Sunday, January 11, 2009

431. A Road and a Trip

It is a habit of mine to write about Kentucky's highway routes which coincide with the current entry number of the blog. Applying that to today's entry would mean writing about US431, a road which enters Kentucky from the south but never exits to the north. US431 enters in Logan County and is one three US highways which intersect in downtown Russellville, the other two being US79 and US68. US431 traverses generally north by northwest up through the state ending its entire run, both in Kentucky and the Republic, in downtown Owensboro.

I'll have to admit I've not actually driven many miles on US 431. I usually only cross it, either on US68/KY80 or the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway. If I have driven on it, it has only been for a few miles around one of those intersections, or somewhere in Owensboro. So, to be honest, there isn't much I can offer about my "backroads travel" on US431.

So, instead, let me tell you more about a trip I am planning.

I am getting excited about the roadtrip to the Inauguration. I'd be lying if I wrote otherwise. Early next Sunday morning, very early in the morning, me and my band of fellow travellers will take to the roads and head to our Republic's seat of government. For several weeks now, I've scoured the web versions of several Washington newspapers and magazines, getting the local take on what is happening along the Potomac a little over 600 miles from here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

But it sort of hit me late last night when viewing pictures of President-elect Obama and his family as they gazed upon Father Abraham at his memorial on The Mall. I've been there a few times, but it occurred to me looking at those pictures, I can not remember when. We all know the president-elect has borrowed much from the words and legacy of Mr. Lincoln and shares a particular parallel to him - while both were elected as an Illinoian, neither was born there. Obama is a native Hawaiian; Lincoln a Kentuckian. Kentucky was once America's western frontier. Hawaii is now. The historicity of it all is, for me, almost too real.

Thus, while our itenerary for the 20th is set, at least for the morning and early afternoon, there are other hours and days which are unscheduled, at least unscheduled officially. I'll have to work with the others in my group, but there are several places, three in particular, I want to see while there. They are the Congressional Cemetery, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the National Cathedral, the latter which I've never been to as far as I can remember. My goal was in those free hours not to visit the places that everyone else usually does, which would include The Mall and all the centers of activity along The Mall, but that will change as I am now intent on gazing into the eyes of Abraham Lincoln much as Mr. Obama did yesterday. One place that is on very few people's lists of places to visit, but is on mine, is the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery. Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, his name for the bronze figure is The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding, a granite memorial to Henry and Clover Adams which Mr. Adams commissioned upon the untimely passing of his wife Clover. Henry Adams was an author, historian, and quite interesting person - the great-grandson and grandson of American presidents, but that was only his beginnings. If you've never read any of Henry Adams' work, you should. He, along with Salem Indiana native John Hay, a United States Secretary of State about whom I have written in the past, eventually built their homes, adjoining townhouses, at 16th and H streets NW, the present site of the very exclusive, expensive, and chic Hay-Adams Hotel, which is currently serving as the temporary home to family of President-elect Barack Obama.

Additionally, I plan to visit the offices - new and bigger offices I'll add since his promotion to the Ways and Means Committee - of my congressman and friend John Yarmuth. Out of respect, I may even visit the office of Kentucky's Senior Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr., a native of Alabama, but as of this week, Kentucky's longest serving United States Senator, a feat I did not help him to accomplish, but one which nonetheless deserves acknowledgement. Senator McConnell is in the "Class 2" of senators, which from Kentucky include her first United States Senator, John Brown. From the 19th century his seat was held by, among others, Henry Clay and Richard Johnson. 20th century occupiers included Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler, John Sherman Cooper, and Alben W. Barkley. I do not suspect I will feel compelled to visit the office of Kentucky's other United States Senator.

There are also several events on my official schedule - a Kentucky Democratic Party reception on Sunday, several events at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Monday, and a National Democratic Party meeting on Wednesday, which I may attend with our Kentucky Party Chair Jennifer Moore. One of my travelling companions, Jessie Phelps, is a graduate of Randolph Macon Womens College, a place we plan to visit on the trip back to Kentucky. Between Washington DC and Randolph Macon, about halfway, is Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson estate, as well as the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, who is also responsible, in two different ways, for the naming of my home county. The Virginia legislature proposed as one of the three new counties it created in 1780 the name Jefferson for its then-governor. Upon passage, the bill creating Jefferson County, Virginia (twelve years prior to Kentucky achieving statehood) was signed by Virginia's governor, Thomas Jefferson.

I could go on writing for hours, and may do so in the next few days, but it is time to get ready for church.

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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.