Wednesday, June 24, 2015

And....They're Off!

We missed the Kentucky Derby by a few weeks, but we did get the chance to attend Twilight Thursday at Churchill Downs, that famous racetrack that we all watch the first weekend of May every year.  An event that is new to the track this year, a full slate of races begin at 5 pm on Thursdays.

Churchill Downs grandstand with it's nearly empty parking lot

We bought tickets on line and, as you can see in the picture, got there way early!   Luckily, it wasn't too hot and, with a breeze blowing, we waited with other early birds near the gate for the opening.

Gate 10

The entry that we used was decorated with hanging baskets of flowers, jockeys and a painted pony.  And the paddock area was beautiful.

Jockeys holding the names of Kentucky farms that have produced a Derby winner

Painted pony photo op
Interior courtyard

Another view of the courtyard
I just had to imagine it with all the ladies and their outrageous hats on Derby Day!

Food trucks were in one side of the courtyard, as well as a stage for the live band

We were able to watch the horses here before each race

We had purchased the cheapest tickets on line, so were surprised when we were directed to Interior Premium Boxes for our seats.  The air-conditioned boxes had TVs, waitresses and betting counters.  And the view wasn't bad, either!

View from our seats

It was fun to see the areas that I had only previously seen on television.

Odds boards

The call to the gate bugler

Close up of the track

We did end up leaving our seats and going down to stand by the track for the last couple of races.  Fancy seats are nice, but you don't really feel like you're at a horse race until you can hear the pounding of the hooves and see the sweat on the horses!

The finish line!

Sid, as with slot machines, was fairly successful, at least coming home with more than he went with.  I, on the other hand...well, let's just say if I had to support myself by betting on horses, I'd be pretty hungry!  But we had a great time and it was an experience we'll remember forever.

The blog will be going dark for awhile as we leave Kentucky and head directly to New York and family visits.  But I'll be back on line in a week or so when we kick it into high gear on the east coast!

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A "Grave" Visit

Daniel Boone is an iconic figure in American history and those of us of a certain age grew up reading about him and watching Fess Parker play him on TV.  He and his wife Rebecca are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery, so we had to pay our respects while we were in town.

Monument at Daniel and Rebecca Boone's grave site

View from the grave site
The grave sits across the river, high on a hill and the views are spectacular.

Buried nearby, a friend and companion's final resting place

Since we were already here, we took the time to tour the remainder of the large cemetery.  It was established in 1845 and the headstones erected in a previous century are usually very interesting and so much different than ones erected today.  This one had it's share of unusual memorials.
This dog was guarding the family plot.

She fell asleep??!! 

Some one really loved their dogs.

Hard to see, but this is a monument to a mans' son who passed in 1870 and his wife who died in 1871, maybe from complications of childbirth?

This family plot had about 40 headstones and the size of the marker depended on the age at which the individual died - small for children, medium for mid-life and large for old.  Each marker had the name and the age denoted as "75 years and 5 months"

This 2010 memorial must have cost a fortune!

The cemetery also had an extensive state monument that documented deaths of Kentuckians in every war from the First Barbary War to the Persian Gulf War.  What made this monument different is the etched stones surrounding the graves that provided a history of each war.  Very interesting stuff.

Kentucky State Monument

The cemetery also contains the Kentucky Memorial for the Unborn, a memorial garden that serves families who want to honor a child lost through stillbirth, miscarriage or abortion.  Also interesting...

Memorial for the Unborn

Some of you may find it weird that this is a post primarily about graves, but cemeteries are very peaceful places and this one was absolutely beautiful.  High on a hill overlooking Frankfort, KY, some of the many trees were over 100 years old and a cooling breeze made walking through almost pleasant (it was still hot and humid!).  Try visiting an old cemetery some time and see what you can see! 

Until next time...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kentucky State Capitols - How Times Change

Kentucky is another state that has preserved its original capitol building while building a new one. The Old Capitol you see here is actually the third capitol building on this site - the previous two were destroyed by fire!  This one is built of Kentucky River marble and presumably fire-proof.  I thought it odd that the building has no windows in the front until I learned that the architect modeled it after a Greek temple, which has no windows.

On the walk way leading to the front door is a plaque embedded in the brick.

William Goebel fell here

I thought it was a little weird and then I saw this:

Statue of William Goebel

Martyr Governor??

Upon further research, I discovered that William Goebel was governor of Kentucky for only 4 days in 1900 when he was assassinated.  He was an abrasive man who had many political enemies, but the people of Kentucky loved him.  The plaque?  It denotes where the governor fell after being shot on his way to his inauguration!

The New Capitol (actually 110 years old, so it's all relative!) is a beautiful building.  The interior is almost completely made of marble and, well, I'll just let you see the pictures.

Abraham Lincoln in the center of the rotunda
Did you know he was born in Kentucky? 

Henry Clay
Also a Kentuckian, he was the first person to lie in state in the nation's capitol.

Interior views
The rotunda changes colors if you look at it long enough and the marble everywhere is so shiny and lovely.

This capitol has a reception room, a feature we've not seen in other state buildings.

And, arguably, the most well known Kentuckian in the world, Col Sanders!

There were several interesting exhibits on display in the hallways.  This one is a large series of watercolors called "Kentucky Women Remembered."  Acknowledging the role women have played in Kentucky history, the collection began in 1996 and grows each year as new nominees are added.  These are just a few of the women and their accomplishments.

From the upper left, clockwise:
1. Anna Mac Clarke, first African American WAAC to command a white platoon
2. Rosemary Clooney, one of the world's greatest jazz band vocalists
3. Loretta Lynn, received more awards than any other woman in country music history
4. Margaret Ingles, first American woman to earn a master's degree in mechanical engineering; also pioneered the development of air conditioning
5. Dr. Sarah Richardson, performed the first successfully recorded surgery for the treatment of breast cancer
6. Esther Whitely, with her husband, built the first "American" horse race track where the horses ran counterclockwise on a clay track

The watercolors themselves are beautiful and I spent a good deal of time reading the biographies.  Kentucky women have contributed, not only to Kentucky, but to the world.  This is an amazing exhibit!

Also displayed was a counted cross stitch art piece representing each county in Kentucky.  I would have loved to be able to interpret each square but there was no guide available, so I just enjoyed the handiwork.

The counties of Kentucky

Another interesting display was the hall that contained cabinets of Kentucky First Ladies in their inaugural gowns from the very first governor's wife to the current.  It was fascinating to see the change in fashion through the years!

Kentucky First Ladies

The grounds of the capitol are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.  I admire the gardeners who work in this oppressively heavy heat and humidity to keep the gardens lovely.

A huge hanging basket

Floral Clock
Created in 1961, it keeps perfect time!

View from the front door
Not the greatest picture, but stunning in real life.

The Governor's mansion is next door to the Capitol and is very impressive.  It's just a little step up from the old governor's mansion!

1912 - now

1797 - 1910

The state capitol city of Frankfort is has a population of only about 25,000, it's very easy to get around in and the parking is free.  The historic district is full of homes from the 1700s on and each is marked with a plaque telling the history of the house.  We walked the downtown a bit and had lunch at an outdoor cafe.

Downtown Frankfort

Across the street from the old capitol.  
Can you imagine what stories these buildings could tell?

Lunch at an Mexican restaurant

We had such an enjoyable afternoon touring these historic places.  And, on the way out, we came across an unexpected treat (for me, anyway!) - A Frank Lloyd Wright home!  

Frank Lloyd Wright house
Built in 1910, this is Wright's famous prairie design.  It is the only building of his design erected in Kentucky during his lifetime.

This is one of the reasons I love to travel - the things you find when you take a wrong turn or decide to explore off the beaten path.  Frankfort is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon or even a few days.  I would love to return some day!

Until next time...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Another "Cruise!"

The Dixie Belle

Sid boarding the riverboat

After touring Shaker Village (in my last post) we also got the opportunity to cruise along a stretch of the Kentucky River Palisades on the Dixie Belle Riverboat.  The Palisades section are steep scenic gorges lined in Kentucky limestone cut eons ago through the landscape and provided beautiful views for us.

The Palisades

The Dixie Belle is a 115 passenger paddle wheeler riverboat and the narrated hour-long tour is entertaining and educational.  Did you know the Kentucky River is the only river in the U.S. that is completely contained in its home state?  

Turtles sunning themselves on the Kentucky River

We saw turtles, fish, ducks and even a bald eagle flew overhead!  Relatively clean, the water in the river is green due to the algae that grows in it, but is used as drinking water in some communities.

The route went under High Bridge, the tallest railroad bridge in the world until the earliest 20th century.  On our way back, two trains passed over us!

High Bridge

A tad cooler on the river, the ride was a nice break from sightseeing and walking.  At only $10, it was a good time for the money!

Until next time...