Horse capital of USA.

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Nov 25, 2013

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Where I stayed
Ken & Barb's

Flag of United States  , Kentucky
Thursday, July 25, 2013

these were the only words spoken, as we were cleared by one of the many Immigration Officers, on landing at JFK Airport from Paris. …..516 disembarking passengers,  dealt with in 20 minutes by a large number of waiting immigration team.
Overnight in New York………..4am wake up, 5am shuttle for an Air Tram right across JFK to find Terminal 7, for our domestic 8am flight……. first to Charlotte Airport ,the hub for US Air
(a beehive of transferring US Airways passengers) - all going well….THEN the plans went “pair shaped”. Our flight to Lexington was first delayed 1 hour , then disappeared ‘off’' the board - 
 on inquiring “where’s our flight gone???” it had been cancelled!!
 Oh dear poor Erin and David , waiting for  us to meet them off THEIR flight at the same time, after flying directly from NZ.  Ken to the rescue……he collected David and Erin, then drove 1 and a half hours to meet us for a reconnecting flight we took to Louisville , finally arriving in Lexington at 5 o’clock. A long day after our 4am rise.

 David & Erin (our near neighbours from NZ) are staying in town in other friends  (Junior & Debbie’s) apartment. A short stroll up the street from their apartment for a celebratory drink and meal for the 6 of us at a cute old corner bar….Barb tells us were off to stay with J & D on their houseboat at Lake Laurel for the weekend……no time for Jetlag for David and Erin .
Saturday morning we collected Erin & David  from where they are staying  in downtown Lexington and headed south - 1 and a half hours drive South to Lake Laurel. 
 This is the 3rd year Garry & I have been invited back to stay on the house boat. - 
 83 foot long, luxury on the water. Lots of visitors there when we arrived, however Junior took us all out on his Pontoon boat with several of his nephews riding alongside on 2 Jetskis
 The 2nd Marina on the Lake has the largest Houseboat, owned by R.J.Corman- this name is everywhere in Kentucky (the man owns the Railway ), and has RED painted old trains in many spots around this State. 123 feet long, and 23 feet wide. 2 storied , this houseboat looks like a floating hotel . Corman owns the Jetty , and has 4 pontoons with toys moored. One for the red houseboat, another smaller houseboat, one for the jetskis and a houseboat for his employees to use - some Boss, HUH????    
 Of course a highlight for David (and particularly Erin ) ,was spotting another Hydro dam…. specially created by flooding a huge forested area of land by the Army to build the dam.
  This is on Lake Laurel,  and in general the water is 200 to 300 foot deep..
 The day was HOT and we returned after an hour on the Lake to float about, IN the Lake, cooling off..  David & Garry did a bit of showing off for the swimmers, with their 'headfirst down the slide' tricks into the lake-   followed by a welcome cold drink and barbecue cooked by Garry.
 Corn Hole - a popular game played in Kentucky - 2 sloping ramps facing one another , spaced about 10 foot apart ,with a 6 inch hole in the upper part of each board . You throw a bean bag (1LB of dried corn per bag) , and try to pitch the bag (Petanque like) into the hole…..David & Garry played after dinner on the dock beside the boat, and others  joined in too from surrounding boats.
  Sunday morning, and after a leisurely breakfast we packed up, and with promises from Junior and Debbie to come visit in NZ, we were off to explore. I particularly wanted E & D to see the Cumberland falls -   one of only 2 places in the world where a natural phenomenon occurs. Once a month on full moon, a rainbow occurs above the falls in the moonlight called “a moonbow” ….reputed to be the 'Niagara' of Kentucky, well not quite Niagara, but spectacular all the same. We followed the path under very old trees to view the falls from a lower level, after viewing them from close up ,as they drop about 100 feet on their river course to Nashville and into the Tennessee river. …………….Continuing North ,through lovely forested areas and country roads - avoiding the motorway on our return route to Lexington. The height of summer here - many paddocks cut and ready for baling, lots of heavily laden trailers towing large rounds of already baled  hay, and corn fields coming to be ready.

 We KNOW were in Ken- tuck-y - ; caus- we have just had white beans and country ham soup, with homemade corn bread, salad and TOOO much wine!!! For Supper ..Barb and Ken had that meal waiting for us on our return from our weekend  and the overnight on Debbie and Juniors houseboat at Holly Bay Marina.

The State of Kentucky has had a VERY wet summer, and on our first full day in this State since we returned from the Lake,, we were to see “that the rain is not over yet”…..for Garry & I, it was the first rain we had seen in 8 weeks- and although disruptive, it did not stop us from having an enjoyable day.
  Setting off into the countryside to the West of Lexington, the map on my knee was  covered in horses, and YES the thoroughbreds  are all there, behind their miles of lovely painted white or black  beautiful paled fence lines . This is horse capital of USA….Evidence of ALL the rain is seen in the green of the countryside, in their height of summer….the trees are almost lime and the grass is long….the tobacco crops and corn fields have suffered with TOO much rain, but everywhere there is rolling green paddocks .Little villages were like ghost towns in the wet - Monday and  many of the shops were shut. Midway looked deserted with only the railline ‘running’ through the centre of the village, to show that life goes on . Garry wanted to visit a well known  Bourbon plant in Woodford- so GPS was set and on we went. Turning off the main road and following what appeared to be a private, sealed, tree lined driveway through thoroughbred horse farms, eventually finding our way to Woodford Bourbon plant….an interesting array of huge brick buildings on the edge of a fast flowing river (all very necessary in the process of Bourbon making, with the Limestone of the water giving the Bourbon its flavour). . Reading the history line - it appears that the original settler, had had to take the land in the 1700’s by battle - and  food was scarce ..he reported back to reinforcements - 
 “if you can’t bring me supplies, bring Bourbon”. AND the scene was set for Bourbon country.

  Leaving Woodford we followed the river on a VERY narrow road  and after many miles of flooded road and overhanging trees, we came upon an old deserted  bourbon distillery- a whole village could be built from the bricks the buildings were made from ,that are now covered in vines and ivy. Time and vegetation has taken over. The rain had stopped so we pulled off the road  and  spent  time wandering and exploring this ”lost little world” out in the countryside. The people had ‘just walked away’ - and even their office records were still laying strewn around on the wet undergrowth.
 Our goal was to see the State Capital building in Frankfort - and eventually this old country road, still following the Kentucky river, crossed under highway 64 and wound its way back to civilization. 
 The Capitol building - in every way , resembles the White House…how can  a State capitol have such a grand building, and the Governors Mansion , is just as grand, modelled originally on Marie Antoinette’s home. In the course of the day, we completed a huge circle of Kentucky , eventually finding our way back to Lexington - parked up, and walked a very beautiful Historic area to show David & Erin where Barb & Ken have just shifted from.

  Now Barb is a VERY social person - and last evening there were 11 of us for dinner.Including her “Gaybours” - the 2 “boys “,as she calls them, who are very sad that she has moved away . And the young couple who have purchased their historic home - now they are best of friends and we all enjoyed their company for what was a hilarious evening. As we drove Erin & David back to their apartment, the “BLUE, full moon of Kentucky” - was indeed shining brightly.
Planters held slaves for use as field hands, laborers, artisans, and domestic servants in the city, and this morning we walked the downtown area and saw where the African American slaves were sold at Cheapside Market in the 1840’s, with thousands sold, including children who were separated from their parents... In 1850, one-fifth of the state's population were slaves, and Lexington had the highest concentration of slaves in the state. . President Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln was  born and raised in Lexington, and we called in, while on our walk, to see the house where she had lived , built over 200 years ago.. 
After 1 day of rain, the skies cleared and we were treated to sunshine , and cooler temps, allowing us to be exploring again . Ken is a ‘mine of information’ about this area and after a hearty brunch at Josies by the 6 of us, we set off  for a guided tour of the Horse district by Ken.
  First to the wonderful Keenland Track where he works at the totalizator - a very pretty track, deserted apart from serious punters following and betting on other races at tracks around the country. Driving further into horse countryside, we had pulled off the road into a rather exclusive gateway, with Ken explaining the ownership and its owner, when a vehicle pulled alongside, 
 (of course wanting to know what we were doing outside the secure gates) . JR turned out to be Farm Manager of the very successful Derby champion breeder property called Hill ‘N’ Dale  
 (site for those who would like greater detail than I have time to give.. Following JR in through the rather grand security gates, we drove in through acres of tree lined driveway , finally  drawing up alongside a very grand building - not a persons home, but the home and breeding stables  of one of the many Bluegrass Thoroughbred breeders. 
 JR introduced himself, then with a quick “I have to meet with the Vet”, he was off in his vehicle , leaving us to wander around on our own. What a privilege…allowing us to see these beautiful beasts in their stalls, the amazing  buildings they are housed in , and the very peaceful atmosphere we all felt, while walking the perimeter of the buildings on the tree lined roadways, with more breeding horses in the paddocks beyond.. We had all experienced one of those moments in life, that cannot be planned.. 
The World Equestrian games were held in Kentucky in 2012 at the Kentucky Horse Park .
 This Park attracts nearly a million people annually , with national and international horse shows and equine competitions ; a tourist complex that educates and entertains with dozens of different breeds of horses , retired superstars and 3 museums. New Zealander,, Blyth Tait proved a formidable competitor  in 2000, when he rode to victory in the ROLEX Kentucky 3 day event held here This is the Worlds leading equestrian destination.
 After a full day of sightseeing ‘what Lexington is famous for‘, we were happy to return from the countryside lanes lined with slave walls and beautiful fences , to get ready for a quick bite at BONEFISH ( local very busy restaurant near Ken & Barb’s) , and then onto a movie. 
 The Historic downtown theatre is in the process of being renovated and is back in full use. 
 Wednesday is ‘old movie’ night, and we arrived just in time to a packed house and to be treated to an evening of entertainment . Commencing with the audience all standing and singing Old  Kentucky Home, to the accompaniment of the Wurlitzer resident organ,
The 1955 movie starring James Stewart and Doris Day was the feature film and for a fee of $5 a head, we reckoned on the house takings being close to $3,000 for the night. The movie
 ‘A Man who knew too much ‘,was a ‘goodie’… Alfred Hitchcock directed and set in Marrakesh - a thoroughly enjoyable evenings entertainment.

Our last day here in Lexington - and we leave in the morning for Asheville.
The start of our trip down to FLORIDA
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glenna gray on

Wish we could have been with you! The houseboat looks fabulous. We love Horse Park and you were so lucky to get the "grand" tour" of Hill N Dale Stud. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures and good times.

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