Tag Archives: Kentucky Derby

My Old Kentucky Home Away From Home

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 The last time I updated this blog I told you that I was planning to attend Thunder Over Louisville, the air show and fireworks event that kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival and that I would give you a review.

 In a word…well, three actually…

 “It…was…unbelievable!”

 All I can say is, if you’ve never been to this, you have to go. The planes fly all day, and there are so many people around, you have no choice but to make friends with your neighbors on the Great Lawn on the shore of the Ohio River.  The air show only ends when it is time to light the fireworks, and believe me, there is a reason they call this event “THUNDER Over Louisville.” They set off so many fireworks at one time that the ground shakes!…and it keeps shaking for a good 40 minutes!

It was one of the most amazingly fun events I’d ever attended…

 … until I went to the Kentucky Derby!

Louisville, Kentucky Derby

Louisville, Kentucky Derby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Here’s how it all came about.  At Thunder Over Louisville, my friends and I met a couple who live on a farm a few miles east of the city.  They’re natives to Louisville and when they discovered I’d be staying for some more of the Kentucky Derby Festival events, they invited me to park my Airstream, Max, on their farm and save myself additional expense at the RV park.  I jumped all over that!

My newfound friends, Judy and Butch, invited me to stay in a spare bedroom at their house but I didn’t want to impose – after all, I was planning to hang around for as much as a week or two to go to more of the Festival events and nothing gets old faster than a house guest.  They were kind enough to let me park Max down by a nice creek they have running through their property a few hundred yards from their house. 

It was wonderful.  Of course, I didn’t have power hook-ups like at the RV park, but it gave me a chance to fire up my new portable generator again.  I’d given it a pretty heavy workout earlier when we were picnicking at the RV park and now I had it all to myself.  I don’t know how I ever lived without such a thing.  And the beauty of it is it’s given me more freedom to accept kind invitations like the one Judy and Butch extended to me.

 But, I’m off the track here.  You want to know how I got to attend the Kentucky Derby.

The day before the race, Judy walked down and told me they had a friend who had a box at Churchill Downs, had invited them and said he had one extra ticket.  Would I like to go with them?  Are you kidding me?!  I’ve always wanted to see the Kentucky Derby in person!

I had a very nice outfit just for such an occasion and Judy completed it for me with what she said was “an absolute essential” for the Derby — a hat.  It was one she had worn a few years before and she said I was welcome to it. 

The other essential is a mint julep.  If you’ve never had one, you owe it to yourself to try it.  I didn’t know this but Kentucky is the only place in the world where bourbon is made and it’s the main ingredient of a mint julep.  I can tell you, the mint julep may look innocent enough but it’s got the kick of a mule, and it’s the perfect libation for a day betting the horses. (It was even more perfect that a horse named I”ll Have Another won the big race!)

The highlight of the day for me was the playing of My Old Kentucky Home prior to the race.  The entire crowd sings it.  I have to tell you, I may hail from Massachusetts originally, but I felt like a Kentuckian. I’ve got to admit the song choked me up a bit.

It was a long, fun-filled day, and I will never forget it.  The next morning, I said goodbye to my gracious hosts and hit the road to retrieve Scamp and Rambler from my friends in Nashville.  I was humming My Old Kentucky Home all the way down I-65.

Livin’ the love,

Robin

*Disclaimer: RV.com, which is owned by Dometic Corporation, sponsors On the Road with Robin.  Neither Dometic Corporation, nor RV.com, provide this blogger with free Dometic products, and this blogger does not receive a commission on click-throughs from links on this blog to RV.com, Dometic.com, or any other site.  All references made to product brands are made in an attempt to provide readers with the knowledge necessary to recreate the experiences mentioned in this blog.

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Let the Fireworks Begin!

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There’s one big event I’ve heard about for years–Thunder Over Louisville.  I’ve never attended, but I’ve decided this is the year for me. 

Thunder Over Louisville

Thunder Over Louisville Fireworks!

Thunder Over Louisville is billed as the world’s largest fireworks show and is the official kick-off to the Kentucky Derby Festival.  The Festival itself spans the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby (always the first Saturday in May) and includes events like a steamboat race and a balloon race. Sounds like my kind of fun!

“Thunder” is more than just a fireworks display, though. It is a day-long Saturday event (April 21 this year) on the banks of the Ohio River with more than half a million people hanging out and watching an air show during the afternoon while they wait for the fireworks to start.  I’ve heard it’s pretty amazing, especially when it gets dark.  A friend of mine who’s been to it says the fireworks are set to music, and they have things like a “waterfall of fire” from one of the bridges.

I’ve seen pictures of Thunder Over Louisville and heard stories about it. I’ve always wanted to see it in person, and now in a few days I’ll be pulling my Airstream, Max, up to Louisville to meet some RV friends of like mind – three couples I’ve known for years – and we’ll attend together.

Unfortunately, having been cautioned by friends who’ve attended, I’m going to have to leave Scamp and Rambler behind in Nashville.  Pets aren’t allowed at the event and they’d be frightened by the noise anyway so my good friends, Anne and Chet, offered to give Scamp and Rambler a vacation at their place for a week or so, depending on how many of the Derby Festival Events I want to attend.  The dogs will no doubt enjoy the change of pace themselves – I mean, everybody needs some time away, right?

We’ve booked adjoining spaces in a nice RV park just south of Louisville and will take two cars into town for the festivities.  We’ll make the RV park our base of operations, so to speak.  I’ve always enjoyed the “group camp” and all it brings with it, especially the division of labor.  You get to share the cooking chores and inevitably you learn some new recipes.  I like the group dynamic, too–card playing after dinner, a few convivial libations, and trading stories. 

One of the other couples who has been to Thunder before says the RV park we’ve booked has a really nice picnic grounds.  It’s somewhat removed from the main RV area and sits under a wonderful stand of shade trees, but it doesn’t have power.  We’ve talked about sharing a few meals there, so I’m looking forward to trying out my latest acquisition, my new Dometic portable generator.  We’re such an electricity-dependent society, aren’t we?  It will be nice to be able to plug in useful appliances (like my blender) when we’re “roughing it” away from the RVs.

I’m really looking forward to Thunder Over Louisville and the rest of the Kentucky Derby Festival.  I’ve always heard those Kentuckians know how to throw a party.  Any place that is the home of thoroughbred horse racing and bourbon knows how to show visitors a good time.  I’ll let you know how it all went in a few weeks.

Livin’ the love,

Robin