10 New Year's resolutions to make you a better Kentuckian

December 31, 2013 

Struggling with making some new year's resolutions? No problem. We've come up with a list of 10 resolutions for Kentuckians — specifically, Central Kentuckians.

These are things any Kentuckian in good standing should learn, do or experience in 2014.

Come on, challenge yourself.

1. Learn more than the first verse of My Old Kentucky Home. You probably know the first verse because it's usually the only one that's sung at gatherings, but challenge yourself to learn the second verse this year. Then show it off by singing it at a University of Kentucky ball game or at the Derby. It goes like this:

They hunt no more for the possum and the coon, On meadow, the hill and the shore. They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon, On the bench by the old cabin door.

The day goes by like a shadow o'er the heart, With sorrow, where all was delight, The time has come when the people have to part, Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

And just because we can, here's verse 3, too:

The head must bow and the back will have to bend, Wherever the people may go;

A few more days, and the trouble all will end, In the field where the sugar-canes grow;

A few more days for to tote the weary load, No matter, 'twill never be light;

A few more days till we totter on the road, Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

2. Visit Boone Station State Historic Site, where Daniel Boone lived from 1779 to 1782. Known for his role in exploring and settling the Kentucky frontier, Boone moved to Boone Station in December 1779 after the settlement of Boonesborough had become too crowded.

Off Athens-Boonesboro Road in southeast Fayette County, the site had been settled in 1776 by Boone's son Israel. In March, 1781, Boone's 10th and last child, Nathan, was born at Boone Station.

Boone served as sheriff of Fayette County (then part of Virginia) while living at Boone Station. Several relatives, including Israel and brothers Ned and Samuel, are thought to be buried there.

At its height, the community had 15 to 20 families. Boone's Station ceased to exist by 1791. It is now a 46-acre state historic site and includes a 1-mile self-guided trail.

3. Visit a small-town downtown. There are a number of charming downtowns within easy driving distance of Lexington. And chances are you'll be surprised at what you might find there. In addition to some great little stores and restaurants, each has its own historical significance and some beautiful historical homes nearby. We suggest taking a day trip to Georgetown, Versailles, Sadieville, Cynthiana, Paris, Midway or Nicholasville.

4. Read Kentucky author Wendell Berry's first novel, Nathan Coulter. The first title in Berry's fictional Port William series, this coming-of-age novel published in 1960 is about duty, community and love of the land.

In it, Berry tells the story of Nathan Coulter's grief after losing his grandfather. In a review, the San Francisco Chronicle called it "spare, elegant and eloquent, ... an absolute jewel."

A Henry County native, Berry is the author of more than 40 pieces of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

5. Learn the names of more than a quarter of Kentucky's 120 counties and where they are. Although not a terribly large state — only 39,732 square miles — Kentucky has 120 counties. Phew. From Adair to Woodford, learning the county names, what towns are in them and where they are can be a real challenge.

For example: Russell County is not the home of Russell or Russellville (but Russell Springs is there). Franklin is not in Franklin County. Campbellsville is not in Campbell County but is in Taylor County, and Taylorsville is in Spencer County; Campbellsburg is in Henry County. Jackson is in Breathitt County, but Jackson County is nearby. Scottsville is in Allen County, not Scott County. But Harlan is in Harlan County and Greenup is in Greenup County. Owenton is in Owen County, but Owensboro isn't. And Owingsville is in Bath County. Good luck with this.

6. Learn to make a classic bourbon cocktail. There is plenty of good bourbon in Kentucky, and many good bourbon drinks, but may we be so bold as to suggest that you learn how to make the traditional old-fashioned in 2014? The cocktail, first mixed in the 1880s at Louisville's Pendennis Club, is easy to make, and it appeals to more tastes, according to Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler, authors of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book.

Old-fashioned

1 tablespoon simple syrup

6 dashes Angostura bitters

1 orange wedge

2 red cherry

2 ounces water

2 ounces Kentucky bourbon

Put the simple syrup and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Add orange wedge and cherry, and muddle. Add ice, water and bourbon, and stir. Garnish with a long-stem cherry.

7. Hike Kentucky's Sheltowee Trace. This 307-mile back-country trail runs the length of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky and Tennessee. The trail is marked by white blazes in the shape of a turtle, because Daniel Boone was given the name Sheltowee (which means big turtle) by Shawnee chief Blackfish.

The trail's southern terminus is in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area in northeastern Tennessee. Its northern terminus is on Ky. 377 in northern Rowan County. Every year, dozens of people hike the entire stretch, taking about three weeks, but day hikes and weekend jaunts are more common. For more information, go to Sheltoweetrace.org or 1.usa.gov/JtlX6u.

8. Get to know Abraham Lincoln better. As the birthplace of Lincoln, Kentucky is home to many monuments, statues and historic sites that pay tribute to our 16th president. Here are just a few:

■ In Hodgenville, you'll find Lincoln's birthplace and his boyhood home recognized in a National Historical Site.

■ At the State Capitol in Frankfort, you can visit a statue of Lincoln in the rotunda. While you're in Frankfort, visit the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, where you can see a collection of Lincoln memorabilia.

■ The Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington will give you a glimpse into the life of the former first lady, a Lexington native.

■ There are 18 stops on Kentucky's Lincoln Trail map. Find out more at Kentuckytourism.com/lincoln/trail-map.aspx.

9. Learn to ride a horse, or at least learn more about them. Horses, horse farms, racetracks and places to bet on horses are plentiful in Kentucky. So are places to learn to ride or simply to learn more about horses.

In Central Kentucky, the Kentucky Horse Park has lots of learning opportunities, including a museum and competitive horse shows. The working horse farm showcases dozens of breeds, horse and pony rides, and special horse-related events all year.

Keeneland Race Course is a national historic landmark that offers Thoroughbred racing in April and October.

To visit a horse farm in the area, check out the listing at Visitlex.com.

10. Visit a Kentucky state park and spend the night there. There are about 50 state parks in Kentucky, and whether you want to fish, golf, hike or simply rest, there's probably a place you'll enjoy visiting. Many parks offer lodges and cabins for overnight stays. There's a Kentucky State Parks app to help you with your selection, or go to Parks.ky.gov.

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