Jellystone National Park. Dinosaur World. Guntown Mountain Amusement Park. Horse Cave. Mammoth Cave. Diamond Cave. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distillery, Maker’s Mark Distillery, Wild Turkey Distillery, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Jim Beam Distillery! (Aforementioned but) Big Jim’s Boobie Bungalow.
The road into Louisville, Kentucky is ridden with attractions. Who knew in just one state–indeed of just one highway–I could visit three caves, six bourbon distilleries, many, many adult video stores, and a theme park about guns!? Why do people ever leave?
Seriously, though, Louisville was fantastic. Our host, Barry, lived in the again-reminiscent-of-Bk-but-better neighborhood of the Highlands. A little bit of Southern kitsch charm, but mostly it was just genuinely cool. Secondhand stores, record stores, a comic shop, even! (Jay was delighted; but he decided not to stop and take a look inside), dozens of restaurants, frozen yogurt, coffee shops, et cetera ad infinitum. Barry was kind enough to walk us to the main drag–Bardstown Road–and show us where we should eat and drink. This turned out to be Cafe Mimosa and Cumberland Brews. Cafe Mimosa (with the attached “Egg Roll Machine”; I guess they make a bunch of different kinds there) was very good, and the name I think is pretty great. Barry spent a few years teaching English in Japan, so he knew which Asian food was good in the neighborhood. I had a seafood soup with a buncha lobster in it–uh, score. The bar was good, too–I had mead for the first time, which I’m pretty sure is something I’ve wanted to do ever since reading Harry Potter as an eleven-year-old.
Louisville itself is a little less hip, naturally, but no less interesting to explore. We ended up taking a glance at the Actors Theater of Louisville, the beautiful Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, the gargantuan Humana building, the Muhammad Ali Center, the Louisville Science Center… but we didn’t go inside anywhere except The Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. I don’t watch much baseball anymore, but I did love to play softball as a kid. Going through the tour of how they make the wooden bats was interesting, and we got to keep a nub from the bunch of ends they cut off after they finish sanding the bats. Also got one of those tiny souvenir bats complimentary with the tour. Not sure what I’m going to do with mine, but we found it funny that the tour guide specified: “If you’re going on a plane with these, make sure you put them in your checked luggage. The TSA counts this as a weapon.” I’m now picturing several tiny children with tiny bats trying to hurt a plane pilot, or something. Probably possible, but I’m guessing pretty unlikely.
The museum itself was okay, a little kid-oriented, but it should be. I found a little alcove where you could watch mini film clips about this or that topic in baseball. One was “Baseball and the Presidency,” another was “Bringing in a New Generation”, or something, about the passing on of the tradition of the sport from father to son… the one thing I remember was Ken Griffey’s face in the stands when Ken Griffey, Jr. made it into the 500 club. Like Sanya Richards-Ross’s parents when she won the gold for the 400m, it was just the best thing ever. In my opinion. I could watch happy parents in the stands all day long (except for Michael Phelps’ mom, for some reason. She bugs me. Why is that?) The video also had an anecdote about some parents of a now-MLB player. The mom was concerned that her sons were ruining her front yard by playing baseball in it all the time. Her dad just said, “We’re raising boys, not lawns.” I thought that was great.
From there we backtracked a little to the Jim Beam Distillery. Didn’t do the whole bourbon trail–guess that’s on the list for next time–but just the one was pretty neat. Got to step through one of the big warehouses where they age their bourbon in barrels, and it smelled amazing in there. Also got to taste a bit of their Knob Creek and Black Label bourbons afterwards. Quite a nice way to spend an afternoon!
Jay has pointed out that 1.8 million is both the number of bats Louisville Slugger makes every year, and the number of barrels Jim Beam has aging at any time. Cool. In any case, from there we got on the road to St. Louis, which we are about to explore today. Away we go!