We woke up fairly early with most of the house. One of the dogs had fallen asleep on the bed between us and was still there when we woke up. We got ready and heady downstairs where Mr. Weedman treated us with coffee from his new machine and his own specialty: smoothies. When we were done, we packed up and locked up and hit the road again, pausing one last moment to photograph the sun coming up over Indian Hill.
We hadn’t though about rush hour traffic on a Friday but were pleased to find ourselves zipping down 71 without a problem. We discussed how much we like Cinci, probably because it reminds us of Pittsburgh: a hilly city on the Ohio River. With that, we crossed said river on the big bridge leading out of the city and found ourselves entering Kentucky territory.
71 in Kentucky is easy going. We zipped straight to Louisville in excellent time. We parked along the river for $5 and walked towards the Louisville Slugger museum. It wasn’t time for the next tour yet, so we took a break at Ms. Potter’s coffee where I tried a lavender mocha with soy. We photographed a giant statute of David, a neat satellite by the Science Center, and some odd flying buttresses on a rehab project (building nerds alert). Then we ducked into the museum with the enormous fake bat outside and had just enough time to order personalized bats before we were rushed through the doors to catch up with our tour.
We weren’t allowed to photograph the inside of the factory, but it was a pretty neat system. There were some hand-made bats, some machined bats, and lots of sawdust with moisturizing water being sprayed periodically from the ceiling. We held more kinds of bats than I probably ever did playing baseball and softball combined. The dipping and burning parts were some of our favorites and we were quick to dig into the barrel of “nubs” for two apiece of our own. When the tour guide pulled out a pink bat and I made an “ooo” face, he told us to wait after the tour for a treat.
After the tour, we were all given small bats to keep and told to pick our personalized ones up at the store. We walked around the museum, photographing the bats hanging from the ceiling and the Pirates uniforms, Hank Aaron, etc. There was a pitching cage demonstrating how fast the MBL pitches. Then the tour guide came back out with a 6-foot pink bat. We clutched it as it towered over us and he photographed us with it. Quietly, he pulled two mini pink bats out of nowhere. And that is how we left the museum with three bats each.
We photographed ourselves with the bats by the Ohio River. On the way out of town, I told Jess we needed to catch 65 south but there was construction hindering it. I said I would just try something until I got on the right road and we joked “What’s the worst that could happen, we end up in Indiana?” And that’s when we took the wrong road and ended up in Indiana. We laughed the whole way off the exit and onto the next cloverleaf, documenting our mistake and realizing this way was probably easier than navigating the detours in Louisville. And just like that, we were right back on the southbound side of 65.
Our first stop along 65 south, besides gas in Elizabethtown, was the Jim Beam distillery 30 minutes or so outside of Louisville. I had driven through it once before but we wanted to tour and taste. After chasing a field of geese, we went into the distillery and found that the tours were too long for our schedule – but we were able to take a free self-guided tour that didn’t include all of the buildings but did include free whiskey. Win-win! We decided to take up the offer. We visited every station then concluded in the tasting room where we were given 2 free tries apiece. There were so many choices that Jess and I selected 4 between us and split all of the shots to increase our tasting experience. The cards used for the credits on our drinks were the same cards I use in my laundry machine. Once we were done with our fancy distributed beverages, we thanked the man in charge (and probably bored out of his mind) and hit the road yet again for south.
The next stop was at Big Bubba Bucks Belly Bustin’ BBQ in Munfordsville where I had eaten on my last trip through Kentucky. Sadly, the building that I remembered was a pile of abandoned ashes when we pulled over. A sign vaguely directed us to Horse Cave, just south, so we got back on the highway and finally located the new facility at the Gulf gas station just off the exit. It looked like a dump but the food was as amazing as always. I had spicy boiled peanuts from the station and then some corn on the cob, nanner pudding, and fried green tomatoes from the BBQ joint. Jess was satisfied as well. Next stop: Mammoth Caves, and we were suddenly a little behind schedule for our pre-booked tour.
We sped through the park on the way to the caves and it was farther away than I remembered. We at least were in Central Time now, but we had taken that into consideration when we started driving. We whipped into the lot and ran inside just in time to sprint back out. Our bus was already leaving so Jess stopped, but I kept going and sure enough the bus stopped, put on its reverse lights, and backed up to meet us. So that was how we started the tour, our good ole first impressions. But it was a good tour. Last tour I did was the Historic Tour which was pretty interesting. This one wasn’t as interesting but it was prettier to look at. There were lots of overflows seemingly frozen in the air. Jess and I hope to return soon with others to do the 6 hour extreme tour this summer.
We left Mammoth Caves and headed for our final destination: Nashville. The drive was easy and it was becoming dusky when we arrived in Nashville. We swung past the Parthenon to take photos from the outside, then located our hostel at the river end of Broadway. Downtown Nashville Hostel had great rates for a Friday night. We walked to Broadway next, me in my cowgirl boots, and met up with some friends from home/Huntsville, Alabama who drove up for dinner and some perusing on the town. Dinner was at Rock Bottom, then we went to a bajillion bars. Paradise Park, Rippy’s Bar, Honky Tonk Central, Tootsie’s, I don’t even remember. After our friends left, Jess and I literally just scoped out whatever we felt like walking into. She was complaining about the Fireball Whiskey being the devil in disguise, but boy do I love that stuff. On our way back to the hostel, we somehow managed to end up in Diane’s Sweets or something for ice cream. Yes, we were walking down Broadway at night on a Friday in winter eating ice cream. And people asked us where we got it. Wow.
Back in the hostel, we made our beds and planned for the next day. I was pleasantly surprised to find our roommates speaking French and conversed with them a little. They were embarrassed that I knew what they were saying, but I felt better having them know than assume I couldn’t understand, especially if I awkwardly reacted to something I overheard. They were from Tours, but one girl was living in Michigan now. They were nice. We slept fine that night and were ready to head east come morning.
David in Louisville.
At Ms. Potter’s.
The big pink bat!
Posing in front of Indiana with our bats.
At the BBQ joint.
In the cave.
Parthenon of Nashville.
Me, Jess, and friends from home/Huntsville, Alabama.