"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memor-able Day Weekend

We took a quick Memorial Day Weekend road trip up to Louisville, Kentucky, with our friends, Nate and Ginny and had a great time. We hit the road mid-morning on Saturday and our first stop was about an hour out of Nashville in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to the tiny Corsair Distillery located just off the town square. Corsair produces a pretty good line of spirits including an interesting Vanilla Bean Vodka and a Pumpkin Spice Moonshine. They recently opened a second distilling location in Nashville and we wanted to check out their original facility since we were in the neighborhood. We got a private tour of the small facility and it was very interesting. We wish them all the luck in the endeavors. We stopped at a great little sports bar called Double Dog Chow House for lunch. Excellent food and atmosphere.
Our second stop was a bit farther out of the way, but it was worth the drive with some beautiful scenery along the way. It was the Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown. It's the largest active monastery in the U.S. The grounds and buildings are immaculate and we stopped in their gift shop to get some handmade bourbon fudge and French-style cheese that they are known for producing and shipping world-wide.
We got on into Louisville after that and checked into our rooms at The Galt House Hotel right on the Ohio River in downtown. This stylish old hotel had a great rate thanks again to Travelocity's Top Secret Hotel finder that we used in Atlanta a month or so ago. We had a room overlooking the river on a holiday weekend Saturday night (during a huge Beatles-tribute convention going on at the hotel as well) for $80 - not too shabby!
We caught a cab for a quick ride to where we had dinner reservations: The White Oak Restaurant. We picked The White Oak for a couple of different reasons: a great menu that included many items locally grown as well as vegetarian dishes (for Ginny) and the fact we had a Groupon for $20 off dinner. Like the Travelocity Top Secret Hotel finder, Groupons (groupon.com) are another great money-saver for the budget traveler. After dinner our same taxi driver, Floyd, took us over to the Brown Theatre for our concert. We were there to see The Swell Season for a third time. This great Irish & Czech folk duo are one of our favorites. Before the show we had a few minutes to slip over to the Bluegrass Brewing Company Brewpub for a pre-show drink. This Louisville-based microbrewer puts out some really great beer. The show was excellent and the Brown Theatre could not be a nicer venue - great site-lines and perfect acoustics. After the show we did a bit of bar-hopping on our way back to the hotel in the pedestrian-only area known as 4th Street Live. We stopped at the Maker's Mark Lounge and the Ri Ra Irish Pub before winding up at Al J's Lounge back at The Galt House's Conservatory.
The next morning we slept in a bit and got up in time to check-out and head over to the other (and original) location of the Bluegrass Brewing Company Brewpub. They opened at 11 AM for lunch....but couldn't serve their award-winning beer until 1 PM thanks to a antiquated Kentucky law. Well, at least the food was great, but we didn't have to time to wait around on the beer since The Bourbon Trail was calling us. Our first stop along the winding roads that lead to more than a half-dozen well-know distilleries in central Kentucky was Jim Beam. The place was beautiful and they were open but....in Bullitt County, Kentucky, no alcohol can be served on Sundays, so no sampling. Oh well, we were 0-2 in terms of libations vs. Sunday ordinances. The friendly lady at the reception desk told us to head over to Heaven Hill Distillery because it was in a different county and they did serve on Sundays. Heaven Hill turned out to be a great find. They make Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey as well as a few others and they have a beautiful facility including a fairly large and new welcome center called the Bourbon Heritage Center. We got a great free tour along with a couple of samples in their tasting room shaped like a bourbon barrel.
Maker's Mark has a beautiful facility nearby that we have been to before but were willing to go to again to for Nate and Ginny, but we had already missed the last tour of the day. Maybe next time. We stopped for one last nip before hitting the road home at the quaint-looking Old Talbott Tavern and Bourbon Bar in scenic Bardstown, Kentucky, but it turned out to be a bit of a dive when you went inside the place. But, the beer was cold and the bourbon was flowing if you wanted it, so it's probably all in the eye of the beholder.
We dropped Nate and Ginny off at their place in Nashville and we had planned on continuing south and spending the night in Scottsboro, Alabama, to take a hot-air balloon ride the next morning as part of our wedding anniversary, but Mother Nature was not complying and a call to our pilot, Richard, confirmed there would be no flight tomorrow morning. We would have to postpone. Disappointing to say the least, but at least we can reschedule. We headed east instead toward home and got to sleep in our own bed that night.
Monday was Memorial Day and despite not getting to do our balloon flight, we still had plans to meet our friend, Emily, in Lynchburg, Tennessee, to visit the Jack Daniel's Distillery - time for a little compare and contrast. Call us biased, call us homers, call us bourbon-haters but Tennessee sippin' whiskey is soooo much smooooother than bourbon, and Mr. Daniel did it right. What a beautiful place also. Our tour guide, Buddy, was tremendous and the free hour-long behind-the-scenes tour is well worth the visit. Incredible history surrounds this place and the story of "little" Jack Daniel is truly amazing. This distillery famously sits in a dry county so there would be no sampling of anything more than tame lemonade, but they are now able to at least sell their product (except on Sundays) at the distillery. We bought a beautiful bottle of Woodlands Commemorative to take with us. After a little walking tour of the quaint downtown square of Lynchburg, we ambled back to Emily's house in the nearby and also-very-quaint town of Bell Buckle where we cooked out, played some corn-hole toss and created our own kind of very untamed Bell Buckle Lemonade.

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