More Louisville, KY
Shepherdsville, KY - Events of Sunday, Oct. 9 to Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011
When we arrived at Grandma's RV Camping a few days earlier, we noticed a large flea market behind the campground as we exited the interstate. We watched a steady stream of cars pouring into the flea market as we did our cleaning chores in the motor home on Saturday morning and relaxed in the afternoon. On Sunday, we decided to walk over to check it out.
The flea market calls itself as "The Most Awesome Flea Market in the World," or Awesome Flea Market for short.
As you can see from the photo above, there is a large building that houses regular indoor vendor stalls and a fairly big outdoor section. We started out inside the building because it was closer to the campground and because it was a little cool in the morning. We wanted to give the sun a little more time to peek through the haze and warm things up.
Inside, Margery paused at one stall to oooh and ahhh over the puppies that were for sale.
The flea market had a nice variety of new and used merchandise, and we saw quite a few people carrying bags filled with purchases. Fortunately, we escaped without buying anything.
After the flea market, we relaxed some more and watched the NASCAR race. Although we couldn't get the Steeler game, we found out they beat the Tennessee Titans 34 - 17 in spite of the fact Roethlisberger is playing with a sprained foot.
On Monday, we drove back toward Louisville to see Chuchill Downs, home of the famed Kentucky Derby. As with baseball, we're not into horse racing, but almost everyone has heard of or watched the Kentucky Derby a few times on television so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit the home of such a well-known event.
Churchill Downs has a Kentucky Derby Museum which includes lots of history of the race and information on thoroughbreds. The $14 entrance fee for the museum ($13 for seniors) includes a 30-minute walking tour of the track. Behind the scenes and barn tours are also available at an additional cost. The next photo shows Gate 1 for the track and the entrance to the museum to the left.
Our timing was good since we only had about 10 minutes until the next walking tour. We spent a little time just inside the entrance of the museum getting oriented, and they announced the start of the next tour within a few minutes.
The tour guide was excellent. He gave us a lot of history about the track, about the Kentucky Derby and about thoroughbred race horses in general. The first derby was held in 1875, and it has been held every year for the last 137 years. The race is held the first Saturday in May and is for three year old thoroughbreds.
In addition to the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs hosts the Kentucky Oaks on the Friday before the Derby. The Oaks is a race for three-year old fillies. Churchill Downs also has a regular racing schedule from the end of October through November and from the end of April through July 4th.
The horses are brought to the track for races from the barns located to the south. The next photo shows the paddock area where horses are saddled prior to the race.
We also got to see the grandstands and the track. Below is a view of the track toward the finish line (the white pole to the right).
The spire in the next photo is one of the original twin spires that mark the oldest section (formerly the barns) of the grandstand where most of the owners and trainers sit to watch the race. The other spire is just out of the picture to the left.
Millionaires' Row, which is the upper three levels of the section in the next photo, is where celebrities sit.
After touring the grandstands and track areas, we went back to the museum. Hats for the ladies on Derby day are a must, and the museum has a display of some of the more unusual ones. The hat on the bottom row right next to Margery is a horse's butt. The black strip is the horse's tail that looked like it was made from yarn.
Later, Margery got to try some of the hats for sale in the gift shop.
The Kentucky Derby presents a lot of opportunity for fund raisers and balls in the days leading up to the race. The gown to the left in the next photo was worn by the chairwoman of a fundraiser for the museum. Since the Kentucky Derby is called the "Run for the Roses," the gown is appropriately covered by roses made from red fabric.
The reason the Kentucky Derby is called the "Run for the Roses" is because of the rose garland that is placed around the neck of the winning horse in the winner's circle.
The photo above depicts the 2011 winner, Animal Kingdom. The garland consists of 564 roses all in individual water vials wrapped in foliage and sewn to a fabric backing. The top center has one additional rose for every horse running in that year's Derby.
There are a lot of displays of trophies, photos of past winners, videos of Kentucky Derby races, information on famous jockeys, and information of many famous horses. There are also numerous hands-on displays, and Paul couldn't resist trying on jockey silks and sitting on a mock-up of a horse in a starting gate. You can almost hear the announcer yell, "...and they're off!"
Margery tried her hand at video horse racing. There are controls to move your horse right and left and a button to use your riding crop. She finished second.
We really enjoyed visiting Churchill Downs and getting to know a little more about thoroughbred horse racing and the history of the Kentucky Derby.
On Tuesday, we decided to drive through Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest located one exit south of where we were staying in Shepherdsville to get a taste of fall foliage. The Bernheim Arboretum and Forest was established by Isaac Bernheim, who was a successful whiskey distiller. Bernham purchased 14,000 acres of land and gave it as a gift to be held in trust for the people of Kentucky.
The arboretum, which is near the entrance, is planted with different varieties of specimen trees and shrubs. The photo below shows some of those trees overlooking a prairie.
Most of the area is natural forest. Although there were some trees starting to turn and a few falling leaves floating through the air, peak tree color is still at least 10 days to two weeks away in western Kentucky.
The along the roads that wind through the Bernheim Arboretum and Forest there are numerous parking areas (many with picnic tables) and dozens of hiking trails. We stopped and walked a short loop trail so we could enjoy the fall air.
There were some sort of gnat-like bugs that kept buzzing in our faces and trying to fly into our eyes and ears. Margery's glasses helped protect her eyes, and she devised a method to protect her ears by sticking leaves under the temples of her glasses. Much to Paul's surprise, it worked remarkably well.
Driving and walking through the Bernheim Arboretum and Forest satisfied our need to experience fall. That, along with the gradual cooling of the weather during the week we were in the Louisville area were good reasons to continue heading south. We'll tell you about where we stopped in our next post.