Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Day Two: Nashville to Louisville (Keepin' it Weird)

We cruise out of Nashville around 11am, having woken around 8:30 to find the sun lighting the tops of the forest like lollipops. The breeze blows them; they whisper to each other and I am suddenly reminded of how the grass in Tanzania sounded as we passed through it on evening game drives.   Such similar beauty, in such dissimilar places! We cruise by the lake, briefly, startling a Great blue heron into flight, its sides sleek as tempered steel.

It kills me, but we have to bypass the National Corvette Museum so that we can get to Churchill Downs in time to visit the Kentucky Derby track and Museum. When I see the twin spires of the track, my heart leaps. Like many little girls, I was obsessed with horses. My great uncle David, who was a racehorse jockey, was a childhood hero of mine.  I watched the Kentucky Derby every Saturday in May, following the horses’ stories in the newspaper and eventually on the internet.  I had a thick, hardcover book that detailed the stories of all the best racehorses of the last century. I read about Man O’ War, Ruffian, Secretariat, Whirlaway…they filled my dreams. At last I was there, standing next to the track by the final stretch, reliving all those moments I’d only seen on TV. 

The museum itself is rich with multimedia and detail. You can see what it’s like to stand in a starting gate, “ride” a plastic racehorse while a video game plays out before you, watch all the Derby videos from 1930 and onward, and learn all about the experience of a horserace – from the jockey weigh-in to picking up recipes for Derby food.  It was wonderful, like reliving the experience of a beloved storybook.

I didn’t even see any horses today, but my heart is somehow calmer than it was this morning.

We went to Smokehouse BBQ afterward and shared a platter of ribs and a pulled pork sandwich. Totally delicious, and completely different from the Carolina BBQ I’ve come to love. Still, I don’t discriminate against pigs. The best part was Billy, the guitarist with long white hair and piercing blue eyes, who accompanied his mellow voice on guitar while singing customer requests. One man requested Desperado. Then I asked for Horse With No Name. Ben asked for Take Me Home Country Roads. It was a good set.

We’re now at a little café called Sunergos, which is mostly empty but serves fantastic microbrew coffee and loose leaf herbals. I’ve found the people here to be fun and full of quirk. Some of the businesses have signs that say “Support local businesses. Keep Louisville weird.” We’ll be here for the next couple hours to get some work done, and then we’ll be off to the Hoosier National Forest to camp in the Indian-Celina Lake Recreation Area. Dinner will probably be banana-peanut-butter sandwiches.

I’m looking forward to a good night of sleep. Tomorrow we’ll head toward St. Louis, toward seeing Malena and Lindsey for the first time in over four years, and toward making our little merry band complete with Bonnie and Robert.

Tags: travel - usa and canada
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