Hobo the Wonder Dog visits Tri-Cities

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

When Hobo the Wonder Dog and I headed out on a day trip to Benham, Kentucky. Being unsure of how a man and his dog would be received deep in a holler of Appalachia we headed out on our adventure. What we found was a place from the past colliding with the present and future.

When I take a trip into coal country I think of dusty roads and racing coal trucks. I was surprised at how clean and beautiful Benham is. We found a community with open arms welcoming us to explore a town that coal had built. No matter your views on coal — Hobo and I urge you to treat yourself and your pooch to a place like no other — Benham, Kentucky.

Our first stop on our adventure was the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum. Although the museum is not pet friendly Hobo made the best of a pet spa being pampered at Fionna’s Grooming just across the street (reservations required 606-589-0092). The museum is in the old company story and resembles the finest of department stores of its time. The collection of coal mining memorabilia is touted as the most comprehensive collection of mining memorabilia in the nation. You could spend hours or a day going through the museum and the staff were friendly and helpful. After Hobo’s pampering and bath, we enjoyed a short hike on the Benham Rail Trail along the Coal Miners Memorial Park located behind the museum.

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Just up the road we stumbled upon the Lamp House Coffee Shop a rival to any coffee shop anywhere. The atmosphere was awesome, and the food did not disappoint us either. Frappuccino’s were picture perfect and delicious. Hobo was welcome for outside dinning with great views of the mountains. Our only disappointment — “Foot-Long Fridays” featuring a loaded footlong hot dog for $2.99, and we visited on Tuesday.

Portal 31 Mine just across the street from the Lamp House offers a unique experience of touring an underground coal mine by rail car. Hobo the Wonder Dog was welcome to tour the mine as any well-behaved dog is welcome. Portal 31 is not just a rail car ride into a coal mine. You will experience a ride through coal mine history and life inside a coal mine. The experience of Portal 31 is complete with traditional coal miner protective gear as you listen to conversations and laugher as the miners prepare to go underground. Portal 31 is well worth the trip offering a perspective and appreciation to the role coal has played in national security and freedom around the world. For more information, contact Portal 31 at 606-848-3131 or www.portal31.com

We ended our day trip at Kingdom Come State Park — what a way to end an awesome day. We met Sherry Cornett, the park manager, and can only describe her as energetic and completely vested in the success of the park. Hobo and I enjoyed a short well-maintained hike to Log Rock and enjoyed awesome views of Black Mountain. Something unique about the park I found was no matter your physical abilities you can enjoy some of the most spectacular views and rock formation from overlooks accessible by car. Kingdom Come State Park is in the heart of the Black Bear capital of Kentucky, and home of Kentucky’s third-largest colony of the endangered Indiana bat. All well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome in the park — remember to always practice good dog owner etiquette (www.parks.ky.gov or 606-589-2479).

In our own backyard we have a jewel rich in history and making their mark for the future — Harlan County, Kentucky; and if you have not visited in awhile I assure you it’s worth the trip to see a place coal has built. Hobo the Wonder Dog gives Benham, Cumberland and Lynch, Kentucky four paws up on dog friendliness and ease to enjoy a day with your pooch.

Life is better with a dog — woof!

Hobo the Wonder Dog, Your guide to travel, health and fun. Please follow Hobo on Facebook at Hobo the Wonder Dog or contact us at: howard@howardsbaker.com.