Two friends walk from Berea to Lexington (Almost!)

By Ülvi Gitaliyev, Berea Torch

Thanksgiving is a special time for most students at Berea College. People get to see their family again, eat good food and leave the Berea bubble, if only for a little. For international students and domestics who come from far away states, options are more limited. We can either tag along to a friend or partner’s Thanksgiving or hunker down in Berea and survive the boredom. Some people, though, used Thanksgiving as an opportunity to go on adventures. Some of you might remember my article when I walked to Richmond December of last year, but this trip had a bigger goal in mind, Lexington.

Vehicle outside of the Blue Grass Army Depot

Unlike last year though, I would not be walking alone, my friend from Oklahoma, Suneil, due to a combination of boredom and morbid curiosity, agreed to walk with me. We started at 7:15 am on U.S. Route 25, walking from White House Clinics all the way to Battlefield Park. It was raining in the first hour and all the grass which we walked on was wet for most of the day. The first half of our path closely followed the Blue Grass Army Depot, where the U.S. army was keeping mustard gas and other chemical weapons until this year. We even got to take a photo with just one piece of the American military-industrial complex.

Star for John G Fee, founder of Berea College, in Richmond

The first person we talked to on our walk was a local historian in the Battle of Richmond Visitor Center. He showed us around the historical maps and uniforms in what is called ”One of the most complete Confederate victories in the Civil War” One plaque also spoke on the “economic arguments” in favour of slavery. Our first break came at 12:30 pm when we ate at Masala Fine Indian Cuisine in the entrance of Richmond. Their delicious food and indoor environment gave us enough energy to continue to trek. Walking through Richmond proper, there was at least some side walk to walk on. The Richmond Visitor Center was giving away a free postcard to all visitors, and the local Madison County Library had free arcade games, so we got a little distracted. By 2:00 p.m. though, the trek to Lexington continued.

The total path walked on November 22nd

As we approached the Horse Capital of the World, the effect of urban sprawl became ever visible. The green forests of the morning were replaced with fast food chains and concrete. Car traffic also increased and by 7:00 p.m. the sun went down and walking became more dangerous. Therefore, Suneil and I called a taxi in the first building we saw and were driven to Lexington proper. There, we spent the night at a friend’s house before going back to Berea the next day. All in all, we walked 42 km’s (26 miles) which is about one marathon’s worth of walking. Our feet definitely felt the distance, and walking for the next few days produced a moderate amount of pain.

My main takeaways from the walk was the lack of walkability and bikeability in Kentucky. One might argue that you do need walkability around highways, but I have been in countries where even interstate highways have side walks and lamps for safety. The car centric environment’s damage to the local wildlife was also apparent, with many dead animals laying on the sides of the road. Overall, I would not recommend the walk to anyone unless they truly have nothing better to do or want to lose hope in the possibility of a walkable United States.

The Berea Torch is a free, student-run newspaper that circulates both online and physical copies. The primary purpose of the Berea Torch is to channel the passion and creativity of Berea College students towards a message of justice, equality, and freedom.

Republished with permission.