I Went to see the Kentucky Derby, but was Captivated by Lookout Mountain, TN [201]

TAKING A BREAK

I JUST GOT BACK FROM THE KENTUCKY DERBY and thought I would slip this in, between some other hubs I am almost done with. While the point of the trip was to see the Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, and the Kentucky Derby race on May 4, 2013, that turned out to be the also-ran of the trip. Before getting into the details and pictures, let me give a quick synopsis.

My wife and I left on April 30, 2013, the day after our seventh wedding anniversary, for Chattanooga, TN to see the sights for our anniversary the day before. Our plan ended up being to:

  • see Ruby Falls at Lookout Mountain that evening,
  • then Rock City and the Incline Railway the next morning before
  • driving up to Bardstown, KY where we met with Mary's (my wife) sister and brother (Bob), along with their spouses, and another couple who were the parents of the brand new wife of the Bob's son; got that? Also there, meeting us, were relatives of Bob's who live in Louisville and graciously provided us the tickets to Churchill Downs.
  • On Thursday, May 2, we went to Churchill Downs to look around and attend the races.
  • Friday was a down day and
  • on Saturday, May 4, we went to the Lexington/Kentucky Room at the Keenesland Racetrack in Lexington, KY to watch the Derby on TV from the comfort of a dining room complete with buffet.
  • Finally, on Sunday, we all left and Mary and I were going to spend more time in Chattanooga before heading home on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out quite that way.

APRIL 30, 2013 - CHATTANOOGA, TN

WE ARRIVED AT THE COMFORT INN AND SUITES, LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Chattanooga, TN in time to catch one of the last tours into the Ruby Falls Caverns on Lookout Mountain; that part of the plan worked out fine, thank you. We almost didn't stay at the Comfort Inn because the TripAdvisor.com reviews ran from very good to very poor; my review will be average. Nevertheless, it was suitable and it was only for one night.

I have been is several caverns throughout my life and Ruby Falls is one of the best, overall. It is about 3/4-mile of walking along more or less level, well-lit pathways which ends at a 145' underground water fall which is beautifully lit. The tour offers views of almost all of the various types of rock formations from the well-known stalagmites and stalactites, to flowstones and helictites. I will leave the detailed description to the Ruby Falls web site but will say it was well worth the price of admission, around $18.00. (If you are into zip-lining, they added that attraction as well.

Following this, we had an excellent dinner at a local BBQ where I was introduced to deep-fried Oreo cookies, all the rage, apparently. Well, all I will say is Mary really liked them.

MAY 1, 2013 - CHATTANOOGA, TN and BARDSTOWN, KY

YOU MIGHT NOTICE THE DEARTH OF PICTURES from our trip into Ruby Falls Caverns. Well, that is because of the result from a knock on the door the next morning when the hotel manager announced my car had been broken into that night!! So, downstairs I went to meet with one Chattanooga's finest, Officer Justice, who took me down the row of cars to display the marvelous work of the vandals. It turned out to be a two-fer, my passenger window was laying all over the pavement co-mingled with the driver's window of the much newer car next to mine.

They were probably after my GPS, which I normally put on the floor when travelling, but walked off with much more; I don't know what they got from the other car. The only thing I lost was my GPS, the Sirius/XM radio was still in place (just as it was the last time my GPS vanished). Mary, however, did not fare as well. Along with the camera, which had the Ruby Falls pictures on it, they took her suitcase and several large bottles of hooch she was bringing to the party in Bardstown; the booze, by the way, was in a 31 Tote bag worth about $40.

What they didn't take was a battery starter; binoculars, which they had removed from a different bag. and two Vera Bradley bags, one of which contained one of a woman's most prized possessions, her shoes; and her Derby hats. In the suitcase, of course, were all of her clothes, except for the change she took to the room with her, and her Derby dress; that was in my garment bag which I took to the room. (I was roundly chided on the trip for not having the foresight to pack my own change of clothing in order to save hauling everything to the room, btw.)

We had purchased tickets for the Incline Railroad and Rock City attractions along with the Ruby Falls which we had intended to use today. Needless to say, we didn't. Instead, I got my window fixed and we drove on to Bardstown, getting in 8 PM to meet up with everyone else.

MAY 2, 2013 - CHURCHILL DOWNS

BOB WAS THE PLANNER OF THIS WHOLE AFFAIR. He and his wife have been coming to Bardstown for years to see the races AND to sample the bourbon from all of the distilleries in the area. Several years ago, he talked Mary's sister and her husband to tag along, and this year Bob bamboozled us into the trip as well; I am glad he did. Part of their tradition was a visit to his friends house in Louisville where the wife prepared sausage biscuits, a Derby dessert, strawberries while her husband served the ubiquitous bourbon b on to before traveling on to Churchill Downs.

As I mentioned earlier, we planned to see Churchill Downs early, to avoid the Derby crowds, and view the actual Derby from a safe distance. This is what we did today; and we almost avoided the traffic. It basically had a clear shot to the track until we turned on to the street in front of the Downs from where we would enter the parking lot; it took 20 minutes to cover that 1/4 mile!

CHURCHILL DOWN'S BY A NOVICE

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CHURCHILL DOWNS' ENTRANCEINSIDE THE TICKET AREALOBBYOUR WINDOW TO THE RACETHE BLOCKADEONE OF THE MANY DIFFERENT ARCHITECHTURES INSIDE THE DOWNSTHE LAST TURN IS THE FIRST TIME WE CAN SEE THE HORSES!EXCEPT WHEN THEY RUN ON THE TURF.TURF RACINGOKAY, SO WHAT IS IT?RACING TO THE FINISH (I WON!!)THE PADDOCK AREAHEADING OUT FOR THE NEXT RACETHE MARCH TO THE GATEIN THE PADDOCKICONIC ARCHITECHTURE
CHURCHILL DOWNS' ENTRANCE
CHURCHILL DOWNS' ENTRANCE | Source
INSIDE THE TICKET AREA
INSIDE THE TICKET AREA | Source
LOBBY
LOBBY | Source
OUR WINDOW TO THE RACE
OUR WINDOW TO THE RACE | Source
THE BLOCKADE
THE BLOCKADE | Source
ONE OF THE MANY DIFFERENT ARCHITECHTURES INSIDE THE DOWNS
ONE OF THE MANY DIFFERENT ARCHITECHTURES INSIDE THE DOWNS | Source
THE LAST TURN IS THE FIRST TIME WE CAN SEE THE HORSES!
THE LAST TURN IS THE FIRST TIME WE CAN SEE THE HORSES! | Source
EXCEPT WHEN THEY RUN ON THE TURF.
EXCEPT WHEN THEY RUN ON THE TURF. | Source
TURF RACING
TURF RACING | Source
OKAY, SO WHAT IS IT?
OKAY, SO WHAT IS IT? | Source
RACING TO THE FINISH (I WON!!)
RACING TO THE FINISH (I WON!!) | Source
THE PADDOCK AREA
THE PADDOCK AREA | Source
HEADING OUT FOR THE NEXT RACE
HEADING OUT FOR THE NEXT RACE | Source
THE MARCH TO THE GATE
THE MARCH TO THE GATE | Source
IN THE PADDOCK
IN THE PADDOCK | Source
ICONIC ARCHITECHTURE
ICONIC ARCHITECHTURE | Source

I WAS NOT IMPRESSED

EXCEPT FOR THE DOWN'S HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE. Sorry, but that is just me.

To be honest, Churchill Downs is not that impressive from the front, so I waited to get inside to be in awe. What I found didn't knock me out of my socks, but was nevertheless extremely interesting. After going through the ticket styles, we pushed out to a rather cavernous ground floor. To the left was the actual outdoors and the paddock area. From there you can see some of the architecture Churchill Downs is famous for, e.g. the spires. To the right is a massive betting area for all of those who don't have seats.

Going back inside, you go up an escalator to next floor where we can get to the box seats. Taking my seat, I looked out to see what I could see ... and that was half a racecourse. The other half was hidden by large obstructions, such as the tote boards, center stands facing the back of the course, etc.; all I could see was the last turn and where the horses would finish; bummer.

While the horses remained hidden behind the infield obstructions as they got ready and began to race, I looked around at some of the hats the ladies were wearing, also another staple of the Kentucky Derby.

SOME HATS OF THE DERBY

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THE HATS WERE ONE OF THE BETTER SIGHTSEVERYWHERE YOU TURN IS A NEW BEAUTYSIMPLE IS GOOD TO, THIS IS OUR HOST TO THE DERBYMY WIFE WAS IN THE SPIRIT
THE HATS WERE ONE OF THE BETTER SIGHTS
THE HATS WERE ONE OF THE BETTER SIGHTS | Source
EVERYWHERE YOU TURN IS A NEW BEAUTY
EVERYWHERE YOU TURN IS A NEW BEAUTY | Source
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SIMPLE IS GOOD TO, THIS IS OUR HOST TO THE DERBY
SIMPLE IS GOOD TO, THIS IS OUR HOST TO THE DERBY | Source
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MY WIFE WAS IN THE SPIRIT
MY WIFE WAS IN THE SPIRIT | Source
RUNNING IN THE RAIN AT THE DOWNS
RUNNING IN THE RAIN AT THE DOWNS | Source
OK, SO IT ISN"T A HAT, IT WAS PRETTY ANYWAY!
OK, SO IT ISN"T A HAT, IT WAS PRETTY ANYWAY! | Source

A SMART MOVE

AFTER A DOWN DAY ON FRIDAY, Mary and the rest went to a distillery, I stayed at the motel and caught up on some work, we caught the Derby at the Keenesland Racetrack in Lexington. No muss, no fuss, and especially, no traffic!

Bob had acquired, at $50 a head, tickets for the Lexington/Kentucky dining room on the 4th level at Keenesland, which faced the track. From our tables, we could watch it rain at Churchill Downs from four different directions; it was simply overcast in Lexington, and the storm line remained between Louisville and Lexington until after the races were over.

The lunch buffet was superb and having the betting booths right nearby was the greatest. much better than the mob I faced at Churchill Downs, but then I probably couldn't afford similar accommodations there anyway. From the dining room windows, I had a view of the full track, too bad there were no horses running on it; they were only on the TVs.

This venue is the way to do it and we will do it this way again next year. If you want to see the Derby, I recommend you try the same thing.

A WORD ABOUT BARDSTOWN

I WANT TO GO BACK TO KENTUCKY NEXT YEAR simply to spend some time in Bardstown. I found it to be a quaint little city with a lot of history. (Let's not forget the betting either, I should have it all figured out by then, lol.) Further, there is a reasonably good chance my forefathers passed this way from South Carolina to Golconda, IL where my part of the Belford clan established its roots at the turn of the Nineteenth Century.

We didn't have time to look around very much, so I don't have any pictures, but I did provide a link above. The group celebrated our racing loses with dinner in a couple of nice period restaurants, the Kurtz restaurant, and The Old Talbott Tavern, est. 1779. Below are pictures of some of the Talbott's guests that have dined or stayed there (it is a hotel, as well) over the years; these were printed in its menu and that by itself makes me want to come back.

What interests most people, however, is knowing that Bardstown is the hub of Kentucky distilleries. There are a dozen or more scattered around, from the Barton's 1792 distillery which is right in town, to Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Heaven's Hill, etc. There also many pubs and taverns that carry well over 100 different bourbons for you to sample as well as the Kentucky Bourbon House, presided over by Col. Michael Masters, who will be more than happy to share his wealth of bourbon knowledge.

FAMOUS VISITORS TO THE OLD TALBOTT TAVERN

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OLD TALBOTT TAVERNOLD TALBOTT TAVERNPATRICK HENRYGEORGE ROGERS CLARK and KING LOUIS PHILLIPPELOUIS & CLARK and ABRAHAM LINCOLNANDREW JACKSON and HENRY CLAYHENRY CLAY and WILLIAM HENRY HARRISONSTEPHEN FOSTER and JOHN HUNT MORGANALEXANDER WALTERS and QUEEN MARIE OF ROMANIAWASHINGTON IRVING and JESSE JAMESZACHARY TAYLOR and JOHN J. AUDOBONJESSE JAMES and GEORGE S. PATTON
OLD TALBOTT TAVERN
OLD TALBOTT TAVERN | Source
OLD TALBOTT TAVERN
OLD TALBOTT TAVERN | Source
PATRICK HENRY
PATRICK HENRY | Source
GEORGE ROGERS CLARK and KING LOUIS PHILLIPPE
GEORGE ROGERS CLARK and KING LOUIS PHILLIPPE | Source
LOUIS & CLARK and ABRAHAM LINCOLN
LOUIS & CLARK and ABRAHAM LINCOLN | Source
ANDREW JACKSON and HENRY CLAY
ANDREW JACKSON and HENRY CLAY | Source
HENRY CLAY and WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON
HENRY CLAY and WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON | Source
STEPHEN FOSTER and JOHN HUNT MORGAN
STEPHEN FOSTER and JOHN HUNT MORGAN | Source
ALEXANDER WALTERS and QUEEN MARIE OF ROMANIA
ALEXANDER WALTERS and QUEEN MARIE OF ROMANIA | Source
WASHINGTON IRVING and JESSE JAMES
WASHINGTON IRVING and JESSE JAMES | Source
ZACHARY TAYLOR and JOHN J. AUDOBON
ZACHARY TAYLOR and JOHN J. AUDOBON | Source
JESSE JAMES and GEORGE S. PATTON
JESSE JAMES and GEORGE S. PATTON | Source

BACK TO LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, TN

OUR PLAN HAD BEEN TO STOP in Chattanooga, TN after leaving Bardstown, KY for a little more sightseeing. Initially, it was to see the aquarium, river walk, Delta Queen, and such before spending the next day looking around outside of Chattanooga. Instead, because of being sidetracked to the auto glass shop, we completed our tour of Rock City and the Incline Railway, followed by visiting downtown Chattanooga the next day. Sadly, alas, that wasn't to be either.

It was raining a bit when we left Bardstown and was predicted to rain in Chattanooga for the next two days, so we decided to play it by ear. It actually cleared up for a while by the time we got there and gave us the opportunity to see Rock City and stay dry at the same time. We even began the trip down on the Incline Railway under dry skies, but on the return trip back up Lookout Mountain, it began to rain; then it began to pour. It was 30 minutes before I could get to the car to bring it close in for Mary to get in. Mary and I decided we had had enough and headed home rather than chance more rain on Monday.

As I said earlier, Rock City is a "must see" if you can manage it. My pictures do not do it justice by any stretch. As for the Incline Railway, it is a take-it-or-leave-it affair.

ROCK CITY and LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN INCLINE RAILROAD, TN

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ENTRANCE TO ROCK CITY, TNMAP OF ROCK CITY - You Are Here is at the BottomLETTING YOU KNOW WHAT IS COMINGTHE NAME WAS APPROPO BUT IT WASN'T THE TIGHTEST FITTHIS WAS THE TIGHTEST SQUEEZE
ENTRANCE TO ROCK CITY, TN
ENTRANCE TO ROCK CITY, TN | Source
MAP OF ROCK CITY - You Are Here is at the Bottom
MAP OF ROCK CITY - You Are Here is at the Bottom | Source
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LETTING YOU KNOW WHAT IS COMING
LETTING YOU KNOW WHAT IS COMING | Source
THE NAME WAS APPROPO BUT IT WASN'T THE TIGHTEST FIT
THE NAME WAS APPROPO BUT IT WASN'T THE TIGHTEST FIT | Source
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THIS WAS THE TIGHTEST SQUEEZE
THIS WAS THE TIGHTEST SQUEEZE | Source
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GNOME VILLAGEGNOME VILLAGEGNOME VILLAGEGNOME VILLAGEGNOME VILLAGEMUSHROOM ROCK
GNOME VILLAGE
GNOME VILLAGE | Source
GNOME VILLAGE
GNOME VILLAGE | Source
GNOME VILLAGE
GNOME VILLAGE | Source
GNOME VILLAGE
GNOME VILLAGE | Source
GNOME VILLAGE
GNOME VILLAGE | Source
MUSHROOM ROCK
MUSHROOM ROCK | Source
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LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN WAS APPROPRIATELY NAMEDLOOKING FOR THE SEVEN STATESTHINGS WERE A LOT CLOSER THAN I THOUGHT (We were actually in Georgia at this point.)TENNESSEEETENNESSEE, KENTUCKY, AND VIRGINIANORTH CAROLINASOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, ALABAMA
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LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN WAS APPROPRIATELY NAMED
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN WAS APPROPRIATELY NAMED | Source
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LOOKING FOR THE SEVEN STATES
LOOKING FOR THE SEVEN STATES | Source
THINGS WERE A LOT CLOSER THAN I THOUGHT (We were actually in Georgia at this point.)
THINGS WERE A LOT CLOSER THAN I THOUGHT (We were actually in Georgia at this point.) | Source
TENNESSEEE
TENNESSEEE | Source
TENNESSEE, KENTUCKY, AND VIRGINIA
TENNESSEE, KENTUCKY, AND VIRGINIA | Source
NORTH CAROLINA
NORTH CAROLINA | Source
SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, ALABAMA
SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, ALABAMA | Source
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FULL OF BEAUTIFULLY SCULPTED GNOMES SET TO FAMOUS STORYBOOK THEMES.
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FULL OF BEAUTIFULLY SCULPTED GNOMES SET TO FAMOUS STORYBOOK THEMES.
FULL OF BEAUTIFULLY SCULPTED GNOMES SET TO FAMOUS STORYBOOK THEMES. | Source

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN INCLINE RAILROAD

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INSIDE THE INCLINE CAR - SITTING AT ABOUT A 72 DEGREE ANGLELOOKING OUT ONE OF THE LARGE WINDOWS360 DEGREE VIEWING
INSIDE THE INCLINE CAR - SITTING AT ABOUT A 72 DEGREE ANGLE
INSIDE THE INCLINE CAR - SITTING AT ABOUT A 72 DEGREE ANGLE | Source
LOOKING OUT ONE OF THE LARGE WINDOWS
LOOKING OUT ONE OF THE LARGE WINDOWS | Source
360 DEGREE VIEWING
360 DEGREE VIEWING | Source
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MUCH MORE TO SEE AND DO AT LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN

BESIDES RUBY FALLS, ROCK CITY, AND THE INCLINE RAILROAD, there are several more things to do on Lookout Mountain such as Point Park and simply exploring. Lookout Mountain is probably as important to the outcome of the Civil War as Gettysburg was in that with the Confederate defeat their in the Battles of Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge in 1863, the way was opened for General Sherman's famous March to the Sea which split the South in two.

Points Park contains a museum with an interactive map and a show, for you Civil War buffs, covering the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga; Chickamauga is famous for two things, being one of the largest Union defeats in the Civil War as well as being the second bloodiest, next to Gettysburg, with around 40,000 casualties.

Besides Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga and the surrounding area holds many wonderful attractions, enough so, we plan to bring our grandsons (and their parents I suppose) to spend a week.

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN

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HIGH POINT IS 2,389 ft or 728 mEXTENDS SW to NE from AL to TNPANORAMA VIEW, OVERLOOKING CHATTANOOGA, FEBRUARY, 1864, BY GEORGE N. BERNARD
HIGH POINT IS 2,389 ft or 728 m
HIGH POINT IS 2,389 ft or 728 m | Source
EXTENDS SW to NE from AL to TN
EXTENDS SW to NE from AL to TN | Source
PANORAMA VIEW, OVERLOOKING CHATTANOOGA, FEBRUARY, 1864, BY GEORGE N. BERNARD
PANORAMA VIEW, OVERLOOKING CHATTANOOGA, FEBRUARY, 1864, BY GEORGE N. BERNARD | Source

AMAZON ON LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN

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Comments 4 comments

Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 3 years ago from Brownsville,TX

wow I love lookout mountain and rock city.. you are talking about my kind of vacation.. I do want to visit OLD TALBOTT TAVERN that you mentioned.. that looks awesome..

Great hub..

many blessings to you

Debbie


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thank you Debbie, I am sure you will enjoy it.


jo miller profile image

jo miller 3 years ago from Tennessee

I lived in Chattanooga for thirty years, and I'm a native Kentuckian, so I enjoyed reading about both. I haven't been to the Derby since my college days, but would love to go back.

I'm also a fan of the Bardstown area. The Bourbon Trail there is listed as one of the thousand places to visit before you die. Not too far from Bardstown is the old Shaker village of Pleasant Hill. Also a very interesting visit.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Hi Jo, yes Bob mentioned the Old Shaker Village and I suspect he has been up and down the Old Bourbon Trail, if not just for the name. He, and the brother-in-law are well on their way to getting the T-shirt or what ever it is you get for visiting each distrillery in the area.

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