"You've never been to The Biltmore?"
I can't tell you how many times SM and I have heard that from friends and family members.
"But it's in your backyard!?!"
"Yeah, yeah...I know. But come on it's just a house! A rich person's house." That was always my excuse but SM and I both started to feel like we weren't representing our state very well since we hadn't been.
So off to the Biltmore we went. It was a Wednesday and I'd read that everybody always goes to the house first. The article suggested we save the house for last and go visit Antler Village and the Winery first. Which we did.
Eh. No Biggie.
So over to the big house. I liked several of the main rooms and thought that my favorite spot would be the terrace, just like here at my house. I teased SM that if we'd have lived around here I'd likely be stuck in the basement kitchen while he got to be the yard bitch. "Just like it is now?" He asked. "Yep!"
True to my nature I loved the gardens and conservatory best.
I took LOTS of pictures for screen savers to help tide me over during the dark Winter days.
Then we sat out in the courtyard trying to decide where to head next.
"Cherokee is just down the road. We could spend the night there." I suggested.
"And do what?" SM asked.
"People watch and maybe play some slot machines?" I replied. SM and are not into gambling. Just not lucky that way.
"Meh." SM grunted. "How about we head for Knoxville. Then we can get an early start on The Bourbon Tour." SM had read about distillery tours that the bourbon makers gave in Kentucky. I guess if you're big into bourbon, folks make a game of going to every one of the distilleries.
"We could head over towards Memphis and Nashville." I tossed out, but SM isn't into country music or Elvis.
So after spending the night in Knoxville, we headed out to do some tasting. SM drinks Makers Mark bourbon and they were located an hour out of Louisville down a tiny country road.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this tour. Seeing 100 year old oak tubs of sour mash percolating.
Breathing in the "Angels Share" when you first walk into the warehouse filled floor to ceiling with bourbon in various stages of aging.
It's fascinating to see that every single bottle is waxed (sealed) by hand. This is a multimillion dollar industry and yet it seems very much like a very small family operation.
We planned on doing the Jim Beam tour but their last tour was at 3pm. "How far away is Louisville?" SM asked.
"About an hour."
"You know, we could go to the Louisville - Rutgars football game tonight." SM suggested.
"Or we could head into Lexington and do one of those early morning horse farm tours." I countered.
"How about we do both." SM offered. "We go to the football game and I promise to get up early to drive into Lexington for the tour."
I am not into football but realized that SM was really wanting to go. "How about YOU go to the game and I'll park my butt in a hotel. You know I'll be miserable and antsy at a game."
SM found a hotel within walking distance of the stadium. We went to dinner since it was a 7pm game and then parted ways. SM to hang with the rowdy football crowd, while I found reruns of The Walking Dead on TV.
I prefer zombies over a live crowd any day @;)
We woke up early and zipped over to The Thoroughbred Center which gave tours of their training stables. We watched horses "breeze" the track and met up with a manager whose wife owned a beautiful mare named "Tell Me A Little Secret."
These animals are amazing close up. These folks truly love what they do.
After that we started to head over to Keeneland to watch some racing but the track didn't open till 1pm. Keeneland only races in April and October so we were warned that it was going to be crowded.
Anyway, on the way over we spotted another distillery Buffalo Trace. So we stopped in and did their tour. Again, very impressive. Their bourbon is rye based which is actually really harsh. Now I know why the Indians called it firewater.
Yuck. Makers Mark was much smoother since they don't use rye. They use a red winter wheat. See? I was paying attention during the tour!
Keeneland was very crowded and hot. We bought general admission which kept us in full sun. Uh...Hello? Hotflash Mamma here! I was sweating like a freak and then when the race started you couldn't even see the track live as we were at eye level.
Geez. I'm at the track and watching the TV? What a bummer. I pretty much snapped at that point.
"OK. Where to next?"
"How about home. I don't think there's much else to see here."
The only other thing I wanted to do was Mammoth Caves. I'd been there as a child but SM had never been. I remember being really impressed with it but it's a national park so it was closed. I knew there were other caves in the area but I was done. Kaput. Finieto.
After 27 years of marriage SM knows when to put up and when to shut up. We drove straight though and got home about 11pm.
And I tell you what...
There's no place like home.