The other day I had something to say. Today I don’t have much. And I have nothing to say about bees so if you came here looking for that you’ll have to wait for another time. Today’s journey (and everything at home, I’m glad to report) was entirely without incident.
Which is not to say I didn’t worry about everything I could find to worry about. I had the deer and bear crossing in the back of my mind (which was made easier every time I remembered my friend who had said a car with a trailer load of bees hitting a bear on the highway would be hilarious in cartoon form.) I saw a sight that made me sure somebody on the road crew would be looking for a new job and I was glad I wasn’t there at the very moment the backhoe tipped into a ditch.
But I could not have asked for a more lovely day to drive. The sun shone bright and the relentless wind of the past two days had abated. Purple blooms on the redbuds became even more numerous and intense as I moved southwestward and with each passing hour spring became more apparent. By the time I reached western Kentucky the dogwoods were blooming and the dandelions were already feathery white with seeds. I had along another Bill Bryson travelogue on CDs to keep me company and perhaps another day I’ll have the time and remaining energy to write my review and explain how it ties in with what I was experiencing with the vast, beautiful, changing landscape of the United States. But the themes are too expansive for tonight.
Some day I hope to take a much longer time to traverse this magnificent route and to get off the highway more and explore in greater depth. West Virginia especially is a place about which I know nothing and I have found myself growing more and more fond of it with each new visit. But the purposefulness of this trip requires me to press on, to make time. This year I built in only a few extra hours for leisure on the journey down but I found my timing was off for a few spots I’d hope to investigate. One friend recommended I make a point to have breakfast at the Track Kitchen in Lexington, Kentucky, but in order to be that far by breakfast I would have had to push myself into dangerous exhaustion driving the day before. Another friend had also recommended The Cheapside Bar & Grill in Lexington but by the time I reached the town it was mid afternoon. I found Lexington beautiful and charming but realized part of its charm was the narrow streets of the city center and navigating while pulling a 6×10′ trailer was nerve-wracking. After a brief attempt to find a double-length parking space I abandoned the project and ate a granola bar and apple as I headed out of town.
Another diversion I had planned was a brief exploration of The Bourbon Trail. Three different friends had given me three different recommendations of places to visit but now I found I had only time for one. As I crunched my granola bar and looked at the map the decision was quick. The address for Woodford Reserve was on McCracken Pike so I headed straight that way. In college I had a roommate who would occasionally call me Phil McCracken and it made me chuckle to remember the way Bass would chuckle at his own not-especially-funny joke. I arrived at Woodford just before 4:00 and found the last tour of the day was at 3:00. Apparently the curse of the ritual day-one donut was following me. Still, the pleasure of this trip is not really about the destination but the journey itself. I had spent an hour winding around lanes in bourbon and horse country, surrounded by the most intensely colored bluegrass I could have ever imagined. Seeing stunning thoroughbreds, several with new foals, lazing around lush green pastures broken up by endless black fences against a brilliantly blue sky was enough for me. It might have been improved by a taste of bourbon but there didn’t seem to be opportunity for that outside of the tour and, judging by the rosy blunder of twenty-somethings who came out of the 3:00 tour the tastes were more numerous and/or large than I needed with more than an hour of driving ahead of me. So I wandered around the stately grounds for a while and took in the smells of oak barrels, aging spirits, and a breathtaking lilac in bloom. That was intoxicating enough for me.