A visit to horse country
Last week, Johnny and I took a much-needed vacation. I convinced him that we should absolutely visit Lexington, Kentucky. He suggested we spend a couple of days in Louisville, so we spent a delightful week gallivanting around the state of Kentucky.
We kicked off our trip with a brief stop in Nashville to watch the eclipse- my best friend lives just north of the city. After nearly convincing ourselves we had fake eclipse glasses, then determining they were genuine, we enjoyed the eclipse from my friend’s front yard. It was a stunning experience; we were in the path of totality, and the quiet that descended when the moon blotted out the sun for a few minutes was uncanny.
The traffic between Nashville and Lexington was also an experience. The drive, which should have taken about three hours, took seven. SEVEN. We arrived at our Airbnb well into the evening, ordered a pizza, and went to bed.
We slept in on Tuesday, and ate an early lunch at Wallace Station where I indulged in a country ham and pimento cheese sandwich. (Any trip to the south is incomplete without country ham.) The drive out there and back was lovely, and even Johnny was captivated by the rolling pastures outlined by neat board fences and filled with playful bands of weanlings. We toured Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company, where we sampled beer and bourbon. Our next stop was Ethereal Brewery. Their taproom is a big, airy space, perfect for whiling away a warm afternoon. We headed back to the Airbnb for a nap after that and had dinner downtown at HopCat.
Wednesday found us at the Kentucky Horse Park. I’ve been to the Horse Park several times as a competitor and Rolex spectator, but I haven’t been as a tourist in many years. Johnny, who has never been, was impressed by the size of the place. We watched the Hall of Champions presentation and admired Thoroughbreds Go For Gin and Funny Cide, American Quarter Horse Be A Bono, and Standardbred Western Dreamer. The residents of the Hall of Champions were total hams who mugged for the cameras and happily submitted to the crowds eager to pet them after the show. Standardbred Mr. Muscleman wasn’t in the show we saw, but he hung his head out of his stall and gently sniffed a group of children who were admiring him. Johnny seemed completely tickled by the famous horses doing all the things the horses he sees every day do.
After the Hall of Champions show, we headed down a shady lane to catch the Parade of Breeds presentation. We saw the American Cream Draft (which I didn’t even know was a breed), the Morgan, the American Paint Horse, the Gypsy Vanner, the Lipizzaner (who looked aggrieved), and the Tennessee Walking Horse. The Parade of Breeds was kind of corny, but kids and adults alike were rapt throughout the show. The performers allowed people to pet the horses after the show, and I patted the long-suffering Lipizzaner.
I took Johnny out to the cross country course after that. He was intent on finding one of the big duck jumps that’s usually featured at Rolex, so we trekked around the course and admired the enormous jumps that were scattered throughout the area. We didn’t find a duck, but we did see a goose jump back up at the main equine theme park complex. We ended our visit at Man O’War’s grave before having an early dinner at Locals’.
We drove up to Louisville on Thursday morning, where we spent the early afternoon touring Churchill Downs. The tour was short but informative and it was neat to see the big track so empty (and under construction). The Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs was full of memorabilia, statistics, and videos of Derbies past. We spent over an hour watching races and reading about winners. We also visited Twinspired, the current resident Thoroughbred.
In Louisville, we stayed at The Galt House, which is downtown on the Ohio River. We had a super view of the river from our room! We dined at the hotel on Thursday evening and hit the hay early. On Friday, we walked to the Muhammad Ali Center and spent a couple of hours there. I’d definitely recommend it- the exhibits are thoughtful and in-depth. It’s much more than a museum dedicated to a boxer; topics addressed in the center range from spirituality and religion to civil rights. I especially enjoyed the temporary exhibit Grandmother Power that highlighted the activism of grandmothers around the world.
After lunch at Mussel & Burger Bar, we walked around downtown Louisville for an hour or so before returning to the hotel to pack up our suitcases and souvenirs. On Friday evening, we took a cruise on the Belle of Louisville steamboat. It was a pleasant way to unwind, even if there was an astonishing number of turnt old people on board. We walked to Los Aztecas (because we are unable to go more than a week without Tex-Mex) for a late dinner and had a nightcap at the hotel bar.
We returned home on Saturday. I’m so glad I was able to share some of my favorite places with Johnny and that we were able to spend a fun week in horse country! I feel energetic and recharged and ready to tackle some household projects after I return from a monster work trip.