What’s in a name? That which we call a park by any other name would smell as fresh. So why not call it something that makes people think, “Hmm. I really must go see what that is some time.” I think that’s what the creators of Big Bone Lick State Park in Kentucky thought when they chose the name of the park.
Never mind that the area was a “lick” (as in “salt lick”) in ancient (and even more recent) times that attracted animals large and small with its mineral deposits. Never mind that native americans talked about the “big bones” left behind by the giant animals that were trapped in the bog. I’m pretty sure that someone in marketing decided naming the park “Big Bone Lick” would attract more tourists.
They were right.
After all, how many times have I driven by signs advertising parks I can’t remember the names of? But “Big Bone Lick” has been the subject of several conversations–visitors often comment about it when they arrive at our place after having made the journey from the North.
Since I’d decided to take a day off work to drive home from Columbus with Tisen at a leisurely pace, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out what Big Bone Lick was all about. As is typical of Tisen and my walks, we hit the park at the peak of the afternoon sun. But on this day, I was surprised just how hot it was as we made our way up the trail in the harsh light. Tisen couldn’t stop panting–I’m sure he was wishing his fur coat had a zipper so he could take it off.
But the park had something I wanted to see–Bison. I guess it’s appropriate and historically accurate that the park should have bison. I just wish they could roam free throughout the park rather than being fenced in. For a moment, I flashed back to Montana’s approach to “fence them out” vs “fence them in,” but then I remembered the dead horses we saw on the road outside of Glacier National Park and decided I didn’t want to see any run over bison.
We followed the signs that said, “Bison.” When we got to the “Bison Viewing Area,” there were no bison. Just empty pastures with nothing like bison in sight. I think someone was confused about what “bison viewing area” meant.
I felt betrayed by the park signs. I looked at my poor, hot dog standing in a shadow panting like it was 100 degrees out and decided we’d better head back rather than keep looking. However, there was another path that headed back towards the car. I thought it would be shorter and, since it bordered a bunch of paddocks, perhaps we would see bison by going that way. Both turned out to be true. Although Tisen was less patience than usual waiting for me to take pictures, we left the park happy.