"Believe that you can do it, under any circumstances. Because if you believe you can, then you really will. That belief just keeps you searching for the answers, then pretty soon you get it."
– Wally "Famous" Amos
What a busy week we've had. On Monday morning, our Forest River warranty Manager called and told us that our dear Wendy was ready to be picked up so Steve and I packed and were on the road by 8:00 a.m. Our experience with Forest River throughout this entire warranty issue has been awesome. These people are truly focused on customer service and satisfaction. If any of you are thinking about buying an RV in the future, we both highly recommend Forest River products. The company is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (he's not my favorite guy right now) and has maintained financial viability during a time when other RV manufacturers have sufferend tremendous losses or have gone bankrupt.
After we picked up Wendy, we had to unload the storage unit we rented and repack all of our stuff. Holy Cow it was hard to believe that all those boxes came out of a camper. I wish we would have taken a picture of the pile of empty boxes we had outside of our trailer because you would be shocked too. Anyway, with our house back in order, we proceeded to visit the National New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. What a great museum! They had numerous exhibits that were very interesting and informative. My favorite part of the museum was the entire room they had dedicated to a model railroad and a miniature city of Elkhart. They spared no expense in terms of attention to detail with this exhibit and I spent a lot of time watching the trains travel around this model city. Fun! One thing we found really cool was a model train made out of 421,000+ toothpicks. WOW! The artist's name is Terry Woodland and he is from Warsaw, Indiana. He also used 1.5 million toothpicks to build a full sized stagecoach that will be on display in Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. Steve and I spent the rest of our time climbing around old rail cars that were parked outside in the lot next to the museum. We had a great time. Later that night we met up with some friends we met at a Forest River Owners Group camping trip we took last May. Steve and Dara live in Elkhart and it was nice to see them again.
The next day we shipped out and headed for Louisville, Kentucky. Steve and I both love this city. It's got a great downtown area but it's not so large that it is difficult to get around or find anything. On our first day we visited the Louisville Slugger Factory (no pictures allowed inside) and watched them make baseball bats. Up until 1980, it would take a master craftsman 30 minutes to make a bat from scratch. Now it takes only 30 seconds (due to the installation of mechanical lathes). The stamping and staining processes are still done by hand so there is still a lot of personal care applied to each bat, especially those made for the major leagues. The factory also has a really nice museum attached to it that we enjoyed. We had a bat made for my dad with "Sweet Lou" engraved on it. He will enjoy that very much. Then we visited the Frazier Historical Arms Museum which was right across the street from Louisville Slugger. Anyway, this museum was awesome. It is completely dedicated to arms, armories and related artifacts. While that may not sound interesting to you, the way they displayed these artifacts is what made the museum interesting. The timeframe covered is from medieval times through the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to these displays, there was a temporary exhibit of the photography work of three artists who traveled through Kentucky in the 1970's entitled "Rough Road". The candid photos taken tell the story of rural Kentucky in an interesting and unique way. We loved this museum and highly recommend it. As a matter of fact, there are several museums in this area of downtown Louisville. If you visit the city, be sure and plan an entire day for Museum Row as the Science Museum and other museums are also on the two-three blocks in this area downtown.
One evening, we visited Louisville Slugger Stadium to do the pumpkin walk that was sponsored by "Dreams with Wings", a charitable organization who supports children and adults with autism and learning disabilities. The entire stadium was dedicated to a family event that begins with a trick or treat around the entire baseball field. Carved pumpkins were lined up along the baselines and warning track and parents and children were allowed to walk around the entire field, with stops here and there for trick or treating. Steve snapped pictures of the best pumpkins we saw. Some of them were really fun. A live band was playing music and the concession stands were open and selling food. The charity also made the largest pumpkin pie in Louisville, of which Steve and I shared a piece. It was a blast walking around and seeing the pumpkins and the kids all dressed up in their costumes. What a great idea they had with using that baseball field for this charitable event.
The next day, Steve and I headed to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. This was something that I have wanted to do for the longest time and I was more than a little disappointed that we could not attend the Kentucky Derby this past May. So finally getting to see this piece of Americana was really cool for me. Did you know that the Kentucky Derby has been running continuously since 1875? It is the longest running sporting event in the country. The museum is dedicated to the race itself and had some really awesome exhibits. The two I found most interesting were the displays of the outrageous hats that some of the women wear to the actual Derby race. The other was the display of uniforms that the jockeys themselves wear. I could not get over how small they were. The museum also presents a 360 degree movie about the history of the race that we found very entertaining and informative. After touring the museum, Steve and I took a behind the scenes tour of Churchill Downs. We went to the infield and saw the track and grandstands from that perspective. We were most entertained by the dozen or so infield jails they have built half-way into the ground. Our tour guide told us that on the day of the race, at least three of those jails are completely filled with the drunks who are partying on the infield all day. The best was that there is a betting window in the jail so the "guests" could still place bets. Then we went back to where the barns are and where the horses themselves are kept. Each of the trainers has their own barn and set of stalls that they are encouraged to decorate. Our tour guide told us that the more they win, the grander the decorations become! Then we toured the official paddock where the horses are brought just before the race, we saw the winner's circle, and then visited a retired thoroughbred they keep on the premises. Additionally, there are 4 former Derby winning horses that are buried on the Kentucky Derby Museum property. Barbaro, who won the 2006 Derby and then died shortly thereafter from laminitis, is the only horse buried at Churchill Downs. There is a large sculpture of him over the grave.
Steve and I had lunch in the museum cafe. The menu included a Citation sandwich which caused Steve to wonder if breakfast offered Sea Biscuits and gravy... See what I have to put up with??? Sheeesh.. Funny man.
Following that, we visited the Marengo Cave in Marengo, Indiana (just north of Louisville). We toured this cave for about 70 minutes and saw some really beautiful stalagtites and stalagmites. The cavern itself is so large that the town of Marengo used it for community-wide dances as well as church services. The most incredibly cool part of the tour was Mirror Lake. The stillness of the surface of that lake creates an optical illusion that makes the water seem almost invisible. Very cool. Lastly, Steve and I visited the Falls of Ohio to see the fossil beds along the riverbank. This area contains one of the greatest collection of Devonian period fossils anywhere in the world and they exist right along the river. Very cool! Additionally, this area is where Lewis and Clark spent time training their men prior to their exploration of the West and the Louisiana Purchase territory. The story of their journey is very interesting and I highly recommend the book "Undaunted Courage" which tells of their adventures.
Ok, that's it for this week. Steve and I are heading off to church and then packing and moving to Lexington, Kentucky and a visit to the Bluegrass region and horse country. Talk to you next week, but between now and then, be good, stay safe, and count your blessings every day!