When it came to planning a vacation with her four teenagers this summer, Krystal Albers took the term “road trip” to an all-new level.
Albers and her children have taken on the gargantuan task of visiting each of Kentucky’s 120 counties. As of Saturday, they had made stops in 50 counties — a solid swath of northeastern, central and northern Kentucky.
“I wanted to be intentional about spending time with the kids this summer,” Albers explained, adding the family travels only backroads to reach each destination. “I thought this would be a good way to do that while staying in our state.”
Daughters Savannah, 15, Madalyn, 14, and Baylee, 13, were onboard with idea. Son Kaleb, 16, took more convincing, but he eventually warmed to the summer adventure.
His favorite memories thus far have been seeing abandoned barns and wide, open cornfields that gave him a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” vibe.
“We also ran over a snake last weekend. That was cool,” he said of the thump-thump as the tires squished the reptile.
In addition to exploring all corners of the Bluegrass State, the day trips also give the clan a break from screen time.
“We’ve talked, laughed, sang and shared stories, as we enjoy seeing the different sights around us,” Albers said, adding that with her kids nearing driving age, she wanted to make as many memories as possible before they start going their separate ways.
Savannah, a junior at Western Hills High School, said the break from technology has been challenging, but worth it.
“You generally find our generation shoved into a screen with tags and posts, such as ‘I’m bored,’” she said. “This trip gives us a chance to get away from that.”
The future teacher or therapist has also enjoyed spending time with family and learning how to read a detailed map — a talent each teen has honed since the start of the adventure.
For Baylee, an eighth-grader at Bondurant Middle School, the Rabbit Hash General Store in Boone County and the treetop adventure at Levi Jackson State Park in Laurel County have been the highlights of the summer so far.
“With the internet craze ‘Laurel vs. Yanny,’ throughout the trip I referred to Laurel County only as Yanny County,” she said with a giggle.
Each excursion also includes a lunch stop at mom-and-pop restaurants — something that always brings smiles.
Madalyn, a WHHS freshman who has aspirations of becoming a veterinarian, has taken time to notice the vibrant sunsets and gorgeous views along the way.
“One of the most memorable things has been the number of people who have stopped to see if we need help,” she said of the number of times the family has been pulled off the road to take photos.
The Albers stop at county lines to take photos with each new county’s sign. (Don’t worry, it is done safely with the vehicle, emergency flashers on, parked between the family and traffic.)
Once the family completes its canvas of the state, which will likely be in the fall, Albers plans on printing out the photos from each county, cutting each in the shape of that county and placing it on a huge wooden cutout of Kentucky.
“It will be a piece I will treasure forever,” the mother of four said. “As will the memories.”