After visiting Augusta, Kentucky, our next stop was Maysville, also in Kentucky. It was here that the American Duchess cruise staff continued with the “Racing on the River” theme of our cruise by organizing a “3K” walk/ run through the quaint town. There was no charge to enter the race, and our free entry included a t-shirt and a bourbon slush at the finish line— pre-breakfast, in our case.
What’s not to love? Surprisingly, only about half of the passengers signed up.
Being a very active Masters competitive swimmer, my body is a lot happier in the water than on land, so I opted to walk the course and save my joints from the pounding of running. I walk faster than Bruce, so we agreed to meet up at the end for a bourbon slush toast.
At 7:45 AM, we gathered in front of the tied-up ‘Duchess and waited for the horn to blast. Annnnd, they’rrrre off! Six passengers ran ahead, so I knew I could never catch them.
As I followed the course by myself, I was surprised to see that it was the real deal! The local police had blocked off the streets and had cars posted at the intersection with officers holding back what little traffic there was that early in the morning.
I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I know how fast I walk. To my surprise, when I turned one of the corners of the course, the finish line was just up ahead. What? Already?? That sure was a short “3K” race! I asked the winner, a young gal from Belgium, what she thought, and she replied that it was more like a 2K course. That, dear readers, is why I typed quotation marks around “3K.”
As it turned out, I was the first walker in, and I placed 7th overall. To my surprise, the cruise director, Dustin, and his wife, Courtney (Assistant Cruise Director), along with Jeff, the other A.C.D., greeted every participant with a very nice-looking medal. (All three were actually the singers/dancers who doubled as cruise staff.) The front of the spiffy medal has a running scene, and the back was inscribed with “American Duchess /Racing on the River /3K /Maysville, KY /July 17th, 2019. Along with the cute shirt (I love the graphic!), the medal made a nice souvenir of the cruise. It now hangs from the closet door in my home office, along with a bunch of swimming medals. Even if it was just a participatory medal, that was the first—and will probably the last—medal I have ever received for a walk or run. What a hoot!
As for the bourbon slush, I’m not a bourbon (or any hard liquor) fan, but that drink was good! It was fun hanging out with everybody at the finish line and watching the stragglers come in to a round of applause and cheers.
At the conclusion, we walked the short distance back to the boat for breakfast and to drop off our medals, before heading back into town to see everything we had quickly walked past during the race.
The featured attraction of Maysville is the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, home of the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collection, which is the largest miniature collection in the world—in this little town of 7,500 residents. Even the exhibit my friend and I saw in Chicago was smaller than this one.
Walking into the gallery, I felt like a giant! Remember that 1989 movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? Not only were the kids in miniature here, everything was! How did the artists make everything so darn small? Bruce plays a great blues harmonica, and we even saw a tiny miniature of one!
Each 1/12-scale miniature was personally collected by Maysville native, Kaye Browning. Only a portion of her collection is displayed at any one time in the 3,300 square-foot gallery, so the exhibits rotate with the seasons. At Christmastime, out come the tiny lit trees and Santas!
The highlight of the museum was the amazing miniature of Princess Diana’s childhood home, the Spencer House. Kaye Browning commissioned artists to replicate in 1/12-scale the 18th century ancestral home.
We watched a film about the making of this miniature masterpiece, and we were captivated by the patience these artists had in re-creating the oil paintings as tiny replicas. Along with the mini Oriental carpets, bronze sculptures, upholstered furniture, sterling silver serving pieces, and gold gilt carvings; the entire reproduction was incredible to see up close.
Throughout the entire gallery, all we could say was, “Wow! How did they make this so small?!” Check out the hand-knit sweater, for example. It looks large in the picture, but it was itty-bitty! We were all just blown away.
After browsing through the other exhibits at the museum, we visited the Old Pogue Distillery where we had enjoyed our bourbon slush. It is now a museum, and it was interesting to see the old equipment, barrels, bottles, and labels that were on display.
Have you ever wondered what makes a whiskey a “bourbon” whiskey? First of all, it must be produced in the United States. It is made from at least 51% corn and is distilled at 160 degrees or below. Then, it is put in a new, charred oak barrel, and then put into a container at 125 degrees or below. It contains no added substances other than water (which happens during the distillation process.)
To be called a “Kentucky Bourbon,” it must be produced, and then aged at least one year in the state of Kentucky. To be a called a “Straight Bourbon,” it must be aged for a minimum of two years – if aged less than four years, it must have an age statement on the label.
So, there you have it. And, it is all lost on me, I’m afraid… Now, if it was chocolate, you would be speaking MY language!
Next stop was the Washington Opera House, the 5th oldest theater in the country still in use. Built in 1898, it was completely restored in 2006.
The town was small, but there were still a lot of interesting things to see. A couple blocks over was the Russell Theatre, built in 1930 in the Spanish Colonial style. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the theatre is owned by a group of community leaders and is a registered non-profit. Movies, concerts, and tours are conducted to raise funds to complete the restoration. It is also available for rent, as is the Cox Building across the street where banquets and weddings are held in the interesting venue.
Here are more scenes captured while wandering downtown and dodging a downpour at one point: