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2019-05-08 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Travel to Staffordsville and Paintsville, Ky – Day #14

We had a nice travel day today.  We are heading east, into the hills of northeast Kentucky.  Expect country music (banjos?) and beautiful hills…

We left the campground at about 10:00 am and drove for about one hour…

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We gathered at Natural Bridge State Park, a beautiful place…

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We took the skylift up to the top of the mountain…

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Others were already coming down…

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We arrived at the top, and walked along, enjoying the views…

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We walked down the narrow path…

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And we were under the arch!

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We walked back up the narrow path…

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We walked back atop the arch…

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We wondered if the arch can be seen from the stone cliff across the way… So we walked around to find out…

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Yes!  You can!

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We returned to the lift and descended the hill…

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We met a few friends coming up…

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Down in the parking lot we had a little lunch…

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We then headed out for the last leg of today’s trip… We were soon set up at the Paintsville Lake State Park…

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There is a beautiful lake here…

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At 6:00 we joined the others for a group meal…

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After dinner some of the Caravaners (Lynda) stayed to play Left-Right-Center…

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I returned to the Villa.  After the game, Lynda caught some sunset photos…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-07 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Toyota Tour – Day #13

We carpooled together to the Toyota Manufacturing Plant in nearby Georgetown, KY.  We were given very specific directions:  Long pants, closed toed shoes, no camera or mobile devices of any kind…

So here is all you get:

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It’s a massive plant, over 8,000,000 sq. ft., producing over 550,000 cars per year, with over 10,000 employees.

The tour took us through the three assembly lines.  Hundreds of robots are taking a roll of sheet steel and turning it into a car.  There are self-driving carts which drive through the aisles, delivering extra parts to the robots on demand.  It is the future of manufacturing!  It was a fun tour!

We then went to downtown Georgetown, which is also the site of Georgetown College.  The town is filled with stately houses…

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The town is filled with delightful storefronts…

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Georgetown is where Elijah Craig first ran a bourbon distillery in 1789; we tasted Elijah Craig bourbon at Heaven Hill a few days ago…

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No idea what this building is, but I was intrigued by its form and location next to the river……

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Great old Baptist church on the corner…

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We had lunch at Fava’s…

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We returned to the Villa.  There were tours of another museum and the old Capitol building, but we needed to relax and catch up on a few things… Lynda caught up on her reading…

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We had another drivers meeting in the evening.  I hope one day the drivers meeting takes less time than it does to drive to our next destination…

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We returned to the Villa for a nice supper of pulled pork sliders;  and an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-06 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Frankfurt, KY – Day #12

We carpooled together this morning to Frankfort – the capital of Kentucky.  I’m always surprised when I see a state capital that is such a small town.  The population of Frankfort is only about 28,000… It is so small you could hardly see it because of the trees…

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But before we could park at the capitol building we found:  The Zeigler Residence!

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It is not open to the public… Sad…

So we moved on to a perfect example of Beaux-Arts/Greek Revival Architecture…

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Statue of Abe Lincoln…

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The rotunda dome… LED lights subtly change colors…

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EVERYTHING in this building follows the golden rule – what you do to one side you must do to the other.  True in algebra and true in the symmetry of classical buildings…

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The other president born in Kentucky – Jefferson Davis…

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The State Supreme Court…

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The legislative floor…

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The Assembly Chamber…

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The Senate chamber…

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I’m not a fan of these neo-classical building.  I do appreciate the attention to detail, beautifully executed by the stone masons…

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What annoys me is when designers, who often do not know how materials and buildings go together, try to duplicate these details in a studs and stucco construction… Sorry – you can’t do these details in stucco!

All in all it was a nicely detailed building but a little over-scaled.  It seemed too heavy for my taste, and the proportions seemed a little “off”…

We had a great tour, then we moved on to the Kentucky VietNam Veterans Memorial…

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The design is unique in that it is a sundial with the names of the dead located on the granite floor such that the shadow of the point of the sundial falls on the name on the day of the year that he or she died…

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It is a little confusing, but a moving memorial in any case…

Time for a break.  We drove into downtown Frankfort; we walked the (small) town and  enjoyed a nice lunch at Serafini…

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During lunch we saw a commotion of people gathering just outside the restaurant and across the street, on the lawn of the “old” state capitol building…

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Today was an all-state peace officers memorial ceremony for officers killed in the line of duty…

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Bagpipes were playing…

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It looked like a nice, small town parade and gathering of like-minded people.  Very nice…

After lunch we walked around the town; we especially liked the buildings overhanging the Kentucky River…

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We soon arrived at our next tour:

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Rebecca Ruth was in business making candy for over 60 years; as a women this was unheard of… In Kentucky in the 19th and early 20th century women without a father or a husband simply didn’t exist – they could not own property, have a bank  account, or do much of anything… She confounded all these ideas…

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Rebecca Ruth is credited with inventing the famous bourbon balls, although the claim is disputed…  There was a nice tour and many folks bought lots of chocolate…

But we were moving on to our final tour of the day:  Buffalo Trace!

Buffalo Trace is one of my favorite “go to” daily drinking bourbons, along with Makers Mark.  But I knew little about it; I was looking forward to this tour!  Boy! Was I surprised!

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The distillery is very old, and is listed on the National Listing of Historic Places…

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Here is the buffalo… I’m not sure what they are trying to tell us about the water they use here…

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We had the standard tour, seeing the barrel houses, the fermentation tanks, and the bottling line…

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Wait!  This is Buffalo Trace?

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When we toured Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s, and others, we heard all about the original family’s dedication to making a high quality whiskey (or whisky), how they developed their brand, their distinction in the marketplace, and their unique flavor profile.  And, yes, we learned that the family eventually sold out to one of the multinational conglomerates that own the vast majority of makers of wine, beer, and spirits…  Here at Buffalo Trace I learned something different.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a corporate “made up” brand, and is part of a corporate conglomerate that buys up smaller brands and farms out their services and distilleries to brands owned by others.  Buffalo Trace is owned by the Sazerac Company, which is privately owned by a billionaire (William Goldring and his family) in New Orleans.  The corporate office is in Louisville, Kentucky.  As of 2017, it operated nine distilleries, had 2,000 employees, and operated in 112 countries.  It is one of the two largest spirits companies in the U.S., with annual revenue of about $1 billion made from selling about 300 mostly discount brands.  They claim it is the largest and privately held distillery, but Heaven Hill disputes that point… They also claim it’s the oldest continuously operating distillery, built in 1812.  However, Burks’ distillery, now used for production of Maker’s Mark, disputes this.  According to its citation in the registry of National Historic Landmarks, Burks’ Distillery’s origins extend to 1805, and Burks’ Distillery is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest operating bourbon distillery.  So we know that Buffalo Trace claims things that may just be apocryphal…

The distillery has historically been known by several names, including the George T. Stagg Distillery and the Old Fire Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery.  The company says the name “Buffalo Trace” refers to an ancient buffalo crossing on the banks of the Kentucky River in Franklin County, Kentucky.  The Sazerac Company purchased the distillery in 1992, and Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was “invented” in 1999.  So, as you see, Buffalo Trace was no small Mom and Pop brand that did well…

Records indicate that distilling started on the site that is now the Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1775 by Hancock Lee and his brother Willis Lee, who died in 1776.  The first distillery was constructed in 1812 by Harrison Blanton.  In 1870 the distillery was purchased by Edmund H. Taylor and given its first name, the Old Fire Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery.  Taylor sold the distillery eight years later to George T. Stagg along with the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery.  This second distillery was sold within the year to James Graham, in order to add more land to the O.F.C. Distillery.  In 1886, Stagg installed steam heating in the storage warehouses, the first climate controlled warehouse for aging whiskey in the nation.  This is another unique feature of Buffalo Trace… Most other brands brag that their barrel houses are NOT climate controlled… (Except for Woodford Reserve…)

While Buffalo Trace Distillery is mainly known for its bourbon, it also produces other spirits such as rye whiskey and vodka, plus quasi-bourbon such are Bourbon Cream.  (More of Bourbon Cream later…).

Buffalo Trace is HUGE!  The following spirits are produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery:

  • Self-produced brands
    • Buffalo Trace – straight bourbon
    • Col. E. H. Taylor – small batch, single-barrel, and barrel proof straight bourbon and rye
    • Eagle Rare – straight bourbon and 17 year antique collection
    • George T. Stagg – barrel-proof straight bourbon
    • Stagg Jr.- barrel proof straight bourbon
    • McAfee’s Benchmark – straight bourbon
    • O.F.C. – straight bourbon (with a prior name for the distillery)
    • Old Charter – straight bourbon
    • Old Taylor – straight bourbon
    • Sazerac – straight rye and Sazerac antique collection
    • Thomas H. Handy – barrel-proof straight rye
    • W. L. Weller – special reserve, antique 107, and barrel proof William Larue Weller antique collection straight bourbon (with a wheated mash bill very similar or identical to that for the Van Winkle brands)
    • Wheatley Vodka
  • Brands produced in partnership with Age International (a former owner of the distillery, now part of the Japanese company Takara Holdings):
    • Ancient Age – straight bourbon
    • Blanton’s single-barrel – straight bourbon
    • Hancock’s President’s Reserve – single-barrel straight bourbon
    • Elmer T. Lee – single-barrel straight bourbon
    • Rock Hill Farms – single-barrel straight bourbon
  • Brands produced in partnership with the Van Winkle family (under an agreement established in June 2002):
    • Old Rip Van Winkle – straight bourbon (wheated)
    • Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve – straight bourbon (wheated)
    • Van Winkle Special Reserve – straight bourbon (wheated)
    • Van Winkle Family Reserve – straight rye

So, rather than having a great family story, Buffalo Trace is a product of a giant corporate conglomerate.  Nothing romantic, no great family story, nothing to write home about.  However, it is a VERY good bourbon!

Finally we moved on to the tasting…

We tasted some white lightning and some vodka that they make.  Nothing special, although the vodka is rated to be very good and is at a price point far below other premium vodkas…

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We tasted Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare.  Same mash bill, but Eagle Rare is a higher proof and it has been aged longer… It was marginally better than Buffalo Trace, which, of course, was quite good.

Then we tasted the bourbon cream.  It is a bourbon liqueur, 30 proof; It is made with bourbon and real cream.  A special process enables these two dissimilar products to blend nicely without curdling.  It was spectacular!  (And I don’t like Harvey’s or Bristol Cream…)

Then we added a little root beer to the bourbon cream.  Root beer float!  Add a little ice cream for a real treat!

And, of course, we were given bourbon balls to enjoy!

So the tasting was fun, but the back story was disappointing…

We returned to the Villa and turned in early.  And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-05 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Cinco de Mayo! – Day #11

We had a busy day today, but everything was easy-going and enjoyable.  We began by driving 20 minutes into downtown Lexington;  we attended services at the 2nd Presbyterian Church…

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The 8:45 am service was very sparsely attended; maybe 60-70 people.  I trust the 11:00 am service would be better…  It was a very traditional service; it was a little odd that their hymns had familiar tunes, but totally different words.

We returned to the Villa, and then we walked over to the Horse Park.

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We saw horses.

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The big barn houses the draft horses – Clydesdales and similar hard working horses…

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The Big Barn is supposedly the largest horse barn in the USA…

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There was an interesting display showing the earliest and biggest horse farms and estates.  There was no mention that the horse farms, dating to the early 19th century, used slaves to work the horses.  In fact, all the early jockeys were slaves, and later, former slaves, until the Jim Crow laws and attitudes eliminated blacks from horse racing tracks altogether; this changed finally in the late 20th century…

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We watched a potion of the “Showcase of Breeds”, where we saw four different saddle horses on display…

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We walked through the “Hall of Champions”; this is where former winners are spending their twilight years living in the lap of luxury…

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And we walked back to the Villa…

We drove to the tiny town of Midway, so named because it was at the halfway point of the Ohio and Lexington Railroad; it was the first town in Kentucky founded by the railroad.  It was a delightful town, with railroad tracks running down the center of Main Street… Did I mention that it was laid out by the Railroad?

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This corner building used to house the local IOOF lodge – Oldfellows.  If I ever wanted to move to a small town I would find a building like this to convert to living quarters… What could be better than living in a place like this?

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The former train depot is now a bank…

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We had lunch at the Brown Barrel.  Good burgers (a blend of ground brisket, short rib, and chuck – just like I use at home…), and The Best French Fries Ever!

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The building is a former distillery, but I suspect the roof had caved in, because this roof  structure looks pretty new and pristine to me…

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After lunch we drove to do another bourbon tasting.  We are in the heart of the Bluegrass country – green pastures and horse barns as far as you can see…

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We arrived at our destination:

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Woodford Reserve is a very pretty place!  The distillery was built in 1812, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places.  But Woodford Reserve was founded here in 1996…

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They have a nice deck area where you can enjoy a cocktail or a light lunch…

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We started the tour overlooking the 1812 stone buildings…

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You know the song, “Roll Out the Barrel”?  This is where the barrels are rolled out from the distillery to the Barrel House…

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The traditional cypress wood fermenting tanks…

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The pot stills…

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Woodford Reserve is unique in that they use ONLY pot stills; there are no column stills here.  The fermented mash is distilled three times to get the whiskey to about 168 proof…

The barrel house…

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The tour guide talked about the historic stone barrel house… However, when questioned, he told us that it only holds 5,000 barrels.  They have five other modern barrel houses over the hill, which each contain over 50,000 barrels each…

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Another thing we heard for the first time is that they use steam heat in the barrel houses during cold winter months; they add heat, then turn it off; the result is that the temperature changes from high to low many times throughout the winter.  I was shocked!  This would kill any fine wine; wine needs a constant temperature to mature in the bottle.  But bourbon ages in wooden barrels, and the hot-cold cycle allows the wood to expand, sucking whiskey into the wood, then contract, pushing the whiskey back out of the wood.  This is what provides the flavor to bourbon, and it seems like they know what they are doing…

We tasted the Woodford Reserve and the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.  The regular WR was good, the WR Double Oaked was better.  The Double Oaked is aged in the regular way for 4-5-6 years, then the bourbon is poured into another new oak barrel that has been heavily toasted and charred; the bourbon is aged for another 9-12 months…

Driving back to the Villa we saw even more beautiful vista across the Bluegrass countryside.

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We enjoyed Happy Hours (6:00 – 9:00 pm) with another couple that we had not met at the various GAMs… And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-04 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Kentucky Derby! – Day #10

Today is the big day!  The Kentucky Derby; the “Greatest two minutes in sports”!  And today’s running of the Derby was historic!

As you have read here, we went to Churchill Downs earlier in the week.  We are smart enough not to try to go there today!  The Caravan, along with the Kentucky unit of the Airstream Club, arranged for a semi-private room at the Keeneland Race Track.  We could watch all the action in the comfort of an indoor, climate controlled room, with free-flowing food and drink all day long.  After all, the Derby is the 12th race of the day, so there is a lot of action to watch…

Of course, Lynda had to get dressed up and wear the hat:

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Yes, I was dressed up, too…

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We arrived at the track at about Noon.  It is a very nice place, much nicer (and way smaller) than Churchill Downs.  Our meeting room was on the 4th floor, right up there:

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We had a great view of the jumbo-tron and the race track…

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Of course, nothing is happening on the race track.  We will watch the races on the jumbo-tron and on the 1,000 TVs in the meeting room…

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So we socialized with fellow Airstreamers, ate, drank, wagered, cheered, and generally had a dandy time… We had such a dandy time that mid-afternoon I snuck off and found a comfortable chair in the lobby and had a little nap…

Finally the big race neared.  It was raining; the track was a sea of mud.  Last year was rainy and muddy, too.  Very historic…!  We picked our first choices (we didn’t wager, but others did).  I picked Improbable, Lynda picked Maximum Security…

And they’re off!

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The first to cross the finish line was Maximum Security!  Lynda “won”!

So we packed up, walked back to the parking lot and returned to the Villa.  Then history happened again.

We has no sooner gotten inside the Villa when the news notifications on our phones started ringing.  What?  Maximum Security was disqualified for a contact infraction on the home stretch!  This has not happened since 1968, and is only the second time the winner was disqualified in the 145 year history of the Derby!  Very historic…!

So the second horse, Country House, was declared the winner.  He was a 65:1 long shot, the first time such a long shot has won the Derby!  Very historic…!

We relaxed as rain beat down on the roof of the Villa;  an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-03 – Airstream Caravan Travels – Springtime in Kentucky; Moving On – Day #9

Today we move from Bardstown to Lexington.  In the rain…  We began with a drivers meeting.  In the rain…

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We hitched up in the rain and we drove in the rain.  We even stopped along the way in the rain…

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We appreciated their attitude…

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We were able to do a tasting on the outside gazebo.  Did I mention it was raining?

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It was very interesting.  I doubt that I had ever tasted much Four Roses, but I had read a little about their process, so we were eager to find out what it was all about…

Our tasting guide told us about the history of Four Roses;  she told us that the founder was Paul Jones, Jr.  The brand name was trademarked in 1888 by Jones, who claimed it had been produced and sold as early as the 1860s.  The Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, distillery was built in 1910 in Spanish Mission-style architecture, where we are today, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The brand was purchased by Seagram in 1943.  It was the top selling brand of bourbon in the United States in the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s.  Around the end of the 1950s, with the rising popularity of gin and vodka, Seagram decided to discontinue the sale of Four Roses Bourbon within the United States.  Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon marketing was shifted to Europe and Asia, which were rapidly growing markets at the time.  In these markets it quickly became the top selling bourbon.  In the United States, during this period, the Four Roses name was used on a blended whiskey, made mostly of neutral grain spirits and commonly seen as a sub-par “rotgut” brand.  Four Roses continued to be unavailable as a straight bourbon in the US market for more than forty years until the brand ownership changed in 2002 after Seagram was purchased by Vivendi, who then sold most of their brands to Diageo, which sold the Four Roses brand to Kirin, who discontinued the sale of the “rotgut” blended whiskey; Kirin reintroduced  Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to the US market.  And here we are today.

Four Roses uses two different mash bills, using about 60% corn and up to 35% rye, a very high percentage.  They also ferment the mash separately using five different yeasts; each yeast gives off a different aroma and flavor – spicy, herbal, floral, and fruity.  So they end up with barrels containing 10 different bourbons.  Another thing that Four Roses does differently than the other distilleries is how they age their barrels of whiskey:  Their barrel houses are one story only, 6 barrels high.  (Other distilleries have 7 story barrel houses, with each story having three barrels high; So the difference is between 6 barrels tall and 21 barrels tall.  Four Roses claims they get better, more consistent aging using this configuration…

Their main product, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, uses all 10 recipes;  we tasted it and were not very impressed, but it wasn’t bad.

We then tasted the Small Batch Bourbon; it uses four of the recipes blended to get their particular taste profile.  It was quite good, with a nice sweet nose and a smooth finish.

The third taste we had was their premium bottling, Small Batch Select, which uses six of the recipes.  Maybe it was us, or the rain, or whatever, but it did not impress us at all.

They also make a single barrel bourbon, which we did not taste…

So we learned a lot and we continued our journey… We are now in the Lexington area, all green horse pastures, trees, and stately houses – Kentucky Bluegrass!

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Our campground is at the Kentucky Horse Park, a huge complex with a huge museum, displays, and everything horse.  We will tour here is a few days…

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The caravaners were busy at work setting up their Airstreams.  It finally stopped raining…

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Also joining us at this campground, and at our Kentucky Derby party tomorrow, is the local Kentucky Airstream Club.  They joined us for a pizza dinner in the Pavilion…

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We walked the park a little bit.  Lynda did some Laundry and I attended to some computer business.  We were tired, and turned in early…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-07-17 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Boston, day 1

Knowing what traffic is like in Boston, we were grateful that the Caravan provided a nice Prevost bus to take us in to the heart of Boston:

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Today we will have an opportunity to take a trolley tour to get oriented around Boston; after the trolley we can further explore areas as we wish…

From the bus we first saw the Boston Skyline:

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And then the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge:

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This is a cable-stayed bridge, not a suspension bridge.  The difference is that a cable-stayed bridge has one or more towers, from which cables directly support the bridge deck. A distinctive feature are the cables which run directly from the tower to the deck, normally forming a fan-like pattern or a series of parallel lines. This is in contrast to the modern suspension bridge, where the cables supporting the deck are suspended vertically from the main cable, anchored at both ends of the bridge and running between the towers. The cable-stayed bridge is optimal for spans longer than cantilever bridges and shorter than suspension bridges.

The lead designers were Theodore Zoli (from HNTB) and W. Denney Pate (from FIGG).  It has a striking, graceful appearance that is meant to echo the tower of the Bunker Hill Monument (more on this tomorrow), which is within view of the bridge, and the white cables evoke imagery of the rigging of the USS Constitution, docked nearby (more on this tomorrow).

The bus dropped us off at the waterfront; we boarded the trolley for a 90 minute tour of the historic and civic landmarks of Boston.  We were dropped back at the waterfront, leaving us the rest of the day to focus on our own interests.

Boston has nicely marked its sidewalks with a red stripe as a path they call the “Freedom Trail”.  So after our trolley tour we walked the trail and saw many famous sights, most related to the War for Independence.

You will recall the Longfellow poem I quoted when we visited Concord and Lexington:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

It goes on to say:

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

So we went to see the Old North Church:2017-07-17 Boston Old North Church

And Paul Revere’s house:

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Along the way we saw the location of Cheers bar; Exterior photos of this place were used in the TV show, although the bar inside is nothing like the TV set. The owner has recreated the TV set in another Cheers bar location near the waterfront…

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We saw the Charles River; a little regatta or sailing lessons are going on today:

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Fenway Park; they play baseball here:

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We really wanted to see Trinity Church, located in Copley Square; we walked and walked and when we finally got there we saw that it was closed on Mondays. Who ever heard of a church being closed on Mondays? What’s next? Closing the Stockbridge dump on Thanksgiving?

We did get in a nice lunch at La Famiglia Giorgio’s.  And lots of walking.  The bus took us back to the Villa and we slept soundly that night… a good thing, because we come back tomorrow!

 

 

2017-07-15 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Lexington, Concord, and The Shot Heard ‘Round the World; Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer…

We had a free day to explore the region. We chose to tour Concord and Lexington.  After driving to Lexington we joined a trolley ride for a 90 minute to drive along the roads between Lexington and Concord; our guide told us the history of the Battle of Concord and Lexington, the start of the War for Independence.

 

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Our trolley tour told of the first shots fired – it was it Lexington, but no one knows who fired first.  Paul Revere and William Dawes had ridden in from Boston to warn the town that the British were coming. (Although everyone here was British at the time…)

Also, because Longfellow told us, everyone knows:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year. 

 

In 1896 Helen F. Moore, dismayed that William Dawes had been forgotten by Longfellow, penned a parody of Longfellow’s poem:

‘Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear—
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

Revere was arrested, but the word was out. The main confrontation occurred in Concord, as memorialized in the first verse of the Concord Hymn:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

We walked along the area of the first battle, and across the bridge. (Not the original bridge…):

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There are graves of British here, too:

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Along the trolley tour we saw the houses of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  Thoreau’s house is about 1 1/2 miles from Walden Pond, so for all those months when Thoreau was isolated and alone at the pond, he usually walked home for dinner in the evening…

We walked about to see several historic houses in Lexington; this is the house that Revere (and Dawes) were riding to:

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I know it’s a really old house, but this house (especially the door…) needs some attention:

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The Munroe Tavern was occupied by the British as their headquarters:

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After our memories of the history of the war with the British were refreshed, we needed to be refreshed with a little French food:

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We walked about the town a bit, and headed back to the truck:

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I had been in this area in 2008, on a bus tour, but not to see historic sights; we were here to see architecture.  I recalled a neighborhood of modernist houses, but I didn’t know where they were or whose houses they were.  I did remember the bus driver pointing out Walden Pond, so I thought we should check out the area and see what we could find.

We easily found the pond.  So I tried turning down some small roads to see what we could find; on my second try we found it!

This is the Walter Gropius house:

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Walter Gropius founded The Bauhaus in Germany in the 1920s, revolutionizing modern architecture around the world. Apparently, the Germans were not impressed, because they closed The Bauhaus and Gropius fled Germany in the 1930s. After a time as a refugee in London, Gropius was hired to head Harvard’s Architecture Department.  As his fame and influence spread, a nice lady offered Gropius $20,000 and 4 1/2 acres of land for him to build himself a house; here it is:

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It is Gropius’ idea of a modern New England cottage; wood siding, but vertical, not horizontal; also, horizontal windows, not vertical. Flat roof, not pitched… Plus an angled front porch and a spiral stair just for fun.

Inside the house is wonderful; the entry hall with the traditional center stair:

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The study, with an interior wall of glass block to share light with the Dining Room beyond:

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The Dining Room, with the screened porch beyond:

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Upstairs is a lovely deck, with one wall painted his custom-designed color, Bauhaus Pink:

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And the view down from the deck towards the screened porch:

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After all, what says “New England cottage” more than a screened porch?

Other views around the house:

 

Much of the furniture inside the house was designed by Gropius’ colleague, Marcel Breuer.  Breuer was also given land next door to build his house, along with three other people this lady with the land liked… The other houses are privately owned and were not open, but back in 2008 we were permitted to walk the grounds.

Walter Gropius and his wife lived in the house until their deaths in 1969 and 1980, whereupon it was donated to the Historic Society…

We headed back to the Villa and enjoyed another GAM (Get Acquainted Meeting) with the other caravanners… Once again, an enjoyable time was had by all…

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