Saturday, August 14, 2010


Last weekend Don and I were treated to a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, by his company, Jasper Engines and Transmissions.  They very generously provide a trip for their anniversary employees, and in the past we have traveled to Branson, Missouri, where we saw shows and scenery and just had a great time.  One year they loaded us on buses and we went to Chicago.  We were wined and dined for three days and treated to the theater one evening where we saw "Wicked" which was just unforgettable.  This year is Don's fortieth year with Jasper Engines. I am very proud of him for hitting this milestone, and the trip this year was to Louisville.  This three-day weekend far exceeded my expectations. Our hosts, Joyce and John, were great at their jobs, and each time we boarded the bus that weekend there were gifts in our seats.  We seriously did not expect gifts as before we boarded the bus in Jasper, the Big Boss Doug Bawel, was there to present us with beautiful small soft-sided coolers full of gifts already, and straw hats.  If you think I did not wear mine, you would be wrong.  It has been a hundred degrees in the shade here now for weeks, my brain is already pretty fried, and I was taking no chances.  Besides, it's cute and really went well with my denim capris and red, white, and blue button down shirt, and bangle bracelets.  Oh, and I just could not leave out my Skeecher's rocker-bottom sandals (on sale for $24.99 at Shoe Show, and they kick ass, if I must say so myself). Okay, back to the trip.

On Friday, while everyone else was working, about fifty of us were loaded onto a brand new luxury bus, and were on our way, with Joyce and John hosting and keeping us laughing, to our first stop which was a tour of a new Jasper Engines branch which was, believe me I am as surprised as you are by this, really enjoyable.

After complementary snacks there, back on the bus we climbed. Don and I always like to sit in the second row of seats so we can see out the big front window. It makes us feel very powerful.  Our next stop was in Jeffersonville, Indiana, at Schimpff's Confectionary. This candy shop is famous and has been featured on The History Channel. Now that I know how close it is, you better believe I will be hitting that store once in awhile.  They did a red hot cinnamon-making demonstration that was very interesting.  Schimpff's is a family-owned business that made the original turtles candy, actually in the shape of turtles, not the lumpy imitations we find in the stores now.  Here, I'll let you read all about it: 

I guess it goes without saying that I left with a one-pound can of the red hots rock candy, 1/4 pound of dark chocolate-covered cashews and 1/4 pound of chocolate-covered pecans (Don's choice). At the above website, you can see photos of the store since I walked out of the house without a photo card in my camera and could honestly not find one anywhere we went and did not think the guy driving the 40-foot bus around through narrow city streets would be too amenable to stopping at Walgreen's for me. I did take a few pictures with Don's old Kodak EasyShare camera, which I had no idea how to operate, but none of them were very good.  

On these trips, they way over-feed us.  In the afternoon we stopped at a great little place called Magdalena's in Corydon, Indiana, where we had the best potato soup ever, served in bread bowls.  If I had not gotten so full, I could have eaten another bowl of that, but thankfully we were on a schedule and I ran out of time before making myself totally ill. 

When we arrived at our hotel, The Galt House, on the Ohio River in Louisville, we were ready for a little R&R in our suites. Here is The Galt House, and if you ever get a chance to stay there, I would highly recommend it:  If you visit this website, click on "photo gallery," and you'll see all the things I didn't take pictures of.  

They always keep us very busy on these excursions, and we no sooner arrived than a huge banner went up at the end of the hallway of Jasper Engines and Transmissions suites announcing, "HOSPITALITY ROOM."  Now, this is just a fancy way of saying that John and Joyce are in their room setting out a gigantic spread of alcohol and snacks, where everyone congregates and makes themselves drunk and at home.  They do a great job.

Once we were nice and "relaxed" we all retired to our own rooms for showers and a costume change so we could attend the banquet (yes, we were eating again) downstairs before walking the few blocks to the theater to see "Jersey Boys."  

At the banquet we were served some of the best food I have ever tasted, and at that point it was still tasting excellent.  By Sunday I would be starting to rebel against the dining experience, but how can you resist when you're with friends away from home where you can let your hair down?  

A man named John Wagner, an inspirational speaker from Kentucky, kept us wildly entertained before the meal, and he was right...a good, hard belly laugh just clears the way for a great time! Even looking at his picture on his website gets me to chuckling.

And then here is what I was waiting for on Friday night...the production of "Jersey Boys" which was unbelievably awesome!  Anyone who gets a chance to see this should definitely attend. 

I was wearing a cream and gold and brown dress with the uneven hem at the bottom, low cut in the front, swirly, silky, pretty, and about ten gold bangle bracelets and, the shoes that go with everything and are easy to walk in, my rocker-bottom sandals.  The dress was sleeveless, and I had bought a cream-colored Pima shawl and Don said, "You aren't going to take that, are you?  It's a hundred degrees outside."  I told him I usually have found theaters to be rather cold, and by the end of the performance, Don and I were sharing my shawl, all curled up together as close as we could get, and we became the show, evidently, for about the row ahead and the row behind us.  Hey, when in adverse weather conditions, you do what you have to to survive, right?

Now, this was just FRIDAY. We dropped into our beds (after another visit to the Hospitality Room), knowing that Saturday morning we had to be back on the bus by 8:15 for our visit to Bardstown, Kentucky.  

So, this is where the fun really began at 10:00 Saturday morning.

Feeling a little sleepy, the bus riders were quiet, dozing, trying to wake up.  We had had a good breakfast at The Galt House. I insisted on finishing mine even though Don was pointing at his watch. "What are they going to do, leave us?" Of course not, but it was a little unsettling to be the last person onto the bus and feeling it pull quickly away from the curb before we even got into our seats.  

Anyway, this was our first stop:  Heaven Hill Distillery.  Yes we were at a bourbon-making operation.  I would put the link here, but you'll have to find it on your own if you want to look at the website because you have to be of a certain legal age to go to it. But here I DID manage to get Don to take a few photos. 

The first one is of me at Bourbon School.  And it was just what I said, a class on bourbon, and yes, we got to sample, and yes, it was 10 a.m., and yes it was fun.  I learned a lot there. For example, charring the insides of the barrels happened by accident. The guy who accidentally started the fire that charred his barrels was cheap and shipped his bourbon to New Orleans anyway, and after they got a swig of that, they began asking for his bourbon exclusively, and not to be outdone, all the other whiskey-makers started burning their barrels on purpose, and so that's how we ended up with that woody taste and the amber color.  It used to be just a clear moonshine, now it's a gorgeous liquid. And yes, I bought a bottle of single-barrel 10-year-old bourbon to bring home to take on my camping trips with me.  Who knew I would like bourbon over ice so much??

This was me at bourbon school.  

This was me AFTER bourbon school posing with the Barrel Family.  I'm the one in front of Dad.

We left on a big bus after this fantastic start to the day, and ate was good and everything, but I was sort of full of alcohol and a huge breakfast, so unfortunately, I didn't retain any info about the Bardstown lunch stop.  I was kind of surprised that this little Kentucky town had so much to offer.  Oh, one more thing I learned about the distillery was that the warehouses, and you see one behind me in the above photo, look filthy on the outside. But the truth is, that's a good thing.  When they put all those barrels of whiskey in the warehouses, a natural mold starts growing on the outside.  It is a harmless mold, and everything in Bardstown sports that crappy-looking color, but on the upside, when the wind is blowing just right, they get to smell that yummy smell of 27-year-old bourbon. Sweet and a good trade-off! I think it is called trujillo mold but could be wrong about that as I was hearing things that were not actually being said after class.  If you visit this website, "My Old Kentucky Home" will be playing, a really pretty rendition of it.  Bardstown is very old and supposedly haunted, and I plan on going back there and exploring that aspect sometime.  While there, we went to see a production of, what else?, "My Old Kentucky Home," about the life of Stephen C. Foster.  Beautiful costumes of the times, great voices singing the songs.  It was very interesting...but cold.  

And finally, on Saturday evening, we ended the long, interesting, fun-filled day with a four-course meal served aboard My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. This was a treat, but again, the food...When I ordered chicken I expected a leg.  Imagine my surprise when they plopped down in front of me (third course) half a chicken on my plate. I took one look at it and said, "Well, Don, bon want my chicken?"  It was good, but I just couldn't, you know?  

All the way back to the hotel I was saying, "I can't wait to crawl into bed."  But we got there, and that stupid banner called our names, and we spent half the night with our friends back down in The Hospitality Room, drinking beer. I don't know where we were putting it, but again, friends, atmosphere, the Ohio River outside your balcony.  

Sunday morning:  We had a little more time to get to the bus on Sunday.  A lot of people went to church, Don and I couldn't even drag out of bed until about nine o'clock, then we had a leisurely breakfast (yes, I was hungry), ran back to our room and prepared to leave The Galt House, where I could live just fine, thank you.

The Muhammad Ali Center staff had graciously agreed to open the doors for our group early that morning, and we enjoyed a self-guided tour through that place, which is gorgeous, and features a lot of artwork and get this, a shadow boxing ring.  By now you all know that I was the one person out of fifty who shadow boxed with Muhammad Ali, right?  I wanted to put on the gloves and take on my boyfriend in the ring, but he was chicken.  

Last stop on this much-needed, much-enjoyed, and much-appreciated three-day weekend was for...come on, you can say it...LUNCH.  We stopped in Louisville at The Old Spaghetti Factory, and I have to admit I had the best pasta ever!  For dessert I had MY ice cream AND Don's ice cream, but not to be outdone, John managed to talk four people out of theirs.  The bowls were tiny, though, really.  No, really they were.

And then just like that, we were home where real life slapped us in the faces and the grass needed mowed.

I would like to thank Jasper Engines and Transmissions for sponsoring these trips.  They are always so much fun and so memorable.  And especially Joyce and John, who cannot possibly enjoy these things to their fullest as they are stocking, restocking the Hospitality Room, getting people back to THEIR own rooms after we have helped ourselves to the stocked and restocked supplies, and basically giving up their privacy for three days.  I hope they are well-compensated for that!  

I did not test the links above, so if none work, or some do and some do not, I imagine that is John's fault somehow and I will get his e-mail address for you.  :0)

1 comment:

Magpie said...

Wow! What a nice thing for the company to do. And Don has worked there for 40 years! That's quite an achievement in this day and age. I'm glad you both had such a good time.