One of my most favored stops on our “Mom’s Bucket List” journey was to Louisville, Kentucky. I was totally jazzed about finally getting to experience a bourbon sampler. Little did I realize just how much fun I would have stopping by the Kentucky Derby. Mind you, we did nothing more than cruise by and check out the exterior of Churchill Downs. At any rate, we could completely imagine the excitement the races must evoke in those that hold this tradition close to their hearts. The Twin Spires stretched well into the cloudy skies that day and stopping to pay a little homage at the statue of Barbaro hit especially close to home for me. Barbaro, the beloved racehorse pictured, is one of the most inspirational stories to come out of the Kentucky Derby. A story of strength, persistence, and hope seemed to sew a common thread between our two lives.
I found it oddly fascinating that Churchill Downs is located smack dab in the middle of a run down, residential area. I envisioned it to be rolling, grassy hills it rested upon. It made me realize just how much we as a society thrive on celebrations and traditions. This unassuming stadium becomes larger than life during this time in the year, filled with laughter, hope, cheers, celebrations, families and friends. It exudes an air of opulence and pomp and circumstance. It made me want to experience it firsthand. I have now added that to my own bucket list and can’t wait until the day I’m able to don a big rimmed hat, sip a Mint Julip, and belt out a verse of “My Old Kentucky Home” among my fellow countrymen.
Later that evening, we ended up at a delightful establishment called, Lilly’s. Although I cannot recall exactly what I ate, I do remember it being delicious. We were all more than pleased with our meals. But, it was the Bourbon Sampler that was calling to both Dad and me. My impression was that we would get those small samples that are common to receive when you do beer samplers. You can imagine the shock when eight full very full samples of bourbon showed up at our table. It was then that Mom made a most miraculous observation. I believe it went something like this, “Well, I guess I know who will be driving.” Mom wasn’t much of a drinker. Come to find out, bourbon might just be an acquired taste. At any rate, I did find one or two that I truly enjoyed and could then successfully check bourbon sampler off of my bucket list.
So in honor of the Kentucky Derby this weekend, I’ve dedicated this post to that little drop in our bucket that we conquered during one of the most important trips of our lives.