There are few things Lawrenceburg native Keith Franklin likes more than taking his four-wheeled ragtop out for a spin. However, his favorite mode of transportation doesn’t have a motor, and it won’t run without eight legs in front of it.
Seventy-six-year-old Franklin – with his son, Scottie; great-grandson, James, 7, and “guard dog” Sophie in his wagon – made his way through Frankfort Thursday afternoon in three covered wagons on an annual trip.
“We do it every year and usually go to Indiana, but this year we stayed in Kentucky,” said family friend Walter Centers, who is on his seventh annual trip and led the pack Thursday.
Donnie Waldridge has taken his son, Dakota, 5, on the wagon since he was 4 days old. However, Franklin, who brought up the end of the gang, has been traveling in covered wagons for about 50 years.
“Well, you see, I was born and raised on a farm,” Franklin said. “I’ve been doing this my whole life, and I love the outdoors.”
About 40 years ago, Franklin co-founded the Kentucky Trailblazers with his cousin after picking up the covered wagon hobby. He’s traveled to Indiana many times and across Kentucky, but his most memorable trip was an excursion to Virginia.
It took 27 days, and “it was the greatest trip I ever took in my life,” he said Thursday afternoon while parked in his covered wagon on the shoulder of U.S. 127 north of Frankfort.
“There are so many people who would give anything to be able to do what we’re doing – old people and young people,” Franklin said.
Many waved and gawked at the caravan as motorists slowed to get a better look at the old wagons as they passed through Franklin County. The riders welcomed questions from strangers about their hobby.
Sophie, the half Russell Terrier “guard dog,” is more than a decade old and has taken the wagon trips with Franklin since he got her as a pup.
“She goes everywhere I go,” he says.
The wagons carry food, a grill and sleeping gear.
“Boy, we eat good,” Franklin said.
On the trip this week, cornbread was a crowd pleaser, and overall the weather has been pleasant.
“The wind (Wednesday) night was pretty strong though – the wagon shook,” Franklin said. A space heater was put to good use after James lost his sleeping bag, and Franklin gave the boy his. The men sleep in the back of the wagon or in tents they’ve packed.
“You can’t see a third of what we see when you’re in a vehicle,” he said. “We can slow down and stop and look at what’s around us, and you just can’t do that when you’re driving an automobile.”
The wagons took off from Scott County Sunday and made their way to Frankfort from Carrollton. They plan to make it home to Lawrenceburg today.