Jim & June's Odyssey 090423
Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
57Trip End Ongoing
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LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY: The Horse Capital of the World and located in the Heart of Bluegrass country. We drove very slowly (from Frankfort to Lexington) along the scenic Old Frankfort Pike because there are so many prominent horse farms along it route. We saw several sleek thoroughbreds grazing in picture-perfect pastureland on gently rolling and manicured Bluegrass fields inside brown, black or white wood fences. The typical 1000ft long driveways are lined with paddocks, stone fences, waterfalls, flowers and go over stone bridges before terminating at a mansion having scenic overlooks. Many "dry" stone fences are several miles long. While driving this very narrow tree covered Pike full of twists and curves, some of the hills are so abrupt that you'd probably get airborne if you drove at 100kph. None-the-less, its beautiful scenery fulfilled our images of Kentucky.
· Downtown Lexington - Not much has changed since the early1800's. It has very old beautiful buildings.
· Lexington History Museum - Focuses on historical documents, photographs, maps and culture of the Bluegrass Region.
· Mary Todd Lincoln House - Abe's wife returned to her hometown after his assassination and lived here with her sons - the back yard garden is spectacular. Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln visited Lexington once - from his in-laws yard he could see into the prison yards that housed slaves who were about to be sold or executed for crimes. Her family owned several slaves and were staunch confederates - Abe wasn't a proponent of either, he never returned.
· McConnell Springs - In 1775 the first settlers picked this spot because of the year round clean cold iron-free water flowing from an artesian spout of water (2ft high). Eventually, Lexington sprung up around this site that provided enough water to supply slaughter houses, beef cattle, dairy farms and an overshot wheel which powered the pounding / pulverizing equipment at a gunpowder mill (a major employer at that time). Gunpowder is made from saltpeter, sulfur, charcoal and this one produced 140,000lbs per year.
· Kentucky Horse Park - This 1,200 acre facility has stadiums, arenas and an RV park where equestrian associations / riding clubs hold major competitions i.e.: jumping, dressage, Arabian show horses, carriage horses and of course race horses. We saw draft horses, quarter horses, a parade of breed's presentation, the Hall of Champions show and toured their museum which highlights the history of horses from ancient times to the popular sporting events of today. They also offer seminars and courses on horse care and management, animal health, riding and horsemanship. As we toured, they were preparing for a three day Rolex Kentucky Equestrian event where the winner gets $100,000 and a Rolex watch.
· NO fences have corners - they're all round. Our guess is that herds of horses run at full gallop all day long and this reduces the potential of being injured at a dead end. For added safety, there are high white fences around EVERY tree in the pastures.
· Most of the barns are painted black!!!
· There are lots of "cooing" doves and red wing hawks but no magpies and no crows.
Things we Learned:
· The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2010 and will be the largest equine sporting event ever held in the United States. It's the first time that the event has been held outside of Europe so the people of Lexington are getting hyped up over that!
· Keeneland Race Course is the 3rd racetrack in the USA to build its oval using synthetic materials with unique properties to enhance drainage, secure footing; reduce leg injuries and has excellent climatic tolerance. It feels like chewed up rubber with wet Styrofoam thrown in.
· Horses and elephants are the only 4 legged animals that get up on its front legs before its hind legs. Hmm??!!!
There sure are a lot of churches in Tennessee and Kentucky. Surprisingly, most of them are Protestant with names such as Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Church of Christ, Christian Church, First Assembly of God, Presbyterian, Good Shepherd and Central Christian. There seem to be considerably fewer of Catholic denomination. The majority of the churches were originally built in the 1800's and millions of dollars have been spent over the years on restoration and expansion. We also noticed that churches here own and operate Wellness Clinics, Medical Centers and Hospitals, Senior Living Complexes, Schools, Colleges, Universities and Science Centers, apartments and commercial properties. I thought that they were non-profit organizations but it makes you wonder. They are always situated on prime land and some of their immediate holdings encompass whole city blocks.
It was interesting to note that Lexington has a beautiful Opera House and I saw several ads for upcoming live theatre presentations. When we went to the local historical museum Jim asked the receptionist why they were playing classical music and not Bluegrass? She made it pretty clear that Bluegrass belongs in southern Kentucky and is not really popular in Lexington. It leads me to believe that in her opinion the people here are more sophisticated than the ones in the south - dare we say "hillbilly country"? Come to think of it, shortly after crossing the border we noticed several billboards advertising "Adult Peep Show - Open 24 hrs" and "Adult Books & Videos ahead". I've come to the conclusion that Kentuckians really enjoy life - gamble at the horse races, drink a little Kentucky bourbon, watch a few adult videos then pick which church you want to go to on Sunday. Sounds like a well-rounded life to me!