Last week I got to experience a trip of a lifetime with my mother and sister. For Christmas, my sister, Janne, bought us tickets to the 143rd runnings of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. We have been looking forward to this trip all year! We actually did pick the winner of the Derby...Always Dreaming.
Let me say, if we had any inclination how cold and wet it would be, we would have brought our Washington state wardrobes with us! Gale force winds, torrential downpours and temps in the 40's. Seattle was sunny and 70+ degrees when we left on Wednesday afternoon. My mom and I flew into St. Louis, MO, where my sister met us. We then drove to Louisville, KY, where we arrived at 6 am. We had a great hotel and would highly recommend the Quality Inn any day! We crashed for a couple hours (I work at 5 am in Seattle, so just a bit tired). We then went to the Cracker Barrel for a hopefully quick breakfast...(because I have friends who love it). Worst breakfast ever! I guess we missed Bob Baffart who had breakfast there that morning. Then we were off to Churchill Downs for the "Thurby."
Thurby is the local race day of what the Kentucky Oaks day used to be. Everyone tries out outfits and game plans for the Oaks and Derby. We had special tickets to attend the event including valet parking. It took two hours to park at valet! Then off we went in the pouring down rain and wind. We got most of our shopping done which was great since the prices did go up the next two days. We also tried our first mint Julep! OMG it was icky!!! I'm not a great fan of bourbon in the first place, but I was excited to try it....let me tell you there is virtually no mint! However, the Grey Goose Lilly drink is my new absolute favorite!!! Pink in honor of the fillies...for the recipe check out https://www.kentuckyderby.com/party/recipes/drinks/grey-goose-oaks-lily After the festivities, we headed into downtown Louisville...which is pronounced Loovulle...we were corrected A LOT!!! We tried out the Jim Beam Distillery...we learned how to properly drink bourbon and got quite an education...
The next day was the 143rd running of the Kentucky Oaks. Since it wasn't scheduled until the evening, we decided to try out Louisville's museums. We went to the Louisville Slugger museum where I got to hold the amazing Brett Boone and Ken Griffey Jr's bats! It was a really neat tour. Then we headed across the street to Frazier History Museum to see the Prohibition and Lewis and Clark exhibits. Both were fascinating. Where we live is the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it was cool to find out about the beginning of it, which began in Louisville.
For those of you that don't know, the Oaks is the 3 year old fillies race, affectionately called the Lillies for the Fillies. It's a blast. The race encourages both men and women to wear pink in honor of the mares. We had a great time, but had to have our group photo at the hotel because the wind was atrocious! Now the Oaks ran on Cinco De Mayo, so we of course had to hit a Mexican restaurant on our way back to the hotel. The margaritas were top shelf, but they forgot to bring our food so after an hour we gave up and went back to bed!
Derby day...5/6/2017...finally here...rain predicted for most the day with possible clearing by evening...
Let me tell you, you have NEVER seen so many people in thousands of dollars in dresses and hats wearing galoshes! Every store from Walmart to Macy's was sold out of rubber boots! My sister lucked out and found a pair at Dick's Sporting Goods only because her feet aren't the national average! We toured a little more around Louisville chasing down some of their "Gallopalooza" horses to take our pictures with. We got to Churchill Downs and the sun was starting to peak out. We all made bets for ourselves and family. My mom and sister went to do more shopping and I headed to the saddling paddock. Saw quite a few famous people and great horses. After two hours, I got a place on the railing. Literally could reach out and touch the horses as they walked by I was that close! The downfall to Churchill Downs is that they don't let cameras like mine in, so I had to cope with using my phone camera which quickly died. My sister was able to make her way to me and used her phone to take pictures of the derby horses as they paraded around so I have something to paint in the future. It poured twice on me, but the sun and wind quickly dried us out. I didn't drink anything all day for fear I would lose my spot! LOL. It was awesome. When we got home I watched the 4 1/2 hours for NBC footage and saw myself 6 times!
Sunday we made our way back to St. Louis, MO. We had every intention of touring Grant's Farm owned by the Budweiser company. However, there was a 2 mile back up to get in so we pulled over next to a pasture and got to visit with eight 2 year old Clydesdales and a Budweiser employee. We did get to see Ulysses S. Grant's home from the road. Fun Fact: Grant deeded the property we currently live on to the Pearson Family who we purchased the property from.
Then we headed down to the St. Louis Archway. It really is spectacular! Very quick stop to see it then off to the airport...and home again. I can't say enough how amazing this trip was and how blessed to have experienced it with my mom and sister...can't wait to start painting! Oh and I'm now designing hats! Had a blast designing six of the hats we all wore on this trip!