Sunday, May 2, 2010

Letter 6 Kentucky II

Monday, April 26 The week of the Kentucky Derby and we were still in Bardstown, near Louisville. We just had to have a taste of the “Derby!” This race is called “The Run for the Roses.” This is the 135th continuously run stakes race in America. “The Greatest two minutes in sports.” And the first jewel in racing’s Triple Crown.

We thought we might go to a race on Wednesday to get the flavor so we arrived at Churchill Downs to see about tickets. We found a wonderful museum inside the starting gates. Olivia found her favorite hat with
a red flower.

We were treated to a walking tour out to the track and our guide told us lots of facts of the big day. We were in the
middle of the viewing stands very near where the trainers sit on the big day. On Saturday there will be 150,000 people on these premises and at least 50,000 won’t see a horse!

Back in the museum we sat on little stools and viewed a
movie in an oval room. We were constantly swiveling on the stools as the slides flashed around the room.

In the show rooms we became
winner’s with our horse.

In the gift shop, Fred admired a
“mint julep” t-shirt and Olivia enjoyed “looking” at the hats. They were on sale for $400-800. No thanks!

Included in our “taste” of the Derby we found the café and ordered a Mint Julepthen decided to stay for lunch. While there we noticed a professional camera filming a couple sitting at a table. When they left a waitress came to us, she noticed we were enjoying a mint julep and asked if we would like the one from the photo shoot for free. Of course, we took her up on it. The best part of the drink is we were able to keep the glasses. Our waiter was very interesting and answered all our questions.

While eating Fred noticed a lady in a hat and derby dress and being the shy guy he is, he started talking to her. We had fun chatting with the self proclaimed,
Derby Lady,” and she posed with us. Everything on her was derby related, from her hat, belt of stirrups, and red roses purse. She gave us gifts
of ticket earrings and pin for Olivia and a good luck horseshoe for Fred. The horseshoe is authentic Churchill Downs. They throw them away and she recycles them, including the dirt? from the track!
With all that flavor we decided we didn’t need to go back for a race. In fact, should we ever decide to go to the Derby, we would need about $300,000 to be delivered in a taxi or limo and a police escort to the best viewing place. Fat Chance, Huh!
Not only is there all this hype at Churchill Downs, but the whole town gets into the swing. All the charities have big events, parades, carnivals, you name it, it’s here. Natives say they lay low until it is all over.

Back to reality and history we drove across the Ohio to see what is left of the
Falls of the Ohio. In the visitor’s center we saw what it looked like before canalization.
On a bluff overlooking the falls we saw a replica of George Rogers Clark’s
two story cabin where he lived after the revolution and ran a mill. At least Louisville, KY and Clarkston, IN people know about GRC. He was given almost all of Clark county, Indiana for his service, but since he was never paid for his supplies, his creditors took all but this spot.

He lived in this house until he fell unconscious near the fireplace and burned his leg. It had to be amputated and he was taken to his sister’s home Locust Grove. We could see why he enjoyed living on this bluff.

Tuesday, April 27, George Rogers Clark moved to Locust Grove in 1809. It was fitting the
Locust trees were in full bloom when we arrived. It was the first
“big” house in this area. It was build like the old style Virginia homes they had known.

Our knowledgeable docent gave us a private tour. She told us this stone wall was
a “ha-ha.” So you crossword puzzle fans when the clue says a disappearing wall this is what one looks like. This wall originally surrounded the house to keep the farm animals out, but on the inside of the wall the yard went up to the top of the wall. Clever, eh! Olivia thinks it could also be a retaining wall.

This home was build by
William Croghan and wife
Lucy, Clark’s sister. It now is part of a county park and an anonymous donor has underwritten the restoration authenticity of every inch. Studies have been made for the wall paper, paints and floor coverings and they are being replicated.
This example of the “carpet” is actually a tapestry and covers the room from wall to wall. The strips are only 2’ wide. The green paint pn the woodwork is something very special and expensive for the period. They have an excellent web site with a special on their restoration, wall papers, carpets and furniture at
Historians in Waxahachie please visit this site.

George Rogers Clark’s
portrait in later years is very surly looking, but that was the “look” of the time for many portraits. He was bitter for not being reimbursed for his supplies. He was given a sword for his service.

Upstairs was
a ball room and was probably the room their brother William and Lewis displayed their treasures from the west when they returned from their expedition.

Many dignitaries were entertained here including Presidents Jackson, Monroe and Taylor.

One of the many outbuildings included a
carpenter’s house. Mike Fenton, we know you would be jealous of the supply of tools. The carpenter lived upstairs

After the history lesson we drove along the river to downtown Louisville to a more current activity, baseball!. Louisville is home to the
Louisville Slugger and we visited the factory and museum for their tour. We were just in time to join a very large group of
high school students from around the USA, here for their DECA competition for marketing. This was the last day of their event and those who had been eliminated were free to see the town. Many chose the Slugger tour. Olivia commented about how well behaved high school students can be and these were certainly polite and well behaved.

As we waited in line Fred noticed A&M shirts behind us and we found this group was from Smithville, Texas, near Austin. Our good friends from Waxahachie, Texas, Ron and June Garrett hail from Smithville. The student’s sponsor lives in LaGrange. Sure enough she is a patient of Karen Pelt Roberts and we told her about our life long friendship with Karen’s parents. She will tell Karen when she sees her again.

We noticed a neighbor to the museum was
a mirror and glass place with a cute billboard.

On the tour we were told 40,000 Ash and Maple trees supply the logs for The Louisville Slugger Bats. 10% are high enough quality for major league bats. The rest are used for minor league and recreational bats, as well as mini bats.

We saw how they cut the
60 oz billets from a log.
Each day 2,000-5,000 wooden bats are milled. Big league ballplayers order 100-250 bats each season.

At the end of the tour we were given souvenir mini-bats.

We arrived back at the trailer in time to see the sun going down behind the tall trees and the
empty campground. We were all by our lonesome this night.

Wednesday, April 28 we slept in then CLEANED the trailer. Our reward was a wonderful drive through the Kentucky country side to the
Maker’s Mark Distillery. We had a wonderful docent with lots of personality and knowledge. This distillery has been in business a long time, but only since 1960 under the name of Maker’s Mark. The family has been in the business for seven generations, but only three have been Maker’s Mark. The owner didn’t like the recipe and taste so he sold the family name then later created a new recipe, with no rye. It has 71% corn, plus wheat and a barley mixture. We saw where they mixed and cooked, then where they let
fermentation work for three days. It is then distilled and poured into the
burned barrels to age about six years. The result is Maker’s Mark Bourbon. When bottling they seal with
red wax and we were told how they dip and twist to get the right seal. Since this was Derby week they treated us to a taste of the bourbon, their bottled mint julep, and a bourbon candy. The candy was the best! We wished we could afford one of the
big bottles to bring home to Bobby, but we couldn’t risk taking it into and out of Canada. Sorry Bobby!

Thursday, April 29, we departed the beautiful My Old Kentucky Home State Park and headed to historical Harrodsburg which was founded in 1774 by James Harrod, the first city in Kentucky and was the first seat of Kentucky County, Virginia. All of the famous adventurers we have learned about were here, Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark among them.
We had not been able to find a campground in this area, as the Ft Harrod State Park is only an historical park, so Olivia searched all sources and finally found the fair grounds in town. She made contact and they said we could stay for $10 a night with water & electricity. And we get to see a “Walking Horse Show” on Friday & Saturday. We weren’t sure what that entailed, but any port in a storm.

This was our closest stop to our first mail stop. We had chosen Nickolasville, KY to be a central place to Lexington, Harrodsburg and Boonesboro. When we arrived at the Post Office the lady looked and looked. No mail. We had neglected to look up the shipping numbers, so we had to go back 20 miles to the trailer and retrieve them. Calling back to the PO the clerk looked it up. The address we had used for the General Delivery, was at a gas station on the north end of town, that is a contract PO. We called there and the station girl said, she didn’t know about the mail, to call back around 5 when the man would be there! Not a way to run a post office! Cecil, Olivia's dad and former postmaster of Waxahachie, would have had a stroke!

Any way it looks like we would go back the next day so we drove back over Highway 68
The PO clerk had said she would derail the delivery to the gas station. We hoped our Dell battery was there too. Oh, the minor trials and tribulations that follow travelers like us. As a dear old friend Earl Spinks would say, “You win some and you lose some!”

Friday, April 30, Success! We found our mail at the contract Post Office. Since Olivia had talked to the lady at 5 PM the day before she held on to all. YES! Unfortunately the most important letter wasn’t in the package so with many phone calls we were able to mostly satisfy our needs. Then off to explore. We drove south east via Hwy 169 and boarded
Kentucky’s oldest continuous business, over 200 years, the Valley View Ferry. This ferry even had flowers on each side on the railing. Established in 1785, when John Craig was granted a franchise by the Virginia assembly for his service in the Continental Army. The charter was signed by Patrick Henry. This was seven years before Kentucky became a state. Because of this unique heritage, the Valley View Ferry is authorized to fly both Kentucky and Virginia flags at the same time. This ferry has transported pioneers, Revolutionary War and Civil war soldiers, farmer and businesspeople over its two centuries. It is the last ferry left on the Kentucky River.

From the ferry we drove in and around Richmond, stopping at their library to see if we could find anything on Olivia’s Burton line she didn’t already know. Robert Burton lived and died in this area in 1807. Their library didn’t have a large genealogy department so we move on northwest to Fort Boonesboro State Park where Olivia, Teenya, Muddie & Cecil stayed when Olivia worked the courthouse years ago. We found the only
remaining part of the fort. The campground has been updated and is very nice now.
From there we followed the beautiful little road 418, with miles of
rock fences, around the south end of Lexington on a busy loop, then south on Hwy 68 to Shakers Village, down their
one way road, and their
Dixie Belle river boat on the Kentucky River.
Riding this boat was very interesting. We crossed under
rail road bridge to see a
pristine river. Large horse farms own the top of one side and leave the river bluffs alone while the other side is owned by a conservatory.

Also on the boat was a young couple from Jackson, Wyoming. She was enamored with the Shaker concept and the Kentucky Derby so they were staying with the Shakers and would be going the next day to the Derby. They said staying there was very reasonable, about $80 a night.

Beautiful, Fringed Phacelia flowers lined the roadway back to the top of the bluffs.
That night the Fairground, where we were staying, was having a Walking Horse show. They started with a
stick horse ride, this little Olivia was one of the winners. Next was the
the juvenile show and we were impressed with their demeanor, costumes and ability. We watched a few other competitions of walkers and racking. Some wore chains on the ankles, others had four inch pads on their feet. They looked like they were prancing, but were actually kicking their front feet out before putting them down. It was amazing people would pay a million dollars for a horse, feed it, transport in expensive trailers, buy costumes, and pay entry fees to get a ribbon. It is definitely a hobby.

Saturday. May 1 Derby Day! and it rained and rained and rained some more. We thought about the couple we met on the Dixie Belle, wondering if they made it and how they did. It was time to wash so we took care of that, then went to their genealogy center and actually found a copy of the will of Olivia’s emigrant John Burton of Longfield in Virginia in their family files. His will was dated, get this, in 1690!

Driving into old Ft Harrod’s State Park we noticed this
ancient Osage Orange tree, better know to us as a Bois de Arc, pronounced Bo-dark, tree.

Since it was raining we decided to follow a small pamphlet about
Penn’s Store near Gravel Switch. There were many Penn families in Duncanville’s history so we were intrigued, plus it just looked interesting. The store is the oldest country store in America in continuous ownership and operation by the same family.
Penn’s Privy gained national attention Oct 17, 1992 as being the first restroom facilities at Penn’s Store. The dedication ceremonies were conducted by world-renowned guitarist Chet Atkins and songwriter Billy Ed Wheeler. This is also the home of the “Great Outhouse Blowout” and “Outhouse 300” Race the first Saturday after Labor Day. This is Kentucky’s only internationally recognized outhouse race. Dr Jon you must add this to your list of must visit places. Their website is

The inside of
the store was full of interesting items. The owner was very friendly and we talked of the Penn family both in Texas and Kentucky. As we had entered there were dogs and cats everywhere. The two adult Labs had appeared about two years ago. The owner had advertised to see where they came from and no one claimed, so she named the female Belle and the male Boston. Then Belle delivered 11 pups and one night all were stolen. She called the police, the paper wrote an article, the press picked up, the TV. It made national news. After a week and a promise not to prosecute the dogs were returned. Then there were hundreds wanting to adopt the puppies. By this time they were pets so interviews were held to chose the adoptive families.
Belle had more pups and was again stolen. Same story. Now the store has two neutered adults and two pups.
The cats and the dogs were very compatible.

Back at the fairgrounds, the nights activities were canceled because of rain. A vendor of costumes had pulled his motor home in behind us and couldn’t get backed out. Fortunately the fairground caretaker had a
tractor, attached it to the rear of the motor home and pulled it out. We wondered what would happen when we pull out Monday. We are parked on the side of sloping grass hill. It is thoroughly soaked.

Sunday, May 2 Olivia woke at 7 am to rolling, rolling, rolling thunder and very high wind. Fred, who sleeps without his hearing aids, slept thru most of it. So strong she was afraid we would be blown over. She put in the slide and checked the radar. Sure enough we were on the leading edge of a long string of rain. In a short time, it passed and we were unhurt. Thank you Lord.

We swam to the
First United Methodist Church and enjoy a good sermon and Methodist fellowship.
We treated ourselves to lunch at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and visited Ft Harrod during a few minutes without rain. We are praying we will be able to move off the grass to move to north Lexington and Kentucky Horse Park.

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Next Week: Kentucky III, horses and the Ohio River!