My third and final day in Kentucky was also the hottest day — well over 90 degrees and no breeze! But, it was my less structured day and least strenuous day! It was my “fly by the seat of my pants” day! The only things I had truly planned was to visit Churchill Downs in Louisville and the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington……and was open to side trips for whatever else caught my eye!
I started out the day with an unplanned stop that turned out to be an awesome sight! I had seen signs for “Falls of the Ohio” near my hotel – it was on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. I love water falls, so I googled it and discovered it isn’t actually a water fall…..it is a series of rapids caused by lime stone tables along the Ohio River and the spot called “Falls of the Ohio” is a park where the world’s largest exposed fossil bed is located! That got me curious, so I decided it would be my first stop of my last day – since it was near my hotel! I got up and had some breakfast and headed to the park! I wasn’t disappointed — it was strange and beautiful all at the same time! I spent about an hour there before heading on to Churchill Downs.
You can walk down to the fossil bed and walk out onto it – I didn’t, but I saw some people fishing off the edges! The collecting of fossils is strictly prohibited, though!
Beyond the dam is the deeper, main areas of the Ohio River
There are lots of nature walking trails, too……and a visitor’s center with tons of information
The Indiana side of that big yellow bridge I showed you in the first overview post – it is a LONG bridge that, like I said, I crossed at least twice a day every day I was there!!!
Looking across the Ohio River to the city of Louisville from Clarksville, IN
My next stop was Churchill Downs – the home of the Kentucky Derby! I had a general admission ticket to the Kentucky Derby Museum, which included a 360 movie about the history of the Kentucky Derby and what happens the day of the Derby and a tour of Churchill Downs. I loved my time there……it was surprisingly emotional and overwhelming! I would have loved to see a race, but it wasn’t in the cards!
In front of the entrance is a statue of Barbaro – a thoroughbred who won the Kentucky Derby in 2006 and everyone thought he was a shoe-in for the triple crown. But, he shattered his leg two weeks after the Derby and it ended his career and eventually his life! His owners received thousands of cards and letters and gifts from fans all over the world. It touched them so deeply that they wanted to erect a monument in his honor and the Churchill Downs Directors agreed that it could be placed at the Downs. The owners wanted it outside the entrance so that his fans could see it without having to pay to enter the facility or museum – so there it is prominently at the entrance! The other unique point is that all four legs are off the ground in mid-race to demonstrate his powerful speed — the only statue of a horse in the world that has all four legs in mid-air!
The gift shop has many, many Derby hats……all a bit too pricey for me, but I just had to get a photo in one……
You can ride a horse that simulates you riding in the Derby!!!
Of course there are lots of exhibits……this one is a commemorative bottle of Marker’s Mark Bourbon dipped to match this Jockey’s jacket!
The famous blanket of roses!
Honoring the history of hats and outfits ladies have worn to the Derby over the years!
Our tour guide was a RIOT!!!
The famous twin spires that are listed in the National Historic Places Registry
The paddock where the horses first come out of their stalls to go to the race track — this is the last place their owners can see their horse, talk to the jockey, and give final instructions before they enter the track
That tower across the way is where the winner’s circle is for the Derby – only the Derby — other races have a different spot where the winner’s are honored
A zoomed in shot
The finish line is at the end of this stretch
This is one of the Derby racers (not a winner) who currently resides at Churchill downs
Hard to see, but here he is with his “companion pony” – we were told all race horses have a companion pony because they tend to be high strung and these ponies help calm them. The ponies are almost always at their side.
After the tour, I popped in at the bar and ordered a Mint Julep — can’t go to Churchill Downs without trying one!
I watched the bartender make it — ice, a splash of water, fresh mint crushed onto the ice and rubbed on the rim of the glass, bourbon, and a garnish of a sprig of fresh mint!
It cost me $12 for the experience — I took a couple sips and left the rest — it was good, but VERY strong and I had a long drive to Lexington ahead of me…..so, a couple sips was enough to say I had a Mint Julep at Churchill Downs!!! LOL Not something I would probably ever try again, but glad I did!
A parting shot of Barbaro
The tour and drink took a couple hours and then I was back on the road heading toward Lexington…….my plan was to end up at the Kentucky Horse Park and make any other stops that caught my eye along the way.
My first side trip was Frankfort – the Capital of Kentucky! Frankfort is a lovely little town with an awesome Capital Building!
The Capital Building is at the end of a long drive with beautiful grass and flowers all along the circle drive
Then, I saw signs for Rebecca Ruth Candy Tours…..I had to go see what that was all about!!! Well, it turns out that Ruth Booe is the Mother of the Bourbon Ball! She started her business with her friend Rebecca in 1919 when she invented the bourbon balls and everyone encouraged them to sell their candy in a time when it was not so common for women to own a business! She was a savvy business woman and she kept her business going untill 1964 when her son took over. Ruth’s son and grandson still run the factory and business today!!! I asked about the tour – they said I could do it, but they weren’t making candy that day, so there wouldn’t be much to see……so, I skipped the tour and tasted the candy, instead!!!
This is her famous Bourbon Ball — OMG — sooooooo good!!!
I forget what they called this – it had a funny name – but it is basically a marshmallow coated with caramel —- YUM!!!!
And, I wonder how I gained 4 pounds on this trip despite walking a million miles a day!!!
After delighting my sweet tooth, I got back on the road to Lexington, but soon saw signs for Historic Georgetown and just knew that was a stop I’d want to make……I was right! It was a quaint little town! I didn’t do anything specific there, but I parked and walked around Main Street for a little bit – just lovely!!!
This is their Courthouse
And, City Hall next door
For a small town, they sure had an active downtown — lots of shops and shoppers!!!
So, after a brief walk around Georgetown, I got back on the road and made it to the Kentucky Horse Park! It was getting late in the day and most of the activities and demonstrations were done, but I got to take the horse drawn carriage ride around the park and see some of the exhibits, horses, and a movie……..
The horse drawn carriage ride was lead by two stunning Clydesdales!!! I do believe this was the first time I’ve ever seen Clydesdales up close!
What amazing animals they are!!!
I got to walk through the Mounted Police horse barn…….got me reminiscing about a dear friend who was an Orleans County Sheriff and member of the Mounted Police – he died way too young and I miss him……
It was a joy to see and pet these handsome horses!
This is a Mounted Police horse and his name is ALBION!!!! I got a good chuckle out of that!
Part of me regrets that I didn’t have more time at the Horse Park and didn’t get to see more of the horses, but it was because I allowed myself to venture off the beaten path and the little mini adventures were worth it! Maybe I’ll get back someday and have another chance to see more……but, for now, I’m glad I got to see as much as I did!!!
When I left the park, I was hungry……all that candy and a light breakfast wasn’t enough to keep me from really wanting some dinner…..BAD! So, I googled “restaurants near me” and every list I found had this place pop up as the # 1 recommendation!!! I read the menu and the reviews and decided it was the place to go! But, when I finally found it – on a back country road in the middle of nowhere – I second guessed myself…….but, I looked the reviews back up and looked at other suggestions in the Lexington area and decided to give it a try……and, man, am I glad I did!!! It was a back roads dive, but it had the BEST BBQ food……..it reminded me of the little dive I ate at in Iowa that was a bit sketchy, but soooooo good!!! It was PACKED with people! I went in and noticed that I had to order at the counter and then pick a seat and they brought the food out to my table.
You know what they say – never judge a book by it’s cover……this doesn’t show the whole picture I saw when I pulled in – behind it is a run down motel…..but, the parking lot was full and people were coming and going and looked happy! So……I went in!
It is an interesting place with writing on the walls and window shades and photos of country music greats and loud country music playing!
View from my seat
They make their own sauces…..I sampled a few…..all I tested were delicious!!!
I ordered the sliced brisket meal with baked beans and potato salad and, of course, sweet tea (that I refilled 3 times)…..and I chose their Memphis Sweet BBQ sauce —- OMG — what a meal —- it was AMAZING!!! The beef was so tender and loaded with flavor – the sauce was an awesome addition – the baked beans and potato salad were delicious!!! I left STUFFED and ready for a nap! Unfortunately, I had an hour and a half drive back to Louisville ahead of me!!!
So……since it was getting late and I was tired and I had a long drive back to the hotel, I skipped driving through downtown Lexington and headed back. When I got back to Louisville, I got my second wind and decided to just drive around Old Louisville a little bit…..no specific destination, just turn where it looked interesting……I saw a lot of cool stuff, but couldn’t get any photos because it either didn’t look safe to stop and get out of the car or there wasn’t anywhere to pull over……but, I have some awesome memories!!! hehehe
So……that’s my Kentucky Adventure!!! 48 states down……2 to go!!! Colorado and New Mexico, get ready – I’m coming to check you both out in a few weeks!!!