Kentucky, Day 2 & 3

by Alisa posted August 14, 2010 category Road Trip, The South

After church next to UK on Sunday, I had brunch at Jonathan’s, which is in the lobby of a wonderful historic hotel called Gratz Park decorated for a cigar-smoking good ol’ boy with horses, brass and marble.

I was obliged to eat a chef-y version of Kentucky Hot Brown, a mess of meat and cheese and bechamel that could kill you dead; his had country ham, bacon, turkey on brioche and a fried green tomato for good measure.

The only other family in the restaurant was parents and grandparents and little kids, having a leisurely, loud brunch.  One little girl announced when she got back from the bathroom “I had to go pee and then it went on the fountain and then I didn’t have to go again,” but no one listened the first four times.  Then she at her ice cream and said she needed to go again, and when she came back she announced that her tummy didn’t hurt anymore.  Thanks for the update, hunny.  Midway through a single man sat down and peppered the server with a million questions about the ingredients and even made him go downstairs to make a call to the coffee supplier, he loved it so much.  I worked on being the most low-maintenance person in the dining room.

After brunch I did a little wandering around the neighborhood and was justifiably awed by the Episcopal church which takes up an entire city block.  It is red brick and suitably Gothic, so it only seemed right when a black kitty skulked around, eventually disappearing in a crack between buildings, expertly sneaking through and around a fence in total familiarity.

Dark clouds sent me back to the car early, and since I couldn’t honor my own dead in Utah, I went to pay my respects to Lexington’s at the magnificent cemetery.  Families were about, laying wreaths and flags and tending to the plants in the ground.  I parked close to the entrance and walked down a winding road only to be met with a pretty good downpour, so I took shelter under a very large and very leafy birch waiting for it to pass.

It was the very definition of a southern afternoon scattered storm; quick and strong, with patches of blue still visible, accompanied by a cool breeze until it stopped, when it promptly turned hotter and stickier than 5 minutes before.

I ended the day at Keeneland, and though I met a collection of jittery-looking men on the way out, one of whom asked me if they were taking bets tomorrow. “I don’t really know,” I said, wondering what might have given me away as an authority.  I walked straight through the betting windows to the grandstand, and not another soul was there.  The thousands of birds who have taken residence in the eaves screamed like a horror movie, and looking over the empty, pristine field at sunset, I came to the conclusion that horse racing is entirely about money.

On my way out in the morning, I drove by Rupp Arena to stick my tongue out at Coach Calipari,

and swung by the strangeness of the Red Mile, where standardbreds pull men on little carts like it’s Ben-Hur,

rode around Lexington a bit more,

(I’m no UK fan but I do love team pride at the dry cleaner)

and made my way home through winding 2-lane highways, to the KFC museum, connected to an actual KFC, so people eating extra crispy stare at you while you look at the displays,

down into Kentucky mine country with a quick stop in Harlan, a quiet town in the valley

before making my way home on 421 for awhile, with views of the Blue Ridge that you never get used to.

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