‘Unbridled Spirit’ was the state slogan for our next and 35th state, although I think it should be ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’. It was, of course, Kentucky. Home of the famous Kentucky Derby but more importantly Fried Chicken.
We spent our first night in Lexington, which is home to the majority of stables where they train the Thoroughbreds for racing in the Derby. It was just a stop off for us, which gave us enough time to have a deliciously posh meal at Ted’s Montana Grill and then an evening back in a comfy bed at the Microtel by Wyndham.
The next morning we drove over to Louisville, Kentucky’s most populated city and also home to the World famous Derby. Our first stop was the Derby Museum where we were given a tour of Churchill Downs where the races take place every year. They have racing at other times during the year, but the Derby is the most popular. We got to see the stalls where the horses are prepared for their race, the track which they race on and even got to meet a retired racehorse. They also had a few of the horses buried in their own cemetery. This was only for very special horses, one of which was Secretariat, a horse that holds the record for winning all three Derby races with the fastest lap time. Each furlong Secretariat ran was completed faster than the previous one, which is unheard of as horses usually slow down as they get further along. When Secretariat died, they performed an autopsy to see why this horse was so special. Turns out he had a heart that weighed 21 pounds. Horses usually have a heart that weighs 7 pounds, so Secretariat was able to pump his blood round much quicker, enabling him to keep up such a great speed.
Once we’d toured the Downs, we went into the museum where we saw lots of memorabilia and even got to take part in a horse race ourselves. Like the horse racing events back in the UK, the Kentucky Derby is just as famous for the elaborate headwear the ladies like to wear as they are for the horses! They had a whole selection on show for us to see.
Having spent the morning horsing around, we headed to Downtown Louisville to check out all the grand houses in St James’ Court. The street was centred around an open park, which ran down the middle of the street and had gas lamps burning all around it. The houses were huge and looked so unique. I’m sure you’d have to have a fair amount of cash to live there.
Louisville was also home to the Slugger (baseball bat for those not in the know!). So guess where we headed next? To see the Worlds largest Slugger of course!
Feeling rather famished after touring Louisville, we headed on to Doc Crows Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar, famed for their meat dishes and extensive menu of Bourbons. The later being another thing that Kentucky is famous for. After perusing an amazing menu filled with many Southern treats and lots of meaty dishes, I opted for Shrimp and Grits (a Southern speciality) and Barry went full on meat eater and ordered a meat platter with ribs, pulled pork and brisket. This all came out after some juicy prawns and Connecticut oysters, which are actually some of the best we’ve had. EVER! Not being a fan of the straight Bourbon, we washed this down with a raspberry beer for Bal and a traditional Kentucky race day cocktail, a Mint Julep Lemonade for me.
Feeling a little buzzed from the very strong Bourbon laced cocktail I’d drunk, we wondered round Louisville for a while taking in the strange sculptures. We even managed to bag some tickets for a Susan Boyle concert for Barry’s Dad, Terry. He’s a massive fan!
After spending two nights in Louisville it was time to hit the road again and make our way down to Cave City. First we had to pay our respects to someone very special – Colonel Sanders. Founder of KFC! He was buried in Louisville in one of the largest cemeteries in the country, Cave Hill Cemetery. This was our second attempt to find him. The cemetery was so big it had a few entrances, with 21 miles of road inside. We’d originally gone to the wrong entrance so couldn’t find him. Our second attempt took us to the main entrance where we were met with security and given a map. Security and a map! This was no run of the mill graveyard. We were given a list of rules to follow and a list of events that they hold there. You can do walking tours and all sorts. Who knew a cemetery would be a tourist attraction!
Following the map closely, we found the grave, gave our respects to the Colonel and got on our way.
Of course, no visit to Kentucky would be complete without actually eating at KFC, so we stopped off on the way to our next destination and tucked into some tasty fried chicken.
There was only one reason we stopped in Cave City and it wasn’t to visit the Worlds largest known cave that was there. (We’d seen enough caves during this trip) It was to stay at the Wigwam Motel. We stayed in one when we were in the states in 2010 whilst visiting Holbrook, Arizona and it was so unique that we thought we should do it again. We were passing by anyway so why not!
It was cosy and exactly the same as the last one we’d stayed in, with one exception. This one had a shower that you could actually stand under. Last time Barry had to practically get down on his knees!