Clancy did such a terrific job chronicling our Kentucky adventures that I hardly want to touch this entry. There were a few things I didn’t want us to forget though, so here goes:
In Berea, just after Craig and Ronda’s, we were put into contact with Jessica and Charlie, students at Berea College. Our new found friend Enchanta from DC had made the arrangement actually - we heard from about five of her friends in town, all of them excited to visit and put us up for the night. We owe you big Enchanta! We had a great time socializing with Jessica and Charlie that evening and the next morning they wished us a fine farewell before our departure with hugs for all. On campus we had the opportunity to visit with Ben, a fellow that had ridden to Alaska where he worked for a summer. He was part of the bike co-op on campus and made sure our steeds were all set before we departed. There were some cool bikes being built at the co-op, we wished we could have rode away on a couple of them.
In Springfield, KY we visited the Lincoln homestead where Thomas and Nancy Lincoln (parents of Abraham Lincoln) were married and first settled. Later down the line in Hodgenville we scoped out Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Park, the location of the family Sinking Spring Farm. Both sites offered fascinating historical nuggets but the spring and the memorial at the birthplace site were the real highlights in my opinion. Gaining insight into the life of one of our most beloved presidents was certainly a delicious sample of culture.
In Bardstown we were in for quite the treat. The town is regarded as the bourbon capital of the world. Several top distilleries can be found here including Makers Mark, Jim Beam, and Heaven Hill. We visited Heaven Hill, maker of over 200 varieties of whiskey and winner of the 2009 International Whiskey Visitor Center award. We watched an informational film and took a tour of the rick-houses where they age the bourbon. Then came the fun part; we shuffled into the tasting room and were each seated in front of two small glasses of gorgeous amber liquid. Our tour guide explained the characteristics of the flowing gold that we were about to partake of. He then covered the procedure of adding just a few drops of water to the bourbon (they call the water “branch” in this case - probably because “bourbon and branch” sounds cool like “water and whiskey“). Turns out that adding a touch of agua is the preferred way to enjoy bourbon, as a small amount helps to enhance the aroma and flavor of the beverage. First up was the Evan Williams (aged 12 years), which can be enjoyed as a mixer or sipping bourbon. The flavor was bold with substantial bite. Next up was the Elijah Craig (aged 18 years - the oldest single barrel bourbon in the world). The Elijah is regarded as a sipping bourbon and we soon found out why. The extra aging had not only increased the alcoholic content but also mellowed out the finish substantially. The distinct vanilla flavor contributed by the white oak barrel helped to make the drink smoother than Clancy in a room full of NFL cheerleaders. We ended up enjoying the Elijah Craig so much that we felt compelled to buy a bottle. Here you can see us pictured with our prize outside the Bourbon Heritage Center. Another round anyone?
West of Bardstown we soaked in the beauty of more fantastic Amish farmland. We had the (mis)fortune of getting stuck behind an Amish carriage which actually turned out to be quite comical. The horse was clipping along at the same pace that we typically run at so we were hesitant to pass, fearing that we might be tailgated by a 19th century buggy. Instead we decided to be the tailgaters. We rode behind the Amish family for a good six miles. Once in a while we would spot the little boy’s head peeking out the side of the carriage, just to make sure we were still there.
In the middle of (somewhere) we happened across a go-cart track that was closed down. Testosterone was involved, some mild trash talking ensued, and a good old fashion tire-squealing race took place as a result. We must have looked like a few middle school hooligans skipping out of class. A great time was had by all. Joe was crowned the ultimate victor but there was some debate as to the legitimacy of his course cutting, er… route selection. Clancy won the award for dirtiest racer, nearly putting me into the wall in turn three. Seriously though, we hadn’t had this much fun since our shenanigans at the Troutville city park.
Prior to entering the Shawnee National Forest we dropped by Cave in Rock State Park. Though by no means a Mammoth Cave, the cavern was quite large and unique. The main chamber looked like it would make one heck of an amphitheatre; party anyone? Judging by some of the litter it looked like someone beat me to the idea. Another cool thing about the park was that we had to take a ferry to get to it - we never say no to a boat ride!
On some random farmland we saw the biggest horns I have ever laid eyes on. They happened to be attached to a rather large bull, one that I was not in a hurry to jump in a pasture with . Though impressive, I didn’t envy his masculinity ornaments - can you imagine the weight involved and the resulting neck-aches? I hope he has a good chiropractor.