ROAD TRIP DAY 9: …AND, AWAY THEY GO!

I could just hear the words of Trevor Denman with his British Accent as he called the races at Del Mar Racetrack, “Where the surf meets the turf.” It was an annual tradition to the go to the races at least once each summer and hear Trevor call them like no other announcer could. He did it with class.

A day at Del Mar was always exciting, especially when we would stand at the rail and feel the wind made by the horses racing by with palm trees as the backdrop. The smell of the ocean air, the warmth of the sun, and the sight of those gorgeous race horses… it was a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. It was even an inexpensive way to spend the afternoon if we went during the week, brought our own chairs for the “cheap seats,” and spent only the minimum $2 on a bet for each race. Sometimes, we even walked out of there with more money in our pockets than we arrived with, so you couldn’t beat that!

Today brought back those fun memories when Bruce and I took a morning tour with Horse Farm Tours, Inc. Our guide took us in her van past famous horse farms, including the most famous, Calumet. We also toured Ball Farm, Walmac Farm, and Millenium Farm, learning all about the history of the region. Included on the tour were the farms and locations where parts of the movies “Secretariat,” “Sea Biscuit,” and “Dreamer” were filmed.

Our favorite part of the tour, though, was seeing Keeneland Race Course where the race scenes of all three movies were filmed. One look at the property upon arrival, and we could see why. It was drop-dead gorgeous!

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It was so quiet and peaceful while we were there. There were no races or other events today, so we were the only people walking the grounds. A maintenance person was kind enough to let us into the high rollers and horse owner’s area to view the track below where we could see several race horses being exercised. What a view!

Later, we went down to the track level and bellied up to the rail to get up close and personal with the horses and their exercisers. That was the highlight of the tour. Everybody was so friendly as they rode by, and one of them smiled and said, “Have your camera ready when I come back by!” Then, one gal brought her beautiful gray mare up to the rail and talked with us for awhile and let us pet the horse. It was a much different experience than being at a track on race day!

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Besides Keeneland Race Course, we were most impressed with the beauty of the entire area including Kentucky Horse Park and all of the area farms. Even on a cloudy day, the rolling lush green hills were gorgeous made even more so by the grace and beauty of the grazing horses and their foals.

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At the conclusion of the tour, we drove a short distance to the tiny quaint town of Midway, another recommendation my sister gave us. She said it was “adorable,” and she was right!

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From there we took her advice to see the Lexington Cemetery, because she said it was “just gorgeous!” Right again! It almost made me sad that all those who are buried there were missing out on the beauty of the place above!

Tomorrow, we’ll be on the road again and head north to Cleveland, Ohio to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following day.

ROAD TRIP DAY 7: THE CAPITOL OF KENTUCKY IS???

If you are like me and Bruce, we first guessed Louisville, and then we thought it was Lexington. We were incorrect on both guesses, because the capitol of Kentucky is Frankfort.

If it hadn’t been for Rebecca Ruth’s Candies, we would have never stopped in Frankfort on our way from Louisville to Lexington. They offered a tour of their factory, though, and I tour every chocolate factory I can find.

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Since it was the weekend, they weren’t producing candies during our visit, but we had a nice chat with the tour guide as she took us through the small “factory” and mini-museum. We were the only ones on the tour, and our guide didn’t seem to be in any hurry to return to the retail shop, so it was relaxed and enjoyable. Learning the history of Rebecca and Ruth (the two ladies who started the business in 1921) was interesting and inspiring. They were two ladies ahead of their time.

The best part of the tour, as always, is the free sample you get at the end. They make bourbon chocolates for Maker’s Mark, and we had sampled a chocolate at the end of that tour, so we knew we were in for a delicious treat.

Lucky for us, the retail shop had some “Boo Boos” available for purchase at a steep discount off their regular retail prices. I picked out a bag of bourbon balls and a bag of “Mystery Boo Boos,” a combo of whatever flawed chocolates happened to end up in the bag. (I’m looking forward to finding out what they are!). Finally, another candy wrapper for my collection was a can’t-resist purchase.

After our tour, we noticed a sign for the state capitol, so we got an extra bonus of having a quick look at it while we were in town. I say “quick look,” because at times it was pouring down rain and not the kind of day for a long walk outdoors.

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Until today, we had beautiful weather, so we couldn’t really complain about the rain. (After all, there is a reason why Kentucky is such a gorgeous lush green state!)

Upon arrival in Lexington, we headed for Stella’s Kentucky Deli on the recommendation of my sister, Gail who knows Lexington very well. My niece competed in dressage with her horse, so they had been to Lexington several times and still return for visits. They love it here, and I can see why!

Stella’s was our kind of place. Located in an old converted house, it was quaint, a little bit funky, and a cute place to dine and get out of the rain. We were ushered to a cozy little table by the window with a view of their beautiful rose bushes, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Bruce’s “The Revro” was a burger with fried green tomatoes, bacon, lettuce, and basil mayo (heart attack on a plate, but tasty!). My “Apple & Kentucky Blue Cheese Sandwich” was toasted on sourdough with walnuts and balsamic mayo. Wow!
Gail recommended trying a home-made soda, so we ordered a refreshing blackberry soda. Delicious!

All of their food is locally sourced from small farms, and everything was reasonably priced. Fresh and inexpensive is our idea of an excellent restaurant!
The best part of lunch was dessert, something we don’t typically order when we dine out. One glance at the dessert case on the way to the restrooms was all it took to stop me dead in my tracks, though. I spied something black, and black means chocolate. I had to have it.

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I don’t normally have much interest in pies; I can take ’em or leave ’em. But, this wasn’t any ordinary pie. This was Kentucky Pie, chocolate pecan pie with a touch of bourbon and dark chocolate chips on top. Just look at the picture, and you can just see that this pie is a slice of heaven! Honestly, it was the best pie I had ever tasted.

Our afternoon ended with a stop into the Visitor’s Center and a stroll around Artique, a fabulous shop of arts and crafts of local artisans.

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Due to the rain, we called it a day. Hopefully, it won’t rain like this tomorrow.