By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
I knew I was in trouble when the sign said welcome to Breathitt County. No offense to Breathitt County, it just wasn’t my destination. I was seeking Owsley County.
For the second time since I began this gypsy life for the Sentinel-Echo, my GPS lied to me. It looked me straight in the eyes and told me to drive through Booneville. I knew better, but having never been to Booneville, Vincent, or the greater Whoopflarea metropolitan area, I pressed on.
I passed the Sav-U-More, a Rocky Mountain horse farm, and the last house on the left. I passed anything that had a light turned on. The GPS said 5 more miles, so I kept driving. I passed boys playing basketball in the road, in the rain. I drove to where the only other vehicles were four wheelers wound so tight they sounded like they were screaming.
Then I saw the sign that said welcome to Breathitt County. Well I wasn’t going to stop now. GPS said two more miles, so two more miles it was. I was like Columbus looking for a new trade route to China and finding the Caribbean. I was determined. When the GPS finally said, “You have reached your destination,” I was in the middle of a deserted road looking at a picture on the GPS of the same deserted road.
Yep, that’s where I was. Not where I wanted to be. I took a moment to return the 64 ounces of water I drank on this trip back to the ocean from whence it came. (Let the record show, my oldest daughter told me to remove the previous sentence).
I backtracked past the four wheelers, boys playing basketball in the road, and stopped at a gas station just before the Sav-U-More. I didn’t know who to talk to because none of the five people sitting there showed any sign of working. I asked how to get to Owsley County High School. I haven’t seen people laugh like that since Hee Haw went off the air. Apparently I wasn’t the first person to ask. You could have watched the game from where I stood it was so close to the gym.
As I walked in, the National Anthem was playing and no one knew I had been so lost. I guess now they do. Other highlights of my first trip to Booneville include:
How curvy was the road? I actually saw the car in front of me drive next to me on a switchback curve.
I was part of a 10-car parade leaving Booneville. If that first car had plunged off the cliff, I’m pretty sure we all would.
Did you know Baseball Hall of Famer Earle Combs was from Pebworth in Owsley County? He played alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.