You’ve read about our Epic Road Trip in 2015 and our stay in Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Kentucky. It was an eye-opening experience, taking us back to a simpler time with good people.
After leaving the wigwams, we visited some local attractions in Cave City (Mammoth Cave National Park, Dinosaur World, and some souvenir shops) before setting out for Louisville. We left in the middle of a thunderstorm, but the skies cleared on the way.
We arrived after dark and checked into our hotel before going to dinner and finding Barnes and Noble
From Charlotte to Louisville, Mary Ann and I had looked for Road Atlases every time we stopped at a gas station or convenience store. Most of the clerks with whom we spoke didn’t even know what an atlas is! Barnes and Noble came through. We wanted to plot our trip on paper, and we found them there. If you would plan to take a road trip, an Atlas can be helpful when looking for different places to visit. I highly recommend taking one with you.
The next day, we spent the day in Louisville, visiting the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and Churchill Downs/Kentucky Derby Museum. The Louisville Slugger Museum is located downtown, so we were able to see other sights downtown as well.
The Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville is “the” place to stay. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a Louisville legend. With Georgia-revival style architecture, it is beautiful and comfortable and recently underwent a massive renovation. To see more about the hotel or make reservations, click here.
In my opinion, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Tour is a MUST for first-time visitors to Louisville. The giant baseball bat outside is a great photo op, as it is taller than most of the buildings around it! Once inside, we were all fascinated by the memorabilia collection, and the tour was fascinating. We never knew so much work went into manufacturing baseball bats, and the process is fun to watch. At the end of the tour, we all received mini baseball bats as a “takeaway.” The kids loved it (and so did the moms). You can purchase tickets in advance here.
On the way to the car, we walked past another giant bat on the side of a building, but this one is the winged kind…photo op! It’s on the side of a novelty store, Caufield’s, a couple blocks from Louisville Slugger.
Our next Louisville stop was Churchill Downs, also home to the Kentucky Derby Museum. We had scheduled our tour in advance. If you plan to go, you need to schedule in advance; you can do that here. This is also a must for first-time visitors to Louisville. Our tour took us into the grandstands, and our tour guide gave us interesting historical information and tidbits about the race and the venue. Our kids were all 12 and under, and they were as fascinated as we were! It’s a beautiful place!
The story of our visit to Louisville would not be complete without telling how determined I was to visit the Evan Williams Experience in downtown. We had run out of time earlier in the day, because we needed to get to Churchill Downs, so I made the whole crew go with me, simply because I wasn’t going to leave Kentucky without having at least one bourbon tasting.
The kids loved the giant lowball glass in the lobby.
Surprisingly, they allowed the kids to take the elevator up with us for the tasting. (I know…not my best judgment, but we only had a few minutes before they closed.) I was the only participant. I tasted a few and ended up asking to purchase a bottle of their Reserve. First, let me say I rarely drink bourbon anymore (headaches), and I MIGHT have two glasses of prosecco in a week, but somewhere, my 12-yr-old had heard the term “alcoholic.” She was standing there when I started to purchase the bottle and started asking me if I’m an alcoholic. I tried to define the term for her, to no avail. To shut her up, I walked over to Mary Ann and handed her the money, asking her to buy it for me. She walked to the sales clerk, and her son followed her. When she started to hand over the money, he said, “Mom! You’re not going to spend $100 on that, are you?” Thinking fast, she said, “No! Missy (a friend at home) asked me to buy this for her. She gave me the money.” Problem solved with a little white lie.
We drove across the famous bridges downtown before going back to the hotel for the night.
After an early start the next morning, we set out across the great state of Indiana. We had been in Indiana for less than an hour when I turned to Mary Ann and asked, “Isn’t John Mellencamp from Indiana?” She looked it up and discovered he grew up in Seymour, and we were only ten minutes away! Detour!
We arrived in Seymour at about 1pm and started our visit with a stop in the local Visitor Center. We didn’t really care about anything else in Seymour except Mellencamp history. Surprisingly, there was very little information about him there, so I finally asked the attendant. He pointed us in the direction of a parking meter and sidewalk star in downtown.
Mary Ann and I were excited, but the kids had no idea who Mellencamp is. They went along with us, though, posing for photos with the parking meter.
But that wasn’t enough for me and Mary Ann. We wanted some real info on the man. We wanted to see the little house where he grew up and more! She found some information online that said he had lived in a certain area, so we drove there…cute little houses. We stopped and asked an elderly gentleman if he knew which house had been John Mellencamp’s. He had no idea who we were talking about.
She then read about an ice cream shop…not a true Tastee Freeze (like in the song, Jack and Diane), but it was an ice cream shop Mellencamp had visited. We saw photographic evidence. We all had ice cream at the picnic tables outside, and Mary Ann and I discussed our next plan.
We finally decided we should go ahead and leave town. We started driving back toward the interstate and saw a fireman standing outside a fire station, so we stopped. He was younger than the other man, so surely he would know about Mellencamp. And he did! He pointed us in the direction of Mellencamp’s childhood home…on Hwy 11 on the way out of town…the plantation-style, white house on the right. We went, expecting a little house, because we’d always been under the impression that he grew up poor. Nope. The house wasn’t small at all, and after reading, we discovered his dad was an electronics executive. We laughed and left town.
Next stop, the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. It warranted a brief stop in Franklin for some photos, and we moved on, through Indianapolis, and past miles of wind turbines that made us feel like we were in a science fiction movie.
We finally reached the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge at 7pm and downtown Chicago at 7:30pm…more rain.
One would think the arrival into a city would be rather uneventful, but once we got into downtown, were were sitting at a traffic light behind one other truck. The light changed, and the truck started moving. We did, as well, and out of nowhere, a man in a purple wind suit came running into the front right quarter panel of our truck! On foot! He ran into the truck! At first, he acted like we had hit him, but after I yelled at him, he moved on. I kept driving, but we all still talk about the man in the purple wind suit.
We moved slowly in traffic down Michigan Avenue to the Magnificent Mile and our hotel. Our stay in Chicago was memorable, but that’s for another post.
We had made it to Chicago! Lots more fun in store!
I’ll write more about our time in Chicago in another post…and then the rest of the trip! We were proud of ourselves for making it to the city and to our hotel, which turned out to be right next to the John Hancock Center…lucky us! We could see it straight out the window of our suite!
Windy City info in the next installment…