Saturday, January 3, 2009

428. Beginning of Year Ramblings and Proposed Ramblings

I spent the last few days of 2008 moving, both my residence and my office. In moving my office, one thing of importance was the removal of certain maps from the walls. Attorney Jon Baker, whose office was next to mine, said he knew I was finally leaving when the maps came down.

The maps aren't of any value to anyone but me. There is nothing historic or important or valuable about them. Since 1979, I've kept a map of Kentucky outlining in red the counties I have visited or been through, usually stopping for a picture, much as the late Russ Maple did, photographing himself in front of each Court House. I usually keep the most recent five years' maps available to see "where I've been lately." There are counties I visit every year and others I can only claim to have been in twice. Over the years I've kept a list of the "counties visited" which last year I translated into an Excel document.

Like every other chart on any matter, 2008 saw a sharp decline in counties visited, mostly owing to the cost of gas to get to and from. As all trips start and finish here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, some destinations are harder to reach than others. For instance, it is just under 250 from my home to Woodman, an intersection of a community just across the Widows Bridge on KY194 at KY2059 in far eastern Pike County, making a round trip of 499 miles. Similarly, to get from here to Tyler in far western Fulton County is 280 miles. Tyler is a tiny little burg at the intersection of KY94 and KY2134. Going and coming would run the odometer up 560 miles. One could go another 16 miles each way further, from Tyler down into Tennessee and then up into the New Madrid Bend and Washburn Lake. Honestly, I didn't go to Woodman, Tyler, or Washburn Lake this year, although I have been in the New Madrid Bend once.

There are counties which I've been in in each of the thirty years I've been keeping track. In addition to Jefferson, they are Bullitt, Franklin, Hardin, Oldham, Shelby, and Woodford. In fact, to get to any of the other Kentucky counties from here, one must drive through one of the four of those six additional counties. Surprisingly to me, I've been to Hart, Anderson, Larue, Spencer, Trimble, Nelson, and Meade more often than I've been to Fayette, Kentucky's second most populous county. At the other end of the charts, I've been to Elliott, Greenup, and Lawrence only twice in the last thirty years. These three are just too far east to be on a regular route. All three were visited during gubernatorial election campaigns in 1979 and 1987. In fact, it was because of the feat of visiting all 120 counties in 1979 that I began to track my visits. I honestly didn't think then I'd be keeping up with it now, but I am.

Over the years, the numbers have varied. In 2002, I list only 14 counties, followed by 13 in 2003, which I think must be wrong, but probably isn't. I was out of work for six months in 2003 so gas money would have been at a premium. 2008 saw visits to 44 counties, down from the last few years due to gas costs. Another high number year was 1995, another statewide race year. That Spring, I drove State Representative Jim Wayne all over the state during his unsuccessful race for State Auditor, visiting 103 counties. Not all of them were with Jim, but most probably were.

This year being a non-election year, I will have to find reasons/excuses to do some travelling. There will be the regular six other than Jefferson to be sure. In two weeks I'll be crossing the Commonwealth on my way to President-elect Barack Hussein Obama's inauguration, taking me back through Boyd County and Ashland and a few others for the first time since 1987. My friend Preston is scheduled to visit with me some Confederate battle re-enactments during 2009, and I'll probably make the annual trek to Fancy Farm in August. If gas prices stay where they are, travelling will be a little easier.

Interestingly, I came across a chart (included at left) on gas prices adjusted for inflation. At the current price of about $1.80, gas is about the same as it was in 1979, when gas prices were about $0.75 - again adjusted for inflation. Last week I paid $1.38 using my debit card and entering a PIN number for a three-penny discount. Cheap gas is about the only good thing to come out of the economic crisis, as far as my maps are concerned.

Next week, or sometime soon, once settled into the new office, I'll rehang the maps for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, and start a new one for 2009. As of right now, the only county visited this year is Jefferson.

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.