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Sunday 02 November 2008

Global Warming in Lexington, Kentucky

Even though it is the first of November, the weather here in Kentucky is still most excellent. We decided to take advantage of this with a day trip to Lexington, a city in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region.

It was a nice drive, with lots of fall colors in the hills and forests along the way. The closer you get to the Bluegrass, though, the more the woods give way to horse farms. Really expensive horse farms. Really, really expensive horse farms. Jaw-droppingly expensive. These are the places that breed the horses that mid-Eastern sheiks arrive in their private 747s to bid on.

You also drive by The Castle, one of Kentucky's weirdest sights. It is truly a bizarre sight from the highway. I hope the linked website stays up for a while.

After passing The Castle, we came to the Lexington Airport and wheeled into the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. Unfortunately it was closed, but the nice volunteer took us around anyway when we told him that we had come from Louisville. We got to see a GE jet engine from a 747, the Marine jet that former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher flew, a couple of vintage flight training simulators, gliders, and a replica of the first airplane flown in Kentucky in 1908. I got to sit in a Cessna 150, which made a Volkswagen feel like a Cadillac.

Leaving the airport, we soon found ourselves in downtown Lexington, which is much livelier, at least from a traffic standpoint, than Frankfort (which we visited a couple of weeks ago). In a little shopping mall near the arena, we got some chocolate covered grapes. The grapes were from a local vineyard, and dipped fresh by a local chocolatier. Delicious! Outside, we were pleasantly surprised to find a farmer's market (on Vine Street, a main downtown thoroughfare). We scored some late season vegetables, and some truly awesome goat cheese from Bleugrass Chevre. It had been made just yesterday; it was infused with garlic, and I wish you could taste it with me right now.

After wandering around downtown Lexington, its several parks, small shopping malls, and of course the farmer's market, we were getting hungry. There are several eating places downtown, but they seem to be oriented toward the weekday lunch crowd, as few were open this Saturday. We selected deSha's. deSha's seems to be a local tradition; they even have their own house bourbon, bottled for them by Buffalo Trace (only in Kentucky does this happen). CVH's minestrone & spinach salad were both very tasty. My salty pork hoagie (although on perfect bread) and tasteless cole slaw are to be avoided. The signature cranberry cornbread dessert was absolutely delicious.

Fortified with calories, we walked over to the Lexington History Museum, housed in the old courthouse. They had several interesting displays: one on the history of Keeneland, a major horse racing track and horse market that was established during the depths of the great depression. It has since flourished and expanded; it's where the Queen visits when she comes to Kentucky. The museum also had an exhibit on the history of the electric typewriter. It explained why my computer keyboard was made in Lexington: it's the home of the electric typewriter. They had a 1935 electric typewriter on display, as well as the 1953 one I typed on in junior high and the IBM Selectric I really learned to type on in high school.

While I was admiring the old typewriters, CVH was downstairs at the Kentucky Renaissance Pharmacy Museum. Lots of mortars and pestles. Lots of jars of various notions and chemicals. The most amazing thing they had was a turn of the (twentieth) century pharmacy that they had discovered in a boarded up building in Louisville. No one had seen this pharmacy for years, and they were recreating it in their space in an the old vault of the courthouse.

After the museum, we visited the Lexington Public Library. I had read that they had a great clock there. I really didn't expect to see some digital clock based on Eadweard Muybridge's horse photos, but this is the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky: All Horses, All The Time.

Then we headed out of downtown toward the University of Kentucky campus, and its Arboretum. It has a wide variety of native Kentucky plants, and exhibits some nice fall color, but I think the casual visitor would probably enjoy it more in the late spring or early summer, when the roses and other plants are in bloom.

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