Cameron Ludwick and Blair Thomas Hess know a thing or 20 about a Kentucky road trip.
The two, who have been friends since their days at Tates Creek High School, have gone their separate ways professionally: Ludwick is publicity and direct promotions manager for the University Press of Kentucky, Hess is media and communications manager at the Kentucky State University College of Agriculture, Food Science & Sustainable Systems.
But the two love to travel around Kentucky, which they do with humor and a touch of quirk.
They will be signing their book My Old Kentucky Road Trip (History Press, $19.99) at the Kentucky Book Fair on Saturday.
The book notes that you can have a totally destination-driven tour of the Commonwealth and be on time for your Mammoth Cave tour, but what fun is that?
Consider this account from the book about making their way to Mammoth Cave: "Like the time we saw a sign proudly declaring, 'We sell cheap moccasins, y'all,' and had to hit the pause button on our drive to Mammoth Cave National Park to pull into Leroy's Olde Gener'l Store. ... Y'all can hardly ask two ladies to deny themselves a pair of cheap moccasins.
"As it would turn out, this detour allowed us to meet Leroy, a self-declared original American Picker who opened his general store when his wife would no longer allow him to bring his 'found treasures' into her house."
The book's suggestions for Kentucky road trips: Bring a camera, but don't get so wrapped up in taking pictures that you forget to be present and make memories. Have an idea of where you're headed, but be flexible. Have patience and a sense of humor, because things will go awry at some point. And have a full tank of gas and a map.
"Directions are good. A GPS is even better. Neither one is always going to be reliable. ... Don't be afraid to stop and ask for directions. One of our favorite things about this amazing state is its people, and Kentuckians are always willing to help out a fellow Kentuckian."
And not just Kentuckians: The two women stayed overnight at Wigwam Village near Mammoth Cave, a respite for all your individually contained conical lodging needs. Their reasoning, according to Hess: "Anyone can stay at a Holiday Inn."
Their reward, also according to Hess: "We met these ladies there who were on their way across the country."
The pair visited the town of Rabbit Hash in Boone County, which gives them the opportunity to write this sentence: "The twin towns of Rabbit Hash and Rising Sun used to be a lot closer back in the day, socially speaking" — because people walked across the frozen Ohio River to visit, just to say they had.
Ludwick said that many Kentuckians don't know about Kentucky landmarks such as the 351-foot Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Fairview, on the border between Christian and Todd counties in Western Kentucky. The obelisk is built on a foundation of solid Kentucky Limestone; an elevator is available for those who want to ride to the top.
Hess is fond of the Land Between the Lakes area: "There's so much to do there," she said.
Both enjoyed their trip to Waverly Sanatorium in Louisville, the allegedly haunted former tuberculosis hospital where 64,000 people died before the antibiotic streptomycin was discovered in 1943.
Should you go?
"You might nearly claw the skin off the arm of your travel companion but that doesn't mean you won't be having fun," Ludwick and Hess wrote.
In a joint interview last week, the two described the sanatorium trip as equal parts historic and spooky.
Here's another bit of the book's advice from attending the re-enactment of the Battlefield of Perryville in Boyle County: "The soldiers at the actual battle of Perryville had trouble navigating the terrain, and you will too if you don't wear good walking shoes; we had a bit of trouble walking sideways across the hills, up the hills, and down the hills."
The book's photos were taken by Hess's husband, Elliott Hess.
Ludwick is keeping a running list of places for future travel, in case the two decide to write a second volume. After the book came out, Ludwick and Hess made a trip to Paducah, which they found impressive.
"It's this artsy, cultural place now," Hess said.
"Said Ludwick: "Paducah is happening, let me tell you."
Paducah is a center for quilting and fiber-art culture and was in 2013 designated the world's seventh City of Crafts & Folk Art, joining Santa Fe in the U.S. and cities in China, Japan, Egypt and Italy.
The Ludwick-Hess group is about to gain a tiny traveling companion: Hess is due to give birth to her first child in December.
"Our whole goal of doing this is to do things we felt we missed out on as kids," Hess said.