Kentucky

We departed Nashville bright and early to drive to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
 Along the way the kids finished up their Tennessee movie series with The Blind Side, which is based on a true story out of Memphis.  The hours just flew by and they wanted to keep driving to finish the movie.  If you haven't watched The Blind Side, you should.  It is a moving and wonderful tale of football and the power of love.
The Kentucky treat for the day was flashlights for our cave tour and AirHeads that are made in Erlanger, Kentucky.
 I couldn't forget some special Kentucky Bourbon for Max.  He had something to look forward to when the driving for the day was done.
Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the world's longest known cave system.  There have been over 400 miles explored so far.  It is the second oldest tourist attraction behind Niagara Falls.  It was first promoted in 1816.
 We took the Domes and Dripstones tour.  This was our last picture before going underground for the next two hours.  Max was a little nervous.  He is fairly claustrophobic and we all wondered how he would handle being confined underground.
The cave system was formed as the remaining limestone from an ancient sea was slowly carved away by rain water that trickled down to create rivers and streams over thousands of years.
 Rainwater enters by seeping through cracks, crevices and sinkholes down into the underground river system that eventually flows into Green River.  
 Over time the water has cut and dissolved away the limestone and wound deeper and deeper underground.  The streams are as far as 400ft below the surface.
The dripping water leaves dry caverns above, however we were sprinkled by drips in more than a few places and some of the pathways were very slick from the seeping water.
The steady climate of the caves led to the preservation of torches, sandals and bowls from thousands of years ago.  The cave has had many uses over civilization, including attempting to treat tuberculosis patents at one point.  Unfortunately that didn't work out so well for those patients.
 Mammoth Cave became a national park in 1941 and sees nearly 2 million visitors a year.  They are a well oiled machine and moved a hundred plus people though nearly a mile long cave tour.  The tour was educational and gave us an unforgettable view of the underground cave system. 
Once we resurfaced we ate lunch in the glow of the bright sunshine.  We were all very happy to be above ground after navigating tight spaces and congested lines of people winding through the maze like cave. They have numerous types of tours from half an hour to all day.  We were more than satisfied with our two hour adventure.
We drove to Louisville to see the famous Churchill Downs.  We are big Kentucky Derby fans and tune in every May for "The Run for the Roses!"  The kids were sweet enough to indulge me for a picture with their Derby hats.  This might be the closest I ever get to a Derby hat party at Churchill Downs. :)
The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously held horse race in America.  It has been running for 142 years!  We only had 30 minutes to explore the museum before our tour.  Someone tries to pack a little much into one day.
 We did watch a wonderful movie about the history of the Kentucky Derby and saw many treasures from past races.  The kids enjoyed racing each other the most.
 After exploring the museum we went on a tour of the grounds.  We got to stand in the Winner's Circle!  Thunder Over Louisville is the opening ceremony for the Kentucky Derby and is the world's largest fireworks display!
 You only have to be a millionaire or more to stand there on the first Saturday in May.
 I am quite certain I will never be standing at the finish line again, especially with this cutie.  I thoroughly enjoyed Nashville to Louisville.  In another life I could see myself as a country music loving, horse riding cowgirl.
We all really enjoyed visiting Churchill Downs and I know it will mean so much more to us the next time we watch "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports!"
Watching Secretariat on the way to Louisville from Mammoth Cave was perfect.  We learned so much about horse racing and the greatest horse that ever lived.  Secretariat's story is truly amazing.  Along the drive I tell the kids important facts about each state.  I always learn so much on these trips.  Some notable Kentucky facts are that the world's most famous song, "Happy Birthday to You" was written in 1893 by two sisters that taught Kindergarten in Louisville, Kentucky.  Corvettes and Post It Notes are manufactured exclusively in Kentucky.  Both Abraham Lincoln, the President of the Union, and Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, were born in Kentucky.  They were born less than one hundred miles apart and only one year apart.  More than 6 Billion worth of gold is held in Fort Knox.  This is more gold stored in one place than anywhere else in the world!  Who knew Kentucky had so many world famous attributes.
We stayed at the finest Embassy Suites we have ever stayed.  The hospitality and cleanliness was better than any hotel we have visited.  After a lovely evening and a big breakfast the next morning we went to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum.

 They have the largest baseball bat in the world!  It is the replica of the bat Babe Ruth used in the 1920's.
 We love baseball!  Hank plays and I enjoy attending those games the most of all the sports he plays.  Kaitlin is quite the baseball fan and really got into the World Series.  I suppose everyone did with such a historic match up.  Go Cubs!
 It was cool to see how the famous Louisville Slugger is made and how it got its start with crafting handmade bats to the player's specification.
This is the model rack that was used to replicate bats before computerized systems allowed for automating specifications.
The kids went to bat with a Louisville Slugger!  We all gained an appreciation for professional batters when the kids couldn't hit a ball at 40mph and had to dial it down to 30mph to get a hit.
We took the Walk of Fame and found Babe Ruth's bat and plate.  Hank loves watching Sandlot, so he was thrilled to be around so much Babe Ruth memorabilia.
We acquired possibly our best State Souvenir.  A personalized MKHKKH Louisville Slugger.  After a fun morning exploring the Louisville Slugger Factory, it was time for some lunch.

It wouldn't be right to visit Kentucky and not go to Kentucky Fired Chicken!  I don't think we have visited a KFC since Hank was born.  They have won my patronage.  KFC has an online allergy menu that allows you to input your specific allergies and it generates an allergy safe menu for you.

 To my shock their extra crispy chicken does not contain eggs!  Nor does their biscuit and mashed potatoes.  Hank was so happy to be able to eat what we were eating!
This KFC had a buffet menu that had some items not on the on-line menu.  Karlie had to try the peaches and pink fluff.  It is fun to see how even a national chain adapts its menu to its regional customers.  The pink fluff would never fly in Scottsdale but the Kentucky patrons were gobbling it up.
Thanks Colonel Sanders for a great lunch!  With full bellies it was time to push on to St. Louis.

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