"I am the greatest"
State 4: Kentucky - June 21, 2017
We woke up at a Louisville, KY well rested, less stressed, and ready to begin our day. There were 12 Walmart’s in Louisville, and we were finally able to locate one that could accommodate Rosie’s height to perform an oil change at a reasonable price. Things are already looking up!
After the oil change we departed for Louisville, and first on the agenda was touring Churchill Downs; the site of the best race in the entire world: The Kentucky Derby! We are not ones for gambling or horse races, but we are here to learn about Kentucky, and the Derby’s roots run deep. The Kentucky Derby has been an American tradition for over 143 consecutive years, and it has the highly coveted distention of being the longest continually running annual sporting event in America. Coined the most exciting 2 minutes in sports last year, The Kentucky Derby attracted over 170,000 visitors on the day of the race. That is more spectators that attended the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA finals and Stanley Cup combined! There were no races on the day we visited, which made it nice and quiet.
They had a museum commemorating all of the pasts winners of the Kentucky Derby including the current year’s winner, “Always Dreaming”. There is also an even more elite sub group of derby winners commemorated in the museum: Triple Crown Winners. These horses have not only won the Kentucky Derby, but then went on to win the Belmont Stakes, and the Preakness Stakes, within a 5 week span! Only 12 horses have earned what has been deemed the most coveted title in sports! The most recent Triple Crown Winner was "American Pharaoh" in 2015. By far the most famous thoroughbred horse ever, was 1973 Triple Crown Winner: Secretariat. He also has the unique distinction of having a the fastest time for the Kentucky Derby 1:59 2/8: a record that still stands to this day! I believe they even made a movie about him a few years ago if my memory serves me right. Enjoy the pictures of the iconic Kentucky landmark, and annual American tradition for the past 143 years.
After leaving, we headed across town to experience another one of Louisville best in the entire world. Louisville, is home to the best baseball bat, the Louisville Slugger. How do I know it is the best baseball bat? It has been the official baseball bat for Major League Baseball for over 100 years! It is also a family owned company and their bats are made in America, with American timber and by American Workers for over 135 years! Almost every historic moment in baseball has had a Louisville bat as part of it. Babe Ruth, to Hank Arron and every home run king that followed achieved baseball immortality with a Louisville slugger bat in hand! The Louisville slugger factory tour, and museum was clearly a can’t miss attraction. We went to the Louisville slugger museum, before the tour. I had the privilege of holding in my hands a Mickey Mantle game used Louisville slugger bat, and Lori held a game used bat by Derek Jeter. See the pictures below, and eat your hearts out Yankee fans! Also on display was game used bats by Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and even the exact bat Hank Aaron used to hit his 700th Home Run. The factory tour was equally amazing to witness before our very eyes how a piece of timber transforms into a bat. Even more amazing is the machine that makes the professional baseball players bats. This machine is connected to a computer that is programmed with the exact specification of each professional baseball players bat requirements. It then can create a bat to their exact specifications with in 100th of an Inch! Regretfully, but understandable they do not allow pictures of their operations.
The Louisville slugger museum was also the site of our fist road side attraction on our cross country trip. Originating in the 1930’s, roadside attractions are meant to divert drivers off the highway by invoking a personal curiosity trip usually by depicting items of enormous size. The world’s largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas is one such example. Overtime many of these roadside attractions have become a destination unto themselves. Attracting thousands and thousands of visitor each year. As you might have guessed, at 68,000 pounds and measuring 120 feet tall, Louisville Slugger has the world’s biggest baseball bat. It was not hard to miss the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum because the baseball bat pictured below resting against the outside of the a 5 story building announces your arrival. I actually had to go across the street, and down a block to be able to get this photo. We will try to hit at least one in each state as they keep the trip fresh and exciting.
Louisville has another best in the world, but this once got away from us due to time constraints. Louisville is the birthplace of the greatest boxer in the entire world Muhammad Ali. He knew he was the world’s greatest boxer, and was not modest in letting everyone else know that as well. He was also the only boxer in history to be a 2-time Heavyweight Champion! I also commemorate him on his work outside the ring to raise awareness and money for the research of Parkinson’s Disease. As a nurse, I have seen the tragic consequences of this disease first hand. Hopefully with help of celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Michel J. Fox raising money and awareness, we can find a cure for this debilitating illness. Ali passed away in 2016 from complications related to his Parkinson’s disease. The museum was just closing when we arrived, and I was really depressed to have missed it. Oh well, I guess we have an excuse to one day come back and visit Louisville again… Maybe even on race day for the Kentucky Derby.
We just learned tropical storm Cindy is set on collision course with Kentucky and we are evacuating, stay tuned for more information.