A Travellerspoint blog

Grand Ole Opry Military Appreciation Night

24 May 2016

sunny 73 °F

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Probably one of the best performances I have had the pleasure of enjoying was at the Grand Ole Opry tonight. For Memorial Day the Opry was celebrating the military. The performers all had patriotic songs to include the Gatlin Brothers, Mark Wills, Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels Band and Trace Adkins. It was brought to a beautiful close with Lee Greenwood's song God Bless the USA.
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But the true stars of the show were the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band. A double amputee who is normally the drum player was filling in as the singer and really crushed it!! Mark Wills and Trace Adkins came out to complete the last song with them and the whole place was on their feet. It was quite an emotional show and we realized just how much country music supports the military!

Posted by ErinDriver 21:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Curt's Birthday on the Bourbon Trail

1 May 2016

sunny

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By Sunday, Curt’s Birthday, he wasn't feeling well so got up only long enough to have this picture taken with his breakfast.
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He went back to sleep and I went on a photography shoot of the llamas and Maple Hill Manor.
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Luckily he was back on the horse for our tour of the Makers Mark Distillery. It is a more popular tour it seems and we were lucky to arrive early. It’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere and we were on one way roads for some of the way it seemed.
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Incredibly, Curt went to get some coffee and when I turned around I hear him saying to this man “ Hey, didn’t you run in Antarctica?”. We actually ran in to a couple that was on the Antarctica tour at the same time in 2012!! Small world.
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We have now been to three of the distilleries on the bourbon trail and each tour has some different element. In this one you got to dip your finger in a vat of yeast and water!
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The gift shop was also crazy because the Pharoah Horse that one the Triple crown had a bottle come out and collectors were lined up to get their bottle. We still made time for Curt to hand dip our bottle before we made our way out of there.
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Posted by ErinDriver 08:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Bardstown, Kentucky

29-30 April 2016

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Maple Hill Manor is an adorable B&B tucked in to the countryside about thirty minutes away from Bardstown, Kentucky. The area is also known as one of the most beautiful small towns in America and was our home base for Curt’s birthday weekend.
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We originally intended to be on the motorcycles but the Mother Nature took a swift kick to our plans. So Friday we drove the 2 hours, 45 minutes to the manor and turned around and left again. In the run up before Derby week in Kentucky there is always something going on. For Bardstown that is cocktail week. The owner of the Maple Hill Manor also owned another B&B in town called the Bourbon Manor and there were having a tasting of 1792 bourbon and tapas at their bar called the bunghole.
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It was a small group but a nice casual atmosphere with tasty snacks, an amazing goodie bag and a amazing cocktail called the peach mint julep. We also got to meet several locals and another couple that we would see several other times throughout the weekend. We left the bar rather early because the Maple Hill Manor promised desserts were provided from 6-9. It was a berry pie to rival my favorite Village Inn!!!
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Saturday of course started with breakfast called “between the sheets”. It was seasoned scrambled eggs in a puff pastry with sausage, potato, fruit and a waffle.
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We set off completely full to the Heaven Hill Distillery. The gift shop is really neat because in the center it looks like someone created half a huge barrel you could climb in. We later find out that is the tasting room. Heaven Hill is the longest family run distillery and we were taken over to their rick house (warehouse).
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There are millions of gallons of bourbon all perfectly balanced in the warehouse. They mention that the bourbon that is aged for a longer period will be partially empty due to evaporation. They call this portion of the bourbon the angels share.
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They now make their bourbon in Louisville and store in Bardstown. This is because years ago there was a fire. They had no place to make their bourbon so the other distilleries like Makers Mark and Jim Beam actually let them use their facilities. After the tasting and a bourbon ball we moved on to eating again.
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Lunch was at the Talbot Tavern, a building that has been there since I think 1792. I got the hot brown and Curt the chicken fried steak with dessert of berry cobbler for me and bread pudding for Curt. Our original intention with the trip was to get as many distilleries from the bourbon trail completed however the cocktail week threw us for a loop.
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We walked around the down town shops a bit before moving to our next drinks:)
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Last night we had heard there was a cocktail tasting from 2-4 and for $25 you got to sample 15 drinks. In the fall Bardstown has a bourbon festival and this competition was to see which cocktail would be featured as the drink during that festival. Everyone got a “bunghole” (the stopper in the bourbon barrel) which was used to vote for your favorite drink. The drinks were not so small and by the end we were best friends with the couple from Pennsylvania we had seen around town.
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Curt’s friend from the Army, Steve and his wife, Saskia live not far away and met us in town for dinner. We hit the Talbot Tavern again, first for another drink and then for dinner. We had a great time catching up and enjoying the live music. By the end of the night we could barely shovel down the pecan pie the Maple Hill Manor had out for us.
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Posted by ErinDriver 08:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Grand Old Opry

16 April 2016

sunny

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Curt and I had our ninth anniversary this week so we decided to celebrate with an overnight stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville and a visit to the Grand Old Opry. The resort is huge with its own ponds, fountains, waterfalls and garden inside. It is so beautiful that everyone wants to stay here and at check in the line was longer than a roller coaster at Disney World. We may have missed the show if we waited in line so we went to the thai place down the road instead. After filling up on pad thai and changing in their bathroom we headed back to the hotel.
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The whole point in staying there was to walk to and from the Opry. We had plenty of time to get our obligatory photos with the guitars out front. At that time of day the sun was low and shining right in our faces which explains why it may appear that we just at something sour.
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The show was two hours broken in to 30 minute segments. Between each one we got to hear plenty of commercials about Dollar General, Humana, Cracker Barrel and the Johnny Cash museum. But it was a great experience to sit on those comfy bench seats and catch a performance where country music was made famous.
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Vince Gill was the main headline and he did a song for the recently passed away Merle Haggard.

Posted by ErinDriver 09:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Donuts and Mary Todd Lincoln House

28 March 2016

overcast 60 °F

As per usual I am trying to delay the return of the working life as long as possible. Surely there is plenty of time to fit in donuts and the Mary Todd Lincoln house before we return home!
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I read about North Lime Coffee and Donuts somewhere and was set to have one of their special “cinnamonkeys”. It was not to be as they were out of whatever they need to make these little delights. We made out with a free cinnamon donut though thanks to Curt! They had a maple bacon donut that was fun to try.
The Mary Todd Lincoln house was the first museum in America to honor a first lady. She grew up in the house and also visited later with President Lincoln. We learned of her controversial life married to a Union President with Confederate family members, her love of shopping and later institutionalization by her remaining son. All this while looking at dishes she picked out for the White House, touching the banister she went up and down as a child and looking at the bed she slept in at night. The hour long tour had a great and friendly guide and I was happy we made the time to check it out.
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Posted by ErinDriver 09:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Kentucky Horse Park

27 March 2016

overcast 60 °F

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A late morning egg hunt starts our Easter out right and we were lucky that the Kentucky Horse Park stays open on this holiday. Even luckier still not many other people come there on this Sunday so it wasn’t very crowded. We spent a few hours in the International Museum of the Horse going back to the horse 55 Million Years ago all the way to present day.
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The park has a riding demonstration showcasing breeds from all over the world.
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One horse, the Marwari, from India has only 12 in the entire United States, 3 of which are at the horse park. It has unique ears that almost touch and can nearly swivel 180 degrees. Warriors used to watch the ears of their horses that would move in the direction of incoming danger.
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There was also an American Saddlebred, Lippizaner, Arabian, Shire, Akhal-Teke. After the show there is ample time to meet and pet the horses.
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The park also has a big barn that is the third largest wooden barn in the US and houses the draft horses that were 1800 pounds. The draft horses do a trolley ride around the park that is a bit anti-climactic.
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We had to just skip the Saddlebred museum because we were all so tired. We had to take a break and let the dogs out before dinner at Bella Notte. The service was outstanding with the fastest delivery of Italian food I have ever seen.

Posted by ErinDriver 09:17 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Keeneland Race Track, Bourbon and Unique Horse Farm Tour

26 March 2016

sunny 60 °F

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In order to see the horses doing their work outs in the morning you have to get to Keeneland Race track early. We were signed up for the 8:30, $8 tour of the track and for very little money we got an inside look at the park. We walked through the saddling area, saw horses working out on the track and watched a video on the track.
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Part of the tour was to go inside the sales area where millions of dollars changes hands for the most beautiful horses. Owners and farms even have assigned seats during the sales.
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The track grounds also have a gift shop and a library but unfortunately on the weekends the library isn’t open. More importantly the Track Kitchen where jockeys and other workers have breakfast was open. It’s a cafeteria style eatery with “the special” with eggs, bacon, potatoes, and caramel apples for only $5.50. What a great morning we spent in the horse capital of the world!!!
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Next up on the tour was the Town Branch Bourbon distillery tour. This location makes beer and bourbon and the tastings were of both!  Some of the beers are aged in bourbon barrels which increases the proof of the beer and adds to the flavor. The bourbon wasn’t as much to my liking but it was fun to try some of the Kentucky culture.
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Reservations for the horse farm tour were already made so we hurried over to the Kentucky Horse Park which is the jumping off point for Unique Farm Tours. The group was large and the tour van was full but everyone got an insider’s look at both Katierich and Hurricane Hall farms. We got up close and personal with yearlings and got to pet new babies. We saw one colt that had been born only the day before. The farm let us walk through the “labor and delivery ward” or as they called it the birthing stables. It was a two story establishment with live in rooms for the workers and even a chandelier.
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To cap off the tour the owner took us to Red State BBQ for chocolate and vanilla bourbon ice cream. We liked the place so much that we went back after the tour for dinner. The owner of the tour promised us it was the best BBQ in Kentucky and I have to say the pulled pork was pretty amazing.
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Posted by ErinDriver 17:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Parkett Drive-In and Blue Stallion Brewery

25 March 2016

overcast 50 °F

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A three hour drive from Clarksville takes us on the Bluegrass Highway to Lexington, Kentucky - the horse capital of the world. Instead of going straight for the horses we followed the recommendations of Guy Fieri and went to Parkett’s Diner. It is a 1950’s drive-in but since we had been in the car over three hours already we opted for the dine-in choice. They are famous for the “poor boy” which is a double cheese burger with onion rings and the fried chicken. We had a sampling of both along with some milkshakes.
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Soon after eating we relaxed at one of eight breweries in Lexington, The Blue Stallion. They focus on European ales and even had a radler. A bit different from Germany but good none the less.
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The Merrick Inn has a wonderful, warm and cozy restaurant that used to be in the main house of the farm. Here we knock out a few Kentucky favorites when dad and Curt have bourbon drinks and mom and I have a Merrick hot brown. The hot brown is bread covered with ham, tomato, bacon and a cheese sauce. It was delicious and no slouch next to the shrimp and grits that Curt had. We also had grouper fingers for an appetizer that were spot on.

Posted by ErinDriver 17:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Chattanooga, Tennessee

4-6 March 2016

sunny 50 °F

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It turns out I had a surprise weekend off work so we hightailed it to Chattanooga for the half marathon. A three hour drive brings us to this scenic city and another 10 minutes takes us downtown to the Terminal Brewery. It was a pretty good little Friday night with beer and food. The have "the soup" which is beer, cheese and sausage which went down really easily!
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By Saturday morning it was time to eat again and the chosen spot was Aretha Frankensteins. It is a tiny little house in a neighborhood and has lots of personality. They are known for long waits and thick pancakes. They are almost a mix between pancakes and cornbread. I had a breakfast burrito and curt had shrimp and grits.
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On to the race expo which was really nothing to speak of so we decided to hit up Rock City. Initially Native Americans lived along the pathways that is now a public garden.
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During the civil war was the first documented claim to be able to see seven states from the lookout point. Of course we had to do that!
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The lookout is called Lovers Leap based on a Cherokee Legend. A brave named Sautee was in love with a young maiden, Nacoochee. She loved him in return but they were from warring tribes. The two ran off together but he was soon captured and thrown off Lovers Leap. While everyone was distracted she ran off the cliff and followed him to her death. Nothing like that happened today.
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There are all sorts of interesting things along the trail including fairyland caverns which is full of gnome displays. All in all a very touristy site but fun to walk around for a few hours.
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Chattanooga is known for the Chattanooga Choo Choo which on 5 March 1880 made its first voyage from Cincinnati to Chattanooga. The train station is now a hotel and one of the train cars is a pizzeria.
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For dinner we skipped the two hour wait at Tony's Pasta Shop and Tratorria by eating outside. The food was tasty and had me race ready with a heavy carb load. The bread was amazing with oil filled with parmasian cheese. I had spaghetti with meatballs and Curt had chicken ravioli with sun dried tomato sauce. We capped it off with a piece of Italian Cream Cake.
The Italian food kept me well fueled through the half marathon. There were a few hills but otherwise a good race on a beautiful day. At the end you could use your food ticket for whatever food truck you wished. Mine was a no brainer with pizza from Lupi's. It went down easy along with the free Michelob Ultra. Sadly the weekend was over and it was time to return to Clarksville:(
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Posted by ErinDriver 16:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Hot Chocolate Run in Nashville

12-14 February 2016

semi-overcast 20 °F

The first trip from our new home in Clarksville, Tennessee is just a short jaunt down the highway to Nashville. I found a Hot Chocolate 15K and we left friday night to pick up our packets at the Expo. It was held in the Musicians Hall of Fame and was rather small but took us to Downtown Nashville. Since it was quiting time for most people and the goal was to avoid traffic we walked to Tazza, an Italian restaurant to load up on carbs.
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Saturday morning started very early for us because the suggested arrival time for the race was 0600. The event started in Bicentenial Park at 0700 and the temp was about 20 degrees. They had activated their cold weather plan that meant anyone who couldn't keep up a 13 minute pace for the 15K would have to switch to the 5K. This kept their volunteers from being exposed to the cold weather for that much longer. I had a great time on the run but by the finish my hands were freezing. The swag at the finish was a big mug with steaming hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and pretzels, marshmellows, rice crispy treat and coffee sticks. The fondue didn't take long to solidify in the cold air but we enjoyed it later with an apple. Cracker Barrel was our go to place for some replenishment before long naps for most of the afternoon.
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The RV park had a fenced area for dogs and we had a good laugh watching the kids chase each other around.
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We woke in time to eat again at a Sukho Thai just down the road from Two Rivers RV park. We had what seemed like very authentic Thai food to close out the day.
A winter weather advisory was on for Sunday so we left very early in the morning to beat the snow.

Posted by ErinDriver 19:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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