butterflies were everywhere.|
|When we got back to the car, there was a heron along the shore.|
|In the evening, we went to the Elk and Bison Prairie. The Forest Service is attempting to return the land to its condition before development and dams, so elk and bison were reintroduced here. There is a small herd of each and we were able to see both. The bison were crossing the road (reminiscent of Yellowstone) and we were able to see them up close. There were several calves in the group and at least one set of twins. The elk were off in the distance.|
|Bison at Elk & Bison Prairie|
|Bison at Elk & Bison Prairie||Elk off in the distance|
|Sunflower||Eastern fence lizard||Dinner stop at an inlet of Kentucky Lake|
|June 6, 2003 Today were visited the Nature Station in LBL. This little nature center serves as an educational tool for the visitors. The animals here were orphaned and abandoned, injured, or raised by humans and therefore, cannot be returned to the wild. Visitors can see owls and hawks up close (they are tethered), a bald eagle, and vultures. There is a bobcat that we were able to watch play with a ball and a pool of water. What a marvelous creature and one that is elusive in the wild. There are two red wolves, part of a reintroduction program, which are at LBL until they are released elsewhere. Reintroduction at LBL had been unsuccessful. The red wolf was brought back from extinction in the first successful rearing in captivity and release in native territory, at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. Since then, we’ve had numerous species, like the peregrine falcon and California condor, reintroduced to the wild. The two wolves here came out of their den when one of the handlers went in to change the water. They looked like very colorful coyotes, with intense eyes that seemed to be taking everything in.|
|We were also treated to the strutting and gobbling of a male wild turkey and helped feed the fallow and white tailed deer. The fallow deer are European and were brought here as a game animal and are now wild in LBL. They are small, slight and light in color.|
|Fallow deer||Barred owl, red tailed hawk & sawhet owl|
|We took a trail through the woods and wandered down to Honker Lake, actually a bay on Kentucky Lake.|
|Honker Lake trail||Honker Lake|