Owner of Mike’s Rock Shop dies at 69 years old

January 8, 2015

Written by: Sheree Krider



Victoria Fontana, owner of Mike’s Rock Shop in Barren County Kentucky died Sunday, January 4th at her home in Cave City.

Born March 20, 1946 she was 69 years old at the time of death.

“Vicky” was a model citizen and will be missed by all those in Cave City, Barren County and surrounding areas.  It was a sorrowful wake up call for everyone in the area.

Known for her loving and caring nature for all those around her ‘HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY THAT I LOVE YOU” was written in her memorial which was held Wednesday at Patton Funeral Home in Park City, Kentucky.

She was the Widow of Mike Fontana who passed away some years ago and she had diligently carried on at the “Rock Shop” since his death.  The future of the “Rock Shop” is unknown at this time but is expected to remain open in the interim.

She is to be laid to rest in Columbus, Indiana at an undisclosed location.

May she rest in peace.


Mountain lion killed in Kentucky

Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal 8:45 a.m. EST December 17, 2014



A Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officer killed a mountain lion on a Bourbon County farm on Monday, marking the first confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in Kentucky since before the Civil War, said Mark Marraccini, a spokesman for the agency.

Marraccini said a farmer spotted the cat in a tree and alerted the department. When the officer responded, he found the animal had been trapped in different tree by a barking dog and decided it was best to “dispatch it.”

Mountain lions were once native to Kentucky but they were killed off here more than a century ago, Marraccini said.

Mountain lions are the largest cats found in North America and can measure up to eight feet from nose to tail and weigh up to 180 pounds. Also known as cougars, pumas, panthers and catamounts, the cats are considered top-line predators because no other species feed on them.

Marraccini said the wildlife officer shot the cat because it was about 5:30 p.m. and getting dark and he feared that it would slip away in darkness and threaten people in the nearby city of Paris.

“If that cat had left that tree, it would have disappeared into the brush and it was a fairly populated area,” said Marraccini, who said it would have taken several hours and dark before a state veterinarian could retrieve the tranquilizer from her safe and get it to the scene had officials taken that route.

“It sounds good but it’s pretty impractical,” said Marraccini, who said the officer who shot the cat made the right call.

“That’s the way the officers deemed to handle it and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be handled that way,” he said.

Marraccini said a state veterinarian will conduct a necropsy on the cat Tuesday to determine if it is a wild cat or a former pet that was either released or escaped.

According to the Cougar Network, the cat is mostly confined to the western United States but is advancing east. For years, the Mississippi River has been thought to be a barrier to the mountain lion’s eastern expansion. But its clear they have been getting close to Kentucky.

They have colonized in South Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri, said Amy Rodrigues, a staff biologist for the Mountain Lion Foundation, and there have been sightings in recent years in Indiana and even downtown Chicago.

Rodrigues said that mountain lions each need more than 100 square miles to survive and many of the animals being killed as they expand east are young males under the age of two that have been kicked out by their mothers. They often travel east looking for deer, water and female cougars.

But Rodrigues said states that kill the animals when they enter are wrong for doing it and that the animals shouldn’t cause fear. “If you’re a deer, they’re a little dangerous. If you’re a human, not so much,” she said. “Attacks on people are not that common. There have only been 22 deaths in the last 120 years.”

She said people are at greater risk of dying from bee stings and lightning strikes than they are from cougar attacks.

They get a bad rap because “they are large animals with sharp teeth,” Rodrigues said.

She added the presence of mountain lions in an ecosystem adds to biological diversity, which she said helps the environment recover from natural disaster and diseases that affect the fauna in a region.

Mark Dowling, a director of the Cougar Network, which advocates for the use of science to understand the animals, said the population was being pushed further and further west until the 1960s when a number of western and midwestern states began to classify them as game animals rather than vermin, and limiting people’s right to kill them.

Since then, he said, the cats have been slowly reclaiming their old turf.

Marraccini said there is no official protocol about how to handle more mountain lions if they are found in Kentucky but he doubts that they will be allowed to colonize here like they have in many western states.

“Every one of them is handled on it’s own,” said Marraccini.

Marraccini said that people and legislators probably would be opposed to allowing the cats to stay in the state. “When you have a population essentially that has had generations and generations and generations that have not had top-line predators, you think about it. You going to let your kids wait for the school bus in the dark? …”

“From a wildlife diversity perspective, it would be a neat thing but from a social aspect, probably not,” he said.

Dowling wouldn’t take a position on whether the cat should have been killed but said that most states that have had the cats moving through them have just left the cats alone. In fact, he said he can’t think of a state wildlife agency that shoots them on sight but he noted that South Dakota will shoot them when they enter a city.

But he said human attacks are few and far between, even in California where there are thousands of the cats, some of them living within large cities like Los Angeles.

“It’s very, very rare for them to show any aggression toward humans,” he said. “They, in fact, have a fear of people.”

Animals like the mountain lion once near extinction or limited in their range are rebounding across the country. The first gray wolf confirmed in Kentucky in generations was shot by a hunter a year and a half ago near Munfordville.


What Is Fracking and Why Should It Be Banned?




The case to ban fracking grows stronger every day. Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. It’s a water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid — a mix of water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer — are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This releases extra oil and gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.

But the process of fracking introduces additional industrial activity into communities beyond the well. Clearing land to build new access roads and new well sites, drilling and encasing the well, fracking the well and generating the waste, trucking in heavy equipment and materials and trucking out the vast amounts of toxic waste — all of these steps contribute to air and water pollution risks and devaluation of land that are turning our communities into sacrifice zones. Fracking threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we all depend. That’s why over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and why Vermont, France and Bulgaria have stopped it.

Why a Ban? Can Regulations Make Fracking Safe?

Ban Fracking in Your Area

No. Fracking is inherently unsafe and we cannot rely on regulation to protect communities’ water, air and public health. The industry enjoys exemptions from key federal legislation protecting our air and water, thanks to aggressive lobbying and cozy relationships with our federal decision makers (the exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act is often referred to as the Cheney or Halliburton Loophole, because it was negotiated by then-Vice President Dick Cheney with Congress in 2005). Plus, the industry is aggressively clamping down on local and state efforts to regulate fracking by buying influence and even bringing lawsuits to stop them from being implemented. That’s why fracking can’t be made safe through government oversight or regulations. An all out ban on fracking is the only way to protect our communities.

Learn More


Hunters Killed 20 Bears in Kentucky During Season


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — State Fish and Wildlife officials say hunters in Kentucky claimed 20 black bears during the season that ended in December.

It was the first season with a new expanded bear hunting zone and an archery and crossbow season.

Hunters can now hunt bears in 16 Kentucky counties, up from four counties in 2012.

In the recent season, hunters harvested eight male and two female bears during the firearms season. They took six males and four females during the archery and crossbow season.

Seven were killed in Letcher County, and three bears each were taken in Harlan, Leslie and Perry counties.

Modern-day bear hunting in Kentucky began in 2009.


Furry intruder caught on camera (HERE’S THE BEARS!)


OHIO COUNTY, KY (WAVE) – A furry intruder was caught on camera in Western Kentucky.

A family went outside and found a black bear raiding their deer-feeder.

Wildlife officials suspect the young bear was either forced out of its territory in eastern Kentucky or Tennessee by another black bear and is wandering around trying to find a girlfriend.

In June, there was a bear sighting near Mammoth Cave and on July 12 five people in Daviess County reported they saw a bear near Masonville.

Experts said the bear appears to be a small and estimate he weighs between 100 and 150 pounds.


Funtown Mountain owner tells his side of the story (arrested for Marijuana in Louisville, Ky)

Will Russell drives a trolley away from Funtown Mountain on Thursday


Posted: Friday, July 17, 2015 12:01 am

BY GINA KINSLOW / Glasgow Daily Times

CAVE CITY — Police were called to Funtown Mountain on Thursday, after responding to two separate calls there Wednesday.

The police received a 911 call around 11 a.m. Thursday regarding a disturbance.

“When we arrived there wasn’t one,” said Police Chief Jeff Wright. “Everything seemed to be normal.”

All three calls were regarding Will Russell, owner of Funtown Mountain, who was allegedly damaging property in the attraction’s gift shop.

Russell spoke to media on Thursday as he sat in a red, white and blue lawn chair in front of the gift shop.

He told members of the media from the Glasgow Daily Times and WDRB – a television news station in Louisville – he had been detained most of the week in handcuffs.

He indicated he sustained injuries when he was arrested last weekend during The Lebowski Fest in Louisville.

Russell was charged with possession of marijuana, menacing and resisting arrest Saturday. He was arrested at Executive Strike & Spare, a bowling alley where the fest was celebrated, the Daily Times previously reported.

On Thursday, Russell said he broke 19 years of sobriety during the weekend event when he accepted a beer from someone in the parking lot of the bowling alley.

He also said police found him smoking a corn cob pipe.

When asked if he was smoking marijuana, Russell said he didn’t know what the substance was.

“It was green and it smelled a little bit like cotton candy. It was probably bluegrass, you know Kentucky bluegrass or hemp or something like that,” he said. “There’s a lot of names for it.”

Russell said he suffers from a bipolar condition and is taking medication. He also told reporters he was under the care of a psychiatrist and had been seeing the same physician for 20 years.

He said he had been hospitalized last year.

“I was given electric shock therapy. I have no short-term memory,” he said. “It’s been fine. I’ve got a lot of people to help me keep track of things.”

On Wednesday, after the second time police were summoned to Funtown Mountain, Russell was taken to a facility in Bowling Green.

Russell wrote about the incident on his personal Facebook page, and talked about it on Thursday with reporters.

“They interviewed me. They determined I was not a threat to myself or anyone else,” he said. “So, they let me go.”

Russell said he was dropped off at the White Squirrel Brewery in Bowling Green, where he was given a free hot dog and French fries, before being sent on his way.



Industrial hemp producers may be able to transport their crops across state lines thanks to an amendment to the Senate’s $148.3 billion agriculture spending bill offered by McConnell.



Hemp finds place in appropriations bill

Industrial hemp producers may be able to transport their crops across state lines thanks to an amendment to the Senate’s $148.3 billion agriculture spending bill offered by McConnell.

The bill cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 28-2 vote on Thursday.

“Kentucky’s industrial hemp pilot programs continue to prosper and I want to make sure our legal hemp producers can safely transport their crops between states, including to States that maintain processing facilities, so they can fully capitalize on the commercial potential for this commodity,” McConnell said in a statement.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer praised McConnell’s efforts to boost hemp production in the U.S., saying the state’s agricultural sector “continues to be indebted to Senator McConnell for his continued leadership on industrial hemp.”

The GOP majority leader also worked with a pair of Democratic senators — Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Jon Tester of Montana — last month to maintain state-level industrial hemp pilot programs despite the illegality of marijuana’s botanical cousin at the federal level, according to a news release.

“This latest language reemphasizes that industrial hemp from a farm bill research program is an agricultural commodity,” Comer said in a statement. “The ability of Kentucky to research the full potential of industrial hemp through processing, marketing, and sales is vital to understanding the future possibilities for industrial hemp.”

Kentucky is one of 13 states that allow the commercial production of industrial hemp, with seven others operating research-only plots, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.



All activities at Funtown Mountain NOT canceled

By Sarah Eisenmenger

Funtown Mountain in Cave City, Kentucky (Source: Google Maps)


LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A family fun park has closed following the arrest of its founder.

The roadside attraction’s facebook page said activities at Funtown Mountain were canceled as of Wednesday, July 15.

[RELATED: Lebowski Fest founder arrested at event]

Funtown Mountain founder Will Russell was arrested on July 11 and charged with possession of marijuana and resisting arrest.
In addition to the park, Russell founded Louisville’s Lebwoski Fest and the WHY Louisville store.
No further details on the fate of Funtown Mountain have been released.


Will Russell (Source: LMDC)


Originally posted to "Stumble Upon" this information is important!

If Everyone Knew




The prison system in the United States is a profit-making industry.

Private corporations operate over 200 facilities nationwide and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.




Six corporations control virtually all American media.

News Corp. owns over 27 television stations and over 150 newspapers. Time Warner has over 100 subsidiaries including CNN, Time Magazine, and The CW.




The FBI admits to infiltrating & disrupting peaceful political groups in the United States.,

The Womens’ and Civil Rights movements were among those targeted, with their members being beaten, imprisoned, and assassinated.




In 1977 it was revealed that random American citizens were abducted & tortured for research by the CIA.

Project MK Ultra was the code name for a series of covert activities in the early 1950’s.




A plan to attack American cities to justify war with Cuba was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962.

Rejected by President Kennedy, Operation Northwoods remained classified for 35 years.




Hello! We’re Kentuckians, and we’ve made it fun to see every square mile of the Commonwealth.




We’re Kentuckians, and we’ve made it fun to see every square mile of the Commonwealth.

We have an entire state worth seeing and loving, from Stopover in Pike County all the way to Madrid Bend in Fulton County.

And every “Map Dot” in between.

We hope you can join us on this journey by liking our Facebook page. Every day, a new picture will find its way there.

We’re Kentucky. And so glad to have you along for the ride!

-Cory, Travis, Telia, and Kellie

About Cory:

Cory has been a fixture of Radio and TV in Kentucky for the past 15 years. He was the Creator and Host of NASCAR Race Wrap on WBGN Radio in 2001, and has also worked on-air at the Beaver FM, WUHU 107, and Froggy 103. Winner, William Randolph Hearst National Journalism Award, 2002. From 2009 to 2014 he was a travel contributor to WBKO-TV’s Midday Live, and also contributed to several radio stations in central Kentucky. Cory has been featured on KET, the front cover of Kentucky Living Magazine, in the Bowling Green Daily News, and nationally featured with an AP story in September, 2013. Currently a columnist for newspapers in western Kentucky, and also for STORY Magazine. He has been to every single county in Kentucky multiple times, and over 250 hiking trips. Nominated, Best Radio Personality in Bowling Green, 2014.


Cave Region group wants to create trail towns

Caves Rivers Trails Initiative


Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 3:00 am

BY GINA KINSLOW Glasgow Daily Times

CAVE CITY — A few members of the Cave Region Trails Initiative Steering Committee reviewed on Monday night a rough draft of a grant application the organization will be submitting to the National Park Service next month.

The committee hopes to secure administrative support from NPS to create a master plan it can use as a guide in connecting trails in and around 11 cities in the region.

“The ultimate goal is to make 11 Trail Towns,” said Sharon Tabor, executive director of the Cave City Tourism and Convention Commission.

According to the Kentucky Office of Adventure Tourism, a trail town is a destination along a lengthy trail or is adjacent to a trail.

On Monday night, the steering committee members edited the six-page grant application, making additions and deletions where needed.

Among those who turned out to help with the editing process was Ginny Grulke with Lexington-based Kentucky Back Country Horsemen, which has a local chapter in the Mammoth Cave area called Mammoth Cave Back Country Horsemen.

“I think it’s great,” Grulke said about the initiative, after the meeting. “We’ve found in the last two years (that) the interest in trails has just exploded around the state. Because of our small counties, the more regional you get, the better.”

She continued to explain that a trail doesn’t necessarily stop at a county boundary, and therefore that’s why the regional effort to connect all 11 cities is so important.

Ann Stewart, marketing director for the Glasgow-Barren County Tourist and Convention Commission, also attended the meeting and helped with the editing process.



A Bike Tour of Eastern Kentucky‘s Back Roads


Ale-8-One is a ginger-ale-like soda usually sold in glass bottles and popular in the hills of eastern Kentucky. During a bike trip through the region last month, for example, I washed down a burger with one on the back porch of a bed-and-breakfast owned by a man who once walked more than 3,000 miles across America on stilts. The next night, I blasted another out of the crook of a tree branch with a 9-millimeter Smith & Wesson.

I rarely drink soda and I’m not into guns. But what’s the point of travel if not to have new and sometimes discomforting experiences?

Eastern Kentucky, Appalachian coal country, was, in truth, a rather random destination, the result of browsing the routes plied by Megabus and realizing I could get to nearby Lexington from New York for only $63, round trip. (Warning: the bus trip is far from direct and took me a total of 17 hours on the road, with two connections.) As my method of transit within the state, I chose a bicycle. Bikes are the most social form of of transportation; people wave to you, and you can stop in anywhere to fill a water bottle or charge a phone. Though Kentucky has plenty of beautiful scenery, my hope was that this trip would be about people. Bring on the discomfort.

After some emails and phone calls with two avid Lexington cyclists — Randy Thomas, president of the Bluegrass Cycling Club, and Allen Kirkwood of the nonprofit Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop — I had a four-day, 160-mile back roads route through a bit of bluegrass country, best known for its horses and bourbon, and then east into the hills. I would pass by Red River Gorge in Daniel Boone National Forest, and tiny towns with nary a restaurant or motel before picking up about 20 miles of a new bike and horse path, the Dawkins Line Rail Trail. It ends near a small town called Paintsville, which happens to be home to a rare Enterprise Rent-a-Car office that could get me back to Lexington and my return bus.

But first, the bike. At Scheller’s Fitness and Cycling in Lexington, a Trek Domane 4.3 was $160 for up to a week. Once I had wended my way out of the city, things got scenic fast: car-free country lanes lined with deep-brown, four-rail fences enclosing lush pastures dotted with horses that barely moved in the heat. It felt like riding through a painting, until a horse’s tail whisked away a fly or a wind gust rustled a tree.

A couple of hours in, things began to change. Horses gave way to cows, fences got shabbier, the paint on homes more weathered. And I finally began to encounter people, as in the tiny, worn center of North Middletown, population 650 or so, where I stopped at a gas station and convenience store that was — typically, I would later learn — the lone source of action in town. I treated myself to a soft ice cream ($1.69) and asked a man sitting outside what was going on. “Nothing,” he said. “People are either on welfare or on drugs.”

Back on my bike, I headed through a route dotted with barns. Slender gaps in the boards of one older barn created a strobe effect as I rode past. Outside another, dozens of goats lounged in the shade, only to scatter as I approached, as had horses earlier in the trip.

Thirty-odd miles later, after an unfussy $9.99 catfish dinner at Kathy’s Country Kitchen in Clay City, I checked into the nondescript Abner Motel ($60 for the night), expecting to collapse on my bed. However, Mexican ranchera music was playing in the parking lot and I wandered out to inquire. A mostly Latino group of workers on a local gas pipeline was occupying a row of rooms, and had set up a barbecue.

A Texas-born Mexican-American gave me a Corona and pointed me toward the grill; Salvadoran immigrants from Tallahassee, Fla., talked about the time they had worked on a Nantucket golf course where Bill Clinton played; and a burly West Virginia ironworker named Jim urged me to try his co-worker’s freshly made salsa. Jim also tried to give me a tutorial on the use of white bread as a leak-stopper for cracked PVC pipe. Ah, people. So much more welcoming than horses or goats.

With a lack of lodging along upcoming stretches of my route, I was to stay the next night just six miles ahead (plus the loop through the national forest), at a bed-and-breakfast. At $110, it was way over my budget, but Randy and Allen, the two bike experts, insisted that I was not to miss the character who owned it: Joe Bowen, a retired construction worker, political activist, inveterate storyteller and Kentucky booster. His local bona fides were strong, to wit, his Bowen Farm Bed & Breakfast is at 315 Bowen Road, in Bowen, Ky., and his family has been in the region since the 1700s. A widower, he built the house using parts he had salvaged in the demolition of old country estates.

Joe had extraordinary energy. He made the beds, cooked breakfast, booked reservations and entertained his guests, which in this case meant me and the six-person Olnick family, who had been vacationing at Joe’s for years. Randy and Allen had told him about me, so my cover had been blown, and I thought I might be given special treatment. It was his regulars who got it.

In just the day I was there, he repeatedly pushed the youngest Olnick, Addison, on a swing and held a barbecue and joint birthday party for himself (he turned 72) and the Olnick’s oldest daughter, Kearstin (14). (This was where I tried the Ale-8-One.) They treated Joe like a grandfather, and he spoiled them as though he was one.

That day, after I had biked into some challenging hills in the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Joe met me in his truck (with two of the Olnick kids in tow) to show me some views of the forested gorge and its sandstone cliffs, popular among climbers. These included views of two of the 100-plus natural bridges the area is perhaps best known for. I questioned whether Joe would do this for all his guests, but the stories he told at Sky Bridge and Angel Windows were so smooth and practiced it was obvious I was far from the first to hear them.

In fact, his stories never stopped. How he had maneuvered to have the founder of a local children’s home carry the Olympic torch. How he had walked from Los Angeles to Bowen on stilts, and later traveled across the country by bike. How he got a statue built of his favorite Kentucky leader, Bert Combs, who was governor from 1959 to 1963. And then there was the time he made the newspaper, by accusing a prominent architect of stealing ideas for a building in downtown Lexington from the Sphinx.

I’d miss all this hospitality during the following two-day stretch of my trip, with 85 miles to Paintsville and nowhere to sleep in between.

I started again early Sunday morning, riding past barns decorated with colorful quilt patterns, flower-covered graves in tiny family cemeteries, Civil War plaques (Kentucky was a famously divided border state), and, occasionally, shops that could have passed for tourist attractions, like Bea’s Bee Hive in Hazel Green, a former general store turned into something between a yard sale and an antiques shop, open only on weekends.

What were really missing were lunch options, which were limited mostly to Hunt Brothers Pizza at gas stations. That problem was solved at the tiny, whitewashed Country Side Community Church along a meandering stretch of Route 134. I was attracted by the “Everyone welcome” sign, handwritten on blistered white paint, and headed in, hoping to have a glimpse inside, a friendly conversation or, who knows, a lead on a place to sleep. Instead I found a meal — there was plenty of spaghetti and meat sauce in the kitchen left over from play rehearsal for an upcoming bible camp — heard from the family that had so kindly invited me in about how the church was founded by a missionary from New York, and admired their “tarpin,” which is how they pronounced terrapin.



By 5:30 or so, I had reached the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, but I found it was gravel and not bike-friendly. Wondering about a potential alternative route, I stopped at yet another gas station, the Parkway Convenient Mart, for some assistance.

This one was different. At the counter, homemade Kentucky cream candy (a melt-in-your-mouth local treat) was on sale in plastic baggies for $3, and people gathered by an out-of-place communal table near the soda machine. They were members of the Marsillett family, owners of the store. The road would take me to Paintsville, they said, but they doubted I could make it there before dark.

So they made me an offer: I could stay in one of the family’s hunting cabins, set deep in the woods amid their hundreds of acres. Minutes later I was hanging out with Kevin, 19, and his cousins, Cody, 14, and Jordan, 10, at their pool. The family was obviously well-off, at least in local terms: The house was huge, and in addition to owning the gas station, the family bred hunting dogs and owned a metal scrapyard. And raised goats, who stared down at us from a small bluff as we dropped down the water slide.

Kevin, Cody and Jordan seemed to be tickled by the presence of an urban guest; they showed me the house’s “man-cave” (a sign labeled it as such), where camouflage furniture prevailed and hunting trophies covered the walls. Cody told me they had once adopted a sick bobcat. “You’re the first family I’ve ever met to have a bobcat,” I told him.

He corrected me: “We’ve had two.”

The boys took me to two safes in the master bedroom, where the family’s huge gun collection was stored. The arsenal included collector’s items like an intriguing double-barrel shotgun with a separate trigger for each barrel and a pink gun, “for Mom.”

We jolted up an impossibly rutted, rock-filled hill in the family’s side-by-side ATV, with Cody at the wheel. Nobody but me buckled his seatbelt. The cabin, really a Lowe’s tool shed with pieces cut out and windows installed, was perched on a platform high off the ground, deep in the woods. Night was falling.

“This would be a good place to kill someone,” said Kevin, and then looked to see if he had scared me. Inside was a cot, a stove and a half-dozen buzzing wasp nests. Cody burned them with a stove lighter and killed any escapees with his baseball hat.

Later that night, after a pizza from the gas station, we headed back to the cabin for the evening’s activity: target practice. They placed an Ale-8-One bottle horizontally in the nook of a tree, and handed over the Smith & Wesson pistol. (I should note here that I have used guns before and know the basics, so this was not as insane as it sounds.) Bam! I knocked off the whole bottom of the bottle with the first shot, though the top stayed put and I proceeded to miss it entirely, six shots in a row.

The night was calm, except for a sting from a half-dead wasp that I missed on the cot. I thanked everyone the next morning and took the road into the hills, reaching Paintsville by about 11 a.m. It turned out I could have made it the night before, but I was glad I hadn’t tried. My motel in Paintsville was quiet and anonymous. The Marsillett family experience had been anything but.

A version of this article appears in print on July 12, 2015, on page TR8 of the New York edition with the headline: Open Doors Along Back Roads.