Friday, July 13, 2012

Days 90 - 96: My Old Kentucky Home, July 4th and More...

Back in May, we visited my cousin, Elaine, and her family in Virginia and she had mentioned a family reunion over July 4th at her parents' (Aunt Marie and Uncle Dick to me) in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  She, her sisters, their husbands, and almost all their kids were going to be there and to top it off... my Mom would be there too.

It sounded like a great idea but we didn't think we'd be back in the area until late July or August.  We left Elaine's and told her we'd try but weren't 100 percent sure we could make it.  The more Angie and I discussed it, the more we kept coming to the conclusion that we'd better crash this party.  It was a great opportunity to see a whole bunch of people we hadn't seen in years, all together!  It meant that we had to speed up our travel thru the Northeast and Canada a little but it was important to us since we didn't feel like we'd get a chance to see this group en masse again anytime soon.  So we devised a plan to surprise Aunt Marie, Uncle Dick, and my Mother...

And here we are!
Doing this required misleading my Mom a little bit so she wouldn't know we were anywhere close to Bowling Green.  We delayed calling her a few times and told her we were where we'd been a couple of days before where we actually were.  We also had to slow down our blogs. My brother, David, and his family had to play along too since Mom speaks with them regularly.

Kentucky is most known for: the Derby, Bluegrass (actual grass and music), Bourbon, and Lincoln was born in Kentucky, although most people forget that since he lived in Illinois.  On the way to Bowling Green, we made a little detour to see this replica of Lincoln's boyhood home...

...and passed this statue down the road on our way to meet up with our accomplice, Elaine.  She, her sisters (Beth and Chris), and their families were boating at a nearby lake so we met up with them before going into Bowling Green for the surprise...

Which was a success!
We don't have any photos of the occasion...this is a screen shot from a video that Angie took the moment we walked into the house.  We'll try to get that posted soon.

Next day, after things calmed down, a group of us headed to check out a distillery! Buffalo Trace Distillery is family owned and one of only four distilleries in the country that was allowed to distill during Prohibition, for "medicinal" purposes. Beth, John H, Angie, me, Jacob, Emily, John S, and Elaine, before the tour.

Hard not to smile when the building behind you is filled to the rafters with aging bourbon.
See the barrels thru the open windows!?!

This is the bottling room for one of the many bourbon brands the distillery produces.  The air was potent with the smell of the bourbon being bottled that day.  The bottlers must catch a buzz by the end of their shift just breathing the air!

That building is full of booze!  Approximately 250,000 barrels!
Note that there're more windows on the left side than the right... it's to control the temperature inside the building.  They can adjust it by opening or closing windows and/or shutters.

The tour took us into the ground floor of the 9-story structure.  It was a really hot day but it's remarkably cool inside.  All 9 stories are like this and this is just one warehouse!

We had a great tour guide, Freddie, a third generation employee of the Buffalo Trace distillery.
He told us that if the distillery ceased distilling that day, there was enough bourbon on hand to keep running for 20 years!

Onto the tasting!

Freddie also told us that three of the things Kentucky is best known for (blue grass, the Derby, and bourbon) are closely related. The bedrock under central Kentucky is a marble limestone, which is full of calcium. As water leeches through the bedrock, it is infused with calcium, which gives the grass a blue-ish tint and which makes the bones of the race horse who eats that grass nice and strong. That water is also used to make Kentucky Bourbon, which gives you a perfect excuse to drink's a calcium supplement!

Yeah, family outing!
Beth, John, Angie, me, Jacob, and Elaine getting a taste of Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace bourbons.  Good Kentucky family fun!

Elaine had the brilliant idea to rent a travel trailer for the week so more people could stay at Dick and Marie's.  Glad she did 'cause it was hot and LeTigre doesn't have AC!

Here we are hanging out doing more bourbon tasting...

Ahhh, demon dogs!
Kipper got to reconnect with his little buddies Taz and Tonks, the latter is chasing him in this photo.
These two were almost inseparable.

The 4th was hot so Kipper made the most of this baby pool Chris brought over.  Thanks Chris!

Elaine schooling John (and the rest of us) on how to play "Corn Hole".
I think she and her teammate/husband, Jay, were undefeated!

Oh, and the food.  Mutton, BBQ Chicken, Burgoo (a Kentucky stew made with mutton, potatoes, and other veggies), baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, slaw... it's killing me just looking at this!

Not only was it the 4th of July, but we were also celebrating Beth's husband, John's, birthday so there was chocolate cake afterwards.  I'm so hungry right now...

After the awesome meal and birthday cake, we made an attempt at getting everyone together for a group photo.
Let's just say people lacked the proper motivation...this was the first attempt.

That's better!  After some threats and coercion, everyone rallied together for the photo.

Later that week, a few of us snuck away to visit another distillery!  Me, Jay, Angie, and John, tasting a variety of spirits at Corsair Artisan Distillery right in downtown Bowling Green.  This is a micro distillery run by 4 people!  They also have a location in Nashville.  Good stuff.

My cousin Tracy and her husband Bobby were at the 4th of July party and extended an invitation for us to visit their place in Owensboro, KY.  Beth, John, and Kyle were going there to catch their flight back to Florida so we tagged along too.  It was a great visit...

That included one of the best watermelons we've eaten in awhile...

and we got to meet their adorable dogs!

It's cliche but a photo really is worth a thousand words and this one pretty well illustrates the good time had when this group gets together!

Thanks to everyone for letting us crash your party!
Love to you all.

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