Friday, May 10, 2013

kentucky road trip!

My old roomie Kate had her wedding in Kentucky a couple of weekends ago. Murray and I ended up driving by ourselves up there, and I've got to say this was one of the best road trips I've ever taken! The only downfall: I didn't bring my nice camera. Of course I realized this was a huge mistake a few hours outside of Bham while trying to take tons of scenery pics out the window. 

First off, you know the weekend will be good when you wake up to this. 


Cotton had to get in on the bed action too. I know I've announced on the blog that I let them sleep with me, but once I got a new comforter, I made them sleep in doggie beds on the floor (for months now). Sometimes when it's time to wash the bedding, I'll let them up (best mom ever). My super sweet neighbors watched them while we were on the trip.

ps- Cotton does in fact have 2 eyes. Not sure why the right one is creepily blacked out..

We set off on our journey around lunch. Murray so nicely drove so I could do string art (and take a million pictures) in the passenger seat. We passed through Nashville mid afternoon

and once we passed into Kentucky, we realized how epic our trip back would be..

I'd like to take the time to say how awesome it is to have a smart phone. I was able to check and see if Dinosaur World was open (we just barely missed closing on Friday) and made sure we'd be able to hit it up on Sunday (FO SHO!). Had they not been open, we might've just found a hotel in Cave City for the night..

Btw, Kentucky is just lovely. Not only for the scenery..

But also for the bourbon and 40s. Ya know, because we can't have these babies in Alabama. 

There are barns everywhere! Tons of them, and half of them are falling apart waiting on me to come pull the wood down to make art with.. Who'd like to make a trip back up there with me, sneak into a field, and load up my car with slats of wood?

The wedding was in Danville, and we got into town right at dinner time. We decided to eat at Bluegrass Pizza and Pub. Murray got meat lovers pizza.. I got chicken pesto. Note: I lost the who-ordered-the-better-pizza game. We also drank some White Rascal beer. Yum yum.  

While we were there, we ran into a group of people that were going to the wedding! They knew Kate and were from Birmingham. They asked us if we wanted to go with them to the Maker's Mark Distillery the next day. Uhh, yes please! Instant friends! 

Kate had tons of little details planned for the wedding weekend, including this welcome bag in the hotel room. It had the address on the card, which I thought was smart, because a lot of peeps probably didn't bring the invitation with them. I've yet to show you them, but Kate got me to design the wedding invitation suite! It included the logo, which is the initials within the laurel wreath below. EEE! 

So the next day, our little group headed out to the Maker's Mark Distillery for a tour.

It was almost an hour away from Danville, but it was worth it. If you're ever around there, GO! 

It was a bit dreary, but that wasn't going to stop the tour! 

The story is very cool. A family bought the distillery back in the 1800s. The water they use is limestone filtered and is from a spring-fed lake right next to the distillery. Below are the copper stills. They distill the whiskey, and when it comes out of these, it's clear. They actually started bottling that 120 proof goodness and sell it ONLY in the gift shop at the distillery.  

Ain't they purdy?

The distillery holds a world record! 

Below are the cypress fermenting tanks. They actually let us stick our fingers in there to taste.

They're about 4 foot tall when you walk in the room, but the barrel goes down to the floor below. Below is a pic looking down. 

From there we walked across to the place where they store the barrels.

They rotate them by hand. 

Me and Murray in the barrel room. 

Next up was the bottling room! (sorry for the fuzziness)

I honestly thought it would be bigger than it was. 

Here are the corks

and here is where they dip the bottles in the wax by hand! The bottles come down the conveyor belt and the workers dip them into the melting pots there below. 

Our lovely tour guide showing us how they dip. There are only 4 people dipping at once, and they dip one bottle every 2 seconds. Craziness! They work in 30 minute shifts to prevent injury. ALL of the bigger Maker's Mark bottles are dipped here by hand. The only thing they outsource are the minis, and those are also dipped by hand. 

She told us if you take a tour on a weekday, you can watch them dip! I must come back!! 

Next we headed to the tasting room. Notice anything cool about the shutters? They have the shape of the Maker's Mark bottles cut out in the middle! 

The tasting rooms were lovely! 

There was Maker's Mark themed art

and of course the bourbon itself. 

Everyone had three glasses with Maker's White, Maker's Mark, and Maker's 46. 

The Maker's White is the one I told you about earlier that they only sell at the distillery. Maker's 46 was created by the 3rd generation owner (i think), and it's only been available for a few years. 

I took pictures of the art in our tasting room. Barnwood painting, ftw. 

More barnwood with a barrel top. This was my favorite. 

A wax dip painting.

and more wood with barrel lids. 

another view of the tasting room

The tasting room across the hall.

They had these chocolate nuts as we left. I forgot what they were called. 

Next up was the gift shop. There was another painting on old Coca Cola crates. 

We got to do the coolest thing of all: dip our own bottles! 

The bottles are really expensive in the gift shop, so just know that going in.. That's why we got a smaller one. 

I had to put on an apron, sleeves, gloves, and safety glasses. 

Listening to the lady give me instructions.

All you did was dip..

spin the bottle,

then sit it down. 

I forgot to get s pic in the shop, so I took one in the car on the way back. The label had a place that said "dipped by ____ on ____" so I'll always know I dipped that bottle! How exciting!

We grabbed some lunch back in town and then got ready for the wedding! The weather was a little overcast. It was suppose to rain all day, but luckily it held out! 

Here's the beautiful bride coming down the hill. I didn't want to whip my phone out, but it was just so picturesque! That and we were on the back row, so I didn't have to hold it above everyone's head. 

Walking out as husband and wife! (and photographer)

The wedding was at Kate's grandparent's farm, and it is BEAUTIFUL. Tons of farm land.

The reception was held in the barn.

Isn't it nifty?

The barn is painted black for a reason.

Black barns mean it is meant for tobacco. They were painted black to help warm up the inside and dry out the tobacco leaves. 

Below you can see the slats are spaced out to allow ventilation for the leaves, which were hung from the beams you see in the foreground. 

Murray, me, Katie, and Bradley

my hair is out of control.. almost time for the big chop, yall. 

The awesome bourbon bar. 

They had these delicious ginger drinks. Also, very yummy Old Fashions (cherry bourbon drinks).  


The couple arriving to the reception


More farm shots from the view of the reception barn.

There was a big family style table on one side. The food was delicious!

At the end of the night, they brought around warm cookies and milk! 

It was all glorious.

There was a bluegrass band to go along with the Kentucky theme. You betta believe we got down on the dance floor! 

Kate's married! EEE! 

Kate got down with the moms and grandmas! 

Isn't her dress perfect?

Guess who caught the garter? Yep, Murray. I got a picture of Brett, the groom, with Murray, and right before I got the shot, Brett said "put it in your mouth!". Hilarious! 

Brett and Murray are both from Selma, and that's where Kate and Brett will live.

I somehow got a shot of the couple without people around. Don't you just want to put them on top of a cake? 

Next was time for the departure with sparklers! We stood with our new friends Peyton and Kayla. Murray and Peyton (and Kayla too) all bonded over being bama fans. How fun for me! (i kid, i kid)

I love finding new friends!

Peyton lighting his sparkler on a fake candle haha!

The rain continued to hold out for us to send off the couple.

Kate wore the skirt her mother wore at her wedding, so it was extra special.

Brett went in for a big kiss!

Kate was thrilled hahah! 

How sweet! 

They gave out these little bags fill of pecans as favors. Brett was walking around at some point asking "did you get your nut sack?" hahaha! So so funny!

It poured rain right after the reception was over, but I was so glad it held out until the festivities were over. The next day, we headed back to Alabama. Since we knew the back story on the black barns, we would say "BLACK BARN!" whenever we saw one. 

It was glorious for the drive back. 

My lovely chauffeur. 

Just a few hours away from Danville was Cave City and DINOSAUR WORLD!!!! 

The Cave City exit is so kitschy. Tons of cheesy touristy goodness. 

Before we went to Dinosaur World, we went to check out Mammoth Cave. It's the biggest cave in the world! They constantly have tours (there are over 400 miles of trails underground). We took the "New Entrance Tour" which started just 15 minutes after we arrived. The website said to make reservations beforehand, but we just showed up and tested our luck. If that tour had been full, we would've gone on another around the same time. Some were an hour long, and others lasted up to 6 hours. This one was around 2 hours. 

The New Entrance meant we went through, what else, the new entrance. It was man made back in the 1920s. It looks really sketchy and is through a little door at the bottom of a sinkhole. 

Creepy, eh? 

We went down about 200 ft by a little metal staircase. 

Curses for not bringing my nice camera! 

Although the passage was tiny, the rooms once down there were huge. 

There were flat ceilings in some places with limestone.

It had rained a lot around the area for the previous weeks, so there were a lot of active waterfalls that aren't usually there. This one below was just a hole in the ceiling, dropping water into another hole in the ground. 

This part of the cave below is called the "Frozen Niagra" because it looks like a frozen waterfall. 


After we left the cave. We made it through in our Toms and loafers! (Note: we didn't bring cave walking shoes/tennis shoes like everyone else was sporting). There were big ol' crickets (they looked like spiders) as you entered and exited the cave. I was terrified one might've stow-awayed in my jacket, but I was in the clear!

After the tour, they told us we could go look at the natural entrance just a short distance away, which is a huge hole in the ground.


So pretty!

Of course I made Murray do the pose!

The temp changed about 20 degrees once you walked through the mouth of the cave. 

I just liked this fish notice.

We saw TONS of wild turkeys on the way to Mammoth Cave, so we decided to rename the state:


We HAD to stop at the biggest gift shop on the way back. After all, they had about 37 signs advertising it before and after we got there. 

And how could you not stop when this is in the front?

It's name is Big Moe. 

They also had TONS of rocks!!!!

How could you not love this Americana?!? 

These rocks were huge.  

Murray demonstrated.

America! If this doesn't make you want to buy some rocks, then you must be a terrorist. 

And yes, I bought a rock. What? Don't judge. 

Well you know what was next..


The entrance was the creepiest part.

We laughed because out of the Maker's Mark Tour, Mammoth Cave, and Dinosaur World, the most expensive was Dinosaur World. ($7, $12, and $12.50 respectively if you're wanting to recreate our magical trip)

It was well worth it thought. 

Where else can you pose with dinosaurs and learn facts about them all at the same time?!

So realistic! haha

The picture below itself was worth $12.50 hahah

This sign explains that you're about to see the dinosaur that is visible from the highway, and it is in fact made up. There was never a dinosaur painted up like a tiger, so they named him Photosaurus. 


We both had to pose with him of course. 

There was also a Mammoth Garden. 

When there's something to pose with, you know I'm going to cheese it up for the photo op. 

Exhibit A: 

Exhibit B: 

Exhibit C: 

Lucky for me, Murray does the same thing.

We took several pictures with this thing..

before realizing you could crawl inside!

There was a riveting museum with some artifacts. 

and hilarious window displays. 

Before we left town, we ate at the Wheelhouse Restaurant. 

We will be back! There were tons of other touristy things I need to do, and of course, we need to finish the bourbon tour (where you go to all the distilleries in Kentucky). 

Congrats Kate and Brett!

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