I have never in my life seen a Kentuckian who didn’t have a gun, a pack of cards, and a jug of whiskey.” Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States
Carol writes: Our next campground was just outside Georgetown, Kentucky, in the land of rolling hills dotted with horse farms where beautiful fall colors were in abundance on the doorstep of the Appalachian Mountains.
In a nutshell, any visit to Kentucky is all about two things: Horses and Bourbon!
I readily confess that neither Al nor I know much about horses, so I sensed a bit of a learning curve as we ventured out for a tour of “Old Friends,” a luxury retirement home for thoroughbred race horses whose racing and breeding days have come to an end. By a stroke of good luck, we got to meet Michael Blowen, the creator and founder of "Old Friends."
We met Popcorn Deelites, one of five horses who played Seabiscuit in the movie.
As our tour wound past the paddocks of great and memorable thoroughbreds, there was a lot of enthusiasm for feeding carrots to these eager rock stars.
It took me a few tries to get over my hesitancy to put my outstretched hand with its yummy carrot up to the mouth of such a powerful animal… but I was determined to give it a serious go with 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Silver Charm, who was more than eager for some visitors.
The somber part of the tour was the stop at the graveyard of Old Friends. Our most knowledgeable guide had been particularly attached to the fiery stallion Wallenda and got very emotional when she was asked about the horse, who had to be put down in May after having spent the last 9 years of his life at Old Friends.
By the end of the tour, I was beginning to appreciate why horses have tremendous worldwide appeal. To a person, the caretakers at Old Friends acknowledged that the people are not there for the horses; the horses are there for the people. I was even starting to enjoy handing out carrot treats…
Very near the top of any casual search of interesting things to see in the Georgetown area would be a tour of the “Toyota Kentucky” manufacturing plant, which has manufactured the Toyota Camry since 1988,
|First Camry to roll off the assembly line in 1988|
in addition to the Lexus line, which was added just a year ago. We took a riveting hour-long tram tour of the Camry division during which we observed the creation of a new car at key steps in the assembly line process… from its inception as a huge roll of steel
to the final product rolling off the assembly line as a brand new Toyota.
Toyota Kentucky claims that a new car rolls off their assembly line every 54 seconds, which means that each person on the line must to perform his/her task from start to finish within 54 seconds.
I have resorted to Internet pictures because no cameras, purses or phones were allowed on the tour.
To me, the assembly line looked to be a tiring, repetitive job that entailed nonstop intense concentration, not a moment of goofing off, no drinking or eating while working, and total coordination of breaks and meal times with thousands of co-workers. However, the residents of Georgetown, Kentucky, are most thankful for Toyota Kentucky which is, without a doubt, a vital partner in their local economy.
MARY TODD LINCOLN HOUSE
The state of Kentucky is rightly proud of the fact that Abraham Lincoln was born in its central rural hills. Mary Todd Lincoln was also from Kentucky, where the Todd family home in Lexington
has been restored and is open to the public for tours. As always, we enjoyed a trip back in time in the home of an influential person in American history. Certainly, the tragedy and controversy that followed Mary Todd Lincoln
was a large part of her fascinating mystique, and the Todd family home nicely added to the story. The home was beautifully restored and had a smattering of Lincoln family artifacts on display, and that was more than enough to make the tour worthwhile.
KENTUCKY STATE CAPITOL BUILDING
We had heard that the Kentucky State Capitol building in Frankfort was one of our nation’s most beautiful, so we decided to check it out. From the outside, this stately capitol building sure seemed to live up to its reputation.
Inside, the marble rotunda area was graced by a bronze statue of Kentucky’s native son—Abraham Lincoln.
The self-guided tour led through both legislative houses— the newly remodeled Senate chamber,
and the spectacular House chamber.
The grandeur of the interior could best be appreciated from the upper floors where the vaulting and classic marble columns were most impressive.
At the start of this blog I stated that there were two things near and dear to the hearts of all Kentuckians: Horses and…
BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY
After our visit to the Kentucky State Capitol, we made it an afternoon at Buffalo Trace Distillery, just outside of Frankfort. The distillery gets its name from the fact that it is located along an ancient migratory path (or trace) once used by buffalo to cross the banks of the Kentucky River.
The tour was fascinating! We learned that there are a number of factors that create a quality bourbon. At Buffalo Trace the limestone-filtered Kentucky River water that is rich in minerals, combined with environmental factors that are unique to Kentucky, are key ingredients that influence the taste of bourbon. We saw barrels of bourbon that were being aged in buildings with windows that were kept open year-round to allow seasonal temperature fluctuations.
Due to differing environmental conditions, each floor of the warehouse building results in a distinct taste to the bourbon in its barrels. The most valuable part of the tour was the tasting room at the end of the tour. We were curious if we would we have the ability to distinguish the less expensive bourbon (made from the barrels on the top floor of the warehouse) from the ‘better’ bourbon that was aged in barrels on the bottom floor.
Yes, sir! We both have discriminating taste buds and had a definite preference for the slightly more expensive Eagle Rare… and that decided our purchase along with some irresistible Bourbon Cream. It’s hard to put into words exactly what is meant by a bourbon that is smooth, but when we tasted the Eagle Rare, we knew we had found it…
Kentucky is definitely Bourbon Country. There is actually a “Kentucky Bourbon Trail” of nine different distilleries for travelers who are really serious about their bourbon. As they like to point out in the bourbon business: