For a recent road trip, Sweetums and I decided to sort of meander to places we hadn’t been before, with the starting point being an exhibit I really wanted to visit in Kentucky. We didn’t realize it when we started but we also ended up hitting two more states on historic Route 66 (On our honeymoon in 2016, we traveled the route through Illinois and Missouri; this time we went to Kansas and Oklahoma.)
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about each of our stops on the trip – pretty much in order – so sign up for blog notices if you want to follow along.
NOTE: We followed COVID regulations everywhere we went and we wore our masks, although I usually removed mine for photos. We want everyone to be safe when traveling.
Stop No. 1: Forest Giants in a Giant Forest
In my recent book, “A Guide to the South’s Quirkiest Roadside Attractions,” I wrote about a unique exhibit at Bernheim Forest and I really wanted to see it in person. Bernheim is a 15,000-acre arboretum and research forest in Clermont, Ky., established in 1929 by Isaac Wolfe Bernheim. It is a beautiful place to visit at any time, but currently, Bernheim is home to impressive giants made from trees and natural materials by artist Thomas Dambo. The huge wooden sculptures include Mama Loumari, the pregnant mother; her daughter Little Elina; and young son, Little Nis. They range in height from 15 to 20 feet. Mama Loumari is lying down because of her pregnant state, Elina is sitting and Nis is standing looking at his reflection in a lake.
The giants are located in three separate places in the preserve but it’s only a two-mile loop to walk to all three.
The giants will only be on display through 2022. It is free to visit the park but donations are encouraged. During COVID-19 restrictions, visitors need to register for free tickets on the website before going. When we went, the visitors center and gift shop were closed but an employee said they may reopen in the fall.
Also because of COVID restrictions, the giants are cordoned off to keep people from climbing on them. Guests can still get close to the giants and take plenty of photos. Masks are required.
Little Elina, Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest, Kentucky (Photo by Wil Elrick)