Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vacationing in Louisville?

Everyone knows that America's great vacation spots are the Grand Canyon, Disney, and Louisville,KY! Ok, most folks wouldn't have the last one on the list, and maybe the last 2. I am not going to defend Disney, but I was recently in Louisville and had a great time. Doing what? Well, for starters there is Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and one of the last race tracks in America that is kept in decent shape and appears to have people attending it. If you like sports and alcohol, and who doesn't, then you know that having a mint julep at Churchill Downs is one of those things you JUST GOTTA DO! Cashing a winning ticket would have been nice too, but I'll have to go back for that pleasure.
But the fun in Louisville does not end there. Anyone who played baseball at all has swung a Louisville Slugger, and they still make all their wooden bats in a brick factory in downtown Louisville. And you can take a tour right through the actual working factory. You can also go into their batting cage and swing the same bats they make for major leaguers. Funny, they don't seem to get the same results when operated by mere mortals, but the man who runs the batting cage is polite and manages to avoid laughing....at least he did until we left! Just around the corner from the bat factory is the Muhammed Ali Center. This might have been worth the trip to Louisville by itself. It is a multi-media experience guiding you through the life of probably the most interesting and influential athlete of the 20th century (Jackie Robinson would be the only other person in that conversation!). From Ali's early life in Louisville, to his boxing prowess, his conversion to Islam, legal troubles, and classic fights, you could easily spend the whole day in there. They even have Ali's Rolls Royce. And you can shadow box with The Greatest. In fact, my friend Art has a picture of me cowering as Ali's shadow pummels me. This is an outstanding tribute to an amazing man. Not far from Louisville is the state capital of Frankfort, which is also right in the heart of Bourbon Country. We only had time to visit one distillery, Buffalo Trace. We got a great tour, and got to sample some excellent whiskey. And our tour guide actually said "new fangled"! Did you know it is all just crappy white moonshine until it has been aged in the barrels? Unfortunately, we did not get to sample any of their Pappy Van Winkle's brand, which is very rare and sells for over $500 on Ebay. Ok, you might now say, Louisville sounds cool, but what the hell were you doing there? Well, every couple years I do a "Boys Trip" with my 3 best friends from college, Art, Steve and Gordon. And Art is now President of a company that owns a very successful minor league baseball team in Dayton,OH that he has been telling us we have to visit. We figured we wouldn't find much to do in Dayton other than that, so we went to Louisville first. Then, we drove north and were treated like royalty by the nice folks at Fifth Third Park in Dayton. It is a damn shame that the Reds have sent none of their best prospects to become Dayton Dragons this year, because the folks who work for the team, and the fans who sell out the park every night deserve better than the players we saw, who are likely to be selling Lady Kenmores pretty soon. The only disappointment was that we didn't get the chance to stick a Reds game in the agenda. They were out of town. Oh well, maybe that will be an excuse for a future Boys Trip.