Shall we gather at the Kentucky resort?
Q: My family just returned from a driving vacation out to Idaho, with stops at Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. Your previous articles were a big help. Now our next plan is to organize a family reunion for the summer of 2009. Four families are coming from Maryland, Illinois and Arizona with a total of 13 people. The Arizonans will fly into Chicago. Can you recommend a gathering spot that is midway between Maryland and Illinois for driving? Michigan was thought of but we would welcome your suggestions. All kids are school age, and the grandparents are very active. Your thoughts? It may be helpful to know that past vacations we've enjoyed together were rental homes at Wild Dunes, S.C.
A: You couldn't do any better for a reunion spot than one of the resorts in the Kentucky Park system, which, by the way, has been the leader and model by which other state parks in the U.S. are judged.
The Bluegrass state's wonderful resort parks and their recreational facilities are found in every section of the state so one of them should be handy for your group. Also the administrating agency, the Department of Parks, has a section that specifically deals with reunion planning. Starting now is none too soon, for they are so popular they're booked up a year or more in advance.
There are 17 resort parks with comfortable lodges, nestled among mountains and woodlands, featuring rooms or suites. In addition to the lodges with dining rooms, most of the parks have fully equipped cottages with two or three bedrooms, telephone, TV, air conditioning and heat. If some members of your family enjoy camping, you'll find campgrounds that are near all the conveniences the other accommodations offer.
From the kids to the grandparents, here's what's in store for you: championship golf courses, marinas, tennis courts, swimming pools, lakes, rivers, hiking trails, mountains and caves - all at your disposal.
Here are some park highlights: see the famous moonbow at night at Cumberland Falls; take the sky lift to get a good look at the natural bridge in the park of the same name; commune with nature at Buckhorn Lake in Eastern Kentucky's mountains; follow the twisting caverns and its underground waterfall at Carter Caves; rent a houseboat on Lake Cumberland with its 1,000-plus miles of shoreline, and more.
If you all want to get together at the same time, the parks also have meeting facilities for groups of 10 to 900 guests. A copy of the Kentucky State Parks Reunion Planners' Guide is available by calling (800) 255-7275. If you want to check out the individual parks and their locations, go to www.kystateparks.com.