“Be a nice human.” ~ Unknown
You know how they say you never appreciate what’s in your own back yard? Guilty! I grew up close to the Red River Gorge, just 35 miles to the east in fact. I never gave it a second thought. I saw it all the time. But somehow I never saw the Nada Tunnel on Highway 77, or at least I don’t ever recall driving that section of 77. In any case, I don’t remember it. So, last week, when something came across my desk about Nada Tunnel, I decided I needed to see it. “Enough of this not paying attention to your own backyard business,” I said. Nada Tunnel was built in the early 1900’s for a small gauge lumber railroad to a Clay City mill. When the train went out, the road took its place, but it’s only one lane wide. Even walking through the tunnel is dangerous if a car comes along. It’s really not very wide, but there’s plenty of room outside for good shots.
My good fortune brought exquisite weather to Kentucky today. I enlisted Stacy to be my adventure companion, and off we went. She, being a native of Ohio, had been though the tunnel many times. I know that sounds odd, but it’s a well known fact that the Red River Gorge is a popular destination for our neighbors to the north.
I wanted to snap a few pix of the tunnel while there were a few leaves left on the trees, then come back home. Quick adventure. That’s pretty much what we did, though there was a couple of memorable moments along the way. Stacy stayed in the car while I got out to explore the space (use your inner Austin Powers voice for that line). It wasn’t ten minutes before a gang of bikers pulled up and parked behind us. They didn’t realize that I could see their reflections in the backing of the camera. I didn’t let on when one woman mooned her companions (presumably for a photo op). Or when the more macho bikers circled the car like wolves. Poor Stacy. It was not her favorite moment of the day. They were harmless, of course, and certainly less so when two carloads of teenagers showed up.
The kids made my day. They were climbing all over the hills, taking pictures of one another. The juxtaposition between the kids and the bikers was very interesting. The bikers (not all of them, to be fair) were raucous. The kids were calm. The bikers were cursers. The kids asked me politely to take their picture above the tunnel, then said ‘thank you.’ The bikers continued to circle poor Stacy in the car while the kids quietly scouted the hillsides. It was all entertaining (Stacy didn’t think so), and I felt really blessed to have run into those kids. Not because of the bikers. To be clear, I don’t find bikers scary, not even the loud ones that cuss a lot. No, it was because the kids trusted me enough with their phones to take their picture. I could have gotten in the car and driven away before they ever got off that cliff, but they trusted me not to do that. I guess I look matronly enough to be trustworthy. And I’m alright with that. The world needs trustworthy people no matter what we look like. It was a stellar day in my world.