As I type this story hard rain pours steadily down drumming delightfully upon the white metal roof of my abode. Puncheon Creek runs deep and muddy beside our sunflower yellow house.
All in all, a good day to ruminate on life’s great pleasures. I have come to understand that the greatest pleasures are often found in the unexpected surprises of everyday life. Of course, things anticipated, once achieved, can be most satisfying to the heart. I will now share such an event from the annals of my life.
Growing up poor in a hollow on Puncheon Creek left little chance of childhood discovery of the many natural wonders our state is famous for. One such area I learned about from my eighth-grade teacher, Mr. Austin Wireman as he sought to instill a desire to learn about the world around us. Mr. Wireman spent a great deal of effort to get his students to think about the world about them. The area of our state that he taught us about lies a short distance west of Magoffin County and is known as the Red River Gorge. Mr. Wireman’s descriptive narration of what the gorge was, its geologic history, and its attraction as a tourist destination made an impression on his class and on me. I thank Mr. Wireman for all of his efforts to expand the horizon of his students. After listening to Mr. Wireman describe the Red River Gorge I very much wanted to see it. It would be some years before I got the chance. As well as Mr. Wireman had described the area, when seen at first sight, it was even more spectacular than he had described. Since that time, I have made many visits to the Red River Gorge area and walked most every trail in it at one point or another. My favorite walk is along the Auxier Ridge Trail mainly because it is flat and affords some spectacular views of the gorge including Haystack Rock. Another trail I enjoy is Turtleback Arch Trail which is the only arch in the gorge that actually has a creek running through it. Perhaps everyone’s favorite is Sky Bridge, not only because it is a wondrous sight, it is also easily accessible being only a short walk from the parking lot. If you have never been through the Red River Gorge you should go. If you are not able to walk the trails there is still much to see from an automobile as it has an excellent scenic drive. One of the highlights of the drive is driving though Nada Tunnel, an old logging train tunnel now repurposed as a roadway.
Through one’s life there will be many first sights. Some of the more awe-inspiring might include your first sight of the Smokey Mountains, the ocean, or even the flatlands of Kansas. I leave you now to dwell on your first sights and the wonderment that they held.