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On the road again! A trip on the Kentucky Bourbon trail showed us that sampling the product is enjoyable. We began our tour at Maker’s Mark Distillery and then went to Bardstown, Kentucky, where we stayed at the Bourbon Manor. The Bourbon Manor is a well decorated Bed and Breakfast and our hosts treated us very well. This was the first time I had traveled with a group of adults. It was a blast! Thank you Lisa and Eric! You did a great job planning and setting the group up for fun.
The food at the Bourbon manor was delicious, and their apple desert for breakfast was as good as advertised. Sitting around in the evening with friends was wonderful. Another favorite place to eat was the Rickhouse Restaurant in Bardstown. Although finding it was tricky in the dark, the steaks were worth the visit.
We all strolled around Bardstown and were entertained by the lively arts and small businesses along the main street. The snowmen outside of the art show led us to spend some time inside experiencing the local art. It was very interesting to see the spinning wheel display and see how good several of the area artists are at painting.
We even ran into Smith’s CPA firm, which was funny as one of our friends is a retired CPA named Smith. Of course we had to get a photo of Smith & Company CPA at the shop. It is great to be retired and see a thriving town of hard working people.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful! We were happy to be taking a distillery tour as the weather turned colder. It snowed while we were touring the Maker’s Mark Distillery. This was an agreeable, light and fluffy snow that only stuck to the grass and did not come down when we were driving.
At Maker’s Mark we had a delightful tour of the facility—the grounds are very pretty. We liked the bridge over Whisky Creek. In addition to the tour, our group signed up to learn how to make mixed drinks, of course with Maker’s Mark. We are not going to make a bourbon bottle chandelier but we liked the one at the restaurant at Maker’s Mark.
After the tour and the snow, the highlight for many of us was dipping our own bottle of Maker’s Mark in the red wax. This is the symbol of Maker’s Mark; we were happy to try to get the most drips on our bottle of bourbon. I think Julie from our group managed the most drips on her bottle.
We learned a lot about distilling and storing the bourbon. For example, the US Congress recognized the popularity of bourbon when, in 1964, when they designated bourbon as a “distinctive product” of the United States. Both chambers passed the Senate’s version of the concurrent resolution, which ensured that bourbon was made exclusively in the United States. The act indicated that bourbon must be at least 51% corn, distilled no more than 160 proof, aged in new white oak barrels that have been charred inside and age for no less than two years, although more than four is better. Bourbon must be stored at no more than 125 proof and bottled no less than 80 proof. Most bourbon (95%) is made in Kentucky, although it does not have to be made in Kentucky, just the United States.
In addition to the Maker’s Mark tour, we visited Heaven Hill, Willett and Woodford Reserve distilleries on our trip. Each one was different and they all had a good story to tell. The bourbon trail in Kentucky is an excellent tour. We could have seen several more distilleries, but even retired travelers have limited time.
One of the fun facts we learned on the trail is that there are today in Kentucky two barrels of bourbon for every person living in Kentucky. That is a lot of bourbon!
My Old Kentucky Home, you know the state song of Kentucky? Well, we had a terrific tour of the historic home located in Bardstown. Yes, this is the historic house that Stephen Foster wrote the song about. The house was all decorated for Christmas and our lively guide even sang the state song for us all. Some of us (not me) joined in for some of the words. No photography was allowed inside, but it was a fun tour!
A few lessons learned.
The story of bourbon is one of reinvention. After prohibition, many entrepreneurs took a gamble on bourbon. With the slow aging process it does not produce revenue for several years. It does produce for the state of Kentucky and the federal government tax revenue every year.
Traveling in a group is entertaining. We will do another trip with friends in the future. We are so thankful for our friends. We had more fun than we could have imagined on the trip.
We all enjoyed the experience of mixing drinks. We are looking forward to our next get together to see if we remember what we learned in our mixing class at Maker’s Mark.
- Visit to an abbey—the fudge was great. They even had bourbon balls.
- Viewing the historic Kentucky distilleries was fascinating. We learned something new in each one and the bourbon tasted different as well. My favorite distilleries were the Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve.
- The press was at the Heaven Hill location as they announced the expansion of their visitor’s center to three times the current size. Of course the tour talked about their rick house fire although it was not prominent at the visitor’s center.
- We were very impressed with the current center and will look forward to the expansion when we visit the next time.
The bourbon trail was not a biking trip. I am sure we will get a biking trip in again in 2019. Even the bike at the Bourbon Manor had some snow. It was cold during our visit in November.
North West Arkansas is home to Wal-Mart and my mom, who recently turned 89. It was a pleasure to visit her in Arkansas for that special occasion. My mom was thrilled that my daughter joined me on the trip.
In Bentonville, we visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. My daughter was fascinated with the two-story spider sculpture at the entrance. I appreciated the models we saw that had productive use of sea shells, answering one of my questions from Florida, “What do we do with the shells?”
- The museum has a fun collection of American art including some sculptures like the man waiting for his wife and the spider that my daughter liked so much.
- The Frank Lloyd Wright house was great to see as we have limited opportunities to be in one of his creations. The museum took this house apart in New Jersey and reassembled it in Arkansas.
Thank you to Wal-Mart for sponsoring general admission to Crystal Bridges—it was free!
North of Bentonville is the retirement community of Bella Vista. We took a walk to visit the VFW memorial where we have a brick for my grandfather and my dad’s military service. While walking around Lake Bella Vista, we saw a rare site: a black swan. I was reminded of the book about improbable events. Our improbable event was a 2 mile hike with my 89 year old mom.
We managed a trip to the Walton Art Center, south of Bentonville, near the home of the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville is a nice place to visit. We enjoyed the pedestrian street traffic on Friday night as several of the U of Arkansas students were wearing realistic Star Wars outfits, including light sabers. Too bad we were not quick enough to get a picture.
It was cold in North West Arkansas. Next year (for 90) we will plan to go to Disney as my brother lives near Orlando.
Here are my Mom’s tips looking back on 89 years:
- Have things to look forward to doing. We went to the symphony. Like many of us when we get older, she does not like driving in the dark. She had tickets for all of us on a bus that a group regularly takes to the symphony. It adds to the social, as well as the cultural, experience.
- Be a blessing to others. Several people told me about the wonderful things my mom had done in their life. It was great to hear and made me proud of my mom. She was not resting; she went out to take care of a friend who is much older and cannot do too much.
- Keep moving. We went to Crystal Bridges, and although we did not walk fast, we went through the museum and grounds. We walked her neighborhood several times, seeing an armadillo and several neighbors doing the same thing we were–getting out and being active.
- Keep having fun!
Peer pressure is alive and well after high school and follows even 89 year olds. When asked about living in the same house for the last 30 years and when she might move to a smaller place, her response was all about her friends—fellow widows living by themselves and doing well. I am happy to report she is doing well in her large house and she is hiring out for some of the things she can no longer do.
Trip by the numbers: We went on several walks/hikes with Mom, a total of more than 4 miles. No bike rides, even though we had a few nice days.
Many assumptions are made about life after retirement. I know that I had a few assumptions on what people did or do in retirement. Many think of endless golf games and outside entertainment in Florida. In retirement I have played two golf games, admittedly, not very well. In comparison, I just played trumpet at my third wedding this year. I am excited to have played at more weddings than golf courses.
I love the thoughts from Roger Whitney, “Go, go years, slow go years and no go years.” In my retirement we are in the go, go years. Here is a recap of what we have been up in the last week—from a travel perspective.
Last week I was able to help out a friend who had received a retirement gift of baseball tickets and he and two others joined in at the Reds game. We even got to see a dramatic finish in the 10th inning (for the other team L). What a fun opportunity to stay out late and not worry about being late for the office the next day.
Kim and I went out to the local playhouse for a production of Shakespeare in Love. We really enjoyed the acting and the escape. We also did not worry about when we left or came back home.
Last weekend, we hopped on a plane for Rochester, Minnesota, to be a part of the wedding for Karen and Phil. I was pleased to play trumpet for their wedding. Our hosts for the weekend, Chris and Cindy, were also part of the music for the wedding. I really enjoyed our time with Karen and Phil as well as Chris and Cindy.
We did a tour of Rochester, including a visit to the Mayo properties in downtown Rochester as well as a quick visit to the Plummer house.
The area around Rochester (in the summer!) is really nice. Of course they have these things called “sky bridges” that connect the buildings downtown so the residents do not have to go outside in the winter.
We enjoyed the walking as well as the bike ride we did near Silver Lake. Minnesota is the “land of 10,000 lakes” and the county we were in is one of three counties that does not have a natural lake. Interesting trivia for the day.
Geese by the hundreds dwell on the Zumbro’s shoreline where it widens into Silver Lake. The geese are a scenic addition and responsible for the local restaurant’s name where we ate breakfast, the “Canadian Honker.” The food was good and the location was nice. The local story is that the power plant keeps the water in the Rochester part of the Zumbro River warm all year long and the geese never leave.
For fun, Kim and I rode a tandum bike. It was an interesting experience as we bike ride a lot at the same time, just not together on the same bike. I think we are, for now, keeping our individual road bikes.
A few lessons learned.
- Be helpful. The history of the Mayo Clinic is that it was founded by people that helped out.
- Be intentional about friends. Our friends Chris and Cindy “Friday with friends” event where they are intentional about getting together with friends each week.
- Always be yourself, unless you are Batman… We saw this sign at a men’s clothing store in downtown Rochester.
We also spent the prior Friday exploring the bike trails in Aurora, Indiana. We were pleased to find the trails. They are close to the house and provide a nice ride along the Ohio River. It is good to see the scenery from the other side of the river, looking into Kentucky.
There is a new person retiring all the time. Are you next? The gate agent on our flight to Rochester was retiring. As our incoming flight was delayed we had a few minutes to chat. She is off to Peru and then will be looking for some volunteer work.
We went to a local farm and enjoyed their fall festival, including a hayride and picking a pumpkin. The spiced cider was not yet ready for us, maybe next week! Happy fall to everyone.
Trip by the numbers:
States visited: Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. Does a stopover at the airport count as a visit? We did two stopovers in Chicago, so did we visit Illinois? I say, yes we did…Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. We were several nights in Minnesota, had a bike ride in Indiana and a play and a baseball game in Ohio.
- Biking miles: 26, with the addition of Minnesota to our list of states for a bike ride.
- Hiking/Walking: 7 miles.
- Trumpet playing at Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
Our first path took us to the Boston Metro area for Gary and Jackie’s wedding in Worchester.
- The wedding and reception were held at Tuckerman Hall in Worchester.
- Kim and I enjoyed lunch prior to the afternoon wedding on Grove Street at the Fix Burger Bar. They had a great selection on the menu, and I had the Bison burger—very tasty. The resturants in the area were converted manufacturing centers. It appeared to be a happening place.
- The Bride and Groom own a part interest in a horse and asked me to
- I performed on the trumpet the call to post prior to the bride entering. The assembled all laughed, which was a good thing! It was fun and of course it was listed in the program and no one knew what it meant.
- On Sunday I also played trumpet at our church home in Massachusetts with the praise band. It was fun, and the musicians are very talented.
After the wedding weekend, it was time to visit with some of the people we missed seeing at the wedding. We would like to have seen more of the good people we know in New England but time was against us visiting everyone. We plan to come back and hope to see you on our next trip if we missed you this time around!
Our second path involved food and friends:
- My goal was to eat seafood and this party had lobster, clams and mussels. Labor Day clam bake—great food!
- I enjoyed the eating at the party.
- We even took home a home-grown pumpkin from our friend’s pumpkin patch!
Enjoying a clam bake with friends on a beautiful sunny day, fresh lobster is really a good time!
Dinner near Boston Harbor—again great seafood and more friends. Having dinner on Boston Harbor in the summer is a good time.
- Dinner in Marlborough, MA, our former home town in the Boston area. Good friends and good food.
- Lunches with friends around the metro Boston area as well!
Our third path in the Boston area was some local adventures.
When we lived near Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, we hiked this mountain each Father’s Day. We went up on Labor Day and were surprised at the number of bike riders going up the mountain.
Having lived in Marlborough, MA, and played in a band for the Assabet River Rail Trail opening, we just had to hike along the Assabet River Rail Trail. The City provides bike rentals on the trail but we just hiked along.
- We visited the Lowell National Historic Park and enjoyed our visit. This is the only National Park that I am aware of that gives out ear plugs as you go in to visit the exhibit. Yes, the textile machinery was loud and fascinating. Key hint to the visit—parking in Lowell (and Boston…) is tricky, we were told, and I am passing on to you that you can park for free behind the visitor’s center (see map) and have your parking validated.
To obtain a real sense of American history, a trip to Boston is a must. Having lived in the Boston area for several years and abiding by the philosophy to always be a tourist in your home town, we have seen many of the attractions in Boston and surrounding areas. We have walked the Freedom Trail more than once, taken the duck tour and have been to Fenway Park and other local sporting venues. We recommend all of these.
We were planning a bike ride downtown, but unfortunately it was raining on the day we had planned to ride so we traveled home, stopping at Cooperstown on the way. The Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) was our last path on the way back home.
- We were able to spend four hours (not enough time) to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. My first idea was to see the Basketball, Baseball, Football and Rock & Roll Halls, but we settled on one for several hours. We had a great time and do not regret the choice.
- Mid-September is the start of the off-season for visits, so we had no issues parking.
- This was our first time at the Baseball HOF in almost 20 years. We were impressed with the use of video and interaction with the staff and the visitors.
- We relived several exciting moments of baseball history and will plan to come back sooner than 20 years.
A few lessons learned.
- People wanted to kidnap Kim to ensure we would move back to the area. We know that we need to visit more often—my last visit was a few years ago and Kim had not been back for over 9 years.
- One couple we ate dinner with shared that as they visit areas with friends and family, they spend the night in their friends’ and family’s houses. Sharing a meal is not enough time to get past general “Facebook” updates, but it is a great place to start.
- We need intentionality around visiting and catching up with friends and family. Local retired friends shared that going out is one way to keep active and to continue encouraging others.
The trees are already turning colors and the colors look good. We missed all of the trees!
We drove to Worchester (near Boston) around Lake Erie and through New York on Route 90, or as we say, the Mass Pike.
- All new this year is the absence of toll boths on the Pike; they use the New York EZ pass, or will bill your licence plate.
- You do receive a discount by signing up in advance in Massachuttes.
- New York still has the EZ pass lanes as well as cash lanes.
Trip by the numbers:
- Driving: 2,233 miles.
- Hiking/Walking 10.2 miles.