Our Fantastic Journey – May 29 – June 5, 2010

Fantastic is was! We travelled to Enterprise, AL for our adorable niece Caitlin’s high school graduation. We made several stops along the way and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

 Day 1: Brighton to Nashville, TN

 We left early in the morning. Instead of taking I-75 through Ohio, we decided to take I-94 west to I-69 and head south past Indianapolis. This might have backfired on us terribly as it was the weekend of the Indy 500, but we lucked out and traffic wasn’t bad at all.

Our first real stop was at the Joe Huber Vineyard in extreme south Indiana (just across from the KY state line). We had intended to eat at the Joe Huber Restaurant, but the crowds were outrageous. Instead, we made a quick trip to the Vineyard to pick up a bottle of sparkling wine and a bottle of Huber brandy and high-tailed it out of there. I must say, though, that I had not remembered how beautiful that part of Indiana was. The Huber compound is in a very hilly part of the state. I hadn’t remembered that from the last time we were there (I think it was in 1987). The Hubers are doing very well for themselves as they have a little empire now. Back in ’87, it was just the vineyard and some pick your own vegetables and fruit. We found out the reason for all the crowds was that it was Strawberry Festival, and that is apparently a huge deal for the surrounding area.

 So, how many are asking why on earth we went through all this? Why was it so important to get “HUBER” wine. No, it’s not one of the top wines of the world (although it’s quite good – much improved over 22 years). Well, my maiden name is Huber and it’s Caitlin Huber (my brother’s daughter) whose graduation we were traveling to attend. I also had an Uncle Joe Huber (and within my family of cousins there are at least 4 or 5 other Joe Hubers).

Our next stop was at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, KY. We took the tour of the home. While our guide was going over the family history and pointing out some of the interesting items in the front room, there was a loud knock on the front door. She went to tell whoever was there that they’d have to take the next tour. Funny thing, there was no one there. So, our guide went back into her talk. Once again, there was a knocking on the front door. Again, no one there. This time, the guide had a rather pale appearance and was visibly shaken. She told us that she had been told that there was a <whisper> “ghost,” but she had never had any experience. We all said – almost in unison – “until NOW.” I’d been feeling that there was something a little “off” ever since we’d been ushered into the other parlor for the movie. I kept feeling as though someone was standing over my shoulder. I was sitting in the back of the room, so there really couldn’t have been anyone (of this world) standing there without me seeing them. It wasn’t a scary or bad feeling at all. It was just that there was someone else there. None of us (that I know of) ever saw anything, but there was no mistaking the knocking on the door. Sure didn’t stop us from getting our free tastings of Red Stag and Bookers over in the tasting/sales room.

 Red Stag is the newest rollout from Beam. It’s got black cherry in it. Neither Jim or I much cared for it, but I thought of the kid that I’d been communicating with on Fat Freddy’s Blog who wondered which bourbon he should try but he mixes everything with Dr. Pepper (sorry – YUCK!) Bookers, on the other hand, is at least 127 proof (68.5% alcohol) and is as easy to drink as one could possibly imagine. Of course, it’s to be sipped very prudently. Jim and I both decided that we are going to have to invest in some (but decided to wait until after the trip as it’s pretty pricey and we wanted to make certain we didn’t overspend). So, we purchased a bottle of Basil Haydens, some cool glassware, a couple of hats, and various gifty-type things. There are those on blogs who have said that Red Stag is good in baking. Probably is! I think I might use it as a baste for pork or venison on the grill.

 Our next stop was Elizabethtown, KY. Again, this isn’t the normal-type stop for most people on their way to Nashville, TN. Elizabethtown is only really important to those in the Army (Ft. Knox is nearby), those who are fans of the movie (Orlando Bloom, Paula Dean, etc.), or to those who spent the first days of their lives there – like me. The last time I was in E’town I think I was 16 and the family was only there for a short time. We had visited Ft. Knox and the Patton museum. I hadn’t remembered that the area around E’town was as beautiful as it is. Of course, it’s Kentucky, so it follows that it’s pretty.

 We stopped in town to finally get something to eat. The restaurant was a converted old building. The décor was great and the people were wonderful. The food – not so much. I will say that the fried green tomatoes and the frickles were pretty darned good, though. Then we were off again.

Our final stop <PHEW!> on a busy day was the hotel in Nashville. The hotel (Alexa) was adequate. The location was excellent – easy access to everywhere. The only drawback was that the room was rather tattered and exceedingly small for a king room. It was clean, mind you, just needed refurbishing. The seat of the desk chair was losing its “leather,” and the rug had been ironed on several times (melting the rug in the shape of an iron). It had one very slow elevator (and, naturally, we were on the top floor) and no interior stairs.

After a quick, light dinner at the Mexican restaurant just up the street (was tickled to see the waiters feeding stale tortilla chips out the back door to the local mallard duck population), we headed for the room for the night. We took a few minutes to plan our next day, and then were asleep at the flick of the switch (think I was out before the light left the bulb).

Let me take a moment to praise “Betty” our GPS. I would never have known how incredibly valuable one is until this trip. Anywhere we wanted to go, she took us there with no problems. As long as we programmed the right address into her, we were directed quite easily. I know it would have been a much more difficult trip without “her.”

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