Sunday, April 19, 2015

southern journey of 2015

I couldn't let Julia (our Swedish foreign exchange student) leave without having her see the southern half of the US, so I plotted a course through 3 states, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Day 1 - We drove to Cincinnati, OH which is roughly 4 hours from here and stayed overnight at a brand new Homewood Suites, which was slightly hidden. The room and service was awesome and the breakfast was probably the best we had all trip. We walked down to Fountain Square and walked the bridge towards Kentucky.

The Great American Ball Park where the Cincinnati Reds play.

Day 2 - we set off to Nashville. Once we arrived and settled into our hotel at the Gaylord Inn, which was an adequate hotel. I only booked us there because everything else was sold out during spring break. We walked the street of Broadway and had dinner at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. There was a nice waiter who told us some of the sites to see around town.

Julia and Holly sitting outside the Johnny Cash Museum. We did not go through the museum as it was about to close for the night.

Walking down Broadway.

Not sure who this woman is but she was a cut out located in the Grand Ole Opry gift shop downtown Nashville.

This kid standing at a corner outside playing his guitar and singing. He was really good. He played the whole time we were there - several hours.

Day 3 - we went to Radnor Lake State Park and walked the trail around the lake. These are some of the sites.

A giant turkey just gobbling away.

Beavers chewing away on this tree.

I took this one with my Tiffen Filter. It didn't turn out very well but it's still a learning process for me.

There were turtles sunning themselves on fallen trees or rocks in the lake.

Holly, Me, and Julia standing on a bridge at the park.

Burke and Holly.

Thought this old tree stump was cool.

Later that night we had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry classic show hosted by Larry Gatlin at Ryman Auditorium. The show was great - not only was their great singing, but there was comedy and lots of audience participation. The place itself was great with church pews for seating. The Opry shows are still being broadcasting on the radio.

Both Julia and Holly was feeling ill that night, so only Burke and I went to see the show. I think they were dehydrated from our hike in the morning as they felt better the next day.

Day 4 - we set out for Lexington, Kentucky and stopped by Mammoth Caves on the way. It was spectacular and definitely worth the stop. 

All the tours were sold out - so we purchased a self discovery tour for $5. Holly on the path to the caves.

Holly, Burke, and Julia right outside the caves.

Inside the caves. I have to say, I was immediately stricken with a feeling of claustrophobia, but it soon passed as we entered the center part of the caves. The ceiling depth was enormous in the center were tourists and rangers were.

Burke's mom and dad stayed at Mammoth Caves for their honeymoon some 50+ years ago - timeless. After the revolutionary war, the caves were minded for gunpowder and also used it as an experiment for curing tuberculosis. The experiment obviously was not successful.

We climbed a mountain outside the caves.

The sun was beautiful that day going up the side of the mountain.

Day 5 - We got up early to be a part of the first tour at Mary Todd Lincolns house in downtown Lexington. The tour and house was amazing and if you get a chance - you should see it. We saw things that belonged to the first lady and even seen the room where her and the President stayed on their visits to see the family.

We passed by Keeneland Horse Track on our way into Lexington and after the Mary Todd Lincoln house tour, so we decided to hit the races. We got there right when the gates opened and it was backed up - but not bad. We followed the masses in and got a parking spot. We noticed lots of tailgating going up.

We also didn't get the memo about the dress. Most girls were in their summer dresses and hats and the men wore their suits. We bet on three races - we won the first one, lost it all the second, and won some of it back the third. Time to quit. 

On our way out, I believe we saw the whole State of Kentucky coming into the races. The mass people trying to get it was unbelievable - it impacted our ability to leave. Everyone was coming in as we were leaving. It was a wall of people that had been tailgating - so the atmosphere was very jubilant. Definitely something to experience.

We left after the third race to get ready for a dinner hosted by a long time friend - Vicki. She made the most delicious dinner of chicken and dumplings, sweet potatoes, and a sweet cake for desert. Then we set out to see members of the family I haven't seen in nearly 35 years. We reconnected with Vicki, Tina and Loma and met their families. My grandfather had married their mother and we hadn't seen each other since the passing of my grandfather. It was very memorable and I hope to see them again.

Day 6 - Headed back to Michigan. Exhausted from the trip, but glad to make the new memories.

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