Tuesday, April 13, 2010

50 Things to Do in Kentucky Before You Turn 50

Today is my 50th birthday. A year ago I solicited suggestions for the 50 things you should do in Kentucky before you turn 50. A year ago today I published the top 25 suggestions. Today I will reproduce that list, and take an inventory of how many I made it to.

I picked the top ten based on intrinsic excellence and national or world impact as a symbol of Kentucky. This means there has to be some horses, bourbon, coal, and basketball. There should also be some tobacco, but I do not have an excellent nominee for that category.

Kentucky Derby: I attended last year, soon after posting this list.

Mammoth Cave: I went as a kid. I would like to go back.

UK basketball game at Rupp Arena: I had tickets to see the UK men play Drexel at Rupp Arena in what turned out to be their 2000 victory (UK2K). However, I had to give the tickets to another in order to fetch my snowed-in daughter. So Mrs. G. and I attended a UK women's basketball game, a very satisfactory victory over Ole Miss in the more intimate confines of Memorial Coliseum.

Maker’s Mark factory: Not yet, though I have been to the Labrot and Graham distillery

Lincoln Shrine: I took the kids some years ago, as well as two other Lincoln cabin sites in Kentucky.

Fort Knox - Patton Museum: Not yet. And I better go soon, as they are moving stuff out.

Louisville Slugger Museum: This is the easy one that I should have done half a dozen times already. This summer, for sure.

Red River Gorge & Natural Bridge: Yes, with the family some years ago.

Abbey of Gethsemani: I took students in my "American Religion" class there a couple of years ago.

Van Lear coal museum (& Loretta Lynn) [or something like this]: No. This was really an attempt to find some specific coal-related site that is worth visiting. I still don't have the perfect nominee in this category.

The next ten are places are perhaps a step down, but big in Kentucky:

My Old Kentucky Home: Took the kids some years ago.

Shakertown: Several times.

Keeneland: Several times. I took my "Class Culture" seminar there one year.

Moonbow at Cumberland Falls: I have been to Cumberland Falls, but not on the right night to see the elusive moonbow.

Museum of the American Quilters Society: Nope. My mom has, though.

Southeast Christian: Several times, including taking a class there.

Creation Museum: Yes, and I have even written about it in the Kentucky Humanities magazine.

Berea College: Many times.

Cane Ridge revival site: Yes, including taken classes there and attending the bicentennial celebration.

Ashland - Henry Clay's home: Yes.

I will round out this first list with five food suggestions.

Hot Brown at the Brown Hotel: Yes, recently.

Kentucky Fried Chicken at the (reproduced) original store in Corbin: Yes.

Ale-8-One at the plant in Winchester: Almost, but not yet. Soon.

Moonlite Bar-B-Q in Owensboro: Yes

Miguel’s Pizza at Natural Bridge: Yes


Katie said...

Nope, sorry, I think you still have to go see a men's basketball game in Rupp. Not to be horrible or sexist (Honestly I've never been to a women's game.) but I'm a huge fan of the men's team and it's a totally different experience! At Rupp, you can see the National Championship banners and the announcing of the opening line up is quite the spectacle. Plus, there is possibly no sweeter sound than the pep band playing My Old Kentucky Home after a victory. Go Cats! ;)

Black Sea said...

I don't have any specific recommendations regarding things to do in Kentucky, other than that those who've never been there might consider a visit. Years ago, I attended a friend's wedding in Winchester (we stayed in Lexington). Like so much of "flyover" America, central Kentucky is a beautiful, nearly undiscovered place. I don't mean a place of spectacular grandeur, like the Grand Canyon or the Northen Rockies, but a place of subdued but remarkable beauty. I'm not surprised that you've made a good life for yourself there. (Lest I sound like a booster, I have no connections to Kentucky, and I've only ever been there once. It just happens that I got a good vibe off the place.)

On a personal note, the thing I'd most like to do in Kentucky is visit for awhile with Wendell Berry, and quietly thank him for his work, which has revealed more and more to me as I've grown older.
Speaking of which, you and I are practically the same age. I'll turn 50 next month. Here's to a decade's worth of happiness, good health, warm family life, and worthwhile teaching (for us both).

randy said...

yes...central kentucky has a mysterious charm upon which i have often reflected since returning to fflorida after 2 years at centre. i wouldve liked to experience it in high summer...never did.

as for what to do in ky; well, right on centre's campus is
(or WAS)a metal marker denoting the geographical center of the state. i suggest that a fine activity is to do what i and several other freshman did late one night; get hammered, stand on the marker, and, well never mind. it's not really obscene but i just can't write it here, haha...

bluemillion said...

If you want to see Maker's Mark Distillery (and everybody should!), take advantage of the Heart of Kentucky Bourbon & Barrels Getaway at www.VisitLebanonKy.com. You'll have a great Bourbon Country experience. Maker's Mark is located just outside Lebanon, Ky. and Kentucky Cooperage, the bourbon barrel-making factory, is right on Main Street. Cool place.

D- said...

Sorry to break the bad news randy, but that marker doesn't mark the center of the state. It's just a USGS marker.


Gruntled, what about the Corvette museum in bowling green?

Gruntled said...

Randy, D-rew, you are both right. The marker on Centre's campus marks where the center of the state used to be, before the Jackson Purchase made the state's center move westward.

Gruntled said...

I have heard mixed things about the Corvette Museum. My children all found it boring. Other opinions?

Melissa said...

The only way you can truly get the Kentucky experience of tobacco is to participate in some aspect of its cultivation or harvest. Setting it can be fun, as well as hanging it in the barn. You could even do all kinds of sociological analyses of the conversation that occurs during these activities!

D- said...

That's fascinating about the centre stone, do you have somewhere where I can read about it? Because it sounds interesting.

As for the Corvette museum, I mean I get that a lot of people will find it boring, but its good for what its good for you know? If anyone has any interest in cars or their history at all there is no better place to be in KY. I guess I just think it warrants consideration in the top 50

Michael Kruse said...

Happy belated birthday!

randy said...

well, that marker must be very old then. when was centre founded? 1831? presumably it was so named for it's location...as i recall, the marker(which, also if i recall, is about where you'd be if you walked straight out the front door of breck for about 100yds)just states; this marks the site of the geographic center of kentucky. i presume the jackson purchase was pre-civil war; so why is an incorrect marker still there to decieve drunken students on late night rambles

Gruntled said...

The college was founded in 1819. The marker is much later. I believe it replaces an earlier marker.

Unknown said...

Where's the bottome 25?

Gruntled said...

The bottom 25 was too mixed to make one list of. I have some things beyond the first 25 that I want to do, but the total number of next items suggest was over 200.