Walking Journal / Walking

Walk 26 – Papa John’s Park

. 4 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Walk 26 – Papa John’s Park

Attack of the monster mallards

I intended to not take more than one Walk in Nature per day for this series. But the God of Schlepping to Children’s Birthday Parties (quite a major deity in this stage of my life) took me right by two ponds and a seemingly greeny-treey area before. I’d never stopped to explore. I had two hours until the birthday party ends, so this seemed like an auspicious time to take a walk. I’m glad I did. 

The paths, as so many paths have been on these Walks, were asphalted, with plentiful benches and tables. Perfect for taking a break, eating lunch or reading a book.

We seem skeptical of all this asphalting of the world. On these Walks, whenever I have encountered asphalt, I have also always found thin trails heading off the asphalt, often heading to a body of water. This Park was no different. I saw a faint path pointing me 12 or 14 steps to one of the ponds. I arrived there just in time to witness five turtles jumping off a log into the water. Or did my appearance cause them to seek asylum in the murky, protective waters?

Another path off the asphalt, on first look, took me into the woods. I eagerly followed it. After about 50 steps, I stopped, um, dead in my tracks, facing a small graveyard, the Orr Family Cemetery, from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The main two headstones, joined at the bottom, contained an inscription: “Not Dead But Resteth.” Two other small, unmarked pillars seemed like tombstones, but without any writing, I wasn’t certain. I bowed my head and uttered a prayer. 

Back on the asphalt, I headed toward the main building, formerly the headquarters of Papa John’s. Before long, it took me further from the trees so I turned around. At a fork in the road, a sign proclaimed, “Timm’s Trail.” I wondered who Timm was and about his connection to Papa John’s. An internet search later revealed no clues. 

I sat down at a table and wrote the first couple paragraphs about this Walk.

I crossed Papa John’s Boulevard, heading to the second pond. There I encountered a beautiful waterfall. I followed the black asphalt around to come face to face with a photo shoot – men in black tie and women in long blue and red ball gowns. A beautiful backdrop for photos. 

I headed back to the first pond, which has a fountain shooting water in the shape of the fleur de lis, the symbol of Louisville. I suspect Papa John’s installed the waterfall and the fountain for beautification, yes, but also to drown out the noise from busy Tucker Station Road and Bluegrass Parkway nearby. 

Sitting down on a bench by this pond, I began to write again. Soon I felt a presence, an eerie rumbling in my soul. I looked around. Ah! Only a family taking some final photos by the pond before departing for the day. They walked away. The eerie sensation persisted. Then, before I could look behind me again, I heard a loud “Quack!”


Three mallards had closed in behind my bench before announcing their presence – with authority! They squawked loudly – they wanted something – bread, Papa John’s Pizza, my soul? With another united, loud quacking, they spread their wings and rushed past my bench, splashing into the water. They ate and played and walked back on shore – and kept a menacing eye on me! 

One map said I would find another, larger cemetery in this Park. I looked around and found it – the Blankenbaker Family Cemetery. Here I also stopped, bowed my head and quietly spoke a prayer. 

Two hours had passed. Carefully steering clear of the mallards, I moseyed back to my car.