In 2006, I went to Kentucky mostly to see The Kentucky Derby Race in Louisville. Though I had spent much time window shopping in NYC for a lovely hat, I settled on a $12.00 antique shop number. After spending $650 for a Derby ticket, I wasn’t about to spend hundreds more on a hat. That was the year Barbaro won. I bid on another horse because there was just too much hype about this favorite. Oh well. I spent the day at the track because I like horse races anyway, and I won enough to cover my bets, my mint julep and the car park fee.
The Kentucky Derby was a fun time, but the best part of the trip was traveling about the historical sites in and around Lexington, Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, had been from Lexington. And somehow I had forgotten, until I was there, that Henry Clay was from Kentucky! His home in Ashland is now a museum. I was all over that. He is the statesman responsible for the Missouri Compromise of 1820 whereby Missouri was accepted into the Union as a slave state when Massachusetts gave some coastal land (Portsmouth) to New Hampshire and donated its northern region to become the free state of Maine. Coming from Massachusetts, that deal struck me as a bit over the top and here was a museum all about the man who thought of it and talked it through to becoming the law.
If that doesn’t excite you so much, there are also bourbon distilleries around Kentucky that give tours and free samples. (My Mom’s girlfriend Maude always ordered her bourbon with ice on the side. She was a tough businesswoman who wore high heeled boots even in the worst of snow storms. I wondered what she would had thought of these distilleries.) The green rolling hills of Kentucky are lovely.
Plus, across the river from Louisville, in Indiana, is the Falls of the Ohio State Park, a major site for Devonian fossils. As I had always associated Kentucky with Daniel Boone, the Squire Boone Caves in nearby southern Indiana intrigued me. While no blood relation, the adventurous spirit of Daniel Boone was alive in the history of those caves. That side trip convinced me it had been a good idea to get the $650 Derby ticket after all.
“The time will come when Winter will ask you what you were doing all Summer.” ― Henry Clay