After our excitement escaping the derecho and its aftermath, we were glad to have a normal day to spend in Kentucky and Missouri. The first subtheme of our trip was natural disasters and the second (unintentional) subtheme was horses.
Kentucky is horse country. During our last road trip, we were always blasting through Kentucky in the dark and never really saw much. This time, we decided to stick around and tour for a bit. We awoke, ate breakfast and headed to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.
This amazing place is kind of like a zoo for horses, housing a large collection of horse breeds. We first took a horse-drawn ride around the park and then went to a presentation on champion racehorses. Each of the four stallions (“Funny Cide,” “Cigar,” “Go for Gin” and “Da Hoss”) was introduced with a promotional video and then brought out to meet the crowd with a handler. Naturally, our kids LOVED seeing the horses. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this presentation as much as I did. The woman giving the presentation must have been a true horse lover. For each horse, she wove a colorful story about how the horse had fought against injury or training mistakes to become a champion. My favorite was the story of “Da Hoss,” a horse whose trainers always ran him on turf races and only showed his true talent when they finally let him run “in the mud.” Da Hoss was a true comeback kid, becoming a champion when many horses are retired. Da Hoss suffered one setback after another (including the sad realization that he was completely sterile) but always came out on top.
I also learned a little about horse organization. Each horse has its name engraved on one side of its bridle, like so.
Next, we were on to a sort of fashion show with horses. The “Parade of Breeds” treated us to four different horse breeds, the Kentucky Saddlebred, Andalusian, Arabian and the enormous English Shire horse. Each rider was dressed to match the historical period when that breed was prominent.
At the end of the show, an incredible Australian horse trainer came out who danced to an Adele song with horses and performed tricks like riding by standing with one leg on the back of each of two horses while jumping. It was the first time in our trip when we encountered Australians among our horse adventures.
There were horses from around the world in the nearby stables. The number of breeds was astonishing and most I had never seen or heard of before, like the Knabstrupper, that is patterned almost like a giraffe.
Next, we saw the “Mare and Foal” show where two adorable miniature horses and their even more adorable miniature babies came out. Is it just me or does this horse remind you of a certain famous fashion designer?
We ate lunch at their Bit ‘N Bridle restaurant and then had to get back on the road again. Our children really wanted to stay longer and there was so much more that we didn’t have a chance to see, like the International Museum of the Horse that is associated with the Smithsonian Institution. Perhaps someday we will visit again.
We hit the road and our travels took us deeper and deeper into the rural heart of the U.S. In the past, I used to think of this as the “boring” part of the trip but this year for some reason, I was really taken by all the landscapes and cloudscapes we found as we crossed the plains. There were some signs of the drought as we passed and many dry fields.
By sunset, we made it to St. Louis, Missouri and crossed the Mississippi River with the Gateway arch in the background. St. Louis is known as the “Gateway to the West.”
We stopped for dinner in St. Louis at an excellent pizza place called Dewey’s where we they hand-toss all the crusts while you watch. They have exceptionally creative pizza flavors, like a vegetarian/Greek style called Socrates Revenge, which was super-delicious. Our kids opted for just plain cheese but loved it too!
St. Louis is also the first point in our journey where fresh, beautiful California produce hit our plates! This was the gorgeous salad I had. You can taste the difference in the fresh, crisp lettuce and sweet strawberries. It is no wonder that people in California eat a lot of salad. The one complaint I have about east coast life is that we are in a produce void of sorts. We get great produce here and there but not the consistently incredible stuff that seems to exist within a smaller radius of California.
We stopped in Jefferson City, Missouri for the night, knowing tomorrow the “west” awaited.
Continue reading: Day 3, Missouri and Kansas